Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cloth Diapering Triplets

One of the things we frequently get asked about is our choice to cloth diaper the boys, hence this post! I hope it's helpful to anyone out there considering cloth diapering in general or cloth diapering multiples. Don't be afraid! :) 

Finn says "Yea for cloth diapers!"

When our oldest son Colin was a baby we primarily, though not exclusively, used cloth diapers and found the whole cloth diapering experience to be pretty easy to manage. We had about ten cloth diapers and also used disposable occasionally, like for overnights or when traveling.

Before the triplets were born, we thought about using cloth diapers with them, but we considered this only briefly. Even though we were a fan of cloth diapering and knew it would be a huge financial savings, we worried that we just couldn't manage it with the triplets. Again, it's not like it's sooo much extra work. It's really not. But with three babies on the way, we didn't know what to expect and so we just decided not to even try.

During their first year I'd think about cloth diapering again and again but we didn't act on it. Not for a while at least. 

It bothered me when I thought about how many diapers we were contributing to landfills. With triplets, we were going through a lot of diapers!! Perhaps it wouldn't have bothered me as much had I not spent almost two years living in a small village in Madagascar. That experience shifted my consciousness in so many ways including about what happens to our garbage and I can't shake it... in a good way. In my village of Manondona, our trash was our responsibility. Forever. If you threw out garbage, you looked at it in your backyard. So everyone there is very discerning about what's purchased, creative about how to re-purpose items and only throw away things that can break down in a backyard pit. I've thought of my old garbage pit many times as I'd change one of my son's diapers and then casually throw it in the trash as if it wasn't my problem anymore. Like I say, it bothered me.

Also, I still had all of Colin's cloth diapers just sitting there in a drawer. I'd thought of selling them (yup, there's a pretty good re-sale market for cloth diapers out there!) but could never bring myself to get rid of them. I think there was a reason I kept them around. Maybe deep inside I knew that one day we'd use them again. :-)

That day finally came when the boys were just over a year old.

At first we started just dabbling in cloth diapers again to see if it felt too overwhelming with three babies in diapers at once. It didn't. So then we tried a whole day where we didn't use one disposable diaper until bedtime. You know what? It didn't feel like a big deal or that much extra work.

So we switched! We completely switched to cloth diapers except for bedtime. We tried cloth diapering through the night too, but that didn't work well for us. At the time, the boys were sleeping 12 hours straight through the night IF they had a nighttime disposable diaper on. With cloth, they kept waking up  needing a change.... and sometimes a change of clothes. Ultimately, the desire for 12 hours of straight sleep won out for us!

I was also pleasantly surprised to see that cloth diapers had improved just since my son was born in 2009. We LOVE Fuzzi Bunz one size diapers which are made for children 8-35 lbs. They seem to adjust really nicely to fit different stages of growth and then you don't have to buy more as the child ages.

We still often use disposable diapers when going places, for convenience. Also, if life gets suddenly hectic, such as when they're all sick or when we welcomed another baby :-), we'll use disposable for a short period. We don't stress about it. We take a very relaxed approach to cloth diapering!

Everett and Carter around 16 months, when we lived in Chicago

Here's what you'll need to buy if you decide to cloth diaper:
  • Diapers- we've used a variety but my personal favorite is the Fuzzi Bunz one size. In terms of how many to buy, it really depends on how often you're willing to do laundry. For awhile we got by with only 15 diapers for the triplets. Then last winter, one of Chris's co-workers generously sent us a huge box of cloth diapers that her boys no longer needed. Oh. My. Goodness! It was like Christmas morning!!! How incredibly generous, right?!! Now we don't need to do a load of diapers each day. She also included some prefold diapers which I'd never used before. I'm completely sold on prefolds now and use them with both Owen and the trips! I find that they don't leak at all! Our favorite covers for the prefolds are Thirsties
  • Dirty diaper bin- like this one. This doesn't happen to be the one we have, but same idea.
  • Wet bag- like this one, if you plan on using them outside the house.
  • Special soap to wash them- We use Ava Anderson laundry pods (which yes, I now sell :). You can find them here). They are fantastic! And non-toxic! :-) As a side note, the Ava Diaper cream is also cloth diaper safe! Until finding Ava Anderson, I could not find a diaper cream that both worked well and didn't affect the diapers. 
  • A nice item to have, especially if you have multiples or multiple kids in diapers, is a large, hanging wet/ dry bag. I use the one in the picture below, which I bought at a cloth diapering store but have also seen online. When we go out, I keep all the dry diapers in the front and it's also big enough to store other small items like a change of baby clothes or sunscreen. 

