On Wednesday we had another Nappyness meet-up, this time in town at Livingstones Cafe with the lovely toy corner which keeps toddlers amused for hours! It was a busy morning in the cafe with another big group of mums with babies, probably an NCT group as is often the case there. Our group was smaller, but just the right number to have a good chat about nappies and discuss a few things.
One question that came up as we get into holiday season was whether we use disposables or cloth nappies when on holiday. My answer was disposables, because we rarely go away, maybe for about 3 weeks a year in total with a week in the summer, a week at Christmas and weekends here and there added up, so I’ve not felt too bad about using disposables for that length of time given that we use cloth day and night the rest of the year. We always go somewhere with a washing machine, usually our parents’ houses (handy that we have one in Devon and one in the Lake District), but even so I like to have a break from doing washing for a short time. Other mums there have experience of using hybrid nappies when on holiday. These are nappies for which you can buy both cloth and disposable inserts, such as Bumgenius Flip or Charlie Banana pockets. So on holiday you can use the disposable inserts, which are similar to the ‘eco’ disposable nappies which biodegrade quicker than normal disposable nappies, and at home you can use the cloth inserts. This is a good tip if you’re thinking of using cloth nappies when away.
Another tip that came up was what to do with old nappies that have gone very coarse, if you don’t have a tumble dryer to fluff them up – instead you can use a hair dryer to gently blow warm air around the nappy when wet (placing it on a wire cooling rack that you use for baking will help to circulate air around the nappy). I’d not heard this tip myself before, although I do use a hair dryer (as I don’t have a tumble dryer) to seal the seams of the PUL in the wet bags that I make, and it’s the same principle of blowing warm air.
Whilst all of this chat was happening, our special guest Buster Bear was happily sitting on our table in his Bambooty cloth nappy. Buster is travelling the length and breadth of the country, going to events such as nappy meet-ups, baby/toddler groups, even a Girl Guide group recently, raising awareness of the Children’s Heart Federation’s “Pulse Oximetry” and “Think Heart” campaign, raising money for HeartLine and spreading fluffy cloth nappy love. He brought his petition with him, which, with 10,000 signatures, he’s hoping will persuade the Government to roll out Pulse Oximetry screening for all newborn babies in the UK. The test is simple, quick, painless and cheap, taking just a few minutes alongside other existing newborn checks. Research shows that the test will significantly improve the detection of congenital heart conditions in babies, which are the most common birth defect, picking up three quarters of heart conditions, preventing further physical damage to children and helping save lives.
Buster has certainly raised my awareness of this as I had no idea about it! I hope that he raised awareness amongst the other mums in our group too, and with his big red balloons in the cafe, it is quite possible that the other group of mums there couldn’t help but notice him and his cloth nappy. His lovely suitcase that he’s travelling around in also caught a few people’s attention.
So there we go, another meet-up to spread Nappyness is Cambridge. The next one will be in 2 weeks time, and I’m currently deciding which day is best. Please let me know if you have a particular preference for time, day and place and I’ll try to go with the majority. Next week I’ll be at the NCT Cambridge Bumps and Babies group with the library, Friday 19th July, 10.30-12.30, Unitarian Church Hall, Emmanuel Road, Cambridge. Hope to see you soon!
For this meet-up I decided that a day, time and venue different from the first meet-up would be good, so that hopefully it would suit some people who couldn’t make the last one. Monday 10th June 11am-1pm at Living Stones Cafe in central Cambridge was what I went for. There is a play area for older babies and toddlers which Andrew loves, so we often go there when in town and in need of a refreshment stop.
I knew a few people had said they were planning on coming, though unfortunately one family couldn’t make it on the day as the toddler was poorly, so I was looking forward to seeing them and any others who might turn up. When we arrived, Andrew soon settled himself in to the play area, and I ordered some drinks. We were soon joined by two mums, one with a toddler and one with a baby, and it was especially nice to meet one of them for the first time – she’d seen Nappyness ‘like’ something on another Facebook page, so clicked on our page and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was based in Cambridge where she lives! Social networking at its best 🙂 A little later, another mum turned up with her baby, so there were four of us in total.
We got talking about our various different nappies. One type of nappy that I don’t personally have any experience of using (yet) is the hybrid system, a compromise between the convenience of an all-in-one and the faster drying time of a two-part system, and some of which include a disposable insert option that many parents use on holiday or when cloth nappies are less practical for whatever reason. One mum had brought her Close Parent Pop-ins along, and another had brought her Bumgenius Flips as well as some Mothercare smart nappies, all of which are this kind of nappy (gNappies are also another popular make). They comprise a waterproof outer and a pre-fold-like absorbent insert (in various fabrics or disposable) which fits into the wrap which is designed specifically to hold it in place. The other three mums are finding that this type of system was working well for them, as well as other types of nappy.
One of the mums is also quite a fan of pockets, which I have more experience of than hybrids, though I don’t tend to use them as much as our two-parters and all-in-twos. Three of us are also keen on Little Lamb fitteds, which I use at night time for Andrew as they come in a size three which fits him well unlike many birth-to-potty nappies that he’s outgrown at less than 2 and a half, and we all find that the fitted style is good for times of heavier wetting when pockets, hybrids and all-in-ones just don’t last long enough.
We discussed a few other things such as vest extenders and whether we use flushable or fleece liners. We also talked about how the idea of Nappyness was a good one and that there must be more people who would like to come to the meet-ups, including those who are just thinking about cloth nappies or just starting out with them. The other mums were happy to take some posters and flyers to put up at places they go like groups, libraries and children’s centres. So we’re hoping to spread the word through these. I also have a list of places I go to, and other places to make a special visit to, where I can leave a poster and some flyers. I have also been in touch with the ladies who organise our local NCT bumps and babies group, and they are happy for me to go once a month with the nappies to show anyone there who would like a look.
In other news… The library is coming along nicely. I am in the process of applying for a bank account for it, which is one step on the way to applying for some funding from Cambridge City Council. I’ve recently received some nappy donations, and I am expecting some more in the next week or so. The photos and descriptions of the nappies in the library so far are almost ready to go on the Facebook page and website, so that people can see in advance of meet-ups what they might like to borrow. It’s all very exciting! It’s definitely worth watching this space 🙂
On Thursday 30th May, a rather drizzly and damp morning for the time of year, my boys and I headed off in the car to Milton Country Park with a rather large bag of cloth nappies and leaflets in the boot. I was looking forward to meeting up with others who use or want to use cloth nappies, hoping that I could offer some tips, share some experience and also learn something myself. There was a little part of me that was slightly worried that nobody would turn up, but if not I knew we’d have fun there anyway, even if not with nappies!
We got there for 10am and I put the Nappyness sign out so people could spot us, though it wasn’t very busy. It wasn’t long before 2 mums and their babies and toddler turned up. Hooray, we weren’t alone! They were more new to using cloth nappies than we were, and we talked about what they had used so far and what they liked about them. Both had borrowed nappies from the Ely Cloth Nappy Library, which is further than Cambridge is for one of them, and we all agreed that we thought it was odd that Cambridge didn’t have anything like Nappyness or a cloth nappy library, given how many young families like us there are here. It’s good to know that I’m not alone in thinking this.
