First of all, this is not a prefolds vs. pockets post. I like and use them both (and prefolds make up most of my stash). My focus today is on mathematics.
What got me curious are some comments I found floating around on blog posts and forums which sounded something like this:
“I like the sized prefolds; it’s still cheaper than any pocket system.”
“We use prefolds with our daughter…….It is expensive to get started with the newer types of cloth diapers.”
“It’s cheaper to replace a cover than it is to replace an entire pocket diaper.”
“There are times I feel guilty that I didn’t go more of the prefold/cover or fitted/cover route because it would have been cheaper…”
There seems to be an unwritten understanding out there that if you want to cloth diaper cheaply, then the only choice is flats/prefolds and covers. But is it really cheaper than choosing pocket diapers? Well, here are the start-up costs for 5 comparable systems, utilizing Kelly’s Closet (among others) as a price source source. I used Alva and Sunbaby in my calculations because these are highly popular, low-cost, recognized imports with a track record of good customer service and ethical labor practices. I used Econobum covers in my prefold and flat calculations in the interest of equity since it happens to be one of the lowest-price “one size” covers on the market. Yes, there are more expensive pockets out there AND more expensive covers, too.
Ok, here’s what I came up with:
- 24 Alva diapers with 24 inserts through a co-op or Ebay = $72.00 (about $3.00 per diaper – sometimes you can actually find them for less than this!)
- 24 “Flour Sack Towel” flats (Target, Walmart, etc.) with 6 Econobum covers = $77.70 ($1.00 per flat and $8.95 per cover)
- 24 Cotton Babies birdseye flats with 6 Econobum OS covers = $91.70 ($1.58 per flat and $8.95 per cover)
- 24 Cotton Babies infant Indian prefolds with 6 Econobum OS covers = $95.70 ($1.75 per prefold and $8.95 per cover)
- 24 Size 1 Sunbaby diapers with 24 inserts = $108.00 (about $4.50 per diaper)
IMPORTANT: These are just start-up costs. And I used a ONE SIZE cover in my flat/prefold calculations. Many mothers prefer SIZED covers with brands like Thirsties and Bummis being very popular. Those will actually run you $10 to $13 each, which would raise the cost even more. Most babies also need SIZED prefolds; rare is the baby who can wear the same prefolds from birth to potty training. Moms who pocket diaper might also need something else for the newborn phase, too.
It looks like imported pockets can actually be cheaper than a stash of prefolds or even flats. You can even buy 2 brand new pocket diapers (with inserts) for the price of one waterproof cover.
It’s easy to see why imported pockets are flooding the market and encouraging mothers on tight budgets to take the cloth diaper plunge. Interestingly, for the second year in a row, the Cloth Diaper Survey has revealed that pockets are still the most popular style of diapering system.
Whatever choice is ultimately made, I’m just happy that there are lots of different “budget-friendly” cloth diapering options out there – this encourages more families to get on board! And Kelly’s Closet is just one of the places that you can get pretty much everything you need, whatever type of system you start out with. If you aren’t part of a co-op or want to try another economical pocket besides Sunbaby or Alva, Kelly’s Closet does carry Kawaii diapers for just $10.95 each.
I’d LOVE to know how your family has managed to cloth diaper for very little money – please share your stories in a comment below.