Karen, a friend of a friend who has been cloth diapering her 2 little ones recently sent me an email with tons of info on the subject. I thought I would share it here, since it really is priceless. Since she sent me this, my mom (who runs a day care) has also praised AMP diapers. I’m pretty much sold, but here’s her advice. Note: Neither of us are affiliated with any of the companies named. Karen mentions a baby shop in Ottawa, but call around your own city if you are looking for specific brands, or check out the company’s websites. Take it away, Karen!
Congrats on the babies!!! Twins are extra exciting and sadly, will be doubly expensive for diapers. For all pregnant friends I always try to sell people on cloth because I. LOVE. CLOTH. I think I’m a little crazy but they really are great. Sadly, I have been able to convert very few friends because of husbands who do not want poopy diapers hanging around the house. I actually made a deal with my husband that I would do all of the washing (so really, no change from the norm ;).
Here’s the thing, cloth is WAY less smelly than disposables. Cloth is washed every 2 days-ish, disposables are only taken away once a week. We just potty trained my two year old but before that he was in disposables for a short period (he is a large boy and most cloth diapers go to 35 lbs, he was almost 40 and all in the bum so was stretching my diapers). I HATED disposables, they smell (disgusting garbages) and he got his worst (and first) diaper rashes in them, one requiring a prescription. Disposables are far less breathable than cloth and the child doesn’t feel the wetness so they often aren’t changed as often either. Last, sometimes babies are sensitive to all of the chemicals in disposables. You can get ‘natural’ diapers that are better for them but those cost $$$.
Which leads me to the reason I hate disposables the most, cost. Every time I bought a box I felt as though I may as well have taken a $50 bill and burned it. You save SO much money using cloth diapers. I bought my diapers for about $500 total (allowing me to wash every two days at the beginning and even less often if I want to now). The average amount people spend on diapers in the first year is $1500/child. We are on our 2nd child with these same diapers and they are still in great shape, when she is out of them I can sell them or give them to a friend or family. It’s like buying clothes rather than paper towels 🙂
So, what to get. I am anal and did major research before buying. I ultimately went with AMP Duo diapers. I have the hemp and the bamboo liners. I also tried some cheap china diapers (loveyour baby.com, Kawaii baby diapers). They are less expensive but nowhere near the quality of fabrics and not as nice although good for saving money. I also tried Bummis wraps with cotton pre-folds. These are a very cheap option as well but again do not absorb nearly as well as bamboo or hemp. (I should also mention people think cloth leaks; I have *never* had a poop explosion where it leaks in my cloth but a few in disposables for both children. This is because cloth are elasticized at the top and around legs. I have also had pee leaks in disposables.) I would highly recommend the blog All About Cloth Diapers; She has tons of tips as well as reviews for tons of different diapers (all brands and types). Diaper Pin.com also has many reviews.
Types of cloth diapers
All in One (AIO), this is a diaper you wash and dry and is all together like a disposable. There are many brands and kinds; I have heard the best things about the Bum Genius. AMP also makes one.
All In Two (AI2) is essentially a waterproof cover with a liner. The cover is usually PUL (waterproof) and then you can use any kind of liner (bamboo, cotton, hemp). Bummis with cotton prefolds are common; Thirsties wraps; Blueberry wraps are also great but there are MANY others.
Pockets: These are a cover with a fleece inner pocket. The fleece is a stay-dry layer against the baby’s bum and then you stuff the pocket with as many liners as you want (again, hemp, bamboo, cotton and also microfibre). You can stuff more for a heavy wetter or night time and less during the day. My AMPs are technically a pocket but they call them the ‘Duo’ since they can also be used as an all in two. The vast majority of the time I use them as an AI2 (except night). I lay the bamboo liner in them and the pocket acts as a cover. This means that if the baby pees I change out the liner but re-use the cover. This means you use less covers. Aside from my AMPs good brands are Apple Cheeks (almost identical to my AMPs) and Fuzzibunzz.
There are also wool covers and old-school prefolds attached with a snappy (modern diaper pin contraption). I cannot recommend any of these because have no experience with them.
What do you need?
