With the economy in a downward spiral, some parents are sniffing out savings by jettisoning disposable diapers and switching to reusable cloth diapers for their kids.
Danielle Tassin has two children in diapers, and the costs were starting to pile up. After a rough couple of years that included losing most of their possessions to Hurricane Katrina and a fall that left her husband unable to work, the Covington, La., resident decided to start using cloth diapers.
She’s spent about $300 total so far on cloth diapers for her 17-month-old and 3-year-old. But she said she’s saved hundreds of dollars because disposable diapers would have cost her about $20 a week.
For those who turn up their up their noses at the idea of stained cloths and safety pins, these aren’t your grandma’s cloth diapers.
There are all-in-one models that snap on like a normal diaper, or versions that can be used with a disposable liner.
With names like bumGenius and FuzziBunz and an array of colors and fabrics, “They’re adorable,” said Caite Mackey, who was shopping recently at Circle Me, a new cloth diaper store in Lincoln, Neb. “I think it’s going to pick up as soon as people realize it’s not as difficult as they think.”
Mackey registered at Circle Me so people coming to her baby shower could buy diapers to help build up her stash. She also made some of her own diapers out of old T-shirts and sweaters for her first child, a girl born in March.
Susie Arevalo of Diaper Decisions, an online business resource center for cloth diaper sellers, said stores are telling her sales have increased in recent months, and dozens of online stores contacted by The Associated Press said they’re selling more cloth diapers.
There are some high-profile proponents of cloth: Actresses Julia Roberts, Maggie Gyllenhaal and musician Dave Matthews all have said they used cloth diapers with their children.
Most people still use disposable diapers, and Stuart Schneider, brand director for Huggies, said sales in the diaper category haven’t been down, although some people are buying cheaper disposable diapers and Huggies is promoting moneysaving awards systems.
Cloth diapers are a “fairly large” niche market, estimated at about $200 million a year, according to Chicago-based market research firm Mintel International Group Ltd.
People bought $2.8 billion in disposable diapers and training pants in 2007, and Mintel’s research shows 83 percent of diaper users had used disposable diapers or training pants in the past six months.
“We haven’t seen a movement of people out of disposable diapers to cloth diapers,” Schneider said.