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Using Cloth Nappies {Emma’s Experience}

Author: Guest Post

My husband is what one might describe as an eco warrior. We enjoy constantly challenging one another to find new ways to reduce waste and save energy. When we discovered I was pregnant, the subject of reusable nappies came up very quickly.
I’ll be honest with you, I was concerned about the idea. I knew from my sister and close friends how much work having a baby is, without the added complication of nappy washing. I started having nightmares about hand-washing stained Terry nappies and poking myself, and the baby, with safety pins. The image did not fill me with excitement.
However, I had heard stats about the environmental impact of disposable nappies, saying that they take over 300 years to decompose and that over 8 million nappies go to landfill sites in the UK every year. So I agreed with my husband that I’d look into it and we should try some out.

Nappies – A Whole New World

It was soon after that I discovered a whole new world that I never knew existed; a Narnia bursting with Bamboozles, bulging with Bambino Mios, lavished with Little Lambs and popping at the seams with Peanut Wraps. The names all had me chuckling to myself, but it was the super-cute designs that clinched it for me. I wanted my baby’s bottom to look like a bumble bee or to be swathed in zebra print.
Like I say, there was a lot to choose from so I continued my research. I had a lot of questions…which are most comfortable? Which do not leak? Which are the best for night time? My list of questions was long. I read reviews and asked questions on forums. What surprised me was the number of mums who said they’d tried them and would never go back. It became increasingly clear to me that they weren’t as much work as I originally thought and we’re supposedly better for the health of my baby’s bottom.

Taking The Leap

I finally decided to buy a Tots Bots trial kit and as I was buying that I decided to add a Teenyfit in style “Rumble” to my order. When the parcel arrived I was so excited, it felt like Christmas! The Teenyfit Rumble was literally the cutest thing I’d ever seen. I couldn’t wait to meet my little baby and put his/her bottom into the Rumble.
It could have been the Christmas feeling or could have been a spot of nesting, but at that point I decided I didn’t have enough of these colourful poo-catchers, and went a little crazy, buying about 10 more in all colours and designs.
Our little boy was born in June and left hospital wrapped in his little cloth nappy, looking even cuter than I’d imagined.
Since then I’ve got into a good system with the nappies, washing them every other day. It’s part of my routine and I don’t even think about it. My little man’s bottom is happy; he’s never had nappy rash. When he, on those odd magical occasions, sleeps through the night the cloth nappies keeps him dry. I absolutely love my reuseble nappies and can’t recommend them enough, and wanted to share my experience so others might give it a try.

It’s All About The Money

A big issue for people when deciding on reusable nappies is the upfront cost. The nappies can easily cost between £15 and £17 when bought new. There are a few ways to get your head around the initial outlay:
1. Calculate the cost of a few years of disposables vs the cost of the reusables and the reusable nappies come out pretty cheap.
2. Some people may not be keen on the idea, but there is a second-hand nappy market, with a lot of new, barely used and well-loved nappies for sale. This gives you the option to either buy cheaper or sell your nappies on when you’re done.
3. Some companies do discount for bulk buying or have special offers on a regular basis, like my Tots Bots trial kit.
4. A lot of local councils offer incentive schemes which give vouchers towards the cost of reusable nappies. Check here to find out if your council does.
5. NCT offer nappy libraries, where you can try a few before deciding on the style you’d like to have. It’s a good way to trial without buying.

{Edit} A Few More Points

  • We use biodegradable inserts. These are very thin liners which say they can be flushed if desired. (Please read the comments in the section below about this though).
  • To wash them we bought “Tots Bots potion” which means it gets all the nasties out washing at only 30 degrees. If we run out of the potion, we wash at 60 degrees. Every threemonths we do what is called a “strip wash”, which means we put them on a rinse, then a long 60 degree wash and then another rinse again. We dry them outside as much as possible and then on an airer near our wood burner. The sun is good for natural bleaching. It is recommended not to tumble dry them, as that ruins the absorbent fibres.
  • When out and about we just take a waterproof bag out with us, where we store the dirty nappies until we get home.
  • We use Cheeky Wipes. I love these! They always smell so great and are great for my son’s skin. We have the “clean” and “mucky” box system they provide, so we just put the clean wipes in the “clean” box where they soak in the lavender and chamomile oil and then when they’re used, we put them in the “mucky” box where they soak in tea tree oil until they’re ready to wash! There is also a portable “clean” and “mucky” waterproof bag system to use when you’re out and about.

