National Cloth Nappy Week 2016 has just passed and so this post is coming to you a week later than might have been useful (there are a lot of associated discounts). I blame the small children in my house. Still, it reminded me that I’ve never really written a post about nappies and what we use and why, and some of you (the parents of small people) may be interested. To the rest of you, I apologise. No need to read on unless you want to improve your general baby-related knowledge.
Also, if you’re already feeling guilty because you don’t use cloth nappies, stop right there. The logistics of parenting are completely overwhelming and we all pick our battles. I hope our experiences might encourage you to give cloth nappies a go, but they are offered without judgement! Please, be kind to yourselves.
We currently have two children in nappies. (Aaargh). And from the outset we (well, mainly me) wanted to use cloth nappies. There are lots of good reasons to do it (as I found out in a recent survey which asked me to rank my reasons 1-5) but actually most of them didn’t have any effect on me. Most of them hadn’t even occurred to me. I just hate the landfill. The stats on how many nappies lie, not decomposing, in rubbish heaps around the world…well, it upsets me.
Before we had Jesse, my brother and his wife, and another couple of close friends, had babies and cloth nappied. Which gave me a lot more confidence about the whole thing. I picked their brains at some length.
First time round, we were reckless. Friends recommended totsbots (a Scottish company) so I just went ahead and ordered a set – 12 all-in-ones for the day time, and then a set of 5 bamboozle stretches for the nights (bulkier nappies with a separate outer wrap). All-in-ones are appealing for obvious reasons, but having used a two part nappy for nights I feel a lot less intimidated by the process, and they are often more reliable for containing everything). We bought them through the website babipur because they do regular discounts. Happily, they worked and we settled into a nappy washing routine. We kept them in a bucket (with a couple of drops of tea tree oil in it) and washed them every other day, at 40 degrees, in non-bio detergent. The smell was never invasive in our flat, the nappies dried quite easily (having the option of a tumble drier for wet seasons helped), and we got into the swing of it. When we went on holiday we reverted to disposables.
We had the occasional leak, I think, partly coz Jesse had such skinny legs, but we used the nappies until he was about 18 months. When he went to nursery they insisted they were happy changing cloth nappies but the reality in nurseries is that they have times of day when they change all the nappies (aside from when dirty nappies call for more urgent intervention), and their schedule was based around disposables. It was too long to leave a toddler in a cloth nappy and so he came home a few times with nappy rash. We switched to using disposables on his two nursery days.
We stopped around 18 months, or a bit after, because of Jesse’s skin. He gets bad eczema and it was getting worse, and we had to be super cautious about anything that might aggravate it. So at that point we switched back to disposables, which was sad.
When Jubilee was born I was excited to re-use the nappies. After a month I put one of Jesse’s on her. Five minutes later she weed and soaked her baby gro. Argh. I thought maybe I needed to wait till she was a bit bigger. So I tried again a month later. Twice. Same maddening story. I may have cried in despair (it wasn’t a good day). I did some research and found out that nappies that work for one gender often don’t work so well for another, because of where they wee.
Happily the night nappies still worked a treat, nothing was getting through those bad boys.
I found a local nappy advisor who was very helpful but was messaging me from her bed where she was nursing her ten day old baby. I decided to give her a break and on her recommendation contacted the local Bedfordshire nappy library. A very nice mum came round and lent me five different cloth nappies to try as research (for a charge of £5). And I sent off for one of the new totsbots all-in-ones (released that very week!) because I heard they were less leaky. And so we did some experimenting.
Bumgenius worked really well for us, as did Close Pop-ins (if we were starting again from scratch I would be very likely to go with with Close Pop-Ins), and we had no joy with little Lambs or Bambino Mio – but, as I say, it all depends on the baby and their shape and their gender, so there’s really no predicting it.
And the new totsbots all-in-one (star) worked a dream, so we went with them as we already had the associated accessories (liners, boosters etc). Plus, they are very cute!
I waited to order in National Cloth Nappy week and ended up getting about 30% off – meaning I spent about £125 on Jubilee’s day nappies, and have reused Jesse’s night nappies. It’s a bit of an outlay upfront, but it saves a packet in the long run.
I’ll be honest that my kids have always tended to poo only once a day, and I can imagine the process being more smelly and overwhelming if you’re chucking several dirty nappies in the nappy bin each day. Which reminds me – accessories. You need a nappy bin that seals well and which your toddler can’t easily open. And a travel bag is helpful for when you have to store dirty nappies out and about. In my early days of parenting I may have had a poo related disaster in John Lewis, and nothing to store Jesse’s beautiful but smelly and dirty nappy in. Ahem. And even if you have all-in-ones you still need liners. Disposable ones you can flush away, or fleece ones you wash (but which are much better at wicking moisture away from your baby’s bottom so they don’t feel like they’re sitting in a soggy towel).
Most nappies will fit birth to potty thanks to various poppers that adjust the size of the nappy. But as your kid pees greater volumes over time you’ll need boosters. Especially if you want to use one nappy all night (we use a booster in the bamboozle stretches and they last 12 hours).
It makes a huge difference to my daily nappy experience that Andy does most of the laundry in our house, so I am not personally swamped with endless loads of washing (although I’ll often put a nappy wash on in the day time when he’s out). It only takes a couple of minutes to shove another wash on every other day.
All in all I’m really glad we have used cloth nappies and I really haven’t felt like it is a pain in the neck. But it takes commitment – and probably some early experimenting. You don’t want to shell out for nappies that won’t work or that you aren’t sure about using!
If you’re looking for advice as to where to start, The Nappy Lady has an excellent questionnaire that assesses your baby’s needs, your washing facilities and your priorities and recommends the nest nappies for your family. PLUS her Nappy Week discounts are still on!
If you have any more questions, hit me in the comments!by