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cloth diapering twins: breaking it down

I still remember the dread in Jon’s eyes the day I told him that I’d like to consider cloth diapering our twin babies that were on the way.  But it didn’t take long for him to come around to loving it too.

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Many people continually ask me about our cloth diapering experience – why we do it, what kind of diapers we use, is it gross?  I honestly think that cloth diapering is going to become much more mainstream in the coming years.  It’s already growing in popularity, and with all the easy options out there, I think people are pleasantly surprised when they realize that it’s not like the cloth diapering our parents used to do.

So, now that I’ve talked about why we do it and which diapers we chose, let’s talk about how it fits into the day-to-day.  Just a warning – I’m a super detail oriented person, so this may get a little long.  But when we were preparing for our babies, I was really interested in hearing how other people did things – and I wanted details!  Feel free to skim if that’s not you:) Also fair warning: we are talking about poop etc. in this post, so if those kinds of topics turn your stomach, you might want to skip out on this :)

The early days

When the babies were little and on only breastmilk, our system looked a little different than it does now.  Breastmilk poop is water soluble, so whether the diaper was just wet or dirty, it went straight into the dirty pail.  We bought a step-open trash can, and instead of using a trash bag, we put in our wet bag.  There are a lot of different options you could use, but this works really well for us because it closes (so as to eliminate odors), but there is still a narrow slit in the top so that air can get in and out even when it’s closed.  Plus, when your hands are full of a dirty diaper and a squirmy baby, it’s easy to just step to open and dump in the diaper.

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Cloth wipes – the easy way

This brings me to why we started using cloth wipes.  In the beginning, I didn’t even want to consider using cloth wipes.  Honestly, I just thought it sounded messy and disgusting.  Then a friend gave us her unused set of cloth wipes that had been gifted to her, but that she had never used.  For a long while, they just sat in the drawer.  But the more time that went on and the more dirty diapers we changed, I began to think it just might be easier to use cloth.

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Picture changing a diaper.  You open the diaper, use a wipe to clean the baby, stuff the dirty wipe into the diaper, roll it all up and throw it away, right?  Now picture using cloth diapers with disposable wipes.  You clean the baby and then what?  You either stuff the dirty wipe in the diaper and then sort it all out later (eww) or you have to stop and trash each wipe after you use it and then throw the diaper in a separate pail.  After some thought, I decided that using cloth wipes is really not any more gross than cloth diapers.  If you trust that your diapers are getting clean in the wash, then why not the wipes too?  Now that we use cloth, we can simply clean up the baby, stuff the wipes in the diaper and roll it all up and toss in the dirty bin.  Our wipes get washed right along with our diapers and aside from the extra 2 minutes used to fold and get them ready for use, the time commitment is about the same!  I won’t try to go into how much money we save by using cloth wipes because it’s probably a little different for everyone (depending on how many wipes you use per diaper etc.), but just think about never having to buy a package of baby wipes again.  Sounds nice, right?

Down the road – starting solids or using formula

I’m pretty sure that the people who know we use cloth were assuming that we’d give it all up once the babies started solids, and honestly I have to admit I was a little nervous that it would get a lot harder.  But it really truly hasn’t. Once the babies started solids, we could no longer just throw the dirty diapers in the pail.  For the first few days, their diapers were really soft as they made the transition to something other than breastmilk.  I tried using the disposable liners we had gotten as a gift, but I found that they seemed to just be more inconvenient.  I can assure you I did not enjoy having to try and pull up the edges of the liner without getting poop all over my hands and then transport it to the toilet.  I know these work well for some people, but they just weren’t for us.

Basically, when the twins have a dirty diaper, most of the time (after that initial transition phase) it is pretty solid; so usually all the poop is on the diaper, and there is not much to be cleaned off their bottoms.  In these instances, I simply clean them up, throw the wipe into the dirty bin, re-diaper the baby and then step into the bathroom and dump the contents into the toilet, and flush.  The empty diaper goes into the dirty pail, and I’m done!  Sure it’s an extra step, but remember – the payoff is huge.

If for whatever reason the contents of the diaper is soft and a little more messy, it does take a little extra attention.  I start by cleaning baby’s bottom off with a swipe of the diaper.  Then I use a wipe to clean the rest and throw the wipe in the dirty pail.  The minimal residue on the wipe doesn’t bother me.  If it did, I would probably just keep a pack of disposable wipes nearby for these instances.  Obviously in that case you would probably want to have a small step trash can handy as well.  After I re-diaper the baby, I step into our bathroom and use our sprayer (we bought this one off Zulilly), which is hooked to the toilet, to spray off the contents of the diaper.  Yes, it does get a little spray on the toilet edges, which reminds me vividly of our days in Thailand, but it’s not that big of a deal.  I usually use a tiny piece of toilet paper to wipe off any water droplets before flushing.  We keep a small step-can with a small wet bag in it next to our toilet to put the wet diaper in after it’s been sprayed.

