The cost of cloth diapering varies from person to person. Modern cloth diapering allows caregivers many varied options from standard prefold and diaper cover to an easy to use one-piece All-In-One diaper and many diapering choices in between to meet your needs of convenience as well as budget. I am going to make some general categories and assign costs.


Cost Effective


Night Diapering

Under $20




Dirt Cheap: less than $20
If you truly want to cloth diaper, you probably have the resources to do so in your own home already. Any 100% cotton fabric will work. Consider using old dishtowels, pillowcases, flannel receiving blankets and old t-shirts. These can easily be folded and pinned onto your child. Need a diaper cover. Again rely on the knowledge of your great-grandmother who probably used a 100% wool soaker. Shrink an old wool sweater (preferably L or XL) and cut out the largest triangle you can. To use as a diaper cover simply use two points of the triangle to wrap around the waist from the sides and the third point of the triangle to come up from the crotch. Pin the triangle on like this and make sure the diaper is completely tucked inside.

If you are able to sew then you have the ability to create wonderful modern day diapers from recycled fabrics. Although simple rectangular shapes will work you might enjoy the creativity of the Fern and
Fairie Recycled Diaper Pattern. Another great resource is an online Yahoo Group: Sew Your Own Diapers.

Another great site for starting out is where you can find diaper kits ready to sew and detailed instructions, including videos to help you construct your own one of a kind creation.

Creating Super-Cute Diapers

from Recycled Materials

Before making diapers, I had never sewn anything in my life - except maybe a few buttons. A friend gave me a used sewing machine, and after looking at it sit there for several years I figured I had better use it. I had another friend show me how to load the thread and change the stitching pattern - but beyond that I was on my own.

I purchased a pattern from Fern and Fairie online and after my son cleaned out his closet, I had 3 baskets full of clothes to use. I began cutting the seams on his old jeans.

I began by making fitted diapers out of his old jeans with t-shirt linings and old towel terry cloth on the interiors. I altered the pattern to use snaps similar to the Kissaluvs - these work great!! They were easy to do and look "professional" - I even sewed a back pocket on the back and they look super cute. These are especially useful when I let my daughter run around in just a diaper. I have only made 3 so far however as I have to limit my sewing time to infrequent short nap periods.

I also used their pattern to create 2 pocket diapers and 2 diaper covers. I am also very pleased with these. I did alter the pattern on the pocket diapers to snap more like a Wonderoos or Kissaluvs. I use the pocket diapers as "covers" during the day and as pocket diapers at night to keep my daughter drier. These have a fleece lining, which is super soft and keeps her really dry.

I made one diaper cover for a friend's son out of an old pair of camo pants that had seen better days an awesome solution on how to get dads to like cloth diapers.

If I had known sewing was this easy I would have done it years ago. Finding time to sew is a problem however. Remember though - I am also homeschooling a 12 year old, on the city council, run a field biology club for teens, coordinate 2 community youth gardening projects, on the McLean county master gardener board of directors, raise and process our own food, etc etc, etc - if I can find time, anyone can.

Mary - Kappa, Illinois

Cost Effective: $200-$510
Prefolds and Covers
  • Using prefolds with diaper covers is probably the most popular, cost-effective, cloth diapering choice. This is especially true in the first six months when the infant usually grows so quickly.
  • The cost of prefolds and diaper covers depends greatly on what size the baby is, how often your baby poops, how often you plan to wash diapers, and if you will be securing the diaper inside the diaper cover or just folding it. Be sure to read the information page on Using Prefolds and Diaper Covers.
  • Before baby potty trains many people will use at least two sizes of prefolds using 24-36 infant size and 18-24 baby size and between 4-8 diaper covers per size (NB, S, M, L).

One-Size Diapers
  • A close cost effective rival to prefolds and covers is the convenient One-Size Diaper. One-Size diapers tend to have a slightly higher up-front cost but are designed to fit through the sizes of Small, Medium, and Large and therefore are used over a longer period of time than sized prefolds and covers. Be sure to check out the features and compare cost of this modern cloth diapering marvel here.
  • Generally 18-24 One-Size diapers are desirable. With 24 being chosen for a newborn and 18 chosen for 9 months or older.

