Cloth Diapering Twins: Are We Insane?
July 8, 2013 9:37 AM   Subscribe

We'd like to at least consider cloth diapering twins, mainly for environmental reasons (which, by the way, Is it totally settled that cloth diapering is greener? We live in SoCal so water is more of an issue than in most areas). Has anyone tried it, either with singletons and multiples, and would you recommend it for twins? If so, any specifics on brands/methods/tips would be great.
posted by Anonymousness to Home & Garden (30 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, I think it's more green to cloth diaper two than one. You're already doing laundry practically every day, you might as well wash a few more in each load.

And in SoCal you can line-dry year round!

I would not do any cloth diapering system where you have to stuff inserts into diapers (FuzziBunz, BumGenius, etc), because that is a PITA to do with one and I can't imagine doing it with two.

I would either do an AIO (All-In-One) or do standard prefolds with a diaper cover like Thirsties or Nikky.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:49 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

And on the flip side, at least according to this article, each baby would use 6,000 disposable diapers, so you're talking about 12,000 diapers in a landfill. I'm not finding a good reliablel resource for how long diapers take to break down in a quick search, but 400-500 years seems to be what's batted about on the Internet.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 9:54 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We use cloth with or daughter and in a few months we're going to have two in cloth so no, I don't think you're crazy. When she was a newborn we used Thirsties covers and prefolds and had a few fitteds for the folding impaired. Now we use mostly all in one or pocket diapers out of the house and prefolds and flats in the house. We have a super squirmy one year old so getting her to hold still long enough to fold a diaper in a strange place just isn't going to happen.

We've spent about $200 altogether on diapers and then about $12/month in recurring costs for water and detergent.

Every 3 months or so does their seconds sale where the diapers are 1/2 off so if you have a few months before your babies are here I'd recommend hitting that sale. They just had one last week so it will be another 3 months.

Green Mountain Diapers makes awesome flats, prefolds and fitteds and they have great prices and customer service, we love their workhorse fitteds and prefolds.

If you have any questions or want to talk cloth feel free to memail me. Good luck!
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

I cloth diapered one child. It was fine. There's not really a lot more burden than using disposables. I eventually stopped because I hated scraping poop out of diapers. It made me want to vomit. It wasn't a lot of extra work, though. I don't see why it would be any harder with twins, aside from the fact that there will be twice as much of anything with twins.

Personally I didn't really care about the environmental impact. The first year of driving a kid around probably has more environmental impact than all the diapers they'll ever use. It seems like an arbitrary place to make an environmental stand, to me. But that's just my view.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:03 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]

My daughter is 12 now, so I can't speak to whatever new covers are out there these days. But I agree that plain old prefolds and covers are super easy. I had some of the insert kinds and they were fine, but I really preferred the simplicity of a prefold. I switched to cloth when she was about four or five months old and we used the same diapers the rest of her diaper-wearing days, just getting bigger covers as she grew. Most of the diapers were given to a friend, who used them for two babies, and she gave most of them to another friend, at which point I lost track of them. But I can't imagine that at least four babies worth of poo isn't way more green than 24,000 disposables. I still have a few, I wash the floors with them.
posted by upatree at 10:07 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We did cloth diapering with twins (and the singleton we had before the twins). It worked great! We used a local diaper service that delivered prefolds every week. The upside of a service is that they launder in huge batches so it can be done very efficiently. Here's our service's info page on how they launder. Oh, and no scraping poop. Just toss the diaper into the pail and shut the lid and it's the service's problem.
posted by zsazsa at 10:08 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

You could always split the difference and do gDiapers. I used them with my first and liked them a lot. Had to quit when we moved to a place with septic and no good composting options.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 10:14 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We cloth diapered our kiddo, except at night because the amount of cloth diaper we had to put on him to hold his pee all night was ridiculous. We're planning to cloth diaper the impending kiddo. It's no big deal.

We've used prefolds & covers at our house -- my biggest suggestion if you go with that system is to get covers with snaps NOT velcro. My tall, skinny kid was in the size medium covers for more than a year, and the velcro is completely shot. We'll have to buy all new covers for the new kid. Otherwise, no big deal.

