Eight Weeks to a Cloth Diapering Stash at $20 Per Week - Week One

When I was pregnant with my son I was interested in cloth diapering. I asked around on a message board where I knew that a few moms used cloth diapers. I remember someone mentioning bumGenius and I checked out the diapers. I remember thinking that there was no way I could buy 12 or more diapers like that up front. I knew that cloth diapering would save money in the long run, but I didn't have money like that to start.

"cute" diaper: Fuzzibunz onesize
There are essentially two kinds of people who cloth diaper. Those who have money and those who don't. In case you're wondering, I fall more into the second group. Some moms cloth diaper to save money and some do it for environmental or health reasons. Cloth diapers are also really cute! I have talked about how to save on cloth diapers before, but I wanted to do something different. I wanted to show you how to start cloth diapering by spending no more than you would normally spend on disposables. Most of the examples I will give you will be without using sales or coupons. If you find coupons or good sales, the price could be even cheaper. The first week or two might suck, but it would be worth it in the end. I will post what to do week by week for 8 weeks (the posts won't be a week apart though,) by 8 weeks you will have a decent diaper stash and can start spending that diaper money on other things (or buying more cloth diapers, if you need them.) My hope is that this little "project" will help someone be able to cloth diaper who didn't otherwise think that  they could afford it.

For the purpose of this "experiment" I am going to say that $20 per week is spent on disposable diapers. That is how much you would spend if you bought one big package of disposables a week. I know that I used more than one package a week when my son was a newborn, so your actual cost may be slightly more or less. I do NOT recommend using the cheap Gerber prefolds/covers that they sell at Wal-Mart or Target. Those prefolds are junk and don't work in diapers very well. If you happen to have $50 to spend upfront, I recommend this kit. It contains 12 prefold diapers, 3 covers and a wetbag. Use it for the first week instead of what I recommend, if you only have $20, read on:

Week One:
receiving blanket folded into quarters
The very first thing you should do (if you haven't already) is sign up for Swag bucks. My guide to Swagbucks can be found here. It may take a while to earn the swag bucks but it is totally worth it. Once you earn 450 you can trade them in for a $5 Amazon gift card. Amazon has lots of cloth diapers and free shipping with Amazon mom. By the end of the 8 weeks you should have at least one or two gift cards.
Almost all moms have some receiving blankets. I am assuming that you have at least 4. You will need at least 12 for the first week. If you have more, great! If not, head out to a thrift store or kids consignment store. I've seen them at both for $.25 each. Buy 8 so that you have a dozen. This should last for a day, more is better so if you had more to begin with you're doing good. Cost: $2.00 Now head over to cottonbabies.com and buy two Econobum one-size covers. I snagged a Flip cover on cottonbabies for $9 (normally $14) once so check clearance first just to make sure there are no cheaper covers on sale. There are many covers out there but this is one of the cheapest places that has free shipping. Total cost: $20. If you have a few extra bucks throw in a snappi with your order for $3.95. If not, find some diaper pins somewhere for the first week. My mom still has the pins she used with MY diapers 24 years ago, she uses them to pin socks together. If you prefer to shop on Amazon (free and faster shipping with Amazon mom) try this Kushies cover. It is "two sized" so you might get a better fit. If you just don't have the money to spend on the cover and wait for it to arrive, pick up a couple pairs of the icky plastic pants from Wal-Mart or Target. These are pretty much the worst of the worst when it comes to cloth diapering, but they'll work in a pinch. These are super cheap so if you buy them, buy more receiving blankets so that you can go longer without washing.

What about wipes?
I didn't factor the cost of wipes into this experiment so I am assuming you have some already. I used disposable wipes with my cloth diapers for about a year before making the switch to cloth wipes. If you do want to use cloth wipes baby wash cloths, pieces of flannel or cut up receiving blankets work well. Stuff the pieces into a disposable wipes container with water and a tiny bit of baby soap.

Now you have your diapers, what do you do?
Mikaela in a receiving blanket "diaper"
We are going to use the receiving blankets like a flat diaper. There are many ways to fold flat diapers but for those who are new (or those, like me, who are lazy) to cloth diapering might find these folds intimidating. Instead fold the diaper into quarters (shown above) and use it like a prefold. Check out this site for different folds, it's an older site but I think she does a good job explaining. I prefer the newspaper fold, for a small baby, if your baby is larger you can simply tri-fold and stick it in the cover. I am certainly not the best at folding prefolds or flats so if I can do it, you can do it! This may not look perfect but it held up great under a cover.

Washing Diapers - How to:
I have posted before about laundry issues with cloth diapering. I realize that many people don't have the extra money to spend for a cloth diaper specific detergent, so for this week just use what you have. Make sure that you do not use fabric softeners, bleach, or dryer sheets. These are all bad for your diapers. Simply wash the diapers with about 1/4 of the amount of recommended detergent. Many people have had luck washing their diapers in Tide. When I first started cloth diapering I just used regular detergent (eco-friendly brand from Sams club) and it worked fine. Line drying will prevent stains (you may not care about them on the blankets but you will later with "real" diapers and it saves money. Always line dry your diapers covers or dry them on very low heat, otherwise they can get ruined.

What about being out of the house?
Use the diapers as usual when you are out of the house. If you have extra disposables from last week you can use those, otherwise use the blankets/covers. Use a plastic bag to put the dirty diapers in. In a couple of weeks you will be buying a wetbag but for now just use the plastic bag. Make sure it has no holes in it or double up.

Other cheap cloth diapering ideas:
Check out diaperswappers for pre-owned diapers. After you sign up make sure to check the FFS (free for shipping) category. This stuff goes fast but a lot of times they have FFS lottos that you can sign up for, many of them are only for those who truly need diapers. There is a LOT of drama on this site and if you want to avoid that stick with the FSOT (for sale or trade) part only.
The Cloth Diapering Foundation does diaper grants to those who really need them. I don't know much about it, but check it out. :)
Make your own! There are lots of sites with diaper patterns if you are crafty enough.

So there you have week one. I just want to show how it's possible to cloth diaper on very little money. Next week (like I said before, I'm not actually posting these a week apart, they're just examples) you will be buying "fancier" pocket diapers.


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