Large family budgeting – cloth nappies

Slippers and Diapers

One of the main questions we often get as a large family is, “How do you afford it?”.  I talk in more detail about our history and how we got to where we are now in our book.  We aren’t wealthy by any means but we get by.

One huge saving is that on nappies (or diapers, as a lot of readers will know them as).  My first three children were all disposable wearing babies and it wasn’t until my fourth child, Harry, was just under a year old that I made the switch.  Until that point I had been unaware of how far nappies had come from the terry squares I imagined them as still being.  I didn’t realise how many types there were and all the bits and pieces were confusing to a novice like me.  I sought information from an online nappy seller who had several advisors.  Not only did this get me on the road to switching to cloth nappies but my advisor is still a friend eight years on, and I too became a nappy advisor for this company for several years.

It has been over three years now since I stopped advising and I am sure many things have changed in the cloth nappy world.  Manufacturers are constantly improving and introducing new designs.  Me, not being one to likes change for the sake of change, tends to be the kind of person who once I find something that works I stick to it.


Sorting out the cloth nappy supplies

I have two boxes like the one in the photo above, all filled with nappies.  I only have three different types in there.  One for newborns, one for bigger babies and toddlers and a supply of terry squares which are adaptable for all.  Every eighteen months or so, normally when a new baby is due, I will go through the supplies and check which nappies are threadbare and beyond padding out with terries or muslins and, accepting they have served their purpose, will use them as cleaning rags before finally throwing them out.  I will throw out any wraps which are no longer usable and I will then replenish the stocks of nappies and wraps which will normally last another 12-18 months or so.

As I haven’t thrown out everything and started from scratch it isn’t very costly to do this every year or two and given that these nappies are used every single day for the last eight years I have certainly got my money’s worth from making the switch.  My nappy supply top up every year and a half usually costs me no more than £100-£150 which is sufficient for the 2-3 children who are normally using them at a time.  If you compare this to having to purchase one pack of disposables per child per week, say at £6.50 on average for the more well known brands, that comes to £19.50 a week.  Even if I were to use a cheaper, generic brand at around £3.70 per pack, for example, I would still be spending £11.10 every week.  We could be spending between £45 and £78 on nappies each month bringing the cost to £810 – £1404 every eighteen months, a lot more than the £100 – £150 I spend on them.

When the twins arrive this figure would rise as there would be four in nappies full-time (with one using them at night only, but I’m not including that in the figures).  That makes it around £15 – £26 per week on disposables.  That is a lot of money and I haven’t even included the cost of wipes either which can easily add another five or ten pounds a week.

I placed a top up order of supplies with Lizzie’s Real Nappies this week after we did our sort out.  To cover replacements of the nappies and wraps that were no longer usable and to purchase a few extras to take into account having two newborns at once the total cost came to £240.  This, like I said, will provide for four children for the next couple of years.  If I were spending £15 – £26 on disposables for the next two years it would cost me between £1,560 and £2,704 (you can add another £520 – £1040 to cover the cost of the wipes too, if you like).  So while I have spent £240 this week I have saved between £2,360 and £3,504 over the next two years.  On average that works out at 20-30 of our weekly shops.

I don’t need to worry about running out of disposables in the middle of the night.  I don’t need to worry about whether I have enough to last even when the money is running out at the end of the month and I don’t need to worry about the nappies we’re sending to landfill either and it has saved us a small fortune over the years too. If it’s something you haven’t yet considered, it might be worth thinking about.





5 thoughts on “Large family budgeting – cloth nappies

  1. I really liked using cloth diapers. I made my own out of flannel and old towels. I bought some at garage sales and some at our local big box store. Using cloth instead of disposables for 6 of our 8 saved us a bundle. Now that my youngest is 5 and it seems that there won't be any more babies for us, I kind of miss diaper days! I'm more than a little jealous…..


  2. I used cloth, but once bub reached about 4 months they leaked too much, I had to double pad them which made them so bulky that she couldnt get her little knees down on the floor. It just wasn't working. I'd love to use cloth but after spending so much on a system that just didn't work I'm hesitant to take the dive again.

  3. We used cloth nappies for all six of our babies. They saved us an enormous amount on money, especially seeing that I hardly bought any – most were given to us as ‘new baby’ gifts. I used the old-fashioned terry towelling squares and just folded them differently as they baby grew.

    I did find they weren’t absorbent enough once the bub started sleeping through the night so we bought Huggies brand disposable which we called “Night Nappies” and used cloth the rest of the time. We used disposable nappies when we went on holidays too.

    My toddlers would often tell me, after holidays, that they didn’t like “po-ba-bil” nappies and liked their “cwof” nappies best because they were more “comfiabil”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.