I showed them some of my nappies, though my bag was a bit of a jumble and I couldn’t find everything I wanted very easily – note to self to organise it better into smaller bags of different types. And there wasn’t loads of space on our table for putting them all out, which is something I need to bear in mind for next time. It would have helped if the weather had been nicer and we could have sat outside on the grass and the toddlers could have run around more, but never mind, we live in the UK and there’s nothing I can do about the weather! My next move is to get in touch with the local Children’s Centres to see if they could offer us a room.
But I think the mums got an idea of the different types that I had and how they were similar to or different from the ones that they had tried from the library. A bit later another mum turned up with her three boys (it was half term so two of them didn’t have school) and brought some of her nappies to show around. This was helpful because she had some that were different from mine as well as some similar ones. But it wasn’t long before the toddlers and older kids were getting fed up of being inside and bored of the toys I’d taken, so we had to disband a little before 12 noon and head out into the wet park. There was a fundraising event for the Stroke Association going on, and one of their activities was a bouncy castle, so I let Andrew have a go to jump off some of his energy.
All in all it was a great start to the meet-ups. I’m glad it wasn’t just us and that people seemed to enjoy it. I’m still working on building up the library to have at future meet-ups, and have very kindly been donated some more nappies recently so we are making good progress. I’ll keep you updated.
I’ve set the date for the next meet-up on Monday 10th June, 10.30am-12.30pm at Living Stones Cafe, St Andrew’s St, Cambridge. I thought I’d try a different day, location and time to see if that suits others better. I’m experimenting with these to see what works best for everyone.
I may have actually gone nappy mad! One of the competitions during Real/Cloth Nappy Week organised by The Great British Nappy Hunt was the Get Creative Video Competition. This was the brief:
“Your challenge is to help us spread the cloth love, with a little bit of fun. We want you to come up with a cloth-nappy promoting video that will help us spread the word of why cloth is so fab. BUT let’s not make them boring! We are looking for fun parodies, quirky dancing – whatever will make people want to share them!”
I wasn’t sure that we’d get chance to do this, as we were away for the week itself and the deadline for entries was on Tuesday (though annoyingly they extended it at the last minute!) But at the weekend we had a bit of time on Sunday afternoon when both boys were happy to take part at the same time. So we did a little recording and I then spent an hour on Monday morning, whilst feeding Joel in the early hours, editing it in iMovie. Here is the finished thing…
If anyone reading this is an Only Fools and Horses fan, it will mean something to you if I say that Tom currently feels a bit like Rodney and the cornflakes competition with all the attempts at winning some nappies that I’ve made recently!
Just when I thought there wasn’t much more to know about cloth nappies, Real/Cloth Nappy Week came along and surprised me! After having used just one sort (fitted birth-to-potty with wraps that we were given as a gift) for Andrew as a baby, I did loads of online research last summer and got my head around all the different terminology and mind-boggling options, to add to our stash for when Joel arrived. It was probably around that point that I got really hooked on them, but given that we’ve saved money overall by using cloth rather than disposables, I don’t think it’s an unhealthy addiction.
My aims for Cloth Nappy Week were: (1) enter all the competitions online to try and win some goodies (internet connection on holiday permitting); and (2) find out more about washable wipes, as our rather large supply of disposable wipes that we bought in bulk very cheaply with a load of vouchers we were given is slowly coming to an end.
I didn’t get anywhere with (1) – I never seem to win things, but I’m still of the old ‘if you don’t buy a ticket you won’t win the raffle’ mentality, and in this case all it cost me was my time in entering, which I had a bit more of than usual on holiday. I did, however, get somewhere with (2). I’d heard of Cheeky Wipes before, and they were certainly very involved in the fun of the week, but as I browsed the sites hunting for clues to the competitions, I became aware that there are so many work at home mums (or WAHMs) out there, who are beavering away at making some lovely nappies and accessories including washable wipes, and I didn’t know of most of them.
As I looked in more detail at their wipes, I realised that I could in fact make some myself. Essentially they are a square of towelling backed with a square of fleece or cotton jersey fabric. I’ve always loved sewing and used to do quite a few projects, though like many things in life, I’ve done far fewer since having children (my most recent ones were a toddler tie and the hungry caterpillar curtains that you see in this post). Seeing all the other mums who have put their sewing skills to use on nappies etc. since having children has really inspired me to be creative myself.
So instead of buying some wipes, I’ve found various bits of fabric stashed away in the flat that I can upcycle (love that word!) into wipes. I’ve also spotted some new fabrics online which I’m going to order to make some wet bags, which I could do with more of. And whilst I’m at all this sewing, we could do with more dribble bibs as Joel is getting through a couple a day at the moment. Who knows, I might even end up having a go at a nappy or two if I get on a roll and time permits. I doubt I would ever find the time and space (as long as we live in Cambridge) to be a WAHM myself, but I could imagine making these kind of things for friends and family as presents. Watch this space for more posts on the finished items when I get around to making them.
Apart from the inspiration to make my own kit, I’ve also been inspired to think about making cloth nappies accessible to more people. I know I love to ramble on for hours about cloth nappies, given half a chance, whether that’s in person or on the blog. So I thought it might be good to put this enthusiasm to good use on a wider scale. One way of spreading the word about cloth nappies and encouraging others to have a go is running a cloth nappy library – these are popping up in more and more places, though there isn’t one in Cambridge yet, which does surprise me actually. I have heard via a friend that she and some other friends are working on something, so I may get the opportunity to help with that. I need to read up some more on the practicalities of setting one up, but there are plenty of libraries already doing well that could give some advice. If you’re in the Cambridge area, let me know if you think you’d use a nappy library – I’d like to get a feel for how much interest there is.
Another option would be to become an agent for a particular brand of nappy. There are a few schemes out there, though I’d obviously be more tied to a particular brand than just offering advice on nappies in general. This would involve organising parties in small groups at people’s homes or in places where parents meet up, such as at baby/toddler groups or in cafes. I’d vaguely heard about these before Cloth Nappy Week, but in browsing more websites I became more aware of what opportunities are available. I also learned that nappy demo parties are called Nappucinos! I guess a reference to the fact that many of them are held over a cup of coffee at home or in a cafe. I could always just do this kind of thing on my own, not attached to a company in some way. If you’re in the Cambridge area, or the Coventry area (as we have a free hotel aka my parents’ house to stay at for weekends), let me know if you’d be interested in this kind of thing – again I’d like to get a feel for how much interest there is for nappy demos near us.
If I had more business sense, I’d really love to set up a shop in Cambridge that sells cloth nappies. When I did all my research into the various types and bought some online, I was going on reviews from others and what the online retailers said about the nappies; I kept thinking that all I wanted to do was walk into a shop where I could handle the nappies, see how big they were, look at their shape next to my boys, ask questions to a person there and then, and buy to support an independent business with a local premises. Tom keeps saying that I should set up a shop, but I think he’s not being that serious, and I have absolutely no clue about how to go about such a task, so it sounds incredibly scary!
