Can I afford to cloth diaper?
If you can afford to purchase disposable diapers each week, then yes, you can definitely afford to cloth diaper.
One of the most common things I hear from parents who are considering cloth diapers is "I can't afford it."
But when I listen to someone say that particular phrase, all I hear is, "I can't afford cloth diapers right now."
One of the biggest misconceptions about cloth diapers is that you need to purchase a huge stash of five dozen diapers upfront.
This isn't true. What you do need to purchase is enough cloth diapers to get by based on your family's needs. We recommend starting with 24 diapers. This number is based on changing an infant 8-10 times a day and washing every other.
Cloth diapering your baby without splurging is feasible. Here's how.
So you're cloth diapering a newborn. Easy. Start with 24 infant sized prefolds ($36), one Snappi ($3.95) and six pairs of Dappi Nylon Pants ($30). Need overnight diapers? Purchase two bumGenius 4.0 One-Size Cloth Diapers for an additional $35.90. You have spent around $100 to get all the diapers you're going to need until your baby is approximately four months old.
When your baby is four months old, you'll need more diapers. You can spend another $56 to get 18 premium-sized prefolds and four larger-sized Dappi Nylon Pants. You can re-use the infant-sized prefolds as doublers for naptimes and overnights. The bumGenius diapers grow with your baby and prefolds can be used as additional stuffing if needed.
Before your baby is a toddler, you'll probably need to size up on the covers again, so figure another $10 for two more packages of Dappi Nylon Pants.
Now, do the math. Or, we will spare you a few minutes and do it for you.
With approximately $170 and everything we listed above, you have everything you need to diaper your baby from birth to age two. This is a very inexpensive "no frills" diapering system, but it is fully functional.
Ready for the logic?
With a newborn, you're going to change at least eight diapers per day, a relatively average figure.
Imagine you're diapering your baby with a package of 92 Size 1 Pampers Swaddlers which, on Amazon.com, is $23.99 as of May 28, 2013.
At eight changes a day, that 92-pack of Swaddlers will last about a week and a half (11 days) and cost you around $0.26 per diaper. And after that $0.26 gets thrown in the trash after use, it is likely that it will sit in a landfill for 500 years.
It's time for math again.
Every baby will have around 2,900 (8*365) diaper changes a year. Multiply that figure by $0.26 and you will finding yourself spending more than $759 per year on disposable diapers.
Seven-hundred dollars will get you a very decent stash of cloth diapers.
The math above is for one year. Now do it for another. So in two years, your baby will have over 5,800 diaper changes and, in three years, 8,700.
Can you imagine throwing $0.26 in the trash can EIGHT. THOUSAND. TIMES? I sure can't. I can't even imagine throwing $0.26 away on any occasion. That's more than $2,000 and, in my case, $2,000 would go pretty far. It could pay off an entire student loan I have looming.
Back to the original question, "Can I afford to cloth diaper?
I think the real question is can you afford not to.
*Since every baby is different, these numbers will vary depending on the amount of diaper changes and brand of disposable diapers used.