The Price of Babies

When I was looking around in Tar-jay's baby section the other day, a sign on the wall caught my eye. It read: 

The person who wears the pants in this family, wears a diaper under them. 

Cute, huh? Well, kind of. I guess. On the one hand. But at the same time it seemed to me to represent an underlying mentality in our culture--the idea that babies will take over and ruin our once carefree, wonderful, meaningful lives and cost us a lot of time and money. I know, I know, I am way reading into it, but it did get me thinking.

While there are a lot of things I could talk about  as far as how I think the Western world's understanding of what it takes (and takes out of us) to raise a child is fallacious, I want to focus on one aspect: money.  I believe that children are viewed as being way more expensive to take care of than they are, or at least need to be. 

There is more than one way to spend money. There is more than one way to raise a baby. And there is more than one way to spend money to raise a baby. 

I want to share with you one of my tips for cutting down the cost. 

What is Money Saver #1?

The biggest money suck for having a baby is buying diapers. While I am a big fan of practicing EC, it is by no means fail-safe and you will still have to change diapers if you live like most western culture (aka in carpeted areas, indoors, not over a mud floor).

When Little Owl was first born we used paper diapers for several weeks before switching over to cloth. Over those few weeks we spent close to $100 dollars on diapers. Granted, we were buying 
organic, chlorine free ones, and there are cheaper ways of getting them (e.g. ordering in bulk online, being less picky), but still, any way you look at it we were spending--and were going to spend-- a LOT of money on diapers. That is, until we switched to cloth.

The initial investment for cloth diapers can seem substantial, but when you think about how much you save it comes out in the wash. Literally. (<insert courtesy laugh here>). Before our daughter's birth we had registered for cloth so our start up was cheaper. I did go out and buy another dozen basic cloth diapers to add to our collection. I now have around thirty cloth diapers. Most of them are the kind that have a basic insert that you can get to go with all sorts of diaper covers.

But I also have a few 'fancier' (aka more expensive) cloth diapers that I also use. They are Knicker Nappies. They look like this:

I like both diapers for different reasons-- the basic ones are great because you can reuse the covers multiple times before washing them, the Knicker Nappies are nice because they are easy to take on and off for EC-ing. 

My suggestions to you if you are interested in cloth-diapering would be to go to a store and check out the options. In hind-site I wish I had registered for these. (20/20, right?). 

What about all the extra work?

One of the most common complaints people have against using cloth diapers is that they are 'so much work'. And while I agree that everyone should do what is most comfortable for them/fits their baby-raising lifestyle I really haven't found it to be much extra work. Babies are laundry-producers. They spit up all the time. On themselves. On you. On blankets. They leak through their diapers (paper or cloth). They pee on blankets. On their clothes. On your clothes. You will already be doing an extra load of laundry at least every other day with a new baby in the house. Throwing the diapers in at the same time has been no big deal for me. 

What about all the poop stains and using that little sprayer thing on the toilet? Well, my baby isn't eating solids yet so I haven't needed to use them. I'll keep you posted once and if that changes. But, infant poop is pretty benign. I put diapers (poop and all) into the washing machine, run a rinse cycle before washing, and than wash with soap on a normal cycle. No poop remains. Occasionally a cloth diaper will come out with a poop 'stain' but that can be 'bleached' out by the sun. It's super easy. 

What about wipes?

Guess what? You don't need them either. Simply go to a thrift store and purchase a handful of old wash-clothes. Voila! 'Cloth wipes'. Eco-friendly, affordable, durable. 

When we go out, along with diapers and wash clothes, I carry a small water bottle to wet the 'wipes' just in case we will be in an area that doesn't have easily accessible running water. What to do with all the laundry until you get home to wash it? Simply keep it all in a plastic or wet bag until you have a chance to take it home and do laundry. One other perk of using cloth? Less diaper rash. I found my little one had less diaper rash with cloth than paper. 

Babies don't have to be expensive. Using cloth diapers is one great way to cut down on the cost of raising one. Of course, every family is different. Every baby is different. Cloth won't work for everyone. But, if you are at all up for it I would highly recommend it. I have found it to be better for the environment, better for my wallet, and better for my baby. 

If you decide to try it out, or have any questions, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

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  1. I love cloth diapering. I love it, love it, love it. The Issue right now is that I must be doing something wrong/our water is getting hard due to a leaky water heater, because right now, we're getting an ammonia buildup, which leads to some HORRIBLE rashes all over Gideon. It sucks. Typically, I guess you just add some vinegar, but I've heard a few places saying that that can lead to worse build-up if your water is hard. So right now, we're using some disposables, which I hate, till we can figure out a new washing system/Gideon's rash dies down. Never had an issue in about 6 months of cloth diapering (Gideon being 8 months old now). But I totally agree. It's so much cheaper. I'm still using disposable wipes because Zeke kind of goes overboard on making sure Gideon is clean down there, however, that means we're only spending, like, $12 every 2 months or so on wipes. Next baby I'm going full on cloth (if I can figure out this stupid ammonia buildup problem!!)

    1. Hey Kaiya! Sorry to hear about this. Sounds like no fun at all! I had never heard of this before and had to look it up. Found this article:

      It seemed most helpful of the ones I skimmed. Let me know how it goes. So sorry. If you haven't tried it already, I have found olive oil to work wonders on rashy baby bums. Good luck!

  2. I totally agree. I hear that having kids is expensive all the time. After I had my 3rd child, even my mom asked me how I was going to afford to have any more. However, costs decrease for each child because you don't have to buy anything extra as long as you keep the things you got for the first child in good condition. We are fortunate to have good jobs, but really it does Not cost as much as people make it out to be. I ALWAYS shop at garage sales, craigslist, ect. I have yet to go to cloth, but I am determined to try it out on the next baby. I have used the cloth wipes with a wipes warmer for my newborns because they are so much better at cleaning things up. Thanks for sharing all of the tips!

    1. Thanks for sharing! I am very happy to know that the initial investment just keeps getting better. :) I am addicted to garage sale/craigslist shopping, too. ;)

  3. Can't agree more! We've used cloth since J was born (he's now 2) and are still using them. The poop still isn't that big of a deal. It's not fun for sure, but we dump it in the toilet before the diaper goes into the wet bag. Sometimes it doesn't dump very well, but we just get off what we can with some shaking. No diaper sprayers here. Not pleasant, but still not worth the cost of disposables. Great post and very informative!

    1. Thanks for sharing, Amanda! I am thinking we probably won't need a sprayer, either. Sounds like work to install. :) We are also practicing EC so I am hoping (*fingers crossed*) that it will make those "baby-started-solids poops" easier to clean up, too. Good to know, though, that you don't need one!

  4. My friend used cloth diapers and she swore by it! Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout! - Trish

  5. I had to use disposables for the first few weeks after my son was born, because the cloth diapers I had bought were too big and I didn't want to buy smaller ones that he'd only wear for a short time. Now we're exclusively cloth; I kind of dabble in EC, and I used to be great about catching his poo but once he started solids that changed. (I relied mostly on timing, and his schedule became very different.) I've read that the poo of exclusively breastfed babies is water soluble, so you really don't need to rinse the diapers before washing. Now that my son is eating some solids (he's ten months old), I rinse the poo off in the toilet before washing. This probably sounds gross, but I just dunk them in the water and rub the diaper against itself to get the poo off. I usually get some on my hands just from changing him anyway (in my attempts to keep him from getting it on his hands), so I just make sure to wash thoroughly once I'm done. I've heard diaper sprayers can just make a mess.


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