When we were expecting our first set of twins, I wanted to do everything as naturally as possible – exclusively breastfeed, make my own baby food, and even cloth diaper. However, my husband and I heeded some negativity from a naysayer or two, and we decided to skip cloth diapering. After we found ourselves pregnant with set #2, the topic was on the table once again. This time, realizing we would have FOUR in diapers for close to a year before our older set would likely potty train, the cost savings were too high to ignore. I also felt a responsibility to do my part for the environment – it take 500 years for diapers to decompose in a landfill and here I had four children going through disposables like crazy. We decided to go for it! I am so glad we did, as it was much less work that I had feared.
Here are a few questions I had before jumping in, and tips that I learned along the way, that I’d love to share with other expecting parents of multiples!
1. Will this make sense for our lifestyle?
One of the great things about cloth diapering is that you can absolutely tailor how it looks to the needs of your family. It doesn’t mean you have to do 100% cloth, 24/7, right off the bat. When looking at all the costs, we decided that we’d rather concentrate our budget on “one-size” diapers that would last us through the first couple of years, and skip “newborn” cloth diapers, which would only be used up until they were 12lbs or so. One size diapers have rows of snaps or specially placed velcro that will enable you to change the fit of the diapers as your child grows. Most will accommodate a child all the way from the 8-10lb range, right up to 35lbs. We skipped newborn cloth not only because it is an investment to buy all of those diapers for a short period of time, but also because you will change a newborn’s diaper much more often in the first few months – upwards of 10-12 times a day. This slows down considerably as they get older, so I figured I’d skip that huge amount of diaper laundry when we were still going through the exhausting newborn phase with two babies. Another way we did things a little differently is to use disposables overnight. My kids were all pretty heavy wetters, so we did buy overnight disposable diapers. One to two diapers a day, per baby, was still way better than 10-12 if we used disposables full time. Other life situations – traveling, sickness, etc., can all be handled however you want to make it work. It’s not all or nothing with cloth, you can still see amazing savings if you do it part-time or most of the time.
2. How many diapers will I need?
This will depend on how often you are prepared to do diaper laundry. We washed every two days, which seems to be the average amongst my cloth diapering friends with multiples. At around 50 diapers in our ‘stash’, I felt pretty comfortable and not in fear we would run out before I had the chance to do the wash. That is NOT to say we had 50 of the same exact diaper. One of the best tips I had gotten early on was to try several different diaper brands. We started with about 25 pocket diapers, a one size diaper with a pocket inside, which you “stuff” with inserts in the absorbent material of your choice. We loved bamboo and hemp inserts. These tend to be the least expensive, but also pretty time consuming to prepare for use. We also had a bunch of Grovia Hybrid diapers, these ended up being my favorite. They were an outer waterproof shell that you snapped absorbent inserts into, and you could even reuse the shell with a clean insert if it didn’t get wet or dirty. They were somewhat pricey, but were so easy and rarely leaked on us. We had a few covers and ‘fitted’ diapers (the whole diaper is absorbent but not waterproof, which needs a cover that is) and a decent amount of “all-in-ones”, which are the easiest diaper to use. Everything is sewn together in the diaper, no stuffing, snapping of inserts, etc – and could be just thrown in the wash as is, and used without any prep. Eventually our stash grew close to 100 diapers, mostly because there are SO MANY adorable prints out there that collecting them can almost be addicting! If you plan on having around 50 diapers though, you should really be just fine for two babies.
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3. Will I really save money?
According to Forbes (Money, Time, The Environment? What do Cloth Diapers Really Save?/October 17, 2014/ Anna Bahney) Cloth diapering a child will save between $1000-$1200 per child from birth through potty training. This takes into account the initial investment of between $500-700 to get going in the beginning, but means you can save over $2,000 by going the cloth diaper route with twins. Also, considering buying second hand, or selling your diapers when you are done to REALLY maximize the savings. I know, I know, at first thought buying used diapers seems gross, but there are easy ways to completely sanitize diapers before you use them. I found a few great buy/sell/trade groups on facebook, and saw buying second hand a great way to try out different diaper brands (remember, different diapers work for differently shaped babies) and then offload the ones that didn’t work for us. Second hand diapers can be found in all sorts of conditions, but personally I would only buy diapers free of staining and any obvious wear to the fabric, and they were easy to find in that condition. After we got the hang of just using cloth diapers, we even delved into reusable baby wipes. If your household was like ours, you likely use wipes for a lot more than just diapering – and go through tons on any given day. I used flannel receiving blankets (we had gotten a million handed down to us), cut them into rectangles, made a solution I found a recipe for online that used water, coconut oil, essential oils for a little scent and castile soap, and stored it all in a plastic food storage box. All the wipes could just be thrown in with the regular diaper laundry. So easy, cost effective, and great for the environment!
4. Will I be doing laundry for hours every day?
Definitely not! Our routine was this: Every two days I would take the ‘wet bags’ (waterproof storage bags, we had one for each level of the house and hung it near the changing table by it’s handles) and unzip them, and throw the whole thing into the washer. I’d do a quick rinse cycle with just water, a hot wash cycle with original tide detergent, then an extra cold rinse. I used the dryer, but a lot of cloth diapering parents hang to dry – it’s just a personal preference. Then diaper prep – stuffing the pocket diapers with inserts so they were ready to use – but that was easily done while watching Netflix after bedtime. Our babysitter even took that task during nap time and didn’t mind doing it. Overall, it took a couple hours every other day, but the majority of that time was not hands-on and I could be doing other tasks at the same time. We did use a diaper sprayer, which is like a water nozzle you hook up to your toilet plumbing, to pre-wash any messy diapers prior to putting them in the wet bag. Some families use a diaper pail, which is like a garbage can lined with a waterproof bag – also easily tossed in the washer. Every so often I would “strip” the diapers – which is like a special intense washing process that took a few hours – just to keep any build-up or odors away.
5. I’ve heard toilet training can be easier with cloth-diapered babies, is that true?
Potty training is right up there amongst parenting challenges that are exponentially harder with multiples.Trying to potty train one toddler is hard enough, but two (or more!) is a whole different story. This is another area that cloth diapering your twins can give you an advantage. Since cloth will not have that “dry” feeling immediately after your baby goes, they will learn the wet/soiled sensation and be able to detect it much easier (and earlier) than a child exclusively in disposables. There are also cloth training pants – sort of like cloth “pull ups” for use during the process. Pull-ups are even more expensive than regular disposable diapers, so I was very happy to see the savings there! I definitely found my second set of twins to toilet-train much quicker than my first, so while it’s not a guarantee for every child, I’m a believer that cloth can make it easier.
It is more feasible than you think
Especially for first-time parents, expecting multiples can present you with an overwhelming number of questions and options to consider! Hopefully I’ve shown you that cloth diapering your babies is likely a lot more feasible than you’d think. With the considerable cost savings, reduced imprint on the environment, favorable impact on potty training, and flexibility in how you make it work for your family, it is definitely an option that shouldn’t be ruled out for those with multiples on the way.
About the author
Lindsay Castiglione, LC is TLC’s Connecticut Associate and the mother of two sets of twins, an identical five year old boy set, and a three year old boy/girl set. She was born and raised in Cape Cod, MA, and married a Submariner in the U.S. Navy, so now home is where the Navy takes them. She has her B.S. in Social Work, and focused on helping support parents of young children before starting her own family. Breastfeeding was very different for each set, but equally as important, and her varied experiences motivated her to become a Certified Lactation Counselor in 2015. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on our Connecticut services or online Breastfeeding Twins Class details.