Cloth diapering. It’s how we do. One of the books I read while the twins were still in utero on how to breastfeed twins, even though it gave some amazing advice and encouragement on nursing two at once, also said, and I quote “Cloth diapers – are you kidding? Breastfeeding and caring for twins makes life busy enough! There is no need for another job…”. Well, I guess the joke’s on us but the money’s in our pocket too cause we’re crazy enough to try…and succeed! I know it’s not for everyone but I will tell you that we’ve saved somewhere in the vicinity of $2000 so far by breastfeeding (up until three weeks before the girls turned 1) and cloth diapering. Cha-ching.
This post is all about the latter though and it’s all you need to know and everything I wish I would’ve had at my fingertips while I was preparing to put cloth on our girls bums.
>>> The Supplies <<<
1 – A diaper pail. When you’re talking cloth diapering, a diaper pail is just a fancy word for “garbage can”. Almost any garbage can will work but you will want one with a foot step that opens the lid so you’re not having to use hands you don’t have while holding a dirty diaper to open the lid. We have this one from Target but my cloth-diapering sis bought a similar one from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. You can find them almost anywhere. Just make sure your wet bag (#6) fits inside it. Update: Don’t buy the Target pail. After one year of use, the plastic ring the held the lid to the pail snapped off and let us pail-less until we bought this Simple Human one that’s still going strong.
2 – Diaper covers. Diaper covers go over prefolds (#3), the actual absorbent material that catches all of your baby’s waste. If you opt to use all-in-one diapers, like these by Bum Genius, you won’t need these. However, they’re cheaper than the all-in-ones. Our first thought was actually to use all-in-one diapers but after reading a few reviewers saying that tiny particles of poop can get stuck in between the layers, we decided to go with prefolds and covers (OCD ova here). I’ve heard more good than bad reviews for both types though. But back to the covers, we use Flip diaper covers and LOVE them. They’re adjustable so that they’ll fit from newborn to potty-training (but I might mention that we did purchase some “newborn” sized covers that were smaller because our girls were so tiny and used them until the girls were three months old). They come with either snaps (which we prefer) or velcro and you use one cover all day, unless you have a leak into it from an abnormally large load…that’s always fun. We give them a quick wipe every time we change diapers and we’re good to go. There are varying opinions on how many you really need but we have 12 – six for each girl – and we’ve found that that’s plenty. Also, we made sure to purchase some “boyish” colors so in case we ever had a boy (whadda know?!…we do!), he wouldn’t have to sport the pinks. :) Update: We still love our Flip covers but we’ve had an issue with the laminated lining of a couple of them ripping and therefore leaking. I’m planning on letting Flip know and so I’ll check back after I do.
3 – Prefolds. As mentioned above, these go inside your diaper covers (unless you’re using all-in-ones) and do all the dirty work. We use Bummis organic cotton prefolds but have some non-organic prefolds and some Flip Stay Dry inserts that we’re going to try when the girls move up in sizes…soon. We also have some disposable inserts to use when the girls are a little bigger as well. They serve the same purpose as cloth prefolds but, as the name declares, are tossed like a regular diaper when they’re dirty. We’ll use them for travel and that’s about it. As far as how many you’ll need, we have 30 prefolds – 15 per girl – and have to wash diapers pretty much every other day. That number has worked perfect for us. Update: Unless you really want organic, we purchased several of these Chinese prefolds and have found that they work just as well as the Organic Bummis prefolds for half the price. We also have a few Indian prefolds but have found that they don’t hold as much even though they’re a tad softer. Also, we’re sorry to say that we’ve been really disappointed with the Flip Stay Dry inserts and the Flip disposable inserts. The girls have wet through them in an hour or less and, because we’d rather not change diapers every hour, we’ve been exclusively using prefolds.
4 – Snappis. Out with the big, dangerous safety pins and in with the Snappis! They hold the prefold on with claws of sort, that grip each side of the diaper and the middle. They’re super easy to use and semi-elastic so they stretch with growing baby and you use them until they wear out (the package says to switch out the old for a new one at least every six months but we’ve been using the same ones for a year now.)
