An Introduction to Cloth Nappies #1
It's been a long time in the making but my bumper cloth post is finally here. It began life as a small article about a Mummy's journey into switching from disposable to reusable nappies and has evolved into (hopefully) a helpful post answering some questions that new-to-cloth Mama's might have (all coming from a beginner, so hopefully I can answer without confusion). It's daunting to start considering the move to cloth nappies when there are so many acronyms thrown around, AIO (all-in-one) - BG (BumGenius) - BTP (birth to potty), ahhhh! This post should clear things up for those of you that are as clueless as I was about what I needed to start the transition to reusable nappies.
There are a number of different (arguable) reasons that people decide to use cloth over disposable - disposables contain chemicals which can irritate some babies skin, reusable nappies are better for the environment (as you're not disposing of them), they're more cost effective (in the long run) & they can help toddlers to potty train sooner (due to the slight damp feeling that babies don't feel with disposables).
What about the number 2's?
Let's get straight down to it and talk about the biggest worry people have when it comes to cloth nappies - POO. It does take a while to get used to dealing with the poo as there are so many different options (TMI - and types of poo) - you'd think diarrhea would be the worst but actually it's easy as it's so watery, you can just chuck the nappy in the washer without getting your hands dirty (excuse the pun). Solid poop is easy (flush the whole lot with a disposable liner or shake it off with a reusable - I use both) and flush. Those in-between poo's are the most difficult; I tend to get rid of what I can using the liner and then wipe as much of the rest away as possible before washing. Easy peasy!
No, really, it's nowhere near as bad as it sounds (most of the time!).
So, now that we've dealt with the worst of it, I can personally see no other downside (besides the extra washing but it hasn't yet become an issue). Dealing with wee is easy, it can be thrown in with the normal washing (so long as you're not washing above 60° and aren't using fabric softener). The main issue I had at the beginning was leaks, but that was mainly due to cheap pocket nappies and the trial & error of finding the correct fit for Archie, we rarely get leaks now and he gets through less cloth nappies a day than disposables.
What do I need?
It took me so long to get into using cloth because I had no idea what I needed to begin with and it can be quite daunting to realise you need more than just the actual nappies (which in themselves are quite pricey). I've also been asked this by a few other Mummy's who are interested in switching, so here's a list of what you'll probably need from the off:
- Nappies – an obvious one, but you can start with one or two to ease yourself in gently. Try Babi Pur for some good deals and try any nappy type or brand that you like the look of; the best way to get used to the different types is by trying them yourself but I will review the one's I prefer below.
- Liners – Most nappies come with a washable liner or you can purchase disposable ones - I use both but prefer flushable for getting rid of poop!
- You'll need a nappy pail (or bucket) such as this one to keep your dirty nappies in and keep the smell out until you're ready to wash them. I had a Tommee Tippee Sangenic Disposal System so I use that as it does the same job.
- Wet bag – similar to above, you'll need a wet bag to put soiled nappies in when you're out & about until you can get home.
Which Nappies should I get?
It can be confusing to choose between nappy types and brands as there are hundreds of different types to choose from. I went for some of the cheaper options and for pocket or all-in-one nappies which are a good, easy place to start. Here are some of the nappies that I own and the pros and cons of each.
TotsBots Easyfit V4
These were among one of the first nappies I purchased as they're the only reusables I could find on the high street (they sell them in a Boots nearby). I'd heard that they were prone to leaks and although we did have a couple at first, we rarely get them now unless they're left on a little too long.
They have an attached insert that you pull out when washing and fold back in to use (fold the top a third down for a boy and fold in half for a girl), and I add a Little Lamb bamboo booster (I actually do this with all our nappies to increase the absorbency as Archie is a heavy wetter) and they can last us for a couple of hours, they also come in some really cute prints. They're a great starter nappy as they have a velcro fastening (easier than poppers but can be less secure, especially when baby figures out how to undo them) and are all-in-one's.
bumGenius Freetime Nappy
The bumGenius I have is an all-in-one nappy which means the boosters are joined to it as well as the waterproof outer layer, meaning technically you don't need to worry about adding anything else (except perhaps a liner). They are the closest thing to disposables except you don't dispose of them! I bought my bumGenius after hearing other Mummy's rave about them but so far I'm not sure. We've had no leaks yet and they hold up well but I'm not convinced about the fit on Archie, they once again seem quite tight on my big boy.