Have you ever used or considered using reusable nappies? If so, I’d be keen to hear your thoughts!

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25 thoughts on “Using Cloth Nappies {Emma’s Experience}

  1. Ahhhh cloth nappies is my big parenting fail! I bought loads of them (luckily second hand), wanged on about all their many virtues, then had a baby with such skinny legs that they would leak after an hour! I tried different brands, I waited for her to grow, nada. So I gave up and donated them. I’m always super jealous when I hear stories about them working but great and good for you and if more of us use them maybe the companies will develop ones for skinny babes!

    A couple of questions that might help other readers:

    1) do you use the flushable inserts?
    2) how do you find washing them? Temperature? Setting? How do you dry them?
    3) how do you store when out and about?
    4) do you use reusable wipes too?

    These were the concerns most people had when I was talking about it.

      1. Hi there, excellent questions. As soon as Emma comes back I’ll update the main body of the post.
        I know Emma’s using cheeky wipes as I’ve bought some on her recommendation x

        1. Well done RMS for doing an article on cloth nappies, the more they are talked about the less scary they will be!

      2. I have an Instagram live on my YouTube where I shared all this- I answered as much as I could and demonstrated. I’m not an avid YouTube person so did a live on insta and saved it on YouTube but these questions were being asked so much so I thought I’d help people get started as it’s quite a new world https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCdDC6y5Z6nZB5uvRwTPVGIQ

        I use flushable inserts from amazon
        The nappy lady does a great video on how to wash them. Rinse cycle, full cycle on 40 or 60
        I carry them out and about and use a waterproof bag to bring them home in. Can all be bought on nappy selling sites
        I don’t use reusable wipes but do use cheeky wipes in the kitchen. To answer your questions briefly.

        1. Oh gosh I didn’t mean flushable! They’re liners that are bamboo and I meant they’re biodegradable but not to be flushed of course. They catch most of it all and are great value for money!

    1. Thanks Lucy! I was worried that the nappies might not fit, as I had heard similar stories to yours, but for now my son’s thighs seem to be the right level of chunkiness.
      Thanks for the great questions too…
      1. Yes, we use biodegradable inserts. These are very thin liners which can be flushed if desired. This means any solids in the nappy can be disposed of more easily. As my son is still on just breast milk there’s nothing very solid in his nappies at the moment, but it still helps.
      2. To wash them we bought “Tots Bots potion” which means it gets all the nasties out washing at only 30 degrees. If we run out of the potion, we wash at 60 degrees. Every 3 months we do what is called a “strip wash”, which means we put them on a rinse, then a long 60 degree wash and then another rinse again. We dry them outside as much as possible and then on an airer near our wood burner. The sun is good for natural bleaching. It is recommended not to tumble dry them, as that ruins the absorbent fibres.
      3. When out and about we just take a waterproof bag out with us, where we store the dirty nappies until we get home.
      4. Lauren is right, we use the Cheeky Wipes, which are the reusable wipes. I love these! They always smell so great and are great for my son’s skin. We have the “clean” and “mucky” box system they provide, so we just put the clean wipes in the “clean” box where they soak in the lavender and chamomile oil and then when they’re used, we put them in the “mucky” box where they soak in tea tree oil until they’re ready to wash! There is also a portable “clean” and “mucky” waterproof bag system to use when you’re out and about.

      1. please change the advice to not flush the liners – they are not flushable in that they may go down your toilet but will act exactly like a baby wipe (hello fatberg!) in the sewage system and cause problems in the pipes / enter our waterways / beaches etc. Just pop them in the bin or use a fleece liner and flush poo only down the loo.