The girl I nanny uses FuzziBunz, and while I like the convenience of them (getting them on and off is actually easier than disposables, IMO, particularly on a wiggly toddler), they're more finicky to wash.

A friend had a diaper service for the first 4-6 months of her daughter's life, before buying their own diapers. I think if I were having twins, I would do that.
posted by linettasky at 10:16 AM on July 8, 2013

Also, if you're planning on breast feeding the diapers can go straight in the wash, formula poop needs to be rinsed out though. A diaper sprayer and a SprayPal will be your best friends when solids start. Diaper sprayers just attach to your toilet and allow you to spray solids into the bowl and a SprayPal will allow you to not get water everywhere.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2013

We tried it with our first and kicked them to the curb after about 3 days. My understanding is that it's gotten better since then with the covers and so on, but we never revisited the idea with any of the others.
posted by jquinby at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We just use the Flip brand covers and plain cloth diapers, works great. We actually use a diaper service that comes and picks them up weekly and washes them... this takes a lot of the pain out of them and when we looked at the cost it was still significantly less expensive than buying disposables all the time.

As per above, definitely snaps over velcro.
posted by selfnoise at 10:20 AM on July 8, 2013

I cloth diapered one, and then two when the next one came along. I don't see any difference between one and two, other than the number of diapers to wash.

I have all Fuzzibunz pocket diapers. I don't find them a particular pain to stuff. My sister used prefolds and Thirsties (?) covers, and she said that it was fine while he was a tiny baby, but that once he became wiggly, it was a wrestle to get them on. If she had to do it again, she'd get pockets.
posted by Liesl at 10:23 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Also, if you're planning on breast feeding the diapers can go straight in the wash, formula poop needs to be rinsed out though.

When considering this, realize that your kids will only be breastfeeding exclusively for about 6 months, but they will be in diapers for 2-3 years.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know where you are in SoCal, but if you're in the LA area I can recommend DyDee Diaper Service. We're using them (going on 15 months now) and have been so happy with them. I live in an apartment complex with communal washers and didn't want to deal with the mess and expense of washing cloth diapers in communal equipment, so we went with a diaper service that drops off prefolds once a week. We bought Thirstees covers and Snapees, but otherwise they supply all the diapers and the pail. When it's dirty we just toss a diaper in the pail, and that's the extent of the work. It couldn't be easier.

I will say that around 6-7 months we switched to disposables overnight, because he was soaking through the cloth, even when double-diapered. I think there are special inserts you can buy and add that help absorbency, but I didn't want to have to wash them separately when the whole point of a service is not having to wash diapers.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 10:32 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our two kids overlapped with pocket diapers for about 6 months, after which we switched to pull-ups for the elder. As others have mentioned the jump from one to two wasn't such a big deal, we just went from washing diapers every couple of days to washing them every single day. Biggest thing for me was having a solid washer & dryer as they will get a ton of use! We actually bought new front loaders before our first was born.

We had many different brands for a long time because the fit really varied both between brands and over time as our children aged. You will probably have to try several to find what works best for yours.

Also: do yourself a favor and use disposables when traveling. Lugging and washing diapers while on vacation is madness!
posted by rouftop at 10:37 AM on July 8, 2013

We cloth diapered our first baby and are planing to do the same for our second. Once you get in the rhythm of throwing in a load of diapers, they're very user friendly. Used a variety of pocket diapers and found them to be really user friendly and easy. I agree that snaps hold up a lot better than velcro. Also, when it gets to the solids/formula poop phase, there are these flushable liners that my daycare providers said made things very managable for them.

For what it's worth, we also tried G-diapers, but found that they were leaky and the covers got dirty every time we used them. Not really cost effective for us.
posted by goggie at 10:41 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We cloth diaper our baby and it's great. No appreciable increase in our water bill, and I hardly notice the extra work--one load of laundry and five minutes stuffing inserts. We use pocket diapers, all different brands that I bought used on Craigslist and We use formula and don't rinse before tossing in the wash, and they are totally fine. (We also don't use special diaper detergent--it's not really necessary.)

