Monday, September 17, 2012

the cost of diapering

do you know how much you're spending on diapers for your little ones? if you use throwaway diapers (a.k.a. disposables), you probably don't give too much thought to it. perhaps you stock up when there's a big sale or you just pick up a pack every week when you do your errands. it's $30 here; another $40 there. on the other hand, cloth diapering requires an larger initial investment and you just don't have $400 to plunk down on a starter set. besides, who wants to deal with cleaning all that pee and poop?

cloth diapers have evolved a lot over the last fifty years. today's cloth diaper is a far cry from what our grandmothers (or our mothers even) used. no more big plastic pants, safety pins and dunking and swishing in toilets. you've got all different types for all different budgets. there are the more traditional prefolds and covers type all the way through to all-in-one diapers that are just as easy to change as throwaways. best of all, they come in a vast array of colours and ultra cute prints. no matter what cartoon character or pattern throwaway diaper companies try to put on their product, there is no way it's going to match a cloth diaper in cuteness. just check out these two cuties.


if you haven't given cloth diaper much thought before today, take a look at this:
this chart is meant to give you an overview on the costs of throwaways versus cloth diapers. the costs will, of course, fluctuate depending on whether they are on sale or if you have coupons. laundry costs (including detergent) were factored in to the total in the cloth diaper line under the "average cost per child" column. the figures used for calculate laundry costs were taken from an article on www.mother-ease.com. as well, i used an average of 8 diapers per day over a period of 2.5 years. when a baby is younger, you will often change their diaper upwards of 10 to 12 times per day. as they get older, the number of diaper changes decreases. furthermore, newborn diapers are often more expensive per unit than size 2 or 3 diapers. i also used an average of 2.5 diapering years as some children potty learn as early as 2, but many children are age 3 or older before becoming completely toilet trained. i know with my son, we didn't have him completely off diapers during the day until he was around 38 months old. where you will ultimately see the biggest savings is when you cloth diaper for more than one child. in the chart above, the total cost of cloth diapering your first child is calculated at $868. if you were to use the same stash on your second child, you would only be incurring the laundry costs (which were calculated at $328). that means for two children, it only cost you $598 to diaper each child and it just goes down from there (for 3 children, $508; for 4 children, $463). if you buy good quality cloth diapers from the start, your stash could easily last you through three or more children. 

of course, some of the benefits of cloth diapering just can't be measured. the environmental benefits to cloth diapering are huge, even when you factor in water usage to clean them. furthermore, with cloth diapers you know that you're not putting harsh chemicals and toxins against baby's delicate skin.

but back to the pee and poop. this is what i figure: whether you use throwaways or cloth diapers, you will have to deal with cleaning pee and poop. in my personal experience, i found that when my babies had a poop in a throwaway, it resulted in an entire outfit change as the diaper rarely contained the mess. having used cloth diapers now for over three years, i can honestly say that i can count the number of blowouts we've had on one hand. when blowouts have occurred, it was basically due to user error (yes, grandma, i'm looking at you).  ;o)

if you're in the greater toronto area and interested in finding out more about cloth diapers, please feel free to contact me to set up a private consultation or find out when the next cloth 101 workshop will be held.

*note: my local hydro company has a neat calculator function to show you how much it costs to run appliances like your washer/dryer at different times during the day. [http://www.ieso.ca/house/powerstream/] check and see if your local provider has something similar.
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