method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Cloth Diapering for the Lazy Parent

Cloth diapering is surprisingly easy. Invest in cloth diapers and you’ll save money as well as space at the landfill. Cast aside your preconceptions: even the laziest parent can cloth diaper. You’re going to be changing diapers no matter what. All that cloth diapering will require of you is a little extra laundry.

Baby Calvin in a cloth diaper with Thirsties cover. 3 weeks old.

Baby Calvin in a cloth diaper with Thirsties cover. 3 weeks old.


  • Money saved. A child will go through about 8,000 diapers. At $.25 per diaper, that adds up to $2,000 spent on disposables. (Evans, Lindsay. “Dumping Disposable Diapers.” Mothering. April 2008: 50.) If you cloth diaper, you’ll spend about half of that amount, depending on which types of cloth diapers you buy. You will really rake in the savings if you have more than you child.
  • Less waste. Unfortunately I can’t promise less waste in the diaper, but it does feel good to know that your kid’s dirty diaper won’t be sitting in a landfill for all of eternity.
  • A better product. My cloth diapers work better than the disposables that I’ve tried. They contain messes very well.
  • A cuter look. Since putting my son in colorful little diapers, I really can’t stand to see him in an ugly disposable.
  • Cloth wipes. I love, love, love my baby’s cloth wipes. I find them much easier to use than the slimy disposable wipes and they are also much gentler on his skin.
  • Easier potty-training? I’ve read that this is the case, but it remains to be seen whether or not this is my experience.
  • Less diaper rash? Some people say that their baby is sensitive to the chemicals in the disposable diaper. My son has had only one bout of diaper rash, which I’ll detail below.


  • There is a big upfront cost. When you spend $200 to buy enough diapers for your newborn only to find that he is a humongous baby and outgrows those diapers much too quickly, you will question whether you really made the right decision. My son is now 9 months old and I have spent about $800 on diapers. I expect to spend about $200 more until he is potty-trained.
  • You have to do additional laundry, and you might see your water bill increase a bit. A newborn needs his diaper changed very frequently, and you can expect to do laundry three or four times a week. An older baby’s laundry will only need attention once or twice a week.
  • Yeast. It doesn’t seem that this is too common, but yeast overgrowth can occur in a warm, wet cloth diaper. We had a case of yeast a couple months ago.  I was very concerned because the yeast seemed to have taken up permanent residence in my cloth diapers. The good news:  you can help prevent yeast by (1) using grapefruit seed extract in your diaper spray bottle, (2) giving your baby probiotics to help promote a healthy gut, and (3) making sure that baby is totally dry before putting on a new diaper. All of these are good practices anyway. The bad news: if you do get yeast, you may have to boil your diapers in order to strip them.

If I’ve piqued your interest, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Prefolds. Up until about six months, you’ll probably want three dozen. After that you really only need two dozen.
  • Diaper covers. Up until six months, you’ll probably want six or seven. After that you only need about four or five. Thirsties are my personal favorite.
  • Snappis. These handy things make pinning a diaper a snap. Get two or three.
  • Cloth wipes. Three dozen.
  • A cheap spray bottle from the $.99 bin at Target. You can fill it with water or make your own wipes solution (I use water plus 15 drops of grapefruit seed extract, which helps prevent yeast.)
  • Wet bags and pail liners. I prefer Wahmies. You’ll need about three wet bags for your diaper bag, and two pail liners for your changing station at home.
  • A tall kitchen trash can with a lid. You’ll put your pail liner in it and then you’ll dump your dirty diapers in there. Don’t worry, it really won’t smell much at all, until it starts getting full.
  • A good laundry detergent. You do have to be careful with what kind of detergent you use on your diapers. I like Charlie’s Soap, which incidentally is a very cheap detergent. You may even find that you start using it for all your laundry.

This may seem like a complicated setup, but you won’t even think about it after a day or two. Best of all, you’ll never run out of diapers or wipes! You will have to keep up with the laundry though. Since I change most of the diapers, my husband handles the diaper laundry. He doesn’t consider this a burden at all – after all it only takes a few minutes to start the machines. My husband is just about as lazy as they come, so if he can do it – so can you!

June 17, 2009 - Posted by | all things baby, crunchy


  1. There are also things like pocket diapers, that eliminate the need for snappis and covers. Which is a good idea for those that are wanting to make things a bit easier.

    Comment by Kim ( | June 18, 2009

    • Yes, but not quite as cost-efficient!

      Comment by lizzyd | June 18, 2009

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: