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Cloth Diapering on a Budget: Breakdown of Prices by Diaper Systems

Real Cost of Cloth Diapers

Yahoo! If you’re reading this post, that means you either already use cloth diapers or are considering using them – pat yourself on the back! 

Now, reel yourself in from all those pretty colors and prints that you see and think about your budget. Because let me tell you – it’s easy to over spend on these little beauties!

Think I’m kidding?

Then you probably haven’t started buying yet. I’m really not sure what it is, but cloth diapers do get a bit addicting – silly to say out loud, but you’ll probably find out {if you haven’t already}. 

Today we’re going to look at the real cost of cloth diapering. This is especially important if you’re on a budget.

Cloth Diapering on a Budget

Here’s the thing that can be overwhelming – there are quite a few different types of cloth diapering systems. 

Here’s a great overview of them all if you need some help. 

Depending on what system you choose, will depend on your budget. We’re going to be focusing on the more budget-friendly systems and their costs.


We’re going to be using some generalizations for these calculations. 

Here’s what we’re using:

  • Based on 1 child in diapers.
  • We’re going to say that you average 12 diapers a day.  This is an ESTIMATE {and a high one at that}.  If your baby is younger, you’ll use more.  If your baby is older, you’ll use a lot less.
  • We’re also going to say that we will purchase enough diapers to wash every other day – so we’ll need 24 diapers.  If you’re on a budget, this is a great amount of diapers.

Prefold and Covers Cloth Diapering System


Prefolds and Flats are quite possibly the cheapest way to cloth diaper. I’ve chosen to price prefolds as they are a little more user friendly since they are already folded to give the most absorbency. 

The Kawaii Organic Natural Cotton Prefolds are priced at $19.95 for a pack of 12.

Another great thing about this system is you’re able to re-use diaper covers a few times before washing, as long as they aren’t soiled. This way, you’re able to purchase less covers. 6 Sweet Pea Diaper OS Covers would be plenty for 1 child, at washing every other day.

As long as you launder your diapers and covers correctly and line dry your covers {this will prolong their life}, you can easily expect them to last through 1 child, if not more.

You’ve cloth diapered a child for 3 years on a budget of $109.55.

All-in-Two Cloth Diapering System


There are plenty of All in Two Cloth Diaper Systems available to purchase. For this price breakdown, I’m using Button Cloth Diapers. This system is very similar to the Best Bottom Cloth Diapers, if you’re familiar with it. 

It’s a bit simpler than prefolds as there is no folding at all. You simply lay an insert into the cover and put it on your baby. These covers can also be re-used and are a One Size cover, so great savings there. You can double up the inserts for more absorbency, which is great for overnight diapering.

Once again, there’s no reason that these diapers wouldn’t last you all the way through Potty Training on 1 child, and probably more than 1 child! 

You’ve cloth diapered a child for 3 years on a budget of $156.00.

China Imported Pocket Cloth Diapering System


We’ll get more into the subject of using China Imported Cloth Diapers in another post in this series, but for now – know that it is an inexpensive system to use when cloth diapering on a budget. 

Using the pocket cloth diapers from Comfy Rumps, you’ll save a ton on pocket cloth diapers if you choose to go this route with pocket cloth diapers. These are one size cloth diapers, so once your baby hits around 10 pounds, they should work all the way until they potty train!

Line drying the shells will help prolong the life of pocket diapers so that they will last all the way through potty training on one child and maybe more.

You’ve cloth diapered a child for 3 years on a budget of $190.80.

Just for the sake of comparison, here’s a couple of figures of a bit more expensive, popular modern systems:

24 bumGenius 4.0 Pocket Cloth Diapers – $430.80

24 AppleCheeks Envelope Covers & Inserts –  $696 {*Note this is a 2 size system, so you’ll actually have to purchase more for 2 sizes}.

Now let’s look at the comparison to Disposables.

After reading the cost breakdown of Disposables on Thinking About Cloth Diapers, I decided to use the 25 cent/diaper cost for disposables. 

Going with the same amount as we did with cloth {12 diapers/day}, total cost of disposable diapers for 3 years would be – $3,285!  {This is on the high end, as most won’t use 12 diapers a day for 3 years, but we’re sticking to the same figures to make it more comparable.}

*You will need to note that I haven’t figured in the cost of laundering or any cloth diaper accessories, such as wet bags, pail liners, etc. On the contrary, I also did not figure in the cost of gas, disposable wipes, or other costs that come with disposable diapering.

Moral of the Story

You can spend as little {or as much} as you want on cloth diapers and still come out ahead of disposable diaper costs. 

If you’re cloth diapering on a budget, I highly recommend that you check out one of the three systems above in more detail. They all have their advantages and work differently for each family.

What Budget Friendly Cloth Diapering System Do You Like the Most?


Friday 17th of June 2016

Great Share!

It sounds like stuff and quality is excellent and I'm looking for All-in-one but my main concern is durability, lets see how it is after purchasing it!

Keep sharing such nice information!

Brenda Disimone

Monday 16th of May 2016

I didnt know the price differnce was that much and these are much cuter !


Wednesday 18th of December 2013

I love be buttons diapers. But it would actually cost you more than that as you would need to by the small and large inserts for the whole range or diaper wearing. But still a wonderful cost effective option. I currently have bum genius Elementals and are in the process of changing to AI2s. Love the cost, being able to soak inserts, dry inserts and covers separately, faster drying time! Easy to use as night nappies. Wish id gone with AI2s to begin with


Saturday 12th of May 2018

New at cloth diapering, what does AI2'S stand for. Love reviews so I can look at different options! Thank you


Friday 5th of July 2013

I've been looking at the All-in-One diapers (BumGenius being my top choice, so far). I thought they'd be the most affordable due to only needing one piece. Could you share your thoughts on this type of diaper?


Friday 5th of July 2013

Kecia, I assume you know the Pros and Cons to AIOs, but here's a short article about them {}.  I'm assuming you're referring to the bumGenius Freetimes which are absolutely one of my FAVORITE diapers and have been since they came out.  As far as price, they're definitely not the *cheapest* diaper that you can find although they're not the most expensive either.  BG often runs seconds sales on the Cottons Babies site or a Buy 5, Get 1 Free Sale so that's a good time to buy.

As far as a cheaper system, AI2 would usually work out to be cheaper because you can reuse the shells, but if it's in your budget to go AIOs, I would {personally}.  They are easy to wash {I always line dry but the Freetimes dry FAST}, no stuffing required, and they're pretty absorbent.  They will work well for overnight for awhile, but when your baby is older, you'll probably want to add a little more absorbency for overnight with a hemp insert.

Any other questions?  :)


Monday 1st of July 2013

I think the difficulty of prefolds gets way overrated. I've only ever primarily used prefolds (although I have at leats a couple pockets, AI2s, and AIOs that I use occasionally) and personally I find them just as easy if not easier than the other systems. Truth is, if you buy the right prefolds (GMD is my preference), they don't require diaper pins/snappis or any folding down of the front or back to make them the right size. Just fold them in thirds, lay them in the cover, and strap them on the kid. They make way less laundry than pockets and AIOs (because you're not washing the covers too) and they dry faster and come clean more easily than the thick inserts for AI2s (I loath rinsing poop out of a Grovia insert). All budget considerations aside, I think I would still choose a prefold/cover system.