Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cloth diapering while working: Still worth it?

Can you do cloth diapering as a working parent? Even if you're having issues with child care providers not working with you on cloth diapers, cloth diapering, even as a part-time choice, is still an option for you.

Just as maybe you're not always able to recycle everywhere you go, you don't have to do disposable diapers at every changing session. For our family, we've settled into a routine of part-time cloth diapering, and I am working on increasing my husband's comfort level with using cloth during naptimes and errands.

A co-worker of mine, who's expecting her first, is considering using a diaper service. Even if she sticks with it during maternity leave and goes to disposable after the fact, she's likely coming out ahead financially and still helping the environment.

But what if your child is older? Does it still make sense? Do the math:

Assume that you, like myself, have a child who's wearing size 3 diapers. We go through about six changes a day.

A package of Pampers costs about $12 for 35 diapers (about six days or three weekends' worth).

Assume we go light and purchase seven all-in-one diapers, which are the most costly variety of diapers but most convenient when you're time-crunched. These run about $15 each. Assume we agree to do laundry Saturday night (and having an extra diaper on-hand when we forget to dry them overnight!)

Those seven all-in-ones would cost about $105. (That's not including shipping, but then, I don't factor in driving to the store for diapers, either.) For that same $105, we could buy 8.75 packages of disposable diapers. For those keeping score, that's 306 diapers or 51 days' worth.

In other words, after weekend 26 you're starting to come out ahead.

(Yes, I concede that there's extra laundry involved, and with disposables there's the pail liners and other accessories. It's challenging to do a complete cost analysis.)

Want to do more? You could always sew your own all-in-ones.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm 70 yrs. old and used cloth diapers for all three children.
I'm shocked at the amount of money people spend on convenient diapering solutions--my own daughter included.
If you don't want to spend that extra money, then you might want to consider using the easy method I finally used to deal with dirty diapers (by the time the third baby came along): I rinsed each feces-soiled diaper quickly in the toilet, then dropped it into a bucket that contained water and a small, small amount of bleach. Urine-soaked? Just drop it directly into the bucket. To wash, I just dumped the whole bucket into the washer, ran a pre-wash cycle and then a heavy-duty wash with double-rinse. No wringing out or other machinations which I had done with the first two babies. Once I used this efficient method, washing diapers was not as big a deal as it had been -- even when I had two babies in diapers at the same time. In addition, today's pre-folded cloth diapers make it relatively easy to dry, fold (or not) and store the clean pile.