I would recommend about 20 diapers per child so you only have to wash every 1.5 days (it is accepted that a newborn is changed about 10-12 times a day). I had 12 covers (since they are re-used) and then 20 liners. I got all bamboo at first. I have since added a couple more covers and liners. My original choices are still the best. I find natural fibres clean better (microfibre gets stinky) and bamboo is softest against their skin. I also like snaps way better than ‘applix’ (velcro). Snaps stay shut, babies can’t take them off (they will get to an age when that is fun) and they always stay closed, after wear velcro gets less sticky. My AMPs are also one size meaning I only need this one set from birth to the end. They fit 8-35 lbs. You will probably want some smaller diapers because your babies will likely be littler than my 9lbers were.
So I wash mine at home. Not disgusting, I do not have poo in my washing machine. They get very clean (diapers do not need to be sterilized, unless you ever have a bad GI virus or yeast rash then you can sterilize with some bleach, I have never had to do this). Typically you do one rinse, one hot wash and then an additional rinse. There are many different kinds of detergent to use but lots of people swear by Tide. You just use way less than in a normal wash (check out All About Cloth Diapers blog, she has many many posts on washing). I have two large wetbags (around$20 each) that the stinky diapers go in then I dump it all in the wash (bag and all). I have one Fuzzibunzz bag and one AMP one. They are both great. For travel I have two small fuzzibunzz bags, they zip up and you put dirty diapers in them when you are out. You will NEVER smell the diapers or have a leak. Cloth diapers also totally fit in diaper bags.
I take it one step further and use cloth wipes. Why not? They go straight into the same diaper bags and are washed with the diapers. I use a diaper warmer and Monkey Doodlez wipes cubes. I am just now on my second container. I dissolve one cube in 2 cups of boiling water and pour over folded baby wash cloths in the wipes warmer. They work WAY better than disposables to clean up (I almost never use more than one, disposables you use many). Again, great $$ savings.
How to deal with poo
While they are solely breastfed you can just throw it all in the wash, water soluble. If they are on formula or once they start solids it needs to be flushed. You can use biodegradable liners (and flush it all) or we use a diaper sprayer. They go for around $50 and easily attaches to your toilet, sprays off the diapers into the toilet. This also reduces the smell 🙂 Not hard. Some people think this is gross. Diapers are gross, I find cleaning this no different than changing a disposable. Truly. The extra laundry is barely noticeable.
Here’s what I like most: cloth diapers (depending on what you get) are just as trim as disposables. They are ADORABLE. I feel like I am putting something soft and cozy on my baby. I have saved a ton of money.
My best advice is to research, ask around, think about what would work best for you and then look into kijiji (or your local classifieds web site) if you want to save more $$ or since you are doing two kids at once, maybe new. I *highly* recommend the Extraordinary Baby Shoppe in Hintonburg (a bit East of Parkdale at Wellington, it’s at Rosemount and Wellington). The owner is FANTASTIC. They are super helpful. I have probably been to every diaper shop in Ottawa, they are by far the best. When I bought all my AMPs and liners she *gave* me a free bummis cover and cotton liners just in case I liked them too. If anything just checkout the site or follow them on Facebook.
Also, don’t worry about committing to only cloth diapering, at the beginning, go disposable, at least until meconium is over or maybe until they are big enough for a one sized, or until you are ready. When you travel, maybe do disposables. When we get babysitters we do disposables. Both John (my husband) and I were raised in cloth (old school with pins) and yet our moms are not interested in trying good cloth diapers…. But for free babysitting I give them disposables! 🙂
There is so so so much info out there, I hope this was a little helpful. I just wrote as much as I could think of. I think you will find cloth really helpful. GOOD LUCK. Although two babies does sound scary to me and chaotic, you know what is chaotic? Babies. I did mine 18 months apart and that is CRAZY, I think you will find some benefits, some downfalls but mostly it will be all you know. You’ll do great!!!
(side note, I may have been enjoying some Baco Noir while writing this so if it is rambling or illogical or riddled with typos, my apologies but when babies are sleeping I like wine ;))
I love Karen’s advice at the end, this might become my new mantra: “when babies are sleeping, drink wine.” Her info definitely makes it seem like cloth diapering is not only do-able, it’s the best way. I have a lot more courage now. Thanks Karen!
I welcome any thoughts or comments!