Cloth diapers are totally worth it, and can save you lots of money in the long run. But there’s usually a big upfront cost to using cloth diapers! This post is all about affording cloth diapers on a budget, so you CAN use cloth, no matter what your income level!
Have the upfront costs of modern cloth diapers frustrated you?
I’ve been there.
And I found a solution.
My Cloth Diaper Story
It wasn’t long after the birth of my second daughter when I realized my family would barely be able to afford diapers for both our children, since our 2-year-old wasn’t potty trained. It was the perfect time to suggest cloth diapers to my husband.
So I happily set out to research modern cloth diapers.
And I quickly became frustrated. The brand my one cloth diapering friend recommended cost $20 per diaper.
I realized I would have to spend money (money we didn’t have) to save money, and it just didn’t make sense.
Cloth Diaper Loans
I set out to find a way—any way—my family could afford the start-up costs of cloth diapering. My search led me to The Cloth Diaper Foundation. This diaper lending program is no longer open, but there are several alternatives, such as The Rebecca Foundation or Share the Love.
The premise of these non-profit organizations is to provide diaper loans to parents who cannot afford the start-up costs of cloth diapers. Share the Love has host locations around the United States. The Rebecca Foundation has chapters around the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. For some diaper lending programs, applicants need to meet certain income qualifications to be eligible. (Although not for all!)
Once our application to the Cloth Diaper Foundation was processed, The CDF loaned us 12 diapers per child for the cost of shipping. My family received 24 diapers—12 for each of our girls.
Sometimes diaper foundations will send new diapers, but they mostly send out gently-used diapers. They rely on donations from cloth diaper companies and individuals who want to spread “cloth love” to other mamas.
The goal of these programs is that parents will use the loaned diapers while slowly building their own stashes, as their income allows. Parents will then return the diapers for other families to use.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope
As cloth diapering has gained more popularity, organizations like the Cloth Diaper Foundation are popping up all over North America.
Giving Diapers, Giving Hope started in early 2011 as another diaper-lending organization for low-income families. Cloth diapering mom Kristen McCarthy began the program after losing her job and house and finding herself in a tough financial situation.
“I started to think, what WOULD other people do if they were in a similar situation and DIDN’T cloth diaper? How would they diaper their children?” Kristen says on the Giving Diapers, Giving Hope website.
The program is open to anyone within the continental United States. Applicants must meet certain income requirements and pay for the shipping of the diapers. Recipients must return their diapers at the end of their loan.
Local Diaper Lending Programs
The Rebecca Foundation and Giving Diapers, Giving Hope operate on a national level, but many other communities offer smaller programs to local families in need.
Local to me, Sweet Cheeks Diaper Kits is a North Carolina non-profit that makes, collects and distributes cloth diapering supplies in their area. Each kit contains everything a parent needs to cloth diaper one child full-time, including a diaper pail, handmade T-shirt diapers, donated brand-name diapers and covers, handmade wipes, a spray bottle, detergent, diaper cream, stay-dry liners AND on-going support!
Volunteers from the community get together for a Diaper Derby each month, where they recycle old T-shirts to make the fitted T-shirt diapers for the kits.
Many other organizations like this exist around the country! Search on Google or Facebook to see what might be in your area.
But how do I build my own cloth diaper stash cheaply?
The point of a cloth diaper loan is to allow you to cloth diaper full time while slowly building your own stash.
There are ways to build a stash of modern cloth diapers cheaply:
1. Buy used
Buy used from cloth diaper companies, Craigslist, DiaperSwappers, from Facebook trading and selling sites, etc. (Just exercise caution when you don’t personally know the seller!)
2. Make your own
Cotton Babies has an excellent blog post on making your own cloth diapers and accessories—even if you don’t know how to sew!
3. Buy second-quality new diapers
Many companies will sell their slightly imperfect diapers for a fraction of the retail price. I bought several Bum Genius diapers for $8, and they work perfectly!
4. Buy off-brands
The bulk of my stash are Kawaii brand diapers, which cost about half the price of name-brand diapers. I have found them to hold up as well (or better!) than my more expensive diapers.
5. Are you a missionary?
Cotton Babies offers a grant program for missionary families, providing gently-used (and sometimes new!) cloth diapers.
6. Remember: You don’t need EVERYTHING
You can “swish” poopy diapers in the toilet; a diaper sprayer isn’t necessary. You can make your own stay-dry liners out of fleece remnants. You can use baby washcloths instead of buying pricey cloth wipes. If you get the diapers, you can be creative with the rest.
A Cloth Diaper Challenge for YOU!
If you have a low income, I hope this post has given you HOPE that there IS a way to afford the start-up costs of cloth diapering.
But what if you aren’t low-income? What if you already have all you need to cloth diaper your babies? What if your babies are already grown?
I want to leave you with a challenge. Why not give to Giving Diapers, Giving Hope; or another diaper lending organization?
You can donate your gently-used diapers, new diapers or even monetarily.
Many mamas want to cloth diaper their babies and think that they can’t.
Maybe you can help them out?
Or maybe…just maybe, God is leading you to take it a step further and start your own diaper lending program in your local community. The organizations I listed can only service so many families.
How did you afford the start-up costs of cloth diapers? Do you know of any other diaper lending programs? What are your ideas for affording cloth diapers?
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
My eBook, Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, is a 200+-page handbook that will tell you all you need to know to have a successful cloth diapering journey! To read more about this book, click here.