Here I come to the end of my fluffy epilogue, in which I have talked about my conclusions from Cloth Nappy Week, that is to do more sewing projects and help make cloth nappies accessible to more parents in the future. Let’s see how much of this I get done by Cloth Nappy Week next year! 🙂
It’s still Real (or Cloth as I would call it) Nappy Week. Following on from my previous post, here is the second instalment of questions that I’ve been asked about cloth nappies, and my answers to them. I’m hoping the automatic publishing while we’re away hasn’t all gone pear-shaped (eek!). As I said previously, take what you like and leave the rest, it’s not my desire to sound all preachy about this. I ended the previous post with an answer on how you go about deciding which nappies to buy if don’t have any already, but what if you have some already…..
How do I get good fit with nappies I already have?
I found that I had to experiment a bit with the various styles we have to get the optimum fit, and not all of them worked well first time. For us, the place to concentrate on for stopping poo leakage was the leg holes. Both my boys started off with skinny and long thighs, which have gradually chubbed up over time; this made it hard to get a good fit with the leg holes. I have found that one-size nappies and wraps tend to work better than sized (small, medium, large) for adjusting the fit around the legs. If you have a chubbier-legged baby, this might be less of an issue. Another tip is to add extra boostage to try and pad out the nappy a bit in the right place around the leg gussets, but be careful not to have any of the absorbent bit of the nappy touching clothes as this will lead to leakage (wicking).
Another place to concentrate, for both wee and poo leakage, is the rise of the nappy, which (like jeans fit) refers to how far up the body it comes. We have some that sit nearer the hips (the hipsters of the nappy world!) and some that come up to the waist (the granny pants of the nappy world!) Both my boys are taller than average with long bodies, and so lower rise ones can be prone to leaking because they don’t come up very far past the bottom – wee tends to wick (leak when touching fabric) to the waistband of their trousers, and a particularly big poo can come up the back (though this isn’t a problem with Andrew), but I tend to only use low rise ones, which also have a lovely trim fit, when we’re at home and can change it more easily and frequently than when we’re out. If you have sized nappies, going to the next size up can often help with rise issues, even if your baby is still within the weight range for the smaller sized nappy (though you might find the leg holes an issue if you have the skinny thighs issue – so many variables!) If you have one-size nappies which can be adjusted at the rise, this is a good place to start if you have regular leak issues.
There is a trick for fit that is different for girls and boys: I find that putting most of the absorbency at the front of the nappy for boys is a good idea, because their wee is focused at the front, whereas girls need more absorbency underneath. The same also applies for overnight use and whether you have a tummy or back sleeper. Andrew is very wriggly, but overall he seems to prefer tummy sleeping, which means I concentrate the absorbency at the front, but I would concentrate it nearer the back if he favoured back sleeping. If you have pocket nappies, you can either stuff them with an insert folded at the front (can be tricky) for extra front absorbency, or stuff as usual and add an extra insert folded between baby’s skin and the pocket.
Wraps come with two fastening types: velcro (or aplix) and poppers. I like to think of them like analogue and digital when it comes to fit – velcro can offer a more precise (analogue) fit because you can tweak it infinitely, whereas poppers give a less precise fit, because you can only pop them in a finite number of places. Having said this, I actually prefer poppers because velcro sticks to other nappies in the wash and can cause damage, even if you try and remember to fasten it to itself before putting in the wash, and over time it can get all fluffed up and less effective; I only have one wrap that I use (semi-)regularly which has velcro.
How do I prepare them for the wash and how do I wash them?
There are two ways to prep the nappies for the wash….
The dry soak method – put your dirty nappies in a or a washable sack or a nappy pail with no water in, then when you come to do a load of nappy washing, do a pre-rinse cycle in the washing machine before the full wash cycle. I haven’t tried this method so I don’t know if it’s much different to what we do. I imagine it may use more water than the other method, depending on the size and efficiency of your washing machine.
The wet soak method – put your dirty nappies in a nappy pail with water in, then when you come to do a load of nappy washing, tip the excess water from the pail down the toilet and do a wash cycle as normal in the machine – no need to pre-rinse.
Won’t I get poo on my hands though?
This question (or sometimes a statement – I’ll get poo all over my hands) mostly comes from parents-to-be, who, unless they have been a very hands on aunt/uncle/Godparent or worked in childcare, have never had the joy of changing a stinky nappy. Once you become a parent, you soon learn that getting poo all over you, not just your hands, as well as sick, snot, chewed up food etc. is just part of every day life – you become immune to it all and just get on with clearing it up as best you can. I’d say I left my squeamishness brought on by the sight of bodily fluids in the birthing room that Andrew was born in, so I was totally unfazed by a stream of projectile sick that Andrew launched all over me a couple of months ago (in fact I had to try hard not to laugh as he was upset by it), which would have totally freaked me out two and a bit years ago.
I’d also say that I get no more poo over me with either type of nappy. Baby (pre-solids) poo, especially breastfed stuff, goes everywhere anyway, whichever nappy, and a quick rinse in the toilet soon washes anything off the nappy – no more messy than the job of cleaning your toilet. Older baby and toddler poo gets caught on the flushable liner which you pick up by the ends where there is no poo and chuck down the loo – no more messy than a disposable, and you don’t have poo hanging around in your bin. When it comes to the pails for soaking, if you’ve shaken any excess poo down the toilet, there is very little left in the water, so putting them in the wash is no more messy than putting any other dirty laundry into the machine.
Don’t you spend ages doing all that extra washing?
To be honest, when you’re already doing a load or more a day anyway, you don’t notice one more. We wash nappies about every 2 days, which is a full load. Yes it does take me time to empty the pails and then hang them out once washed and put them away when dry, but if we used disposables I would spend more time going to the shops and more time going out to the flats’ communal bins, both of which involve going out of the flat and taking the boys with me – not practical. I like it that I can be around the boys whilst hanging the nappies up to dry and they can be napping/playing/having fun rather than being in the buggy going round the supermarket, and I can abandon the task whenever if something is more urgently in need of my attention.
Is it true what they say about cloth-nappied bottoms potty train earlier than dispie-nappied bottoms?
This is hard to answer because I don’t have an Andrew who has regularly worn disposables to compare with the Andrew who has mostly worn cloth nappies. From what I’ve seen of potty training toddlers so far, I think a lot of it is to do with personality and when each individual child is ready. Andrew has been slowly potty training for quite a while now, and it’s all been led by him (I really must write a post on this sometime). He seems very aware of when he has a wet and dirty nappy, perhaps a bit less so when he wears disposables when we’ve been away, but it’s hard to be scientific about it.
This brings me to the end of my ramblings about one of the things I get most passionate about when it comes to baby stuff. I hope it’s been useful to someone out there. Please let me know if it was, or if you have any further questions, by commenting below or getting in touch via Facebook/twitter (buttons on top right of the blog). Thank you!