I spent less than $200 on all the diapers my daughter will ever need (and any future kiddos) and expect to make at least half my money back when we're done. Plus, no rashes like she got from the disposables before we switched, and no stinky trash. I made cloth wipes out of receiving blankets, so we're saving money there too.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:52 AM on July 8, 2013

We have mostly done it. I definitely recommend it. After trying a wide variety of styles, we settled on these prefolds and these covers from Green Mountain Diapers. We had a few other styles of covers which were suited to different climates, outfits, situations, etc. Our approach was always to buy a handful of styles and then buy a few more of whichever we liked best.

BUT while you're looking at options, I suggest you also learn about elimination communication. Having kids wear their waste is a fairly modern notion that comes to look frankly bizarre when you've tried the alternative. I guess it's a different challenge with twins, but I couldn't be happier that we did it with our third child. It's impossible to overstate how much it improves the relationship.
posted by sudama at 11:00 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Not only did we have multiples in cloth diapers at the same time but my wife made her own laundry detergent. Is it greener? I can't speak to that but as others have suggested, we used a service (for some of the time), which means the company had a vested interest (water and energy bills) to do everything as efficiently as possible. Also I think my kids potty trained earlier - with cloth they feel the result of their emission. With disposables that takes a lot longer for that. We didn't want our kids' poopy diapers hanging around long enough for archeologists to find it and we did find that choice a lot less expensive.
posted by brownrd at 11:02 AM on July 8, 2013

I really like the idea of the All-in-Two cloth diapers like SoftBums. I hadn't heard of them before seeing a used GoodToGo pack for sale on Craigslist and went to check them out (and ended up buying). The All-In-Two is nice because if the kid only soils the snap-in absorbent pad, you can unsnap it and snap in a clean one (reusing the external cover) and keep on truckin'.

That being said, I haven't used them yet (just got full-term this week and my copilot is still comfy and cookin').

I thought the Reusable Diaper Information Booklet [pdf] from SoftBums' website was informative (and obviously biased).

Also, I found PinStripes and PolkaDots's pages on what detergent to use for cloth diapers very informative. Here's the link for normal washers and another for HE washers.

Finally, I was searching for cloth diaper comments here just a few weeks ago and this one with a link to a YouTube series about cloth diapers really helped me figure things out.
posted by jillithd at 11:51 AM on July 8, 2013

Just remember that it's not an all-or-nothing proposition! You can always have some disposables around for emergencies or travel but do the cloth for the normal daily grind.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I recommend a diaper service for the first three months while you're overwhelmed, (you can ask for this as a baby shower gift) then switching to self launder cloth. This is what I did, and I got into a washing routine that ended up being no big deal.
posted by latkes at 12:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We use cloth diapers, but I don't know for certain that it's a given that cloth diapers are much more environmentally friendly than disposables. I discussed this with an environmental scientist friend of mine who had looked into the issue and her opinion was that it's about equal in terms of environmental impact when you consider all the angles. Manufacturers of disposables have the technology, means, and incentive to reduce the water/power used to create the diapers, so the cloth diapers washed at home are a little worse for the environment in comparison. On the other hand, there's the fact that the disposables are going to wind up in a landfill and the human waste is not being properly treated through a sewage treatment facility. To me, that's gross.

So the contributing factors for us using cloth diapers was
1) much cheaper than disposables, even taking into account washing/drying costs;
2) I don't mind doing laundry; and
3) sending less human waste to a landfill. (Also cheaper, since here we pay for garbage disposal by the can.)

That said - as much as I don't mind doing laundry, diapers are a laundry chore you must keep on top of, and personally I wouldn't do it with twins. Look into a diaper service - I am sure that it would be cheaper than buying disposables for twins. I suspect, although I have no evidence, that the diaper service would be more efficient (water/power) than home washing, so that would be better for the environment.
posted by stowaway at 12:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

We mostly cloth diapered our twins. We used hand-me-down diapers of various brands, and some worked better than others at different phases. I wish I could remember the best brand names but, well, I wasn't getting much sleep at the time which isn't so good for the memory..