5 – A diaper sprayer. This is optional but for us it was a surefire way to remove runny newborn poop but as the girls started eating solids, which as you might know, come out as “solids”, it’s not in as much use. We have this bumGenius Diaper Sprayer. It attaches to your toilet and is similar to the sprayer on a sink. I’ve heard a few reviewers quoting their dislike for these due to the fact that they spray poop everywhere. We, however, love it and don’t have poop sprayed everywhere. The keys to not adorning surrounding areas with excrement is 1) spraying down and into the diaper (duh?), 2) setting the water pressure high enough so that it gets the poop off and low enough that it doesn’t hit the stuff and fly in every direction, 3) having your toilet water level low which allows you to… 4) hold the diaper as deep as possible into the toilet bowl. The diaper might be soaking wet once you’re finished cleaning it so you can either do the Anthony – wring it out with your bare hands (one of the reasons I know he REALLY loves our girls) and carry it damp to the diaper can, hold it over the nearby bathroom trash can, letting it drip into there while you carry it to the can (my preferred mode), or you can buy a small wet bag just for getting it from toilet to can. This is probably the worst part of cloth diapering buutttt, did you know that it’s illegal to dispose of human excrement into your trash…a.k.a. you’re supposed to empty disposable diapers of solids before throwing them out. Read your diaper box, I swear it’s true! Who does it though? I wouldn’t know…
6 – Two large wet bags/diaper pail liners. These fit into your diaper pail and hold all dirty/wet diapers until laundry time. They’re lined with a flexible plastic sort of material (technical term…I have no clue) so they’re water-proof. You’ll need two because while one is in the wash with your diapers, you’ll need the other in your diaper pail. We have these by Planet Wise.
7 – A medium (or small) wet bag for travel. This is similar to the large wet bags you’ll need only a lot smaller and usually they zipper shut so you can stash it in your diaper bag for outside-the-home excursions…not that we mothers get a ton of those. ;) You really only need one. We have one similar to this one from Planet Wise.
Not pictured – Wipes. We use disposable Target brand wipes but I know lots of cloth-diapering parents who use cloth wipes and homemade cleaning solution as well. Click here for a great tutorial on those from Simple Homemade. Last, when I sent my must-have list to my sis so she could double check me to make sure I my supposed “pregnancy brain” wasn’t forgetting anything, she told me to add a hazmat suit. ;) Disposable or cloth, I’m sure we’ve all had those diaper changes in which we wish we had one of those close by, am I right or am I right?!
>Nighttime< We don’t cloth diaper at night. We use Target disposables. There are overnight cloth diapers you can get that we haven’t tried but we had a run-in with some bad smelling diapers after being left on all night in the beginning of our cloth diaper journey and opted for disposables instead.
There are links to all the products mentioned above within their individual explanations but I didn’t do any research and find where each product is the cheapest at the moment. We purchased or were gifted most of our cloth diaper paraphernalia by family from cottonbabies.com. You can register with them which is awesome and they often have some sort of sale going on. They also have diapers for sale that are marked down due to slight imperfections in construction but perfectly usable. Most if not all of the stuff can be purchased on Amazon too and a few of the links above are affiliate links that will lead you there! If you have any secrets on where to purchase cloth-diapering loot, let us know in the comments section! :)
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>>> Folding & Clothing <<<
It took us two diaper changes (hence the different outfits and lack of a changing pad cover in a few) to get all the shots we needed to explain without photo-bombing baby extremities but I think we got every step. And just an FYI, I’m going to be really thorough with this part of cloth diapering because it’s the one that intimidated me the most and that which I couldn’t find enough info on when I was seeking it. Sorry in advance if it’s annoying…I’m happy if it’s helpful!
There are a few different ways to fold a prefold diaper. Our favorite is the angel/angel wing fold; the one you’ll see below. You can see some other ways here.
Then grab the top corners and pull them around toward baby’s sides >>
(Side note: If the prefold is a little big, like ours were when the girls were newborns, you can just fold the front down a little bit at this point. I meant to take a picture to show this step but forgot…)
Grab the corners at the back and pull them up and over the front of the diaper >>
Then grab your snappi and attach it to each side and, while holding the middle-top of the prefold, pull it down and attach it at the bottom >>
Snap on a cover and you’re…errr, baby…is good to go!