Happy Real Nappy Week! I know, I know, there’s an awareness week for everything these days, but this one is particularly close to my heart so I had to write something about it (and schedule it to post automatically in case I couldn’t get internet where we are on holiday this week – eek, hope the random computer in charge of this somewhere likes me, I guess it must do if you’re reading this!) In fact it turned out to be 2 posts worth, so this is the first instalment, and the second will come on Wednesday (if the automatic publishing thing works – this could all go horribly wrong!)
First of all, I have to say I cringe slightly at the name ‘Real’ Nappy Week – are disposables just a figment of my imagination then? I prefer to use the word ‘cloth’ when talking about what I put on my boys’ bottoms. If we’re not careful, banging on about ‘real’ nappies as opposed to disposable ones can become just another one of those parenting choices that gets blown up into some big debate and leads to parents in one camp criticising those in the other for their apparently inferior choice. So what I definitely don’t want to do with this post (or any others I have written on cloth nappies) is make out that I think our choice to use cloth nappies is superior to the choice of many of my friends who use disposables. Our choice has worked for us, but we are all different with different families, lifestyles and priorities. All I want to do is share our experience and get info out there to those who want to know about it – basically all for my love of cloth. It’s a case of take what you like, and leave the rest.
Having got this disclaimer out the way, here begins the post proper. I’ve posted about cloth nappies a few times before. This time last year I wrote about our experience of just one type of nappy with Andrew, and then more recently I wrote about expanding our stash for two bottoms, and later gave the pros and cons of each type we now have since we’ve used them for both boys. What I want to do here is a kind of FAQ-style post with points that I’ve been asked before by those who are thinking of using cloth or who are using it already but have some issues/questions. Today I’ll cover the two most common questions I’ve been asked, and the next instalment will cover the rest.
Why do I use cloth nappies?
Save money – This was our main reason for choosing cloth. We were kindly given a set of preloved Motherease nappies suitable from birth to potty, which fitted Andrew very well. Even when I had to buy more when Joel came along, I managed to get some brand new ones in an online sale and some preloved ones online and at a nearly new sale. Overall we will have only spent around £200 on nappies for 2 children (including flushable liners), and even when you take into account the cost of washing them (which Tom worked out with a clever gadget you put on the washing machine), this is nothing compared to the cost of disposables which would be into the thousands for two children. If we had waited to have another baby until Andrew was out of nappies, we would have spent even less, and the more children you use cloth nappies on, the cheaper they work out to be.
No waste for landfill – I was going to write ‘better for the environment’, but I recently edited an article for the Cambridge NCT magazine written by a sustainability consultant who has looked into the environmental impact of both types of nappy – his verdict was that cloth nappies aren’t as green as we might think if you take into account detergent, central heating (to dry inside) and tumble-dryer use; the best way to limit environmental impact is by using eco-friendly detergent and line-drying outside, which is what we do whenever possible. To my mind, comparing cloth and disposable nappies is like comparing apples and oranges when it comes to green credentials. Each has an impact on the environment in a different way, and it’s hard to say if one is ‘better’ than the other. One thing I do know is that our bins are not full of nappies that will get chucked into a landfill site.
Convenient – We do most of our shopping little and often on foot or by bike, which means we wouldn’t find it easy to carry home big packs of disposables when we go shopping, or we would end up going in the car more often and spending money on petrol. We have all the nappies we need at home already, and every now and then we get some flushable liners delivered from an online shop with free delivery.
Are they as reliable as disposables?
Yes, often even more reliable. There is an ‘if’ coming though….. if you get a good fit.
Our experience of disposables: When Andrew was a baby, we started off using disposables for about 6 weeks, and we didn’t think there was much difference between different disposable brands, most of which we got free or money off with Bounty pack vouchers and supermarket parent club offers – they all seemed to be reliable. But Andrew rarely pooed in his nappy (that’s a whole other post for another day). When Joel came along, pooing wherever, we noticed that Huggies in particular were rubbish at containing newborn poo compared to others, and a real explosion wouldn’t be held in by any brand (we used disposables when we were away at Christmas); I also know that my niece, who is a month older than Joel, can only wear Pampers because other brands just aren’t a reliable fit. We used to use disposables at night with Andrew, but when he was about 18 months old, they started to leak regularly and he’d wake up wet all the time, so we switched to well-boosted cloth nappies, which I originally thought wouldn’t last the night, and they work well apart from the odd night.
Our experience of cloth: The difference between cloth nappies and disposables is that cloth come in all sorts of different shapes and styles, and babies of course come in all sorts of shapes and sizes too, so it can take a bit of trial and error to find cloth nappies that work well with your child. This was something I learned when Joel was younger, as we did have some poo leaks with the Bambino Mio wraps because his thighs were too skinny for the leg holes (my niece had the same problem). But these were a bargain second hand so I didn’t mind trying a couple of other wraps (Rumparooz, Blueberry) which turned out to work much better with our pre-fold nappies for his thighs. Once we found what works best after a few incidents, I’d say our cloth nappies are now more reliable than disposables for overnight and containing newborn poo explosions.
One thing I would say is that in general, you need to change cloth nappies more frequently than disposables, unless they are heavily boosted (like for overnight use), because natural fabrics just absorb wetness to the point that they are saturated, whereas disposables contain chemical gels that keep absorbing wetness until they would eventually explode – don’t try this at home, but putting a disposable in a swimming pool would be a great experiment to show your child!
How do I know which nappies will fit my baby/toddler best?
If you haven’t bought any cloth nappies yet and are wondering where on earth to start and what will fit, I would recommend three options:
Find a cloth nappy library – You can borrow nappies just like you borrow books at a more conventional library. See the UK cloth nappy library page on Facebook for your nearest one. There isn’t one in Cambridge yet, and I’m seriously tempted to look into starting one, again just for my love of cloth and wanting to spread that love.
Look out for bargain sets of pre-loved nappies at nearly new sales or online – I bought a pre-loved starter pack of Bambino Mio pre-fold nappies and wraps for £20 at an NCT nearly new sale, and there are so many that we have shared them between Joel and my niece. Even though the wraps aren’t great, the pre-folds alone would cost much more than that new. For pre-loved nappies online, I particularly like Gumtree, which is local so you avoid postage costs, usednappies.co.uk, preloved.co.uk and the classified ads section on the clothnappytree website.
Buy one of each of a few different styles new – If there’s no library near you, or you can’t get any pre-loved, try just buying a few to begin with rather than splashing out on a big starter set which might not suit your baby. When you know what works best, you can always get more of your favourite styles.
If these answers have got you interested in using or switching to cloth nappies, stay tuned for more FAQs on Wednesday, same time, same place……
I said in my recent essential kit list post that I would write an update on how we’re finding covering two little bottoms with the cloth nappies that I added to our stash just before Joel was born. I thought I’d go through each type of nappy we have in turn, and describe the advantages and disadvantages that I’ve found of each one. I also say which of my boys wears each type – Joel is a long and slim baby, currently about 11.5 lbs at 3 months, with skinny thighs and a small waist; Andrew is a slightly taller and heavier than the average just-turned-2 year old with quite muscly thighs and bottom. I use different types of nappy depending on where we are – at home I have more time and space for nappy changes, which always involve nappy free time and potty time, whereas when we’re out I need to do them more quickly and efficiently before Andrew climbs off the changing table (and it’s only a matter of time before Joel rolls) or they fountain all over the mat and their clothes; so I’ve included where I use each type of nappy – one-part ones when we’re out and two-part ones when we’re at home (two-part ones are fine to take off quickly when out, just not so quick to put on).