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Washing and preparation

We choose to wash our diapers every night as we’ve found it’s easier to just have it as part of our daily routine rather than always having to remember and make time for it on wash days.  Before we put the twins to bed at night, one of us goes in and pulls the wetbag full of dirty diapers as well as the wetbag in the bathroom (if we’ve had to spray that day) and puts it all into the washing machine.  After turning the wetbag inside out inside the washer to dump everything out, we then shove the wetbag in as well.  No touching diapers, no pulling out inserts….super easy.  We run a cold cycle first; since we have a front loading HE machine, we press the “water plus” button so as much water as possible will run through the dipes.  And of course we put the soil setting on “heavy.”  We do not put soap in for this first cold cycle.  Next we run a hot wash using the exact same settings (water plus and heavy), but we add detergent to this cycle.  We use Charlie’s Soap for all our laundry, and it has worked perfectly for us.  It doesn’t have that same smell as the usual detergent like Tide, and sometimes I miss that, but otherwise I love it, and we don’t have to worry about residue from our detergent being left behind for our diapers.

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Last summer and fall I would hang our diapers outside to dry.  I knew it would be easier on them in the long run and any stains that ever appeared would miraculously vanish in the sun (try it – it’s pretty amazing what the sun will do).  Once the weather got cold, I started drying ours in the dryer, and that has worked great.  Now that it’s getting warm again, I’m not sure if I’ll start line drying again.  We’ll see.  I don’t remember the last time I saw any type of stain on our diapers, but the few times that has happened I just hung that one diaper out and later brought it in bright white!

 

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these two pictures show our newborn sized Bum Genius diapers

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We do our washing at night because it does take awhile for them to get done.  First thing in the morning, I move them to the dryer, and then later when the babies are sleeping I fold them and re-stock the drawers.  With the BumGenius Freetimes, there’s no stuffing or anything, so folding literally takes minutes.

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Making wipes

As I fold the diapers, I fold our wipes as well, stacking them into a little pile.  To prepare them, I fill a bowl with warm water, add a squirt of baby wash (we use California Baby, but you could use whatever wash you use in the tub) and a few droplets of tea tree oil (to keep bacteria at bay).  I then submerge the stack of wipes, wring them out and place them in a covered container.  I happened to have a Tupperware dish that I never really used, which is perfect for storing wipes.  You could really use anything though – there are even wipes warmers that work with cloth wipes.

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By the way, you definitely wouldn’t have to use store-bought cloth wipes.  You could use anything – scraps of fleece or cotton – anything!

On the go

If we are going on an overnight trip or for multiple days, we use disposables.  It’s just not worth it to me to try and deal with washing diapers while on the go.  If we are going somewhere just for a few hours or for the day, I pack cloth diapers and take a small wetbag (we use this one).  After changing the babies, I just stuff the dirty diapers in the wetbag, zip it up and deal with it when we get home.  The wetbags contain all the odors, and I’ve never had a problem with leaking or anything.

Overnight diapers

Now that the babies are older, we have started having overnight leaking problems with Linc.  It’s really not surprising I suppose – now that he’s sleeping almost 12 hours.  After talking to our local cloth diapering store, we decided to try these hemp inserts. We simply lay it inside the diaper before putting him to bed, and all our leaking problems are solved!  It’s a super cheap fix too since we wash our diapers every night – technically we would only need one of these.

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Our must-have cloth diapering products

Aside from the Bum Genius Freetime diapers, our diaper sprayer, disposal containers and wet bags, here are a couple other products that I highly recommend.

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You cannot use normal rash cream on cloth diapers – it will hinder their absorbancy.  There are lots of options out there, but we really like Grandma El’s.  We have had very little diaper rash, but anytime one of the babies is looking just a little red, this clears it up quickly!  I also think it is one of the main reasons (besides the cloth diapers themselves) why our babies have had so little diaper rash.  There have been a couple of times that Vivian developed a more serious rash associated with teething.  I pulled out all the stops and used Budreaux’s Butt Paste overnight with a tri-fold cloth lining the inside of the diaper so the cream wouldn’t touch it.  In my experience, there’s nothing that works as fast as Budreaux’s, and when my baby has a painful looking rash I want only the best to get it cleared up stat!

I love the GroVia Magic Stick.  We have one for each of the babies, and we try to swipe it over their bottoms after each diaper change.  It protects against wetness, and as a bonus makes cleaning them up at the next change much easier!

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I think that about covers everything!  Overall, I can’t imagine not cloth diapering the twins.  The details in this post may seem a little overwhelming, but once you get set-up with the products you need, it really is so easy.  As for doing it with twins – I’ve never done it with just one baby, but I can’t imagine why it would be so much harder.  When you have twins, everything is double, and you just get used to it!  The washing etc. is really no different though.  It’s not only doable, it’s totally the way to go:)

And as I said before, the best part is obviously those cute little fluffy bottoms!

