Nov 6, 2012

Buying all the Things: Cloth Diapers

Along with these two new wonderful additions that will be joining our family in 2013 (we hope!) come a lot of things! It's amazing just how much stuff such tiny little people will need. In this series, I am going to walk you through our decisions as we are making them. We will talk cars, cribs, DSLR cameras, strollers, and other registry items.


When we tell people we are expecting twins, we usually get a lot of "oohs" and "aahs" and "how excitings." But, when we mention that we are planning to cloth diaper twins, the excitement seems to die. Instead we get comments that we are crazy, or, most annoying, that we are "naive and will change our minds soon."

If their is one parenting decision Casey and I have received the most push back on it is easily Cloth Diapers.


I am completely fascinated by the idea of cloth diapers, and I must admit it is not because they are "green" and good for the environment. Most cloth diaper advocates tout the advantages as: environment, cost, and the health of cute little baby tushy and I am most excited about the last two! I am also excited that my boys will know the discomfort of being wet and therefore (probably) potty train faster than their counterparts in disposables.

When I say that we plan to cloth diaper, many people from previous generations assume that means long rectangular pre-folds, safety pins, and rubber pants. But, cloth diapers have come a LONG way from that! For the Ps, I am planning to use a type of diaper called an All-In-Two (AI2). This means that there is a shell that looks just like a disposable diaper, but with snaps or velcro instead of the stickers. The shell has a snap where a liner snaps in. For a wet diaper, the liner can be unsnapped and replaced without needing to replace the shell. This lowers the number of total diaper shells needed and brings down the cost.


But, when we found out we were having twins, I started wondering if I could still do cloth. To be honest, I have no idea if I can. But, lots of twin moms do and I plan to join their ranks!

Why Cloth? Cost

First, looking at the number of disposable diapers used:
Newborn: 15 diapers per day * 30 days per month * 3 months * 2 boys = 2,700 diapers
Infant: 12 diapers per day * 30 days per month * 3 months * 2 boys = 2,160 diapers
Baby: 10 diapers per day * 30 days per month * 6 months * 2 boys = 3,600 diapers
Toddler: 8 diapers per day * 30 days per month * 18 months * 2 boys = 8,640 diapers

Disposable diapers run anywhere from $0.15 each to over $0.70 cents each depending on the type of diaper used and how diligently you shop sales and use coupons. For this comparison I am using the price of Pampers ordered off of diapers.com. This makes the costs:

Newborn: 2,700 diapers * $0.21 each = $567 (in just three months!)
Infant: 2,160 diapers * $0.25 each = $540
Baby: 3,600 diapers * $0.29 each = $1,044
Toddler: 8,640 diapers * $0.32 each = $2,765 (assuming both boys are potty trained by 30 months)

This brings our 30 month total cost for disposable diapers to $4,916!!


For my stash of cloth diapers, I am focusing on one-sized cloth diapers that adjust to fit them at any age. Full price, these diapers run anywhere from $10-$25 each depending on the brand. I have received a few cloth diapers for free and bought a few in nearly new condition off of eBay (and plan to buy more like that) and hope to also receive some as shower gifts (or use shower gift cards to buy more). I have also used zulily.com and ordered a few diapers. I am attempting to complete my stash without ever spending more than $10 a diaper. This is probably unreasonable, but a girl can hope!

One major AI2 brand, Grovia, recommends minimum of 24 soakers and 12-14 Shells for full time diapering of one child. For twins that number needs doubled. So, we are looking at a minimum of 24 shells and 48 soakers (also called liners).

Since this post is supposed to show the cost savings, I am going to give cloth diapers a hard time and assume we bought all Grovia cloth diapers at full price (which we aren't -- trying to average $10 a diaper).

Buying all of the grovia diapers and liners individually would cost:
24 shells * $16.95 per shell = $407 + 48 liners * $17.95/2 pack = $431

So the total cost to buy cloth diapers for the two boys is $838.


I could bring that price down to $788 if I bought two of the "Grovia-Live Package" which includes 12 shells and 24 liners for $394.


This isn't quite a fair comparison because I might need to buy boosters at $5 each if the boys are heavy overnight wetters. (Of course, I could also just use two liners and do laundry more frequently rather than buy another piece). So, lets add in 20 boosters for the later years, for another $100 added to the cost of cloth.