Motherease one-size fitted nappies and airflow wraps:
A two-part nappy; the fitted absorbent layer has poppers to fasten it, as does the waterproof outer wrap.
Worn by: mainly Andrew, sometimes Joel if everything else is dirty
Where put on: at home
can fit plenty of boostage so lasts for several hours on a heavy wetter
contains newborn (pre-solids) poo very well as it’s so bulky
wraps can last several nappy changes so economical
good fit on Andrew
very bulky fit on Joel
wraps aren’t as cute as some other nappy outers
Fuzzibunz Elite one-size pocket nappy:
Outer waterproof layer with pocket inside where you stuff absorbent inserts (which come with the nappy when bought new) – I stuff when I take them off the airer so they’re ready to put on in one piece; fastens with poppers.
Worn by: Joel, though Andrew wore them before Joel arrived – genius way to make smaller and bigger, hard to tell it’s a one-size
Where put on: out and about
contains newborn (pre-solids) poo well as it fits slim thighs very well (adjustable leg elastics mean it’s good for chubbier thighs too)
easy to put on (other-carer-friendly)
one use per wash cycle (no option to replace absorbent bit without outer), so quite expensive initial outlay if you only used these…
…but one-size means they last from birth to toddler – maybe not to potty, as they were getting tight on Andrew who’s only partly potty trained and the average age is 2.5 years old
pre-fold nappies with Bambino Mio / Rumparooz / Blueberry wraps:
A two-part nappy; the absorbent layer is a rectangle of cloth folded into three, which sits within a fitted waterproof wrap – we have different sorts of wrap, some sized (i.e. newborn, small, medium, large) with velcro fastening (Bambino Mio), some one-size from birth to potty, adjusted and fastened with poppers (Rumparooz, Blueberry).
Worn by: Joel
Where put on: at home
pre-folds are cheap and wraps can last several nappy changes if no poo so also economical
one-size wraps last from birth to potty
such cute prints on Rumparooz and Blueberry wraps
Rumparooz and Blueberry wraps contain newborn poo well as they fit slim thighs well with adjustable leg and waist
takes some practice to get nappy to stay in right place but easy when you’ve cracked it
fiddlier to do in rush than fitteds
Mio wraps not good on slim thighs – not good for newborn poo containment
velcro on Mio wraps sticks to other nappies in wash (I prefer poppers)
itti bitti d’lish snap-in-one nappies:
A sized ‘all-in-two’ nappy; the waterproof outer is covered in soft minky fabric and has a popper fastening, and absorbent inserts snap in with poppers to the outer – I snap them in when I take them off the airer so they’re ready to put on in one piece.
Worn by: Joel and Andrew (different sizes!)
Where put on: often when out, but also at home
looks soooo cute
super trim fit, looks more like pants than nappy
feels lovely and soft
bright colours and funky prints
relatively quick drying – quicker than an all-in-one nappy, but you can leave them as an all-in-one for washing and drying if you want, though they’d take longer to dry
easy to put on (other-carer-friendly)
inserts can be changed instead of whole nappy as long as no big poo, so economical
large newborn poos not so well contained (though small ones are fine) – a good fit around slim thighs but the super trim style means not so much space for poo to fill up and squeeze out!
All these nappies last about 12 hours for both boys, who are both heavy wetters; we get occasional leaks, but these are always due to wicking – when the wet bit of the nappy comes into contact with clothing because we haven’t put it on quite right (it’s a bit of an art to perfect!) or the pyjamas have moved a lot – all-in-one sleep-suits are much better than two-piece pyjamas we find.
itti bitti boo nappy: A two-part nappy; the fitted absorbent layer has poppers to fasten it, and has extra absorbent layers that snap in with poppers too, plus we put a Motherease waterproof outer wrap on.
Worn by: Andrew, as we only have one large one – they are not available in the UK at the moment so there’s no way of us getting any more
super trim fit, amazing for a night nappy
looks very cute
bright colours (though it gets hidden under a wrap which is a shame)
has gone a little stiff when dry over time, unlike the itti bitti d’lish nappies, but soon softens once it’s on
Minki yo-yo nappies (standard and slinki):
A pocket nappy; large pocket with waterproof coating where you stuff very absorbent inserts (they don’t come with the nappy), and stretchy lycra tabs with poppers to do the nappy up. There are two sorts: the standard yo-yo is wider and covered in fleece fabric with various colourful prints; the slinki yo-yo is trimmer and covered in lycra-style fabric in a bright plain colour.
Worn by: Andrew – they only come in sizes large and extra large
cute prints on standard yo-yos
fleece of standard yo-yos feels lovely and soft
slinki yo-yos can be used with little or no boostage as training pants when potty training
big pockets for easy stuffing
trim fit on slinki yo-yos
main nappy (minus inserts) dries fast
bulky fit on standard yo-yos – ‘weebles wobble but they don’t fall down’ springs to mind….!
slinki yo-yos are prone to wicking when stuffed full and not positioned properly
lycra fabric on fastening tabs tends to stick to velcro of other wraps in wash
Motherease one-size fitted nappies and Nature Babies classic (medium) wrap: This is the same nappy that we use in the day for Andrew, but with extra boostage at night for Joel, and I prefer our Nature Babies wrap rather than the Motherease airflow ones because it fits around Joel’s thighs better and the leg gussets prevent wicking better.
Worn by: Joel
plenty of room for boostage
very bulky – but I don’t mind that at night because most night nappies are bulky to get the absorbency
Boosters and inserts
All these boosters can be used in most nappies interchangeably (except only the itti bitti boosters fit their nappies because of their super trim fit), but I’ve noted below in which nappies we tend to use each one to get the right absorbency for what we need in the day or at night. Generally, the more absorbent the insert, the longer it takes to dry (which makes sense).
Absorbency relative to bulk: average absorbency and slim
Used in: Motherease nappies for Andrew in day and for Joel at night
Other features: snap into ME nappies so stay put
Little Lamb bamboo booster:
Absorbency relative to bulk: excellent absorbency and slim
Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night and ME nappies for Joel at night
Other features: stay very soft in wash
Easy Peasy hemp booster:
Absorbency relative to bulk: excellent absorbency and slim
Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night and ME nappies for Joel at night
Other features: smooth finish – more like a pre-fold than a towelling-type fabric
Twinkle cotton booster:
Absorbency relative to bulk: good absorbency but bulky
Used in: ME nappies for Andrew in day
Other features: none
Absorbency relative to bulk: average absorbency and slim
Used in: ME nappies for Andrew in day
Other features: this booster is so called because it has terry underneath and fleece on top, so it saves you using a separate fleece liner
Petit Dessous booster:
Absorbency relative to bulk: super duper excellent absorbency but bulky
Used in: Minki nappies for Andrew at night
Other features: very long – designed to be folded in half or thirds or with extra layers at front for boys or tummy sleepers
itti bitti micro booster:
Absorbency relative to bulk: good absorbency and slim
Used in: itti bitti nappies
Other features: has poppers to snap it onto the inserts in the itti bitti snap in ones and boo.