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thoughts on cloth diapering twins – decisions, decisions.

Before I share our experience with cloth diapers, I want to say that I completely understand that every person is different, and every family is different.  What works well for one, might not work at all for another.  For us, cloth is a no brainer. Not only is it easy, but it’s fun and super cute!  Because cloth has been such a great thing for our family, I wanted to share a little bit about it.   This post is on how we chose cloth, which ones we chose, and how we feel about it now.  I’ll do a follow up on our system for washing plus why we have now chosen to use cloth wipes as well.

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Our favorite diapers – Bum Genius Freetime with snaps

When we first starting trying to get pregnant (about 100 years ago) I knew I wanted to use cloth diapers.  I had heard about people using them, and it just made sense to me.  Cheaper.  Better for the environment.  Softer on baby’s bum.  Because it took awhile for things to happen for us, I had plenty of time to research the ins and outs, and it was a good thing because there is so much to learn and so much information out there!  This post was really helpful to me and helped me solidify what type of diapers I wanted to use.  Looking back, I could have saved a lot of time by just making a trip down to our local cloth diapering store…but I still think researching all the options for myself was really helpful.  Also, the ladies at the store gave me the advice to get multiple different types of diapers so I could see what I liked.  But in the end I did enough research that I knew which ones I would like, so we bought mostly those.  The few we were gifted that were different get pushed to the back of the drawer and used only in emergencies, so I’m really happy we ended up with the one type that is best for us.

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When I tell people that we use cloth diapers one of the first things they say is “with twins?!?”  And my response is always the same “even more so with twins!”  For the first couple of months of Vivian’s life, she was still too tiny even for the newborn sized cloth diapers, so we used disposables.  While I was super excited to get her into cloth, it was good to gain a perspective of what it’s like to use disposables too.  And even with just one baby in disposables, it was unbelievable how many we went through and how much they cost! At first we went through about 12 diapers in a twenty four hour period for Vivi.  A pack of 80 diapers was about $20 and would last us almost a week.  That’s almost $100 per month to diaper just one baby!  So yes, when we found out we were having twins, my thought process went like this: twice the cost, twice the diapers in the landfills, twice the reason to use cloth.  The cloth diapers were a bit of an investment;  at about $20 each our Bum Genius Freetime stash cost around $400 for both babies (These particular cloth diapers will fit the twins until they’re out of diapers.)  But again, knowing we’d be spending $200 a month (I realize this would decrease a bit with time) on diapering the twins with disposables, it’s unreal how financially worth it it is in the end.  Plus, we were able to register at our local store, so a lot of our diapers were given to us or bought with gift cards.

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newborn size

 

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Newborn Bum Genius. They were technically still too big for Vivi at this point, but we’d put her in them just for fun sometimes.

Expecting to have full-term babies, our original plan was to use disposables for the first weeks until the babies fit into the one size diapers.  But once we realized Linc and Viv would likely be 3-4 lbs. when they were born, we decided to buy the newborn sized (xs) Bum Genius, used.  We got a great deal on them and ended up with 20 diapers for about $100.  I was freaked out about buying used at first, but once I saw that they looked brand new all reservations fizzled.  The newborn size didn’t hold up as well as I had hoped because of the velcro closure; they only come in velcro, and after several months of washes they were looking pretty shabby.  This definitely made our decision about whether to go with velcro or snaps for our one size diapers, and I’m so glad we chose snaps.

To be completely candid, once we had all our diapers washed and ready to go, I did have a few fleeting moments where I was a bit nervous about whether I’d be able to handle it.  While I felt pretty confident, I also knew that I’ve never done this mom thing before, so there was a chance it would be a lot more stressful than I expected.  But after being home from the NICU and using the diapers for over a month, I would honestly have said I would do cloth again a hundred times.  While it did and still does take a little extra time out of the day, we don’t have to worry about always having diapers on hand or going to pick them up at the store.  Plus, I hate the way the disposables felt, looked and smelled on Vivi.  And the amount of soiled diapers that went into our trash can every day was disturbing to me. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, disposable diapers create more than 3.5 million tons of waste as around 20 billion diapers are relegated to the landfills each year (source).   Knowing we were contributing to that just didn’t sit well with me.

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 they really do love each other:)

Cloth diapering has been one of the best decisions we’ve made as parents.  Does it take a little extra time to wash, dry and fold?  Sure, probably about 10 total minutes out of the day.  But considering the financial benefits and environmental factors involved, 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to me.  I know everyone has different situations and cloth definitely isn’t for everyone, but I’m so passionate about it because it has saved our family so much.  Plus, their fluffy little bottoms are irresistible:)

Still to come – how to make cloth diapering super easy in day-to-day life.  I’ll share more details about how our diapers work, all about our process of disposing of the waste, storage, washing and using cloth wipes (it sounds terrible, but really is easier!).

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