This still isn't quite a fair comparison because I will have increased water and electric bills from doing extra diaper laundry. I will also have to buy an organic, scent-free, laundry detergent to wash them in. I have seen other cloth diaper calculations estimate the additional laundry costs at $1 per month. I have no idea if this is even close, but I'm going with it. So, that adds an additional $360 to our total.

So, for fairness sake, let's say that 30 months in cloth diapers will cost about $1,248.


This means that by the end of 13 months I will be money ahead by cloth diapering. ($1,281 for disposables versus $1,248 for cloth). Over 30 months of diapers, we will save $3,668 by choosing to cloth diaper. We aren't seeming to crazy now are we?


Why Cloth? Health

The price alone seems like a great reason to use cloth diapers, but there is more.

Comfort

From my perspective, I think about how uncomfortable a maxipad is each month to wear and don't like the thought of that chemical-filled material next to Pip and Pop's skin for 2.5 years! I also know that my sensitive skin can't handle maxipads very well and most months end up with a rash or irritation from wearing them. I certainly don't want Pip and Pop constantly experiencing irritation from paper diapers. Casey also has sensitive skin and will develop a rash if I use the wrong laundry detergent or he changes soaps. With two sensitive skin parents, this is something I need to think about!

Rash

Cloth diapered babies typically experience few diaper rashes. This doesn't mean they don't get any, just fewer. The most common reason for diaper rash is excessive moisture against the skin. Cloth diapers do absolutely nothing to stop the moisture from pooling on the skin, and in fact disposables are better at wicking away moisture. What is different is that parents who cloth diaper are more diligent about changing babies diapers. Regardless of the type of diaper used, a baby should be changed every 2-4 hours (depending on age). With cloth diapers, you run the risk of leaking if you wait longer than this, so parents don't. With disposables, the only ramification is the comfort of baby when the diaper rash develops.

Potty Training

On average, babies who are cloth diapered are potty trained 12 months earlier than their disposable diaper using peers! This is in part due to the wicking technology in disposable diapers that helps babies feel dry, even when that moisture is against their skin. Since babies don't associate wetting themselves with the discomfort of being wet, they don't have the motivation to potty train.

Environment and Toxins

Other reasons to cloth diapers are outlined by The Real Diaper Association.

Which Cloth?

So now that you know why I am cloth diapering, I will briefly explain why I chose AI2s. I am not going to go in depth here because others have already done a much better job explaining the different types of cloth diapers on the market.

Basically, there are a few different cloth diaper systems.

The cheapest system is to use pre-folds and shells or fitted diapers and shells. Both of these options require multiple steps and aren't convenient. I need the fastest way to cloth diaper two boys, so even though these are the cheapest cloth diapering systems, they aren't good for our family!

The next option is a pocket diaper. We do have a few pocket diapers in our stash that we are going to try out. These are two pieces, a diaper shell with a pocket, and liner that stuffs into that pocket to add absorbency. Pocket diapers allow you to add as many inserts as needed for absorbency (typically 1-3). They can be pre-stuffed immediately after doing laundry and so are convenient and fast to use and make for fast diaper changes. With a pocket system, you do have to own more shells because they shell needs changed with each dirty diaper. You also have to reach into the pocket and remove the liner before washing the diapers to insure it gets clean enough in the wash and fully dries. I don't love the idea of reaching into the wet pocket, but pocket diapers get great reviews so we do have a few to try!

All-In-One diapers are the easiest to use because they are as close to a disposable diaper as you can get. Everything is one piece! No liners or stuffing necessary. However, they can be more work to wash and dry. Given their thickness, the drying time of an AIO is longer than any other type of cloth diaper which can be problematic if your stash is running low. They are also very bulky to take with you on errands and such.

All-In-Two (sometimes called hybrid) diapers are somewhere between AIOs and pockets. Like an AIO they are one piece and very similar to a disposable. Like a pocket, they take inserts (called soakers). These soakers sit on top of the diaper (frequently snapped in) and so there is no work of stuffing diapers. You can unsnap an AI2 easily and put a new soaker on without needing to change babies shell, decreasing the number of diapers needed. Because the liners separate from the diaper, they dry faster than AIOs (comparable to pockets).

My choice for cloth, at least for now, as someone who has researched but never used is the AI2. Many brands of AI2s exist and we are focusing on four: Grovia, Best Bottoms, Sweet Pea in a Pod, and Trend Labs (reviews for Trend Labs are mixed but we got an unbeatable deal on these so we're trying them). We do have a few AIOs and a few pockets in our stash though so that we can try out a few different options and see what works best. We plan to try a few FuzziBunz, Happy Heiny, and BumGenius 4.0 to see if we prefer pocket. We also have a few AIOs to take the the church nursery since they are the most similar to a disposable.


