Starting out with cloth nappies can seem daunting for quite a few reasons and one that comes up most often (other than washing) is the initial set-up cost. Yep, I get that. When I first started looking at cloth I did what most people do and gasped at some of the prices. I wondered how on earth I’d be able to afford to buy enough to use cloth full-time and worried that I would spend out lots of money only for it not to work for us. I think the majority of us cloth nappy parents have thought all of these things at the beginning so I promise that you are not alone.
That initial panic can quite often put a person off but I want to be able to help and show you that there are options available to you that will make starting up with cloth nappies more affordable.
Find Out What Suits Your Lifestyle
I think that most of us who now use cloth started out feeling overwhelmed by the terms, the styles, costs and the vast array of options available which is why doing the nappy lady’s questionnaire is a great starting point to get a good idea of what will be best suited to you and your budget/lifestyle. You can fill it out here and get your results back within 2 working days. Remember, the results are just a guide, so don’t feel as though you have to go down the route suggested. The questionnaire is designed to explain what could possibly work for you based on the answers that you give and affordability comes into that.
Council Voucher Scheme
As there is an ever-growing environmental reason for cloth nappies to be used some councils see this as a really positive lifestyle swap and offer a voucher incentive scheme in order to get more parents using reusables rather than disposables. Now, not all areas offer this I’m afraid and I know that I can’t get them from my local authority, so your first port of call is to have a little search online and see if your council runs this scheme. The Nappy Guru’s show a full list on their website here but if you don’t see your county, don’t let that stop you from contacting your MP to find out why or to ask if it will be available in the future. The more demand there is the more they will have to listen! If you are in the US there is a cloth nappy lending scheme which aims to make a difference for the environment and for families who may not be able to afford much.
Next, check to see if your area has a nappy library. A library can offer a package of nappies to try out at a hire cost for over approximately a month which will allow you to see whether you get on with them, which brands you like the best and which suit your baby. There are so many brands and styles which can make choosing some to buy outright a tricky decision but with a library, you can literally try before you buy which should save you wasting money and also your time.
When you are looking at brand’s websites, check to see if they also offer trial kits. Some offer a money-back guarantee, some offer packages full of everything you need to start out and others have trial programs where they offer discounts once you commit to buying. It is definitely worth doing your research here.
Borrow From Friends
If you have friends who already use cloth nappies, why not ask them if they would be willing to allow you to give some a try over a few days? They will most probably be more than happy to help and they will also be able to give you plenty of tips and insight into using them.
When cloth nappies are well looked after they will look as good as new. There will be no stains and no stinks which means that buying them secondhand is a really affordable way to get started. They may not come up in charity shops often but when they do the prices are amazing!
I have purchased nappies from eBay and the quality has been perfect. Most cloth nappy parents take really good care of their nappies (because they are obsessed with them!) which means you will be getting a good nappy at a great price.
There are lots of really fantastic selling groups on Facebook and the majority of sellers are completely honest and upfront. Photos are posted to show the condition of the nappies/inserts/liners and they will always show any imperfections so you know what you are getting. If you do ever have any issues (which seems to be quite rare from what I’ve seen) admin are always on hand to deal with the situation. A lot of people who are selling have either just potty trained their child or have given up with cloth so if you are quick you can get a big bundle for a fab price (you’ll be asked to cover postage though) Just remember to turn the notifications on because they go quick!
Shop the Sales
Just as with clothes, cloth nappies also go on sale at certain times of the year. This is usually to clear old lines to make way for new ones. It is worth following brands on social media and also checking larger companies, such as Babipur, who also stock cloth. Sales will mean affordable cloth nappies which makes it a good time to stock up.
Look out for Promo Codes
When you make your first purchase it is very common to receive an email code for say 10% off your next order (Baba and Boo are brilliant for doing this!) This makes it very worthwhile to buy just one nappy to start with and then wait for a voucher code to then purchase more. It not only works for you but also for the company. It’s a win-win.
Talking of wins… Keep your eyes peeled for competitions to win nappy sets. Instagram is a great place for competitions nowadays and the cloth nappy community has just really bloomed there too. A competition quickly gets known about as people share the posts or tag friends in them. Imagine winning several nappies to get you started on your journey!
Ask For Them As Gifts
I always like a useful present for Christmas or Birthdays. Plenty of people will buy toys so I think it’s perfectly fine to ask a select few (maybe close family) to purchase your favourite nappy styles instead of yet another toy. And let’s face it, at such a young age they’ll never know anyway!
I have seen some very cheap brands on sale (usually from China) on sites such as eBay and Amazon. Now I cannot comment on how well they work as I haven’t tried them but if you really want to give cloth a try and your budget is low, these may be a good place to start with? They will definitely be the most affordable cloth nappies around but I would read the reviews prior to buying just to be on the safe side.
At the end of the day, you need to remember that buying cloth nappies is actually an investment and you should look at your stash as that. If you are on your first child, those nappies could go on to cover the bottoms of your second, third, fourth, fifth child and so on. They could also go on to other family members, to friends or be sold on so you will get some of your money back (and some brands really do hold their value!)
The thing is, we don’t ever stop to think about how much disposables will cost us overall. Yes, I know a lot of brands are disgustingly cheap (damn you Aldi) but if you are using and then throwing away 5-6 nappies a day over the course of 2-3 years just think about how that cost will stack up… and you’ll never get that back! Baba and Boo have this on their website:
“You buy all the reusable nappies you’ll need upfront. They cost you £195.
You buy all the disposable nappies you’ll need upfront. They cost you around £1,000.”
Which means that overall cloth nappies are actually far more affordable than disposables.
Nobody is saying that you have to go full-time from the start, actually, no one is saying you need to be full-time at all! It is your decision and only you know how your lifestyle is. Maybe your nursery won’t accept reusable nappies? Maybe your parents won’t use them when your child goes to them? Perhaps you can’t get out of disposables at night time?
Whatever, you choose to do, it will take time to build your cloth nappy stash and please do not feel pressured to do this from day one. Take your time, get to know your routine, find a brand you love and save your money to buy more of them. Remember that 1 reusable nappy a day will save 7 disposables from going to landfill a week, which is around 900 a year!! AND those will take 500 years to decompose. Every little bit does help.
Hopefully, this post has given you some ideas to get started and you will find some really affordable cloth nappies along the way.
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