Little Lamb Bamboo's (Size 2) with Bombproof Wraps
Little Lambs are a 2-part nappy system, meaning they have an inner bamboo (cotton, or microfibre) nappy with joint booster and a waterproof outer wrap. The benefits of this are that it means you get a super absorbent nappy and a wrap that can be reused before washing (as it's only the inner part that generally gets wet or dirty). I adore these nappies and they have been our go-to nappy at night time for a while now. The downsides are that they're quite bulky and tend to go a bit stiff after washing (an extra rinse and 10 minutes in the tumble dryer tends to sort it out, even though you're not supposed to tumble dry them, oops!) but they're still my favourite nappy for keeping Archie dry for longer periods of time (including 11-12 hours overnight). The other thing to mention are that these are sized nappies as opposed to birth-to-potty, so Archie is currently in size 2 (20Ibs - potty). The wraps also have a double gusset around the legs which means it's extra good at keeping leaks at bay.
Pop-in +bamboo New Gen V2
Initially I was confused with this nappy as you get a pop-in part as well as a booster with it, but I also ordered the night time insert and it wasn't clear to me where this was supposed to go or whether you were supposed to use the other parts with it. I searched around but couldn't find any answers so I ended up winging it for this one. The good news is I now absolutely love it! The outer part dries really fast, it's very absorbent as a daytime nappy, and using the night time insert & 2 Little Lamb boosters, it gets Archie through the night as well as his Little Lambs do, but is much less bulky for him to wear. The night time insert also has a stay-dry area which is more comfortable for baby through the night, plus the prints are gorgeous. This is definitely my favourite nappy of the bunch at the moment, for day and night-time use.
FuzziBunz One Size Elite
Although these are a one-size nappy with adjustable elastic around the waist and legs, Archie is already on the largest setting and they still seem a little tight, so I don't think they're going to fit him for much longer - I definitely wouldn't purchase more, but they're probably a nice fit for slimmer babies. These also use a popper fastening as opposed to velcro which I find a little tricker to use as I can never seem to get the right fit. The one thing I do love about them is they dry so fast, they already feel dry as I'm emptying the washing machine and the boosters always stay super soft.
Some of the first cloth nappies I came across were Charlie Bananas and I fell in love with the prints straight away - they're bright, colourful and gorgeous and this is easily my favourite nappy design-wise. They're quite pricey so this is currently the only one I own, but I would say they are the best pocket nappy we have. Even though they're relatively slim-fitting, they're still really absorbent and the boosters dry fast. They're also a birth-to-potty nappy but you can also buy sized ones (which I'll probably buy in future due to Archie being a bigger baby!).
Things to know
Here's a few handy tips about using cloth nappies (that I would never have known if it wasn't for Google!):
- Unlike disposable nappies, most reusables tend to sit on the knicker line, so don't fasten them too high up or baby will be uncomfortable.
- It takes a while to get used to finding a good fit for your baby, but a general rule is being able to comfortably fit a finger around the legs and waistline.
- Don't use fabric softener in the wash with your nappies as this can damage them.
- You're supposed to wash your nappies anywhere from 3-10 times before even using them (just with water) to get them up to full absorbency. I tend to just do a short wash on them 2-3 times and let the absorbency build up in the washes after baby has worn them - we've had no issues yet doing it this way!
- It's never too late to start using cloth - I was reluctant as Archie was 9 months old when we started but remember they'll be using them up until potty training (2-3 years) and if you're considering having more children, you can re-use the nappies with the next one too.
Hopefully this post has been helpful if you're considering entering the world of reusables and has cleared up some confusion surrounding cloth. If you have any more questions (I'll answer as best as I can), feel free to leave a comment below.
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