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Cloth Diapering on a Budget

I hear it all the time…

We thought about cloth but it was just too expensive.

…and I totally get it. When I was pregnant and looking for advice I would see people with drawers FULL of pockets, AIOs, prefolds, every kind and brand of cover under the sun. I wondered if I had seriously underestimated the amount my baby was going to poop every day.

There is a tendency…for cloth users…to accumulate a huge stash. It makes parents new to cloth feel like they need to get 2 dozen whatevers just to get started. (It’s really not necessary unless you’re 40 miles from the nearest washing machine.)

It didn’t seem like an economical choice at all. I started to worry. “How are we going to do this? It doesn’t seem like we can afford disposable diapers OR cloth. I am a failure as a parent.

If you’re feeling like that, pump your brakes. Once you’ve gotten over the initial hump, they’re really much cheaper. It does look like a lot to buy at once but it doesn’t have to be that way. I have some tips for you. Advice I wish I had found when I was getting started.


People are going to give you diapers (and wipes!) whether you ask, want them, or not. At your shower. Co-workers. Acquaintences. The hospital. They’re free. USE THEM while you build your stash.

If you’re alredy using disposables it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Use what you have, build your stash.


Skip the newborn sizes. We didn’t get any because I simply couldn’t. It worked out fine because our baby seemed to triple in size the first month.

  1. Newborns poop and pee A LOT. This is why people give you diapers. To get enough cloth to keep up with a newborn is expensive. Especially if you are looking at fitteds or certain WAHM brands.
  2. Your baby will grow out of them so fast. Unless you have a preemie or VERY tiny baby who will be able to put enough miles on that size to make it worth it, don’t bother.
  3. Unless…you know for sure you are going to cloth diaper more newborns. Buy some. Buy more when you have another little.


You don’t need that many covers to start. There’s no reason to buy 15 covers. We started with 4 Thirsties Duo Wrap aplix covers (1 blue, 1 green, 2 white). I didn’t like the way they fit the baby. I didn’t like the way the aplix seemed to make the front take longer to air dry than the rest. Some people love them…they didn’t work for us.

One of those were given to us so I actually bought 3. I over-bought 3. I knew within the first week of using it that I wasn’t going to be a huge fan of that particular cover.

My suggestion would be buy 1 of 3 different covers. The three covers we have used, in order of most loved to least:

  1. Blueberry Coveralls – Snap
  2. Bummis Pull-on
  3. Thirsties Duo Wrap – Aplix

Right now we have 6 Blueberry covers with snaps that we trifold medium GMD prefolds into. I wish I had started with those covers because they are truly birth to potty. I adore the pull-ons and they are ideal to use with a fitted or diapering with prefolds and a snappis. Never used any pockets or AIOs because I didn’t want to deal with microfiber or not being able to nuke the diaper with hot water because it was attached to a PUL shell that would ruin if I did.


100% cotton is your friend. Microfiber tends to be cheaper but more fussy with stains and odors.

All our prefolds are GMD’s Cloth-eez. Start with 1 dozen, Yellow Edge Smalls.

I can’t recommend any Chinese knock-off brands of anything because I have never used them. People love Alva and Sun Baby brands but you’ll have to look for more specific information from other people.


Register for covers at Amazon. Set up a cloth diaper registry at Green Mountain Diapers. On your shower invites, make sure to note that in lieu of a gift, a monetary donation towards your cloth diaper fund would be greatly appreciated. Every little bit helps.

…and finally

It’s ok.

It’s ok if you buy “china cheapies” on ebay.
It’s ok if you use disposables from time to time.
It’s ok if you look at the Good Mama diapers and want to cry. (Seriously, don’t look.)
It’s ok if you don’t get the cutest covers
It’s ok if you can’t afford adorable made in the USA WAHM fitteds and covers
It’s ok if you decide cloth isn’t right for your family

Ultimately, these are utilitarian products. They are to catch and hold the feces and urine of our sweet little babies. Don’t try to be the Valedictorian of Diapering. I promsie you will be looking at tiny potties and step stools before you know it. Don’t sweat it.