In life things tend to trend a in a circular fashion. There is a need or practice that most people do until someone finds a way to improve upon it. Then another improves upon that improvement until we have moved so far away from the original concept that finally we start to move back in the direction from which it came. Only to discover, hey this was not so bad to begin with. And this is exactly the journey of cloth diapers.
While cloth diapers have made a comeback in the US they aren’t what your grandmother used. The concept is the same but now it is much more user friendly and at times a little bit fun. There is a slight learning curve, but that is easy to overcome. I teach diaper classes, sponsor a website and administer a facebook group about cloth diapers. The most common question I hear moms ask is ‘why does it cost so much?’. This is the exact barrier that prevented me from cloth diapering sooner, so I get it.
Cloth on the surface appears to have an overwhelming and often prohibitive start-up cost. In my opinion this turns off interested moms more than anything else. Well let me tell you this is completely false. When I made the plunge, I did extensive research and found that you can actually cloth diaper for zero to little cost. I also learned that major manufactures have been found to put out misleading information to steer moms into paying for more expensive diapers. I have made it my mission to dispel this myth and share all that I have learned with every family I meet.
Here are my top 4 tips for budget friendly cloth diapering:
1. Make friends.
I am 100% serious. Ask on social media, neighborhood groups, and other people around you if they use cloth diapers. I posted a status on my personal page asking if anyone used cloth and to my surprise moms I knew my whole life responded YES! They were a great source of information and provided me with some awesome tips.
Most diapers have a life span of more than one baby. Remember those friends I mentioned in tip one, ask if they have diapers they are willing to loan you. After potty-training all those cute diapers need a new home. There are tons of well cared for diapers out there waiting to take on a new life. If you luck out with friends, thrift stores and online BUY/SELL/TRADE groups have amazing deals. I got an entire stash of diapers in excellent condition from my local thrift store for $15.
3. Use Off Brand/ Overseas Diapers
This subject is hotly debated in corporate sponsored chats. I suggest you stay away from those if you are looking for honest information. Even some of the blogs that appear to be neutral are in fact marketing devices for more expensive diapers. Since there are varying opinions on this I looked into it very carefully. The average name brand diaper runs about $20+, compared to the average overseas diaper at $5-10. That is a huge difference and could be make or break it for a family on a budget.
What is the difference? Not much. Some of the name brand have exclusive prints, colors and design features but essentially they all function the same. The less expensive diapers have been unfairly dubbed China Cheapies and major companies have spun a web of half truths about their functionality and safety. First let me say that most diapers or diaper making supplies originate from the same sources overseas. You will see American companies touting safety certifications and claim the other diapers are dangerous because they don’t have them. This is not the whole truth. Those certifications can only be applied for by certain countries, China is not on that list they can never be certified no matter how good the product is. But the Chinese manufacturers can have their product reviewed if submitted by a stateside company and if you ask them they are more than happy to provide you with that documentation.
I could go on and on but to summarize, these diapers work well and they are safe. Don’t feel bad for using them. Most of my diapers came from China and they outlasted my name brand diapers by leaps and bounds. I recommend Alva, Happy Flute, and Amazon. Don’t stress, spend less.
4. Make Your Own.
Yes, you can make diapers for free. Just google it. You don’t need to sew either. There are great tutorials online that will have you whipping up diapers in no time. Another great thing about making your own is that you can use items you already have. Old t-shirts, sheets, fleece blankets, sweaters or anything that is made out of absorbent natural fibers. There are several families that I have met who have used this method and been successful. If you do happen to know how to sew then the cloth diaper world is your oyster. Not only can you make inexpensive diapers for your child you can turn it into a business. Custom made diapers by moms are highly sought after and provide a great business opportunity.
Obviously, there is a lot more information out there. But this is a good starting point. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and try out a few different methods. You can visit my site, Drybabies.org for more information and tutorials. Also, we have a great online community at Black Women That Cloth Diaper on Facebook. Those mamas know everything and will be supportive to your parenting journey.
Lanae Lumsden, founder of DryBabies.Org does cloth diaper consulting and runs a co-op (a group purchasing system allowing participants to save money by buying in bulk with others). She is also a mama of some beautiful cloth-wearing babies!
Thanks for sharing, Lanae! Chat with Lanae about her experiences over in the comments below!