Stay at Home Mom

How to Cloth Diaper Birth to Toddler for Around $100

When I was busy preparing for the birth of my first son, I did quite a bit of research on cloth diapering. I knew that it was something I wanted to do for so many reasons. First of all, it’s way cheaper. Second of all, it’s way less chemicals your child is exposed to. Third, it’s not much different than using commercial diapers.

Looking to cloth diaper and save some real money? Here's how we did it for around $100

So I started doing some shopping online, and I was finding that the prices of brand new cloth diapers were a bit startling. Some diapers run as much as $20+ for just one diaper. Multiply that by the approximate 35 diapers you need to get started and you are looking at a whopping $700 bill. Eeps!!

Today I wanted to share with you a few things I did, in order to get our cloth diaper bill down to only around $100. But first I just wanted to mention that I do not cloth diaper 100 percent of the time. I cloth diaper more around 80 percent of the time. I typically do not cloth diaper when we are traveling, and I do not cloth diaper overnight. My son wears a disposable diaper overnight, but you can easily add more stuffing to a cloth diaper and do overnights very easily.

At any rate, I simply wanted to touch on our own home practices because I want everyone to know that you can make small changes in your family to become more sustainable. You don’t have to be all or nothing. Cloth diapering even part of the time will make a huge impact on the Earth in the long run.

Just think if everyone cloth diapered around 50 percent of the time how much waste we would save to create a greener environment…

So here is how we decided to cloth diaper and do if for only about $100:

Buy cloth diapers used.

This may sound gross or concerning, but it’s actually great. Most people take very good care of their cloth diapers, and it’s easy to tell if a diaper is in good condition when you put your eyes on it.

Places to shop for cloth diapers used:

Things to look for in a used cloth diaper:

  • Minimal stains
  • Snaps that work
  • Elastic around leg area in good condition

Questions to ask the seller:

  • How were the diapers cared for?
  • What soap was used?
  • Were they stored in a wet or dry pail?
  • Was diaper cream used?

All of these things effect the lifespan of a diaper, so they are important questions to ask and feel informed about before buying used. You are of course taking a leap of faith, however, in my experience I can usually tell if the seller is telling the truth or not.

Consider buying pre-folds.

Pre-folds are the most economical cloth diapers available, and they are my personal favorite. Fold them in thirds and lay them inside a diaper cover is the simplest way to use them, which is exactly what I do. You can also get creative with your diaper folds and secure with a Snappi or diaper pin; I am not particularly good at various diaper folds so I don’t use this method.

Traditional pre-folds are made with cotton but newer options are available in both hemp and bamboo. A diaper cover (i.e. shell) or wool soaker is essential to keep the wetness contained. Diaper covers may be one-sized or a sized cover.

The one-sized cover actually means it adjusts to varying sizes using snaps and grows with your child from birth to toddler. A sized cover is fixed and does not grow with your child. Pre-fold diapers also serve a dual purpose as burp cloths, household clean-ups, and more.

What I did exactly.

I bought 50 infant pre-folds and 8 shells from a mom on Craigslist for $50. The diapers were originally priced for more, and I negotiated her down on the price. One of the best reasons to buy pre-folds used is that other types of diapers are far more popular. So the demand for pre-folds used is LESS. This gives you really nice negotiating power when it comes time to purchase.

5 of the shells I purchased used were Flip Cloth Diaper Cover. I LOVE Flip Cloth Diaper Cover and I would recommend them to anyone. They have nice flaps for the pre-fold to slide into and it keeps them nicely in place. The other 3 shells I purchased were Ecobum. I’m not crazy about them, and I only used them when I run out of the Flip Cloth Diaper Cover. They do the job, but they are not as nice in my opinion.

When my son outgrew the infant pre-folds, I purchased larger OsoCozy Unbleached Cloth Prefolds — Size 2 brand new off Amazon. (The shells adjust in size from birth all the way through toddlerhood, so that is the major benefit to shells.)

OsoCozy Unbleached Cloth Prefolds — Size 2

  • 100% soft unbleached Indian cotton
  • Fits 15-30 pounds

Right now 12 diapers will run you about $38, which is a great deal considering you can use them over and over again until it’s time to learn to potty. You can of course always buy more than 12. I think right now, I have around 18 and that easily gets me through about 3 days.

How to fold and use a prefold cloth diaper.

Looking to cloth diaper and save some real money? Here's how we did it for around $100

I also just wanted to show what loose elastic looks like on a diaper shell. Ours were used when we bought them, and my son is now a toddler. So the our Flip shells have been used for quite some time. You can purchase new elastic and replace it, if that is something you would ever like to try. We still use our shells with loose elastic, and don’t experience too much issue with it.

For more information about how to cloth diaper, care for cloth diapers, and more types of cloth diapers….see The Ultimate Cloth Diapering Guide.

Ready to read more about Natural Parenting and Earth Month?

Check out countless other ways you can make small changes in your home to make a big GREEN difference!

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What’s your best tip or question on cloth diapering on a budget? Let’s chat in the comments!

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  1. There are also lots of cloth diaper groups on Facebook where you can find great second hand diapers. I joined a few in my area and was able to grab a large set of inserts for an amazing price.

  2. AuntSue
    With my six, I used prefold diapers and plastic pants. I know, the dark ages. But there was something about putting a clean soft cotton diaper on those little bums. My daughters found to buy PUL covers in adorable prints and colors and thick liners for about $70 a dozen, new. They have lots of snaps to adjust through toddler sizes. I found that 2 dozen diapers were plenty. They are marketed to the China market, and are so much more affordable,

    1. I always love when you stop by and leave a comment Susan. You’ve been with my blog for a long time, and I really appreciate your personal stories. When I was a baby, my parents used prefolds and plastic pants. Prefolds shells now are really just modern day plastic pants that are a bit more breathable. Sunbabydiapers…that’s a great tip! Thanks for sharing!


  3. Awesome post! I’ve used cloth diapers for nearly 7 years now. Wow!

    I can’t recommend them highly enough. I’d love to work out how much we’ve saved using them. I’m am however, looking forward to the end of diapers as my two year old twins are now only in diapers at night time. (I have to use disposables, I can’t find cloth ones that don’t leak.)

    The prefolds are definitely my favourite in terms of use but I do love some of the cute fluffy ones. I have blueberries.

    1. Yeah, same here…well, I usually just use a disposable at night for peace of mind. I know there are several types of nicer cloth diapers around for overnight, but my pre-folds would likely get too wet over 12 hours. I would definitely try blueberries, just haven’t needed to yet. Thanks for stopping by.


  4. I was diapering in the 80’s… plain, flat sheet styled cotton diapers with safety pins and rubber pants in our house, which were stored in a plastic pail until laundry day (PEE-EW), how that old diaper pail used to smell when lid was lifted!

    Into the washing machine diapers and pants would go, then into the plastic laundry basket and out the back porch door I’d go, basket in hands and one-by-one, every diaper and pair of rubber pants was pinned to the line!

    For extra added absorbency, two diapers were pinned under rubber pants, which made for a bulky bottom, resulting in said kid waddling like a duck, not to mention, the unmistakable plasticy-rustling sound of rubber pants with said kids each and every step!

    And yes, holding those big old diaper pins between pressed lips at change-time, was all in a day’s work!

  5. Baby bucket cloths diaper is cheaper than other brand. Yes pee does not leak out but at same time it doesn’t remain child wet free…even after only one time pee my baby began to feel restless…I mean need change .

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