When you look at the numbers (check out Meagan's last post) cloth diapering really starts to make sense financially. The cost is the number one reason that I use cloth diapers. That being said, one could make the argument that disposable diapering can be fairly cheap if you use coupons, buy off-brands, etc. Well this is certainly true although the "cheap" diapers don't work for all babies (including mine, he gets rashes unless he is in Huggies or Pampers.) However there are ways to save with cloth diapering too. Before I go any further, I really feel like I should mention that neither Meagan or myself are cloth diapering "snobs," we both buy and use disposable diapers occasionally and realize that many other moms need to do this too. Sometimes daycare's will not use cloth diapers or, in my case, grandma just decided she didn't want to use them. Sometimes you just need something that lasts a little longer, like a long day or our a long car ride. Here are some additional ways to save money with cloth diapering.
Buying used: It sounds kind of gross at first, but it's a pretty valid option for those on a tight budget. Many babies grow out of cloth diapers quickly (especially the tiniest sizes) and the diapers have very little wear. There are sites like diaperswappers where you can buy and sell your cloth diapers, this also works well if you buy a diaper and it just doesn't work for your baby. eBay is another great place to find deals on cloth diapers, or you can ask your friends who cloth diaper if they'd be willing to sell when they are finished. The diapers can easily be sanitized (info on this coming soon!) and I promise that your baby won't care.
Selling used: This goes hand in hand with buying pre-owned diapers, sell yours when you are finished with them! Cloth diapers have a remarkable resale value (yes, really!) and buying only the size that you need and reselling for the next size can work if you don't have the money to buy a complete stash all at once.
Amazon promotions: Amazon has had promotions featuring 20% off diapers or $10 anything in the baby store. The last of these coupons could be stacked and many people including myself got free or very cheap cloth diapers because of it! Amazon seems to have plans to do more promotions like this and it can be a HUGE money saver. Sometime in the near future I will blog about my experience with Amazon coupons.
Using cheaper cloth diapers: The great thing about cloth diapering today is that you don't have to use prefolds because there are plenty of other options. However prefolds are actually quite easy once you get the hang of it, and they're CHEAP. This package from cottonbabies.com includes three diaper covers and twelve prefolds for $50! That barely costs more than a huge box of disposables. A package like this one should get you through one day and also comes with a wetbag which is definitely a cloth diapering necessity. "One size" packages like this might not work for a tiny infant, but it should work for a baby from a couple of months until 35 pounds or so. There are also one size pocket diapers that grow with your baby. These are not as affordable as prefolds but will still save money over time versus buying sized diapers.
Cloth wipes: I will admit, when I first heard about using cloth wipes I thought it was kind of gross. However once I tried it I never looked back. I actually HATE disposable wipes now and always reach for my cloth wipes at home, especially when there is poop involved. I have two or three dozen cloth wipes that I made myself. If you have a sewing machine it's very easy. I bought some cheap flannel and made some approximately 7x7 double sided wipes. There are also places that you can buy cloth wipes at reasonable prices. Flannel "grabs" poop much better than disposable wipes and even the messiest of diapers will only take two or three wipes instead of eight or nine disposables.
Sales: Many sites like cottonbabies have clearance sections and sometimes you can find very cheap diapers. Sometimes these diapers are being discontinued, other times they are seconds or pre-owned. Other sites like Kelly's closet often have a free diaper when you spend X amount of money.
Swagbucks: I talk about Swagbucks a lot, but with good reason! I've gotten over $100 in free Amazon gift cards just by using their search engine! Amazon has lots of great cloth diapers and with Amazon mom you will get prime shipping. It may take a little while to save up enough swag bucks for diapers, but free is free isn't it?
I have never sat down to figure out exactly how much I have spent/saved using cloth diapers, but I love spreadsheets so I probably will someday. I do know that it's a lot. Using the same diapers with multiple babies will save even more money. Most modern cloth diapers will last through at least two babies and maybe more. Cloth diapering does cost a little more upfront, but you really don't have to refinance your house to be able to afford it. It can be difficult to find a diaper that works for your baby, or a wash routine that works for you (more on this soon) but cloth diapering is definitely worth it once you get the hang of it.