Combination of One-Size and Prefolds with Covers
  • Another option that is gaining in popularity is the combining of the two systems above. The caregivers choose 18 One-Size diapers and then supplement the newborn stage with 12 infant prefolds and 3-4 covers. This balance provides convenient diapers that are economical but at a number that will be appropriate for an older baby. The prefolds supplement the diapering collection and give enough diapers for washing every other day with an infant. In theory, by the time the infant out grows the prefolds and covers, the baby will be needing only the 18 One-Size diapers. Most often the prefolds and covers are used when at home and the One-Size Diapers used for overnight and outings.

Convenient: $300-$720
Pocket diapers and All-in-one (AIO) diapers provide the convenience that caregivers start needing more and more as the baby gets bigger, more wiggly and mobile.

Pocket Diapers
  • Pocket diapers are loved because of they come apart for washing and are generally fast at drying. Adjust the absorbency of the diaper by easily adding inserts and allow this diaper to be as trim or as thick as the situation demands. Used most often for going out and about, overnight, and with sitters. We have found that if you like folding towel laundry than using pocket diapers will fit your lifestyle personality.

AIO Diapers
  • The AIO diaper has been designed for total convenience. This style of diaper comes off and on as one unit with no other prepping required. Wash, dry and reuse. Often AIO's do take longer to dry. However, read and compare the types because generalities do not hold true in every case. Compare AIO's here.

One-Size Pocket and One-Size AIO Diapers
  • Relatively new to the diapering world is the concept of the One-Size or as customers call it an "All-Sizes" diaper. These diapers tend to be bulkier than the standard Sized (S, M, L, XL) Pocket Diapers and AIO diapers but what they offer is cost savings. Choosing a One-Size means you will have a convenient diaper that will fit from 8-35lbs or there abouts as it can vary from brand to brand. Read a One-Size Pocket Comparison here and be sure to read up on the One Size AIO Diapers too.

Night Diapering: $40-$90
In nearly four years in business and 3 diapered babies, I have learned that night diapering scares the bejeebees for some caregivers. But night diapering isn't rocket science. Just pair your baby with the right level of absorbency and top it with an appropriate cover to ensure moisture stays in the diaper and not out onto the clothing or bed.
Standard Pocket Diaper $17-$22
  • Some babies do just fine with a Pocket Diaper whether sized or One-Sized and an extra insert or two. Extra inserts can be microterry or hemp although hemp is often desired for its trimness and super-absorbency.

Fleece Cover $18-$25
  • For heavy wettering babies the standard pocket diaper may not offer enough protection. Covering the diaper with a Fleece Cover can provide the barrier needed to keep the wetness in the diaper.

Wool Cover $25-$40
  • Wool is desirable for the heavy wetting baby. Wool has the ability to not only repel moisture once it is lanolized but also to absorb moisture and evaporate it off. Wool evaporates moisture off more quickly than it absorbs moisture and so works as a dynamic system overnight to keep clothing and bedding dry. Wool can be used over hemp prefolds, fitted diapers, pocket diapers, and AIO diapers. We co-sleep and use wool as an extra assurance that our bed will be dry all night.

Again, you may not start out night diapering but don't wait to long before you make the change. Cloth diapering has been the solution for many clients across the years whose babies continually leaked when using paper diapers overnight.

Hodgepodge: Lots of Fun

Many cloth diapering families end up with a hodgepodge of diapering items This hodgepodge is developed over time to meet the individual needs of caregivers and babies. Cloth diapering is enjoyable and can become so much fun that some caregivers find themselves worried about developing a cloth diapering addiction.

Resalable Value: about 50%
While discussing the cost of cloth diapering remember that good diaper products are often durable and designed to serve more than one child. The resalable value of used cloth diapering supplies seems to be about 50% or more of the retail value for excellent used diapers. Newborn diapers often resale for nearer 70% of retail value since they generally are used for less time.