Absorbency relative to bulk: fast-acting but not big volume of absorbency, and slim
Used in: pre-fold nappies for Joel
Other features: helps to keep wetness away from his skin and is soft against his skin
This post started out as a supposedly brief mention in my pregnancy diary post for last week, as I spent a lot of time last week finally making decisions on nappies so that we will have enough to dress a new little bum as well as Andrew’s ever growing toddler bum! But I soon realised that I had a lot more to say than a brief mention would allow. I decided instead to devote a whole post to recording my decisions, partly to spare Tom more of my wittering on about cloth nappies when he gets home from work – if I’ve had an outlet on the blog, then hopefully I’m less likely to bombard him with tales of fluff; its also partly so I have something tangible (apart from the nappies themselves of course) to show for all my hours spent researching last week – I’m a researcher by training, and a good researcher always writes up what they find so others can benefit ;). I thought the post would appeal to some of my readers who might be thinking about using cloth nappies either now or in the future. As the world of cloth nappies has its own lingo I’ve tried to do some jargon busting along the way in this post; I know I’ve found it hard to figure out the various bits of terminology as I’ve been reading reviews and forums online. You may have noticed that I already used the word ‘fluff’ above – that’s a general term used by cloth nappy enthusiasts to mean cloth nappies.
Let me give a (quick-ish) summary of our cloth nappy experience to date (I wrote about it a while ago too). Before Andrew was born, I’d heard about modern cloth nappies, and how they were different from the terry squares that Tom and I had been decked out in as children of the early 80s. We decided to do a bit of research and figure out whether we wanted to use them with our new baby. Tom, being Tom, did the maths and worked out that financially it was definitely worth using cloth, as the energy and water we’d use as well as the initial out-lay for the nappies (which handily we ended up being given anyway) would still work out cheaper than disposables (we call them ‘dispies’, though I’ve also seen ‘sposies’ in cloth nappy quarters) in the long run, especially as we were planning on having more than one child.
We had heard it said that using cloth isn’t quite as ‘green’ compared to disposables as many people think, because of the extra energy involved in washing, but we came to the conclusion that you’re comparing apples and pears: all that landfill versus more energy consumption – they are completely different environmental issues. The eco dispies, which are more expensive than ordinary ones, seemed like another good option. But we also thought about how we shop – as we live so near the supermarket, we rarely use the car for shopping (or at all for that matter) but instead do it mostly on foot or bike, a little each day, whereas if we used dispies, we’d have to use the car to carry home the big packs as well as our usual groceries, or shop online and consume the fuel of the delivery van not our car. In the end we decided that personal financial reasons were higher on our priority list than trying to figure out the environmental impact of the various options, which at the end of the day is impossible for us to do on a personal scale.
I also loved the cute look of all the different prints and colours of nappy that are available these days, and was really keen that my baby would have a well-dressed bum. One of my reservations was whether they would dry quickly enough in our small flat; we have a balcony but no garden, and I imagined airers of nappies up for ages, taking over our living room. But the design we went for means that different layers of the nappies separate, which speeds up drying time, and I have certainly not been bothered by the amount of washing in our flat (besides, where would we fit the big packs of dispies that you have to buy on offer to get the good deals?!)
So which design did we go for initially? When we’d decided that we would give cloth a go, my parents kindly gave us a set of 16 ‘pre-loved’ (read: secondhand, but it sounds so much nicer when you’re talking about nappies!) Mothereaseone-size fitted nappies and 5 of each size of waterproof outer wrap (small, medium, large) to last from ‘birth to potty’ (often abbreviated to BTP). The main nappy, which is made of towelling material, is shaped like a dispy nappy, has poppers that do up easily without the need for pins, and is separate from the waterproof wrap that poppers on afterwards. These have fitted Andrew well, right from when he was about 6 weeks old to now, and we’ve had just the right amount if we wash them every 2 to 3 days. We have added some more boosters to our ‘stash’ (collection of cloth nappies) as Andrew has started to become a heavier wetter in toddlerhood than when he was as a baby, but otherwise our stash is currently what it was at the start.
I should say here that until now we haven’t used cloth nappies at night, because we thought that they wouldn’t be absorbent enough and didn’t want to risk leaks being the reason why he would wake up, especially when he was little and would wake up in the night for feeds anyway. But recently Andrew has started to out-wee the dispies that he should be in for his weight, and not all brands even do a bigger size than what he’s in. This had led to much laundry of bedding as he’s woken up soaking in the morning. So I thought we had nothing to lose now in trying cloth at night (which real cloth nappy addicts say is perfectly doable and in fact better than dispies), because leaking doesn’t seem to wake him up and I’d rather wash a few more nappies a week than bedding every day! The other thing to mention in explaining my decisions on stash expansion is that Andrew has in the past month or so started showing interest in the potty. We haven’t had any dirty nappies in a while, as it’s all gone in the potty, though his daytime nappies are still generally fairly wet and his night-time ones very wet.
In my quest to expand our stash, there were two tasks:
Increase the number of daytime nappies we have, as we currently only have enough for one bum, though with more frequent washing it could probably stretch to 1.5 bums – that still falls short of 2, and I don’t want to clear up the consequences of not having that half a bum covered!
Get some cloth nappies for use at night time with both bums.
For the first task, I had various options in mind – either get more for Andrew (and baby wears the Motherease), or get more for baby (and Andrew wears the Motherease), or get a few more for both Andrew and baby (and they both wear the Motherease – that’s the great thing about a one-size, it fits baby and toddler). In the end I went for the third option, as I’ll explain soon.
If you know me well, you may be wondering why I’m doing this with less than 2 weeks before due date – surely I could have sorted this out sooner than a time when baby could arrive any day. Well I had done some research on nappies back in June, and had decided to try some itti bitti boos for Andrew, which had come recommended as a very absorbent (or ‘thisrty’) but also slim-fitting (not bulky) nappy; this sounded perfect for Andrew who was then wetting very heavily in the day, before the potty captured his interest. This was supposed to be the first step in trying something new, with the view to Andrew having these and baby having his old Motherease ones. But then came a UK-wide lack of itti bitti boos! A very helpful retailer, Miranda at Twinkle Twinkle, who had one bitti boo left in stock to send me, then tried to chase the company several times over several months for me, but all to no avail – they just couldn’t say when the new batch would arrive in the UK (they are an Australian make). Eventually, the weekend before this one just gone, I decided I’d have to give up on that plan, and look elsewhere. This is the main reason why it’s taken me until now to make some decisions, and in a way I’m glad of the wait, because our needs are now changing with Andrew wetting less in the nappy and pottying more – we probably don’t need to buy much toddler nappy (daytime) gear, but rather concentrate on a few more bits for baby and some cloth night nappies.
