Cloth nappy myths – busted! (Part 2: looks & comfort)

Welcome back for another instalment of cloth nappy myth busting for Reusable Nappy Week. If you missed my last post, which was all about laundry, you can find it here. Today I’m concentrating on what modern cloth nappies look like and how comfortable they are for babies and toddlers to wear. So, like last time, here are some statements that I think are myths….

Nappy rainbow on sky blue

They look boring


Cloth nappies have come on a loooong way since the days of terry squares and plastic pants. Even since we started out with cloth nappies over 3 years ago there have been new designs coming onto the market giving even more choice. The photos I’ve included in this post are testament to the fact that cloth nappies come in a rainbow of colours and patterns. All the big brands as well as independent work at home mums offer funky and pretty prints as well as bright colours, many different designs to suit various tastes. Even if you stick with terry squares/pre-folds/or fitted nappies, there are some lovely wraps out there that can jazz up even the oldest of functional nappies underneath. In fact our staple nappies for Joel are ‘boring’ pre-folds with various wraps, most of which I have made from fabrics that are bright, funky and suit him.

In some ways though, when I first started using cloth nappies on Andrew, I didn’t mind what they looked like because they were always under his babygro or trousers anyway. But once it got to summer, it was lovely to let him run around at home or in the garden with just a nappy and a t-shirt on, so we could all see the cute nappy. It’s easier to include the nappy as part of a cute outfit for girls, because a lovely little pinafore dress is what you might dress her in anyway, and whatever kind of nappy she’s wearing inevitably gets flashed when she bends over when playing.

Red nappies

Fairly recently I came across baby leg warmers and bought some for Joel to try. These are a great way to see a lovely cloth nappy on a boy, and they are very practical too – no faffing to get trousers back on after a wriggly nappy change, and they’re easy for him to move about in, especially when he was crawling and learning to walk.

They’re too bulky

One of the great things about the variety of modern cloth nappies is that there are all sorts of shapes, sizes, styles and fabrics that suit different children. Some nappies are bulkier and some are trimmer. Bulkier ones may also be more absorbent than trimmer styles or have other attributes. All in one nappies tend to be less bulky than a fitted nappy plus wrap, and pocket nappies are as bulky as the amount of inserts that you stuff into them.

Orange nappies

So my first point here is that not all cloth nappies are bulky. But even with the bulkier styles, I don’t believe they are ‘too’ bulky. Some parents worry that cloth nappies are too bulky and so put their baby’s legs in a funny position. Quite on the contrary – cloth nappies are actually better for hip development because they support the legs in a better position – babies legs are supposed to be ‘froggy’, it’s not a bad thing, they’re not supposed to look like straight adult legs for quite a few years (this also applies to optimum baby wearing positions).

Another worry is that the nappies are so bulky that they make the baby slow to crawl/walk. As far as I know there is no national-scale evidence for this, and my own boys both walked before they were 1 year old, one crawled from 6 months, the other 9 months, so I know that cloth nappies didn’t hinder them in their movement. And when they did pull themselves up to standing and take their first steps, having a nice, soft, fluffy (some may call it bulky) bottom to fall back down on was much more appealing than a thin disposable nappy.

They’re uncomfortable for baby to wear

Yellow nappies

Following on from the bulkiness, I’ve heard it said that cloth nappies are uncomfortable. Now I’ve never actually asked a baby and got a comprehensible answer as to whether they are uncomfortable, but I guess if my boys had been really uncomfy in their nappies they would have screamed and screamed until I did something about it. I think it is possible to get a bad fit with certain styles of nappy, which may lead to discomfort, but this can be easily fixed by asking someone with a bit more experience. This is where finding a local nappy meet with other parents whose children wear them is great, or even asking in one of the many cloth nappy sales and advice groups on Facebook. A key area where many people slip up is putting nappies too far down the thigh – tucking it into the knicker line is best, to avoid any rubbing on the thigh. With some styles of nappy this isn’t an issue anyway.

As babies come in various shapes and sizes, different nappies suit different babies. For example, babies with very chubby thighs would probably find nappies with popper fastenings at the side more comfortable than nappies that fasten at the front. Short babies would probably find nappies with a low rise more comfortable than those with a high rise. It’s just a case of finding what works best for your baby, and a good way of doing this is borrowing various kinds from a nappy library, or buying a few different styles cheaply second hand, until you find the best ones and buy more of those. Many nappies are adjustable in size, both in width (like a disposable, where you do up the wings) and in height (unlike a disposable), so you can adjust to get a good fit as your baby grows and changes shape.

Green nappies

Some clothes brands aren’t cut very generously around the bottom area, so cloth nappies appear ‘too bulky’ for the clothes, but we generally haven’t found this to be a big issue and most of the boys’ clothes have fitted perfectly fine over their nappies, even if we needed to go up a size a bit sooner than we would if they were wearing disposables.

