After Little H was born, it shocked me how many nappies we churned through. After a few months my brain started musing over reusable nappies so I did some Google searching. Then I got overwhelmed by where to start and I just carried on with the multi-buy Pampers. My sleep deprived brain could not cope with the research on top of all the other new learning it has to do. But it was a decision which stayed with me and became something I regretted. So when Little Z was born and the nappies started stacking up, reusables popped into my head again.
The first step
The final push to make a change was after a number of news articles calling out the amount of plastic in disposable wipes hit the headlines. I kept looking at those irritating little flappy wipes and felt terrible about what I was throwing away by the handful everyday. So, I broke myself in gently when Little Z was two months and got some reusable wipes – Cheeky Wipes. I felt immediately better about myself using the delightful little reusable squares. After a mere couple of days, I was incredibly happy to have made the change. The wipes were much nicer to use than disposables with the added benefit that I wasn’t adding to the growing sea of waste plastic just to wipe away some wee.
After another month and some conversations with cloth-mum-friends, I knew it was time to pursue cloth nappies. Google ‘cloth nappies’ or ‘reusable nappies and The Nappy Lady will be within the top 5 results for sure. She is infamous in reusable circles and a huge source of advice for those moving to or using cloth. One of the great services she offers is a personal assessment…for free! So I completed the questionnaire and a couple of days later got a couple of personal options sent over to us. She gave me a couple of options for all-in-one systems and two-part systems with a list of all the bear minimum items I would need and estimated cost. She then gave me a 5% discount code for her online store.
Taking the plunge?
Of course I didn’t just order. I mulled for a good week and spent ages trying to suss out if Sam was on board. In the end I decided that a two-part system sounded like my preferred so I ordered a couple of nappies to give them a try. After a couple of trial runs, I decided to dive right in and order the full batch. The general advice I was given by people was to buy a few different types and see what works for us. But The Nappy Lady had already taken some of the guesswork out and I was so happy with the trial nappes that I decided to go with those. I’m not one for mix-and-matching; I find it far easier having a full set of identical nappies which cover both day and night.
What we went with
I decided to go forward with Totsbots Bamboozle nappies. They look exactly like a disposable nappy would except it’s made of bamboo (with a microfibre lining) and with velcro tabs instead of sticky ones. Then over the top I put a wrap. The Nappy Lady recommendation for us was a Motherease Rikki but I decided to go to the Motherease Airflows which use poppers instead of velcro as some other parents had said the velcro on the Rikki rubbed their child’s tummy. I then bought some Sandy StayDry boosters for nighttime. Initially I used disposable liners but after dealing with the number twos, I invested in some fleece ones; they give a drier feel for the baby and also make it easier to deal with the poo. Now we are weaning it will literally fall off the liner when held over the toilet.
How does Little Z find it?
I’m not sure she knows any different but she has never shown any signs of discomfort in the cloth nappies. When she was younger, they were very chunky on her. (Although I actually found her chunky bottom really cute and it made holding her a little easier too – wider surface area!) One definite positive though is that in the 4 months we’ve been using them though we’ve only had a single leak. Yep, you heard me right. And it was only a wee leak after her wrap slipped below the nappy when she rolled around a lot one night. When Little H was a baby and weaning, a poonami was a weekly or fortnightly occurance. But with Little Z, at worst it’s gone on the wrap. So it has saved Little Z from the frustration of a lot of outfit changes; especially those on nasty restaurant baby changers.
Then there are the nighttimes where from an early age I was able to confidently leave her in a single nappy overnight. So many parents seem to avoid cloth at night because of the risk it will get too full. I’ve actually found the opposite – cloth works brilliantly because it’s so easy to add a booster. At night, Little Z has her Bamboozle with the additional inner liner and an extra stay dry booster between the nappy and the wrap. Even when she was back on three feeds per night during her post-4-month-sleep-regression-mega-feed phase, she didn’t need changing for a 12-13 hour period. It was a real win as it meant I didn’t have to fumble around with a nappy in the dark and she didn’t get disturbed and went back to sleep more easily.
Finally, unlike her sister she has also had barely any nappy rash. Of course, she gets nappy rash just like any other child if a poo is left against her skin inadvertently for a bit. But in her cloth nappies, it has cleared up in hours rather than days.
Is the washing tedious?
Nah, not at all. I have enough nappies to do a nappy wash every couple of days. I run the load through a 55 minutes rinse cycle with some tea tree oil (a natural antibacterial). Then I run them on a 60 degree cotton wash with an extra rinse for 2.5 hours, spinning on 900 rpm so as to not put too much strain on the fabric. The Nappy Lady has some awesome tutorials. It sounds a bit gross sticking them in the machine, but the key is to rinse the solids off into the toilet and then the rinse cycle gets rid of the rest before the proper wash. It’s hardly any effort at all and such a natural part of our routine now. I shan’t get into the debate about water usage here but recent studies have shown the water used to make a single disposable is significantly higher than that used for a cloth nappy over it’s life time.
Our nappies are slow to dry because they are so absorbent. But I just stick then on the clothes line in the sun or on the airer and leave them. In the summer, they would dry in 5 – 6 hours because it got so hot. Now it’s cooler, they can take 24 – 30 hours to dry. But as long as they are in a well ventilated area, they do dry and they don’t smell at all musty.
Would I recommend it to other parents?
Yes, yes, a hundred times yes! I really, really, really wish I’d done it back when Little H was a baby. I love not churning out all the waste every day. I like that my daughter doesn’t have chemicals against her skin. I like the fact they don’t smell when wet (I hadn’t noticed how much disposables smell until I compared Little H’s single bedtime nappy pants to Little Z’s pile of soggy cloth!). And I weirdly like sorting out the clean items to put them away. They are soft of my hands where disposables used to make my finger tips rough.
Hints and tips
I did the sums and cloth is cheaper after about a year of use when buying from new. But it is a big investment. So if you can’t afford new, look at second hand. I’ll sell our nappies on once Little Z is potty trained and our nappies are well cared for, so I’m sure most second hand nappies will have been equally as well looked after. Look to see whether your local council offers any incentive schemes too. In Hertfordshire, you can apply for a ‘Starter Kit’ per child with a variety of nappies to try. Or if you provide proof of purchase, we can get up to £50 back. It’s a nice gesture since by moving from disposables, we are sparing them from dealing with all that extra waste.
I would definitely recommend taking a look at The Nappy Lady website. Her articles and ‘How To’ videos were a real starting point for me. But also look at Instagram and Facebook to see what groups and communities are up to. Mamalina, for example, is always championing cloth and how it doesn’t need to cost the earth; she has some great threads on her Instragram grid. And if you’re not sure, get hold of a couple of nappies and just give them a try! You never know how you might get on.