Where did I do my research to help me come to decisions on stash expansion? My first port of call has been a few sites that have general info on cloth nappies as well as lots of reviews by mums (and dads, though usually mums) who, along with their little ones of course, have tried and tested the amazing array of nappies on the market. I particularly like clothnappy.info, which also has a Facebook page where I’ve asked questions, and clothnappytree.com, which has a great forum where I’ve asked questions. Once I had my eye on a few different brands and models that looked promising, I then kept checking out some sites that sell pre-loved nappies, in case I could spot any bargains of the ones I was looking for. I particularly like Gumtree, which is local so you avoid postage costs, usednappies.co.uk, preloved.co.uk and the classified ads section on the clothnappytree website. Unfortunately I haven’t yet come across any that I’m looking for that haven’t already been snapped up – you have to move fast in this dog-eat-dog world of pre-loved fluff! But I live in hope that one day I might pick up the odd bargain or two by keeping an eye out when (if) I get chance to look at pre-loved sites.
Which nappies did I decide on in the end? After much reading, mouse clicking, more reading and more mouse clicking, I came up with an action plan that should be enough to start off with, and we can always get more of certain ones once we’ve tried the bits and bobs that I’ve acquired depending on how Andrew’s potty interest develops. First I’ll just give a quick list of the types of cloth nappy that are out there, so I don’t have to explain what each type is that I’ve gone for as I name them. It turns out that we’ll end up with some of most types of nappy (except the all-in-one type). This list is based on the descriptions found at clothnappy.info, with extra info added by me:
Fitted – These are what we already have (Motherease); they are a piece of towelling material shaped like a dispy nappy, with some form of fastening e.g. poppers, and also need a separate waterproof cover or ‘wrap’; they usually have a staydry inside layer and the absorbent layers are sewn into the core (the middle strip) of the nappy.
Flat/Pre-fold – These, like the fitteds, are also a two-part nappy system; they have a square piece of fabric, similar in texture to a muslin but with many layers sewn together, which you fold into a rectangular shape that fits into the crotch and is held in place by a separate waterproof wrap (rather than any form of fastening like the fitteds).
All-in-one (or ‘AIO’) – These, unlike the fitteds and pre-folds, are a one-part nappy system; they have a waterproof outside layer, a staydry inside layer, and absorbent inserts are sewn in between the two, so you can’t take the nappy apart at all – this is very convenient for changing (like a dispy it only has one layer of fastening to do) but it takes longer to dry than a separable nappy.
All-in-two (or ‘AI2’) – These are a compromise between an AIO and fitteds/flats; they have a waterproof outside layer (the shell) and a snap-in inside layer, which can be separated for washing and therefore drying faster than an AIO, but poppered back together when dry so that there’s only one layer of fastening to do when changing (like an AIO).
Pocket – These are also a compromise between an AIO and fitteds/flats; they have a waterproof outside layer, a staydry inside layer and in between the two is a pocket into which you can place absorbent inserts, as many or as few to suit the amount that the child wets; you separate the nappy and inserts for washing and (therefore fast) drying, and put it back together when dry, ready for the nappy change during which there is only one layer of fastening to do.
For all the above nappies…
….you can add boosters inside the main bit of the nappy (or inside the pocket with pocket nappies) if the absorbency of the nappy alone isn’t enough for how much the child wees.
…. they usually come in two size options: either ‘sized’, which means you buy small, medium, large etc. as the baby grows, or ‘one-size’ (‘birth-to-potty’ or BTP) which should fit a newborn as well as a toddler, normally involving some folding or poppering to change the size.
My first acquisition was actually a few weeks ago when I went to our local NCT nearly new sale, on the lookout for a starter set for my brother and his partner to use with my niece. I found a bargain bag of 36 Bambino Mio pre-folds and 6/7 wraps in each of three sizes (newborn, small, medium – which should last her upto about a year old, if they like them). The price was so cheap that it seemed silly to them not to buy it, even if they didn’t end up liking cloth or those nappies in particular, and that’s what I thought too. But as they are wisely waiting a little while before trying cloth, just like we did as life is challenging with the addition of a first baby, I asked if they wouldn’t mind me keeping some of the newborn wraps and some pre-folds, so that our newborn could get some wear out of the smallest wraps that my niece may well have grown out of by the time they start using the nappies. In return I gave them a few of our Motherease to try as well as their pre-folds, so that their initial experience of cloth isn’t just based on one type of nappy. [Correction: they have in fact started using the cloth nappies already, which is great!] I’m curious to see how these pre-folds compare with our fitted nappies. For a start, they look far less bulky than the Motherease for a small baby. As these pre-folds were more of a swap than an acquisition, that doesn’t increase the number of nappies in our stash much, but it does increase our variety. If my niece and/or her parents don’t get on with them, and if we do, then maybe they might like to swap some more Motherease for some pre-folds.
Although the itti bitti boos were nowhere to be seen this summer, I do love the one we have, because it’s such a lovely slim fit and is gorgeously soft, but is also extremely absorbent; this seems to be the design of all types of itti bitti nappies in general. So I decided to order a couple of each size (small, medium, large) of the itti bitti d’lish(snap-in-one or all-in-two (AI2) design) for use in the daytime with baby and Andrew – especially for when we go out, as I’ll only have one layer of fastening to do rather than the two that I currently have with our separate fitted nappies and wraps, to save time in nappy change rooms which are sometimes challenging enough with one baby let alone a toddler and a baby.
I was recommended, by a few friends as well as online forums, Fuzzibunz nappies– they are pocket nappies which can be stuffed with various amounts of boosters to suit daytime or night-time use. They come as either a sized nappy or a one-size which adjusts with poppers to fit different ages. I went for a couple of one-size Fuzzibunz, to try out on both Andrew and baby, both in the day and at night, and see what works best.
Online I was recommended Minki pocket nappies for overnight use with a toddler, as apparently they are ‘bombproof’ (!) when you add lots of boosters. The great thing is you can also use them as trainer pants for a toddler if you don’t add boostage. This seems like a good thing to try on Andrew now, as we can adjust the absorbency to fit with how he’s going with the potty, so I’ve ordered a couple for now. They haven’t arrived yet, so there’s no photo here. Finally, I added some little lamb bamboo boosters to one of my orders, which will be a useful addition to our stash of boosters, so that we can stuff them into pockets for extra absorbency overnight. These are supposed to be one of the most absorbent boosters you can get!
Where did I buy from? There are so many websites out there selling cloth nappies, that it took me quite a while to trawl through them all and compare prices. I have to say there isn’t much in it really, unless you find a sale on somewhere or a special offer. I often wish that I could just visit a shop that sold all the different types and buy them there and then instead of waiting for orders to be processed and delivered, even though it doesn’t really take that long (unless there are stock issues like the itti bitti boos!) Call me old fashioned, but there’s just something about the shopping experience that isn’t the same online. Tom often jokes that I should set up a cloth nappy shop in Cambridge – I actually reckon there might be a market for it, but I’m not sure I’m really business-woman enough to give it a go. In the end, my favourite sites for shopping at were Twinkle Twinkle (because the owner Miranda has been very helpful in the whole boo saga), fill-your-pants.com (mainly because of the name, but also as they do free UK delivery for all orders), and The Clean Green Nappy Machine (because they actually have a real shop, but unfortunately it’s up North, too far to go even for cloth nappies otherwise I’d be there like a shot, and because they do discounts if you buy a lot in one go).
