Twin Mom Carrie talks to cloth diaper ambassador and twin mom Julie Clark about her passion for cloth diapers and why parents of infant twins should consider going cloth.
Hello, Julie! Thank you so very much for chatting with The Twin Source. It is an honor to have you. We are so excited to talk cloth diapering and how to manage it all with twins!
Thanks so much for asking me to be featured. It's an absolute honor. I don't personally know nearly enough moms of multiples, so this is really exciting!
What are some obvious and not-so-obvious benefits of choosing cloth diapers?
Good question! One funny and obvious reason often mentioned is "no more late-night trips to the grocery store for diapers." That's true, but I have a feeling that we all still go to the store often enough and that avoiding those trips isn't reason enough to use cloth diapers.
A less obvious benefit is the health of our children. I learned with my daughter—the twins' older sister—that babies can have allergies to disposables and that switching back and forth between disposable brands can wreak havoc on sensitive skin. She ended up with a bleeding, blistering rash one day—and it was just minutes after switching her into a new diaper from a new brand. I called the doctor, and the first thing he asked was, "Did you just start a new brand of diapers?" Lightbulb!
So, avoiding chemicals, fragrances, and dioxins often found in disposables is a big benefit to using cloth. Sure, you can save money and you can save the planet by cloth diapering, but first and foremost let's save our kids from unnecessary rashes and exposure to chemicals on the most sensitive parts of their little bodies.
Parents of twins—including those who are part of The Twin Source audience—often point to cloth diapers as a way to save money. Can you break down the costs?
You can certainly save a lot of money with cloth diapers. Although modern cloth diapers are very popular, as a mother of twins I preferred the old-school method of using cloth/cotton prefolds and diaper covers. This method is not much different from what our grandmothers would have used. No pins required these days, of course.
With the most economical method of prefolds and covers, you can expect to need 4 to 6 diaper covers and at least 12 to 24 prefolds per child, especially when they're tiny and will be soiling diapers faster than you can fasten them. Covers are now often one-size-fits-all, so you can count on being able to use them on babies from about 8 to 35 pounds and beyond. No need to buy extra small, small, medium, and large. This is great if you have twins and they aren't the same size or build—you can easily adjust the same covers to fit both babies.
So, with twins, you're looking at about 48 prefolds at $1.79 each plus about 10 one-size covers at $8.95 each—approximately $175 total to cloth diaper twins from birth through potty training.
There will certainly be added expenses along the way, and you may discover that you prefer another method that costs more or that's more absorbent, meaning fewer diaper changes.
Factor in also that if your diapers have been kept in decent condition, you can sometimes resell them when you're through and recoup about half of your initial investment. Or, you can save your diapers and cloth diaper future children without having to buy any more diapers at all!
Many twin parents think cloth diapering will require too much laundry and be too messy. Can you speak to those stereotypes and share some of the strides that have been made in cloth diapering?
Washing diapers is definitely an added chore compared to just tossing a disposable into the garbage can. But to say you won't use cloth because it will require too much laundry is like saying you'll only use plastic cups and paper plates because washing dishes is too much work.
Personally, I came to enjoy the fact that I was putting effort into something I cared about and that I wasn't just using the most convenient method. It's hard to explain to people who haven't tried it, but cloth diapering becomes a sort of hobby and you don't really think too much about the washing being inconvenient.
What about the poop? That's always a big question. Isn't that the inconvenient part? Well, there are flushable diaper liners that do a great job of sticking to the poop. You then peel off the liner and flush it away. Diaper sprayers are also popular. You spray the poop off the diaper and into the toilet, then toss the diaper into the diaper pail until it's time to wash. The old "dunk and swish" method isn't used by many people anymore.
It's important to note that if a cover does not get soiled, then you can reuse it over and over until you feel it needs washing.
You have three children—your twin boys and their big sister. Can you discuss what it was like using cloth diapers for twins versus for one infant? What lessons did you learn or what surprises did you find?
Sadly, I don't have experience cloth diapering just one baby. I used disposables with my daughter. As a new mom and someone who wasn't so into the online thing back then, I just thought constant diaper rash was normal and buying disposables was what you did. I didn't know of the existence of modern cloth diapers or modern diaper covers. Looking back, I kick myself for not having looked into it.
Based on what I've read online, you do need to plan on washing cloth diapers more often with twins. You don't want to end up with more diapers than you can wash in one load—and the longer you go between washings, the more diapers you need.
If a woman who was pregnant with twins reached out to you about using cloth diapers, what steps or items would you recommend for getting started?
I'd stress the importance of registering for cloth diapers for your baby shower. People tend to be really generous when they know you're having twins. But if you don't tell people just what you want, you could end up with 12 hooded bath towels that you'll never use.
I'd also recommend looking for a retailer close by. They'll often give you a demo of some of the popular options, or they may offer classes at their store.
Also, pick up a copy of "Changing Diapers: The Hip Mom's Guide to Cloth Diapering" and you'll essentially have a little handbook with info on everything from how to wash diapers, to how to cloth diaper while at daycare, to how to troubleshoot problems. There's even a section on cloth diapering multiples!
Other resources I'd recommend:
Let's talk twins! Your boys are school age now. What do you think is the best part of raising twins?
The best part about raising my identical twin boys is knowing what a special bond they share and seeing their love for each other. I feel so blessed. To know that they've been born with the ultimate gift—a best friend for life, a person who's going to support and love them unconditionally no matter what—is priceless.
Being able to witness how unique they are yet how similar, how they can fight yet be so sensitive to each other's feelings, and how they just love being with each other is also really, really cool.
Even if they never marry and choose to live together until the day they die, I'd be just as happy.
Julie, thank you so very much for taking the time to share your expertise and talk dirty diapers with The Twin Source! Who knew diaper discussions could be fun and informative?
Julie Clark is a former cloth diaper retailer turned advocate and social media manager. She resides in Central Florida and is married to her husband, a local firefighter/paramedic. Children include Guinnevere, age 9, and identical twin sons Mason and Spencer, age 6. She welcomes questions related to cloth diapering or twins in general on her primary blog and Facebook page.