In Starting with a Partial Stash Part I, I explored the cost of the different diapering options available today. It seemed that no matter what kind of cloth diaper you choose, you can save over using disposable diapers. Now, what if you just can't swing the money for the start up stash? Here's how you can make cloth diapering a reality on a tight budget.
For expecting moms, your solution may be a little simpler. I recommend that expecting parents put aside $30-50 a month away until the baby comes. That's how much they'd need for disposables each month. Even with 5-6 months of saving, they have enough for a decent stash of whatever kind of diaper they want to use. If they keep putting aside that money for a few months after the baby is born, they can build a final set or size up without feeling a big pinch.
It's easy to register for cloth diapers through a baby registry. Snooty Booty Diapers even offers a completion certificate to help you buy what wasn't purchased!
Now for those past the baby registry and really wanting to start with cloth, you can still do it. I'm going to list several options and how how many months you'd need until you can switch over. For these calculations, I'm going to go with the retail prices I found with disposables and cloth, since they are the only stable prices to work with. Tax is also not included. Accessories like wet bags, wipes, etc. would be added at your discretion. This is for diapers only. If you find better deals, then you'll be able to switch over more quickly.
Option 1: Prefolds
$50 Econobum starter kit (12 changes)
$10 Huggies 35 count
With this option, you'd have enough to diaper fully during the day and could wash each night while using 1 disposable each night. If you have an older child that needs 6-8 diapers a day, you'd actually be able to wash every day and a half to two days. It would be possible to bypass the dipsosables altogether.
If you decided you loved the prefolds, you could buy another dozen prefolds, a few more covers and you'd be set. The switch over would take 1 month! If you decided that you wanted to mix in other kinds of diapers, here's the breakdown of time (assuming that you put the $50 disposable diaper money into more cloth diapers each month):
all in two: 4 months for 18 all in two changes, 6 months for 24 all in two changes, 1-3 months if you keep using your prefolds
one size/pocket/all in one: 6 months for 18 changes, 8 months for 24 changes, 2-4 months if you keep using your prefolds
If you're using sized diapers, keep putting aside the money each month so it's there when it's time to size up.
As you see, it's easy to move to full diapering after 1 month. You would need to wash more often than if you started with 24 diapers, but it's not impossible. After 8 months maximum, you could be fully diapering with the stash of your choice. In many cases, it would be much shorter.
What if you really can't handle prefolds (they are easy!) and need something more streamlined?
Here's another scenario. It's a little more expensive and will take more time, but here it is:
$20 for 72 Huggies
$70 for 6 all in two changes
If you use 2 disposables a day (1 during naptime, 1 at night), then you could use the 6 all in two changes throughout the day. This would work with an older child that uses 6-8 total diapers a day. You'd need to do wash each day. After that, you could slowly mix in other kinds of diapers.
It's clear that the best way to start is to get the most changes for your dollar. It means mixing in other kinds you'd prefer as you go along, but after a month or so, your dependency on disposables and prefolds would decrease.