We did end up using disposables at night once they reached the age where they could sleep through the night. Disposables are just so magically absorbent and it made a big difference to our sleep to not have babies wake up in the middle of the night because they're soggy.

As toddlers now, they spend a lot of time diaper free. They know enough to not do their business on the furniture and rugs, even if they're not quite potty trained yet, and go outside when possible. Cleaning a puddle or pile off the floor or deck is easier than changing a diaper. We still diaper when we go out and for sleep, though.

So I'd say go for it, but if it turns out to be too much of a burden don't feel guilty about using disposables. Having twins is really hard (but worth it), so do what you need to do to keep yourself sane, healthy, and as we'll rested as possible.
posted by Emanuel at 12:58 PM on July 8, 2013

I cloth diapered my triplets...for a week. Only because they were in daycare, and since I couldn't sent the diapers to daycare, I only ended up using maybe 2 a day (per kid), which didn't really seem worth all the other trouble. It would have taken a couple of days to make up a load, and that just seemed gross.

But lots of people do, especially if they kids will be at home (not at daycare, unless you can find a daycare that will take CDs.)
posted by pyjammy at 1:03 PM on July 8, 2013

We've been mostly cloth diapering, and have been doing a scaled down version of elimination communication really focusing on poops but less on peeing. It really helps reduce the gross poop in cloth diaper problem, and is actually a lot of fun.

We also do disposables at night, since he sleeps longer/better that way.
posted by lab.beetle at 1:11 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm voting insane, or at least when we tried it in our house it was that extra bit that drove us nuts. The hard part was that baby clothes were often too small for the cloth diapers (which are a lot more bulky) and we had to change much more often. We also wanted to go the ecological route but it was just too much.
posted by dgran at 1:23 PM on July 8, 2013

Do you know how big your babies will be? Twins are usually smaller than singletons. My daughter was 3.5lb at birth and was too small for cloth - I bought a whole load of totsbots and plain terries - I could have cut the terries in half but I couldn't find plastic covers small enough. I had the best intentions, but by the time my daughter was big enough to wear them she could express an opinion about it, and she absolutely hated them. They are a lot bulkier than disposables, so get clothes (trousers and onesies, anyway) like two sizes bigger than your kids need.

I recently gave the nappies away to a pregnant friend who is determined to do it, so the £200 I outlaid wasn't a total waste...
posted by goo at 3:35 PM on July 8, 2013

We use cloth with our 13 month old (her daycare allows cloth diapers too). I do laundry about every two days. For the first few weeks after she was born, we used disposables - another friend who used cloth said cleaning the meconium off cloth diapers was kind of difficult. Our baby's umbilical cord stump took a couple of weeks to fall off too, so I didn't want something big and bulky in contact with the stump. We use disposables at night and when going out.

We use the Fuzzibunz hanging diaper pail, on recommendation from the above-mentioned friend. We just got a small garbage bin from the hardware store and put the bag in there, but you can also hang it from a doorknob or hook, no bin needed. You can get two so that when one is in the laundry, you have another on hand.
posted by foxjacket at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2013

Kudoes to you for considering cloth! I'm a mother of four (grown now) and we had two in diapers for most of the diaper years. I can assure you this is doable. When the diapers line-dry in the sun, they smell wonderful; and I found that taking the time to hang them outside was a reviving break for me. Here's a hint for washing them: Dump the entire diaperpail load into the washer, put in on the rinse and spin cycle first, then use wash cycle. If you do breast feed (and I hope you do!) please consider doing it for more than a year if at all possible. Another hint for overnight use: Cloth diapers will usually hold overnight very well. You may need to experiment with the best way to fold, or double diaper, as your babies grow. Boys need more absorption in the front, girls in the back.
One of our daughters who now lives in Switzerland uses cloth diapers with the covers; she's very satisfied with that approach.
Congratulations on your twins! Parenthood is one of life's greatest joys.
posted by ragtimepiano at 11:28 PM on July 8, 2013

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