So that brings us to the end of my thoughts on nappies for this week. You can probably tell that I’m very enthusiastic about this! I hope what I’ve written is helpful and interesting for anyone considering cloth nappies, or even those who are using them already, or even those who have no need to use nappies (these last people probably haven’t read all the way down here I’m guessing!) I’d love to read your comments if this was useful to you.
As it’s cloth nappy week 2012 this week (there seems to be an awareness week for everything these days!), I thought I’d squeeze in a quick post (note: I wrote that before I realisd how much I could go on about it…not such a quick post in the end!) about our experience of cloth nappies. I still don’t have loads of time or energy for blogging at the moment, but hopefully this offering will keep you amused for a while.
When I found out I was pregnant with Andrew, there were lots of things to think about, and I have to say nappies were not high on my priority list of thoughts. But I do remember briefly reading about nappies in one of the free magazines I got with the pregnancy bumpf I got at the start. It was there that I saw an advert for cloth nappies. Then a couple of months later, my mum mentioned them, as a colleague of hers at work was considering selling the ones she had used for her girls when they were younger. I said I wouldn’t mind looking at a sample of what she had on offer, so she very kindly let us have a few samples of a couple of different makes and styles.
At about the same time, a friend of mine happened to post something on facebook about how much she loved cloth nappies, so that got me curious and I asked her for advice too – she warned me that she could go on for hours about it, so we should go round for dinner one evening when her kids were in bed and she would go through it all with us. Both these experiences were very useful, and I was persuaded by what I saw to have a go at using them. Also, Tom, being Tom, decided that he would have a go at doing a rough estimate of how much money there was to be saved by comparing the price of disposables with the cost of water and electricity for washing cloth. He worked out that on average we would save LOTS by using cloth over the course of a few years (for Andrew and potentially more kids), even taking into account the cost of buying cloth in the first place.
However, we still had a couple of reservations, like we live in a small flat with no tumble dryer and so weren’t sure whether cloth nappies would dry very easily/quickly in the winter, and whether we would handle that much washing in the early days of getting used to a new baby. But then my parents said that for our ‘cotton’ wedding anniversary (2 years), which was in the August before Andrew was due in the January, they would buy us a set of cloth (cotton!) nappies. Perfect. In fact Mum got a great deal with her colleague with the second hand ones, so it cost a fraction of the price of a new set, and we were spared the cost altogether. If things didn’t work out with drying etc., I wouldn’t feel as bad as if they/we had shelled out for brand new ones. We also decided that we’d start off with newborn disposables for a few weeks, or as long as it took to get used to life with a newborn, so as not to put too much pressure on ourselves during that time.
I’m so glad that we did what we did, because it turns out that cloth nappies are no trouble for us. We have a set of about 20 Motherease shaped toweling nappies with popper fastening, plus lots of fleece liners for repelling wetness away from his skin, about 15 Motherease popper-in boosters which keep the nappy going longer, organic flushable liners to catch poo so it is quickly and easily removed from the main nappy, and about 5 waterproof wraps of each size (S, M, L) with popper fastenings to go over the top of the toweling – with various funky designs with animals from various ecosystems e.g. rainforest, savannah, pond. These are suitable from birth to toddlerhood, as the front of the towel nappy folds down to create a smaller nappy at first, and then over time you can stop folding it down and use the full nappy size; you just start with a small outer wrap and then progress to bigger ones as baby grows into toddler!
Andrew likes wearing them, and although they are more bulky than disposables (which he wears overnight and occasionally if necessary), it doesn’t seem to have stopped him moving around. He was quite an early walker, cruising from about 9 months and walking confidently a week after his first birthday. I remember reading in the free magazine I mentioned above (which shall remain nameless) that one of the ‘cons’ of cloth nappies was that they were ‘less comfortable’ for baby than disposables. I thought ‘How can they claim that?! Did they do a survey and ask a load of babies/toddlers whether they preferred the comfort of cloth or disposable?! I think not…’ As far as I can tell, Andrew has no complaints. For me, I like the soft and pure feel of the cloth next to his skin, compared to the seemingly soft but full of chemicals disposables. He has only had a mild nappy rash once, and his skin is lovely and smooth still on his bottom.
It does annoy me slightly that he grows out of trousers around the bottom more quickly than tops, and dungarees just never seem to fit right these days, but I see that as the fault of clothes manufacturers rather than the cloth nappies – it seems it’s a disposable nappy world when it comes to toddler clothes. I’ve learnt to buy (or mention to people who like to buy him clothes that it’s best to buy) stretchy bottoms like joggers or stretchy jeans. Unfortunately dungarees just don’t seem to fit him these days, though they weren’t too bad up until a year old. He’s not exactly fat either, but he’s got a more muscly bum now he’s walking than when he was a baby of course. On my never-ending to-do list is ‘write to toddler clothes companies saying that I’d like to see designs suitable for cloth nappy wearers’ – maybe one day I’ll get around to it. I’d also love to have the time to make some clothes for him myself, as that would be the perfect fit. Anyway enough about clothes. He looks so cute toddling round in with his padded bum (great when he was learning to walk – extra cushioning for inevitable mishaps!) and the designs on the wraps are so cute too.
Of course there is more washing than if we were to use disposables, but now we’re in a routine, we hardly notice the extra time spent on nappies. I say ‘we’, because I am fortunate to have a husband who helps a lot with the housework, especially now I’m back at work (well, he always did do lots, particularly when I was working all hours to finish my PhD!) Our routine is as follows: Tom empties the nappy pails (usually once every 2-3 days now), puts them in the washing machine, and turns it on or puts in on timer depending on when I will be around to do the next bit; once they’re washed, I do the hanging out to dry and putting back in the nappy stacker to use again. In fact the extra time spent on this seems like nothing compared to how often we’d have to buy disposables if we used them all the time. As we live in Cambridge, most of our trips to the supermarket we do on foot or bike; it would take many more trips if we had to pick up big bulky packs of nappies every time. We are also very lucky that our childminder is fine about handling cloth nappies. We send Andrew there with a couple of clean ones, and he comes back with a couple of wet/dirty ones in nappy sacks that we then empty into our pail at the end of the day.
I know that cloth nappies are not for everyone – it must depend on so many different practicalities of everyday life. We have been very lucky with various things (like the gift of nappies, our routine suits washing over shopping, our childminder supports us). But I hope that by sharing our experiences, it might encourage others to just have a think about whether they could give them a go. Plus I’ve done my bit for raising awareness this week. I’d be interested to read other mummy bloggers’ experiences of cloth nappies (good or bad), so why not post a link down there with the comments if you’ve written something on this. I’ve also just entered a competition on the cloth nappy info website to win some more cloth nappies with some very cool designs – Jubilee inspired 😉 So who knows, I might be adding a few more to our collection soon. Happy cloth nappy week! 🙂