As we all well know, multiples can really drain your wallet/check book/credit card/(non-existent) life savings/etc. As Jen noted earlier today, using cloth diapers is one way you can exert some control over the financial drain of diapering two or three or more babies. In my family we also found cloth diapers to be the best choice for us. Here’s why.
My mom cloth diapered all of her children, so I was intrigued about cloth diapers from the start. Cloth diapering certainly uses water and energy (and bleach at times), but I personally believe that it does less damage to the environment than using disposables. I also was somewhat uncomfortable with the chlorine and urine-absorption chemicals found in most disposable diapers.
My husband made it clear that I had to make a viable financial case for cloth diapers. I took this as a challenge and figured out how to make cloth diapers easy and affordable for us. Now that we’ve been using cloth diapers for a year and a half, we both agree that it’s been a great decision.
Cloth diapering is easy. I am fortunate enough to live in a city where I can enjoy a fabulous diaper service. Every Friday morning by 8am my bag of dirty diapers is picked up from my porch and replaced by a new bag of freshly cleaned diapers. I fold the diapers into fourths and lay them in adorable Velcro-tabbed diaper covers. When it’s time for a change I dump the diaper and all of its contents into a diaper bin and lay a new folded diaper in the cover. When the cover is dirty I throw it in the laundry basket. I wash a load of my girls’ clothes, including diaper covers, once or twice a week. Now that they’re eating solids, I rarely have to do much pre-scrubbing of the covers since most of the mess gets dumped straight into the diaper pail and the diaper service does the rest. That, for me, is the best part about using a diaper service.
Cloth diapering saves me money. Back in the newborn days, when we were going through many more diapers than we are now, the diaper service was especially cost-competitive with disposables. We were paying about 7 cents less per diaper than we would have with the disposables I priced at our local Target. Now that my girls use fewer diapers, we’ve lost some of that economy of scale with the diaper service, but the benefits of the cloth diapers more than make up for that. We also use cloth wipes, which I just throw in with our regular laundry, so we aren’t buying cases and cases of baby wipes on a regular basis either. In the summer I dry the covers, wipes and clothes on the line.
Cloth diapering has many ancillary benefits. In my experience, these include:
- If breastfeeding, cloth diapers give you a much better sense of how much urine output your babies are producing — and thus how much milk they’re consuming. Urine can “hide” better in disposables. I liked being able to see exactly how much my girls were producing.
- Cloth diapers keep messes inside the diaper so much better than disposables. The only major blowouts I’ve had were when I was using disposables while we were away from home on trips.
- Cloth diapering lets you control exactly what comes into contact with your babies’ most sensitive areas.
- Cloth diapering frees up enormous space in your garbage can. This also saves us money, because in Seattle the larger your garbage can, the larger your monthly utilities bill. Cloth diapering (and city-sponsored composting!) allows us to use a very small garbage can.
- Other moms have told me that cloth diapering makes potty training much easier, because kids begin to notice their wet diapers and dislike that feeling. I’m seriously hoping this rumor proves true! The sooner we potty train the sooner we stop paying for diapers all together.
- Cloth-diapered bums are freaking cute.
Of course cloth diapering is, as with everything, probably harder with twins and triplets than with a singleton. Here are my tips for cloth diapering with twins:
- Have backup disposables on hand. I probably buy one small box of disposables every two months or so.
- Buy used diapers and/or covers. The baby consignment stores here in Seattle sell tons of used diaper covers, and I often find $15 covers for $4 or so. If you don’t have nearby consignment stores, diaperswappers features a forum where moms sell their used diapers and diaper covers to each other.
- Make sure every caretaker is instructed on how to use your cloth diapers. Don’t allow anyone the excuse, “I don’t know how to use those diapers.” It’s easy to learn, and it frees you from being responsible for all those diaper changes!
- If you’re overwhelmed with the decisions to be made regarding cloth diapering, start with disposables. There’s no reason you can’t revisit cloth diapering after a month or two. Plus, your children will be bigger and you may be able to skip over the smallest sizes of cloth diapers.
- If you have a diaper service available in your area, it’s a great baby shower gift to ask for. People can prepay for service and you can begin the service whenever you’re ready.