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!