Cloth diapering is a huge money-saver for many families. Just about any cloth diaper can save money over disposables. Spending $50 a month on disposables costs about $1500 over 2 1/2 years. That's calculated on using 8 diapers a day that cost about 20 cents each. The numbers change if your diapers are a little cheaper or a little more expensive. A younger child can easily go through more diapers, while an older child may get by on 6 a day. Once you have another child, the costs start all over again.
Cloth is more upfront, but over the long haul, saves money. Here's the average cost of different kinds of cloth diapers (based on buying 24 per child/size):
Kind of diaper
number of sizes
median cost per diaper
cost per size
total average cost
sized all in one
sized pocket diaper
all in two
1 (many all in two diapers are one size diapers)
$12 per change
one size pocket
$180 plus about $100 for covers
$1008 plus $100 for covers
Accessories like a wet bag, pail liner, Snappis, doublers and detergent will cost about another $100-150.
This is a very rough estimate. You may spend more or less depending on the number of each style you buy and how long the diapers last. The chart includes a median price of many brands. While the selection is more limited, there are some discount brands that can cost about 30% less.
For longevity, you can expect diapers like prefolds to be a little more durable. Sized diapers will also last through more children than one-size diapers, since they are used for a shorter period of time with each child. When using sized diapers, some children will never outgrow mediums and will only need 2 sizes. All these factors make it difficult to say exactly how much you'd spend. It's clear, though, that the upper limit on these items is about $1500, the same as what you'd spend on disposables for one child.
So, now that you know the cost, what do you do if you don't have it? Part II will focus on moving to full cloth diapering with a partial stash.