Baby gets more nappy rash with cloth nappies

One particular area of discomfort that I’ve heard said about cloth nappies is nappy rash. According to Go Real, the reusable nappy information service, an independent study showed that whether babies wear disposable or cloth nappies made no difference to the incidence of nappy rash. In my own experience, we have had very little nappy rash with both my boys in cloth nappies. Andrew I don’t remember ever suffering with it, and Joel has had a few small bouts which I put down to a combination of strong teething wee and ammonia build up in the nappies because I was washing with too little detergent for the hard water of Cambridge (see my previous post for details) – once I figured this out he hasn’t had any rash. He is also a much lighter wetter than Andrew so I sometimes forget to change him as often because there is less urgency, and he’s a second child after all 😉

Blue nappies

The great thing about cloth nappies is that you decide what goes next to your baby’s skin. Disposables are full of chemicals, and I personally prefer to have cloth nappy fabrics (which don’t have chemicals) next to my boys’ skin as much as possible. Some babies are actually highly sensitive to the chemicals in disposable nappies and come out in a rash when they are in disposables (this hasn’t happened to my boys, but I know of other children who have had this issue).

If you do come across rash in cloth nappies, there are some things you can check for. It’s important to not have the skin wet for prolonged periods of time, so changing cloth nappies every 3-4 hours at most is a good idea (though I have sometimes left Joel for longer as he’s a lighter wetter than Andrew was in nappies), and having a ‘stay-dry’ fabric such as fleece, minky or suedecloth next to the skin helps to wick the moisture away from the skin into the absorbent fabric of the nappy. Apart from prolonged exposure to moisture, nappy rash is also caused by irritants next to the skin (for example the ammonia build up that I mentioned above in our case) – this could be a sensitivity to a particular detergent, which some babies in disposables show with respect to their washed clothing, or to a particular fabric, for example some babies are sensitive to synthetic fibres so are best with natural ones such as cotton. Or it could be down to a change in diet, a food sensitivity or even teething.

Purple nappies

That’s it on myth busting for today. I’ll be back with one more of these posts at the end of Reusable Nappy Week.  Hope they are proving useful, and hope you’ll join me for the final instalment.

Nappyness reviews… Little Lamb bamboo

Sizes 1 and 2 in the library, size 3 coming soon (about a week from 22/7/13)
LL plus soaker
Fleece soaker is pulled down deliberately to show the nappy underneath – this is a size 3 on my toddler

Description of nappy:

This is a fitted nappy made from bamboo terry. It comes with a bamboo booster (sewn in for sizes 2 and 3, separate for size 1) and a fluffy fleece liner. It requires a separate waterproof wrap – Little Lamb make these too, or you could use another make, or a wool or fleece soaker at night.

Day or night use:

Day as it is, or night with extra boosters (I use 2-3 extra boosters on my toddler)

Description of my testers:

Baby – tall and slim with slim thighs

Toddler – tall and generally slim with muscly thighs

Cost and value for money:

Around £9 for a single nappy. But also available as large kits (10 or 20) which work out at less per nappy, and often on offer in multiples (e.g. 5 for £25) at various retailer websites. I think that these are good value for money at their normal price, and excellent value for money if you get a good offer. They are long lasting and you can often get some money back by selling them pre-loved in good condition.


Excellent! Bamboo is thirsty and there are several layers of it in the nappy and booster. These make good nappies for heavy wetters in the daytime, and good night nappies for average wetters or heavy wetters if boosted with extra bamboo or hemp boosters.


Excellent! As they are a fitted nappy which requires a wrap or soaker cover, there are two barriers for containing poo, so it is unlikely that it will escape. The elastic around the leg holes is very stretchy, which means that it fits both slim thighs and chubbier thighs, and I have also easily mended one of these nappies in which the elastic had deteriorated with lots of use but the main fabric of the nappy was fine. We haven’t had a leak with either child wearing these nappies.


Bulky and fairly low rise. These are not trim as far as nappies go, but considering their absorbency, I think their bulk is not bad for a fitted nappy. When boosted for overnight use they are pretty huge, but I don’t mind big nappies at night if they hold my toddlers’ heavy wetting. They are also quite short with a low rise, so I have found that a size 3 is essential on my tall toddler, even though many children would probably get away with just sizes 1 and 2 before potty training (unless you’re using them at night as it may take longer for them to be dry at night).

Drying speed:

Slow. On a nice sunny and breezy day these are dry in a day outside, but inside on an airer they can take unto 2 days to dry. They are usually the last to dry out of all the nappies in our personal stash. It is possible to tumble dry them, but this can negate the environmental benefit of using cloth nappies over disposables and shortens the life of the nappy if done regularly.

Change Speed:

Average. As it’s a fitted nappy that needs a separate wrap, change time is always going to be longer than a one-part nappy, but for a fitted, I think these are pretty fast because they have aplix fastening.

Ease of Use:

Average. As it’s a two-parter so needs a wrap, you may need to explain that to anyone else doing the nappy change and it’s not necessarily as easy as a one-parter, but for a two-parter I think these are easy to use.


Aplix (Velcro/ hook and loop) only – more finely adjustable but less durable than poppers


As it goes under a wrap, it’s not surprising that there is no colour or print on the nappy itself. I love how soft the fabric is next to the skin – the bamboo is silky smooth (though I noticed the difference between ours washed in Cambridge hard water and a few that were donated to the library by a friend living in a soft water area), and the fluffy fleece liner that comes with it is gorgeously soft compared to other fleece liners we have.


