Here’s Why More Expensive Cloth Diapers Could Be Worth It

A baby wearing a cloth diaper
GroVia's hybrid line of covers can be used with inserts that snap into the shell or with more economical prefolds. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder
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Babies might be small and cute, but they can also be expensive.

One of the easiest ways to save money on baby gear (and be eco-friendly) is to invest in a cloth diaper stash rather than using disposables. While you pay more money upfront for cloth diapers, you’ll save money over the course of your baby’s journey from infant to potty-trained preschooler.

I’m currently on my second cloth-diapered kid. My husband, Ben, and I used them with our daughter, Rose, from the time she was a newborn until she was potty trained at age 3. Now, we use cloth diapers on our son, Liam (3 months), and plan to do so until he is potty trained as well.

When building our stash, I was pretty overwhelmed by the types of diapers available and the various brands at different price points. Now, I’m a cloth diaper pro. I know what works for me and what I’m willing to pay. I decided to talk to some of my mom friends who have used cloth diapers to see which brands they recommend.

Budget-Friendly Diapers

detail of a pocket cloth diaper
Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you’re thinking of trying cloth diapers but don’t want to invest too much in case it’s not for you, consider buying a few cheaper pocket diapers to take for a trial run. Pocket diapers consist of a diaper cover and inserts that you stuff inside that cover. You’ll need to wash the cover and inserts after each use.

I bought a lot of KaWaii Baby diapers on eBay before Rose was born and used them with her until she was potty trained. I am using them with Liam as well and find them to be just as absorbent. I paid $110 for 24 diapers, which works out to $4.58 per diaper.

I could have stuck with Rose’s diaper stash for Liam, but I decided to invest in some new prints. I found a couple of brands on Amazon that offered a variety of cute prints for cheap.

Alva Baby offers affordable pocket diapers. You can buy a pack of six diapers with 12 microfiber inserts from Amazon for $39.99, or $6.67 per diaper. Alva Baby has a lot of different print choices, all of which are very cute and very affordable.

I also got a pack of six Mama Koala diapers with six microfiber inserts for $39.99, or $6.67 per diaper. The prints I got featured different types of food, from pizza and tacos to avocado toast with eggs (it was the latter that made me purchase them, to be honest).

Another good way to build a diaper stash on a budget is through local consignment sales. These sales allow local moms to sell their gently used baby and kid clothes and toys, and you can find great deals on diapers if you’re lucky. Local cloth diaper stores might also have consignment sales where you can find deals. My local store, Samozrejme, holds quarterly “re-stash” sales where you can score gently used cloth diapers for cheap.

My friend Alexis Goodwin found another way to go the cloth-diaper route on a budget with prefolds (a rectangular-shaped cloth diaper with an absorbent pad sewn in the middle). “I used covers and prefolds so I could reuse the covers multiple times versus a single use,” she told me. “I believe the prefolds I used were cotton. I added a homemade liner of fleece to help keep [my baby] dry by wicking away the moisture. This also made it easier, when we started solids, to get rid of poop.”

You can buy prefold diapers very cheaply, so diapering this way is a great budget option. And you’ll only need to wash the prefolds after each use rather than both the insert and the cover.

Mid-Priced Diapers

detail of Thirsties cloth diaper covers
Thirsties cloth diaper covers are a good mid-range option for cloth diapering. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you decide to go the prefold-diaper route, Goodwin recommends Thirsties covers as a good mid-range option. You can buy these new for around $12 each, which is more expensive than the budget brands mentioned. But since you can use the diaper covers multiple times and just replace the prefolds when they are soiled, you’ll need fewer covers than if you go with pocket diapers or all-in-one options (where the cover and insert are permanently attached).

Another mid-range diaper brand Goodwin recommends is Rumparooz. She used the newborn-size covers, but you can also get one-size diaper covers that fit from six to 35 pounds. Rumparooz newborn covers cost $10 each, and one-size covers cost $14.

Buying mid-priced diapers still works on a budget if you go the cover-and-prefold route. Depending on how many covers you buy, you could end up spending less than you would if you bought a budget brand pocket diaper stash.

Splurge-Worthy Diapers

detail of a Grovia diaper
GroVia diaper covers are pricey but they are versatile because they can be used with inserts that snap into the shell as well as with prefold diapers. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

As with anything, you can spend a lot of money on cloth diapers. But sometimes, spending more on a pricier brand might be worth it.

“I loved my GroVia shells,” said Goodwin. “My littlest was a skinny baby with skinny legs. These fit her perfectly from about two months until she potty trained. They had such cute prints, too! If money wasn’t an issue, I’d [recommend buying] GroVia covers and inexpensive prefolds.”

The nice thing about GroVia diaper covers is that you can buy inserts to snap in rather than using prefold diapers. The shells and inserts cost $16.95 each, or you can buy GroVia prefolds at $8.95 for a pack of three.

My friend Kathryn Dowell swears by AppleCheeks diapers. This Canadian company offers sized diapers as well as one-size diapers. Prices range from $20.75 to $24 per diaper cover. You can use them with cheap prefolds or stick with AppleCheeks brand inserts, depending on your budget.

“[AppleCheeks’] customer interaction and community… is a large part of why I choose them. But the company aligns with a lot of my beliefs in other ways. They are produced in Canada and hire local seamstresses,” Dowell explained.

Dowell first discovered AppleCheeks when a friend sold her a starter stash for half the retail price. She was so impressed with the company and the quality of the product that she quickly became a convert.

“The quality will last through several children,” she said. “[They are often] available on sale.” This can range from 15% off a regular diaper to 40% off a discontinued color.

Splurging on pricier diapers might be painful at first, but if you plan on cloth diapering through two or more kids, it could be worth the upfront cost.

Whether you stick to budget brands or splurge on more expensive ones, cloth diapering your kid can save you big in the long term (not to mention saving a bunch of disposable diapers from entering a landfill).

The great thing about cloth diapers is that you can resell them when you don’t need them anymore. So even if you spend big in the beginning, you can recoup some of that money once your kids are potty trained.

Catherine Hiles first started cloth diapering to do her part for the environment. Now, she can’t imagine using disposable diapers as a full-time option.