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Getting started with cloth diapers on a MAJOR budget!

Posted by Julie Clark on 2/13/2013 to Cloth Diaper How-To
Switching to cloth diapers in order order to save money is one thing, but many people choose cloth because they HAVE to save money, they have no other choice.

I'm often asked what I recommend to someone who needs a really inexpensive method of cloth diapering. Here's my two cents!

Economical Cloth Diapering

The most economical method is to use flats and one size covers. I would suggest Diaper Rite Flats and Diaper Rite OS Covers.

However, there is a learning curve. With flats you have to use a folding technique but it's super easy once you do it a few times and get some practice under your belt. There are some great tutorials on Youtube. Simply visit the site and do a search for "cloth diaper folding techniques."

You may want to consider the above method during the day and something more absorbent for overnight like a one size pocket diaper.

If you wash diapers every 48 hours then in my opinion you'd need 2-4 OS Pocket Diapers to use overnight, accounting for a couple extra in the event there's a need for a mid-night diaper change.

For the Flats I'd suggest at least a dozen and maybe 2-4 covers minimum. The cover doesn't need to be washed with each diaper change, just use over and over until you feel it's soiled or smelly.

You'd also need a fastener like a Snappi to hold the Flats on.

There are many many more options, this is just the least expensive route. There are also several factors to consider when switching to cloth and when trying to determine how many diapers you need.

Factors to consider:
  • The age of the child. Younger babies obviously need many more diaper changes. Older children need less diaper changes but wet diapers more at one time so they need more absorbency.
  • Washing. How often you plan to wash will dictate how many diapers you need.
  • Your water type and drying facilities. If you have to hang diapers to dry you will have to wait on them. This means you could be left without diapers if you only have the bare minimum.
  • Diapering overnight. Flats and prefolds need to be changed often and can sometimes not be suited for comfortable overnight diapering. A more expensive but more absorbent pocket diaper, all in one or fitted may be required for night time and long naps when you don't want to have to wake and change the baby.
These are my best tips for getting started on the fly with a really limited budget. It can be done. Don't let the fancy diapers fool you, basic cloth diapers are alive and well and work for many families.

So are you looking for the most affordable method of cloth diapering? Do you agree with the above tips or do you have something else to add?



Date: 2/13/2013
Thank you! About to have my baby and on a budget... it seemed so expensive to even get started with cloth. This blog makes it less intimidating! I'm going to try out flats first with snappis and covers. :)
Date: 2/13/2013
Cloth diapering can totally be done on a budget. We have the diaper rite prefolds in the purple, green, and orange edge (I think that is the S M L) sizes and an assortment of bummis or thirsties covers. We double up on the prefolds at nighttime and naps without a problem. I had some bumgenius diapers for nighttime but ended up with repelling issues with them and its not recommended to wash them w prefolds so I quit using them. It would take a lot to convince me to switch from our current syste
Date: 2/13/2013
Perfect article! We will be cloth diapering on a budget as well. We have prefolds, covers and snappis ready to go. We also have a few pocket diapers and some homemade pocket diapers as well. We are told so often having children is expensive but I don't believe it has to be. This is one way to save.
Date: 2/13/2013
I love my prefolds, grovia, diaper rite and flip covers :) if I have another baby I will get more diaper rite :)
Date: 2/13/2013
We have used Diaper Rite prefolds in Thirsties covers when he was a newborn and Best Bottom covers since about 6 weeks (always just trifolded). Never an issue at all! I love how easily they wash up and they get so fluffy soft once they are prepped and used a bunch. I am lucky enough to not need extra absorbency at naptime, but overnight we use a cotton fitted, bamboo booster, and a wool pull on. We really weren't having trouble with leaks at night either, but we were having issues with red marks
Date: 2/13/2013
I LOVE my Diaper Rite prefolds! I use Capri covers by Swaddlebees and I have never had a problem with leaks during the day or nights. Okay maybe a few times in the beginning when we were trying out different folding techniques, but after a few days we were pros I also LOVE that the covers dry so fast and the prefolds are so easy to wash and dry! I would DEFINITELY recommend this form of cloth diapering to anyone on a budget or not!
Date: 2/14/2013
I use flats with covers day and night... When my first son got older, I added a soaker to the flats for overnight.
Melissa K
Date: 2/15/2013
I love my diaper rite prefolds and covers, but an even less expensive option is to stuff with receiving blankets or flour sack towels. They dont have a ton of absorbency, but they are great to get you throuh the early stages when having lots of diapera is. more important than absorbency.
Emily S.
Date: 3/21/2013
I am a first time mom and I looked around a lot for what I thought would be the cheapest, most durable and convenient way to diaper my son. After much research I decided to go with Thirsties Duo Wraps and short prefolds -- I have not regretted my choice once. I bought ten diaper covers that I think will take me all the way through to potty training (five size 1 Duos and five size 2). I have bought two sizes of short prefolds (some Diaper Rite), 24 size small and 24 size medium. With these prefol
Emily S.
Date: 3/21/2013
lds you have the option to either Snappi or just lay them in the cover. And, I have bought a few of the Thirsties Hemp inserts to add with the prefolds at night. I really love this system, it is pretty inexpensive and it works well!
Date: 5/17/2013
T-shirts T-shirts T-shirts.... That's if u can't spend a dime. I looove prefolds and a cover. Flats are nice too. I know I save tons of loot now and in the future because I cd, but unfortunately, I could save even more money if I didn't want to try so many different types and EVERY natural fiber out there ;)
Date: 5/17/2013
T-shirts T-shirts T-shirts.... That's if u can't spend a dime. I looove prefolds and a cover. Flats are nice too. I know I save tons of loot now and in the future because I cd, but unfortunately, I could save even more money if I didn't want to try so many different types and EVERY natural fiber out there ;)
Vicki Hall
Date: 6/5/2013
I think one of the least expensive ways to cloth diaper id a few OS diaper covers and a couple dozen flats or flour sack towels I like pad folding flats in a Flip or Diaper Rite OS cover.
Date: 12/2/2013
Loved this post! I am trying to switch to cloth but am on a tight budget. Im thinking prefolds and covers are the way to go!
Date: 3/7/2014
I LOVE diaper rite flats. They are my favorite and great for stuffing pockets with too! The new bamboo ones are so squishy soft and absorb a ton. I would suggest getting more that 2-4 covers, probably 6 would be my minimum because of poo-splosions. But i usually pad fold my flats, not snappi
Date: 3/7/2014
I really want to try diaper flats! I'm new to CD'ing and have tried (and loved) prefolds in addition to pockets and flips. :) Will give this a try next.
Jessica Nye
Date: 6/8/2014
I would recommend buying an amount of covers tailored to your baby- my first two boys needed like 8 in rotation because they each had messy poops a few times a day. But my third son only needs like 3 covers because he only poops once a day or once every two days and it tends to stay on the diaper and not mess up the cover even when we just trifold.

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