From left to right: Prefolds, cloth wipes with soap solution, Thirsties prefold covers, triplets' diapers,  Owen's diapers, extra blankets, extra inserts.  
We keep the diapers set up in our main playroom on bookshelves. Nope, for sure not the trendiest decor, but for us it works! At this point in our lives our house is set up for function above all else!

The soap solution that we use with the cloth wipes (which you wash right along with the diapers) is really easy to make! We use:
  • About 2 tablespoons oil (olive, almond, grapeseed....)
  • A few drops of Ava Anderson dish soap or a small squeeze of Ava Anderson Baby Wash. I like using the baby wash because it has calendula, which has healing properties, in it. You can use any liquid soap appropriate for babies... please make sure it's non-toxic though! :)
  • About 1.5 cups of warm water
  • A few drops of essential oil if you have it on hand
The key is that you at least want a combo of oil, soap and water. I usually don't measure. We have a squeeze bottle and I fill it up approximating the amounts. Works fine. The Ava Anderson dish soap is concentrated which is why you only need a few drops. 

Overall, here are the pros and cons to cloth diapering, in our humble opinion:

  • They're cute! They come in so many colors and prints which to us means that they become an instant outfit! A diaper and an outfit in one? Score! :) No, I don't take them to the grocery store in a cloth diaper or anything like that, but when we're just playing around the house, they love running around in their diapers (this was especially true when they were younger). They're now at the age where they like to choose their colors/ prints. Cracks me up!
  • They save money! Once you buy them, you can pretty much be DONE buying diapers. Huge money saver, especially considering how many diapers you go through per day with multiples! There is also a huge market to re-sell cloth diapers online so you are likely to get at least some of your money back when you're out of the diaper phase. Also, you can find used cloth diapers online, many of which have been well cared for and in turn, are in great shape. 
  • They are less irritating to baby's skin because they're free of the chemicals found in disposables.

  • Extra laundry. No getting around this one, cloth diapering means more laundry. 
  • Initial upfront cost. To get started you have to shell out some money. You'll need the diapers, the hose that attaches to the toilet for those extra fun diaper changes, and special laundry soap. 
  • Occasionally having to rinse out a really messy diaper (Chris made me write this one. It's not a big deal to me but it is to him! haha)
Hmmmm, those are all the pros and cons I can think of at the moment. Does anyone else who uses cloth diapers have anything to add? Have you used cloth diapers with multiples? Any tips that worked well for you? What's your favorite brand of diapers? Everyone has one or two!! Mine currently are Fuzzibunz and prefolds with Thirsties covers. LOVE.

I hope this helps someone else considering using cloth diapers! Don't be intimidated, even with multiples! 

Finn, Everett, and Carter, watching the world go by!

Owen, 2 months


Alice Emma Thompson said...

Am just completely in awe! Well done you.

I love the picture of the triplets all in their cloths diapers looking out of the window.

We are sharing cloth diaper posts at Empty Your Archive this week and I would for you to share yours - Alice @ Mums Make Lists

A Proulx said...

I don't know if you will get this because it has been well over a year but I am looking to start cloth diapering my twins and the new baby when he/she gets here. I am also a lover/seller of Ava Anderson but I have some questions and can not find help anywhere. If you do get this please email me
(Posted a comment already but it disappeared, if you get 2 comments sorry)

Jessica said...

Hi! Just e-mailed you!