Our stash so far:

AI2s:

4 Trend Labs
7 Best Bottoms (5 ordered but not arrived)
          15 additional Best Bottoms Liners
4 Sweet Peas AI3s
          3 additional Sweet Pea Liners
4 Grovia (2 ordered but not arrived)
          5 additional Grovia Liners
4 Trend Labs, 2 Best Bottoms, 4 Sweet Peas, and 2 Grovias

Pockets

3 FuzziBunz
6 Happy Heiny
1 nykibaby from www.fuzzynoodlediapercompany.com (twitter: @fuzzynoodle)
          11 extra pocket liners for doublers in pockets and in AI2s

3 FuzziBunz, 6 Happy Heiny, 1 nykibaby

AIOs

2 Minky Dinosaurs (Alvas probably)
2 Little Monsters (couldn't resist the adorable embroidery - ordered but not arrived)

2 Minky Dinosaurs


So, in total we have 33 diapers and 34 liners/doublers.  We have spent $407.78 so far on diapers and liners.  I can't break out the cost of diapers and the cost of liners well because many of them have been bought as "lots" on eBay and Diaper Swapper sites, so the diapers came with extra liners and doublers.  If we just look at the cost of diapers (so assume all of the liners and doublers were free - which they weren't some of the purchases I've made have been for liners/doublers only) the price per diaper works out to $12.36 per diaper, or just above my $10/diaper goal. 

Our diaper stash!!

Liners and Doublers


Do you have a brand you highly recommend? We'd love to hear! Do you cloth?  What have youe experiences been with different brands? 

Disclaimer
I do want to admit that I fudged a bit on my cloth diaper math to make it simpler. I made the assumption that the Ps will be 8+ pounds when they are born and so immediately fit into one-size cloth diapers. This is unlikely and so I have a small stash of newborn size disposable to use for the first few weeks while they put on weight and we wait for the umbilical cords to fall off. This does bring the cloth diaper savings down a bit since they won't be in cloth diapers for the full 30 months.



5 comments:

  1. Great post - very informative!

    I am so showing this post to Mr. Ginger. He's fighting me on the cloth but I think seeing the math of the savings will help to push him over to my side!

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  2. We have used cloth exclusively since my son was 4wks old, he's now 17mo. LOVE them! We use Flip diapers (shell and liner) and Rumparooz with 2 liners at night. My son has had ONE diaper rash and it cleared up within a day (you should get some CJs butter for rashes, it's safe for cloth and smells yum). We used disposables for the first month to wait for him to fit and just to get in to the routine of a new baby. I got so much crap for doing cloth but stuck to my guns. Another plus is you can reuse for future babies or resell for close, if not exactly, what you paid. Good luck!

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  3. If my experience becomes your reality, you're overestimating how many diapers you'll go through (although your cost equation is linear, so the math still supports your theory). My twins went through 8-10 diapers each in the first few weeks, but haven't used more than 8 diapers a day since they were about 3 weeks old. Now that they are a year old they probably need 6 diapers a day.

    Regardless of the type of diaper, isn't it comforting that you might use less of them?!? Hopefully you won't use as many as you're forecasting.

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  4. I love cloth diapering, and you will too I hope! I want to second Sarah's comment about the number of diapers you will go through. When my girls were itty bitty, they went through MAYBE 8 diapers a day. Now that they are older, they go through 4-5 a day. We have a stash of only 24 diapers between the two of them, and I only wash diapers every 2-3 days (sometimes even less often now that Sophie is potty training well!). I will say that 1/2 of those diapers are prefolds and covers, and prefolds hold a lot more liquid for a lot longer than any other diapers I have used. I think you really have a great amount of diapers to start out with, and you might hold off on purchasing more until the babies are born and you a) see how many diapers you think will be best for you to have and b) see if there is any diaper you really like or really hate. I wouldn't be surprised if you decided to not even get any more, or maybe just a few, which would cut your total projected cost down tremendously. Whatever you decide, you are saving tons of money! Don't let anyone make you feel bad about this (or any other) decision you make for your babies :)

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  5. I love cloth! My favorite are BumGenius! =) (and I don't think you are crazy! I had two in diapers for a while.)

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