I would recommend this as a durable, good value for money nappy that is perfect for heavy wetters in the daytime and any wetters at night (boosted for heavy wetters). It is also good for containment on newborns with a good wrap. It is an essential in my stash, along with other quicker drying nappies.

Disclaimer: I have received no incentive for writing this, and all views expressed are entirely my own and honest, based on our experience of using the nappies.

Nappy-related sewing projects: wet/dry bag and fleece soakers

Just recently I’ve rediscovered just how much I love sewing. I did quite a lot as a teenager, but since having kids I haven’t had the sewing machine out much. There were a couple of nappy-related items that I thought would be very practical to have, and these became fun sewing projects to get my teeth into it again.

I realised when Andrew started wanting to wear pants when out and about that I really needed to invest in a good wet bag because we have quite a few accidents still, and I have two children with wet nappies/pants/trousers to take home when we go out. I also wanted one with a ‘dry’ area, as I always had loose spare clothes in my change bag and thought it would be easier to keep them in a bag together. But when I looked online, all the wet/dry bags that looked good quality were a bit too expensive, so I decided to buy some fabric myself and make two wet/dry bags.

Wetbags Collage

The outside is cotton, in Bob the Builder and Animal Alphabet prints, and the lining is a thick and durable sandwich PUL (the laminate layer is sandwiched between two polyester layers – makes it very easy to sew with and is extra thick for wetness protection) in bright orange (Bob) or blue (animals). The front pocket is for dry clothes/nappies, and there is a poppered handle that can attach to a buggy (for example) which is triple stitched for durability. I bought enough fabric for four bags, and I have swapped one with a friend for a night nappy that I wanted to try and a daytime wrap for the Nappyness library, and I sold one on a cloth nappy forum. As far as I know, both recipients like them.

During Real Nappy Week, I bought a couple of fleece soakers for Andrew because I’d read that they were good at night and I was also buying some bigger night nappies for him at the same time as he’d grown out of some of his others. The soakers worked brilliantly, and having seen one in real life as opposed to a picture on a website, I realised that my sewing skills were up to making them. So I set about making some more, using fleece from old clothes and blankets, so they are completely upcycled. In fact for one of them, I accidentally cut the fabric to include the ‘The North Face’ logo on the jumper I was cutting up, but then I decided that it actually looked rather cool with the logo, to show that it was an upcycled item of clothing. The next one I made, I deliberately cut the leg cuff fabric to include the ‘Regatta’ logo.

Soakers Collage

Andrew is now getting a bit big for the XL ones I bought, so I’ve made a few more XXL and Joel is just about fitting into the XL (he has a well boosted night nappy and needs it for the rise height, though it’s looser around the thighs and waist on him than on Andrew). I’m also making one of each size for the Nappyness library, and the medium and large are already available for loan – I originally made the medium thinking it would be for Joel but forgot that it needed to fit over a night nappy rather than day nappy (baby brain moment!) The patterns that I’m using are those I found on Katrina’s Sew Quick Soaker Pattern blog. I’ve also sewn some more washable wipes (as I explained in this previous post) from upcycled nappies and clothes, and these are also available to borrow from the library.

Wipes n bags Collage

As I’ve been sewing, I’ve been dreaming about having a better place to do this other than our kitchen table in quite a small flat. I have a little picture in my head of a cafe with a toy corner (like Livng Stones, the one we go to for meet-ups) which is also a shop that sells cloth nappies (new and preloved) and accessories, and there is also space for me to sew wet bags, soakers, wipes etc. All the mums I meet up with in Living Stones agree that  there should be more cafes like that in Cambridge, and I think the city is the kind of place that parents would welcome a shop where you can actually buy cloth nappies having seen them for real, not just online. Of course they could try them from the library first too.

But then I usually hear a noise from one of my boys, or both, and I come quickly back to reality 😉


Creative Challenge

When Buster Bear came to a Nappyness meet-up

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!


Nappyness meet-up number 2

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.

Posters and flyers ready to be taken out and about
Posters and flyers ready to be taken out and about

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 🙂

Nappyness meet-ups are launched!

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!

IMG 1298
My bag of nappies ready to go this morning

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.

IMG 1293
Andrew had already finished his treat before the others arrived! He quite rightly pointed to the Nappyness logo on the table and said ‘that’s a nappy!”

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.

IMG 1296
Andrew’s chance to let off some steam after being couped up in a cafe – a wet bouncy castle!

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.

Hope to see you soon!

If you’re nappy and you know it

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!

A fluffy epilogue

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.

Fabric that I've found to make some wipes with
Fabric that I’ve found to make some wipes with

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.nappy-Collage-lower-res.jpg

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! 🙂

For the love of cloth! (part 2)

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.

Nappies copy

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.

Nappy washing

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!


For the love of cloth! (part 1)

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.Nappy Collage lower res

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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, and the classified ads section on the clothnappytree website.
  3. 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……