At this point you’ll either be making a fun trip to the diaper sprayer…
Easy. A few diaper changes and you’ll be able to slap on a cloth diaper faster than you can put on your own pants.
Here’s a little cheat sheet/image you can right-click save in case you want all the folding in one place:
I know some people fold differently for boys but I haven’t yet had time to research that. I’ll get back to you on it in T-minus four months though! :)
Update: So, turns out there’s not much of a difference between diapering boys vs. girls. We use the same folding process only we make sure that our little man’s you-know is nice and tucked. After a couple of inquiries, I whipped up this little pictorial to explain:
Another thing worth mentioning, you CANNOT use Desitin/regular diaper cream with cloth diapers. Apparently the wax they’re made with will never come out of your cloths. I know there are cloth diaper approved diaper rash creams out there (anybody have specifics?) and I’ve also heard maybe coconut oil works (?) but we take the lazy way out and put the rash victim (usually from a reaction to a certain food) in a disposable after slathering on some Desitin. Update: Thanks to some awesome readers I can now tell you that Burt’s Bees rash cream and GroVia diaper sticks are cloth diaper and mother/father approved!
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>>> Washing & Drying <<<
Like I mentioned above, having 12 covers and 15 prefolds, we wash diapers once every other day at least. It’s as simple as removing the entire diaper pail liner/wet bag full of diapers and emptying it into the washer, throwing the liner in empty and inside-out too.
We follow the washing instructions on a pamphlet that came with our diapers. First we run them through a cold cycle without any detergent. Then we add a half capful of detergent (we use Seventh Generation from Target) and set the washer on a hot cycle with an extra rinse. You don’t need to use as much detergent on cloth diapers as you would in a normal load of clothes. Remember that if you’re diapering one baby, you’d use even less than we do diapering two. Using fabric softener and/or dryer sheets isn’t recommended. To strip the diapers lest they start smelling from detergent/waste build-up, we add about a 1/8-1/4 cup of white vinegar in every four or five loads.
Once in awhile, if we think of it or have some time on our hands, we’ll hang the diapers outside to dry, letting the sun bleach out any stains. Works like a charm!
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>>> Storage <<<
To keep the diapers close at hand, we have a little “changing station” next to the changing pad in the girls’ room. It’s just a decorative tray I found at Dirt Cheap (originally from Target) that I load their clean prefolds on, a pack of wipes, and a little vase filled with various creams/teething gel/whatever.
Extra covers, the spare pail liner, and our trusty overnight disposables are stored in a drawer underneath…
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Whew!! Did I miss anything? Longest post ever! :)
But after all that let me type it again, we love cloth diapers! Not only because we’ve saved enough to equal a nice down payment on a minivan (yes…yes we are going there) but because they’re good for the environment and we can count the number of leaks we’ve had on two hands. In the span of one year, diapering two babies, that’s pretty darn good. However, I can’t even tell you how many leaks we’ve had using disposables – on trips in car seats usually. Fun. Fun. A huge plus is that we’re set for baby #3 and following because we won’t need to buy more! And, on a totally superficial level, they’re cute! Who needs bloomers when you have cute diaper covers? I love pairing them with coordinating dresses and baby legwarmers in the cooler months to make changing a snap. :)
I know the thought of cloth diapering can be really intimidating but I promise it’s really not! It takes maybe 30 seconds longer for me to change a cloth diaper vs. a disposable, but in this case time is not money but just the opposite! Plus, once you give it a try and stick with it, it becomes normal and just another part of daily life.
If you have any questions or have anything at all to add, leave a comment or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org! I’d love to hear more tricks of the dirty trade! :)
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P.S. I’m sorry if I’m a little delayed in getting back to your comments/emails this week/weekend! My sister is flying in from Dallas tomorrow and we’re driving with the girls over to St. Augustine, Florida to see my mom and other sister! On Saturday we’re heading to Disney World for Night of Joy and letting the twins get their first taste of the Princesses, Mickey and Minnie, and everybody else who’s there. Chances are they’ll have no clue what’s going on but it’s okay because all I really care about is taking them on “It’s a Small World”. Aaaah! Can’t wait!! :)
Have a Magical rest of the week! :)