        1. Hi Olivia,
          Our wipes say they’re flushable, but I agree, we’re not keen on flushing either and ours go in the bin.

    2. Cheeky wipes are brilliant, single best purchase since becoming a parent! Never need more than 1 wipe for a nappy change, really gentle on sensitive skin and I threw all the dirty wipes in the same lockable bucket as the nappies so made washing really easy every other day. Out and about I threw a couple of wet cheeky wipes in a clean wet bag and then had a dirty wet bag for spiked wipes and nappies that could be thrown in the nappy bucket when we got back. We travelled a lot, including 2 cruises, always using reuseables with no issues. Apart from a bit extra washing, they are really straightforward once you get used to them.

  2. Sounds like you’ve done fabulously. I actually did an Instagram live on my cloth bum experience and had some wonderful messages with people giving it another go.

    The cost of some nappies scares me! I couldn’t justify that to my husband so I have a much cheaper system which isn’t for everyone but works well for me. My son is now 2 years and 2 months and I have twin girls who are 4 months. All three are in cloth nappies. I now have to wash them everyday but like you I’m in the groove and always have been.

    I actually use terry towels I bought from amazon and the nappy lady. And then I use motherease airflow wraps. They’re amazing! I bought 20 terries initially and 6 airflows and that’s all I’ve ever had to by for my son. So a really really cheap way of doing it if you can get past the having to fold them. But I love folding them and I love hanging them out to dry!

    Like you say- once you get your head around it- there’s no going back! I think it makes my children more content- less nappy changes and dry nights.

    Now…will potty training my son be as easy…

    1. Hi Naomi, it’s great when you get into the groove isn’t it! The challenge is working out how many nappies you need to keep in rotation. We’re like you, all in all we have about 20 nappies, but I think we may need a few more in the winter, probably about 5, to help us through the longer drying times.

  3. Something that I have always wondered is how does the sizing work?

    I had very fast growing babies who went up in disposable naps sizes very quickly so was concerned about the initial outlay if they would outgrow them quickly.

    1. Many of the nappies are birth to potty so they simply adjust either by poppers or Velcro as your baby grows. I found size 2 Bamboozle stretchies with motherease airflow or rikki wraps fantastic for nighttime, never had a leak. And for daytime bumgenius elementals are as easy to use as a disposable and very slim fitting so can be adjusted down to fit a newborn. You can also buy or hire newborn kits if you wanted to have smaller nappies for the initial few weeks. The nappy lady website is great and she will give you free personalised advice if you fill in the questionnaire.

    2. Good point, I had the same concern. The Easyfit Stars that I use are supposed to be from birth until potty. They have a very clever popper system which allows you to pop them to different sizes. I know other cloth nappy companies use a similar system.
      My son was 7lb 8oz when he was born, which is pretty average. The Easyfit Stars just about fit him but were very bulky, so I luckily had bought a few Teenyfits too, for little bottoms, as I planned to sell them on the second hand market when he grew out of them. So officially you may only need one set of nappies for the whole time, but I found it was nice to have about 4 of the smaller size just to make it more comfy for him when he was so small.

  4. I just wondered about drying them? My second is due in December and we don’t have a tumble drier so would worry about the length of time it takes for them to dry and how many I would need?

    1. The nappy lady website is good for listing which nappies are better for drying time. I rarely tumble dry mine – if i do its just the inserts, but use those octopus hanging things from IKEA to hang it all up!

    2. Bumgenius freetimes dry amazingly quickly. I did tumble dry some of the slower drying ones in the winter and never had a problem. The nappy lady website is great and she can give personalised advice on what brands will suit your lifestyle best.

    3. I’m new to the nappies so am yet to find out how well mine dry through the winter. But on a few rainy days recently we’ve had to dry them inside, near our wood burner, and they’ve managed to dry perfectly overnight.

  5. My daughter is 16months and we have belatedly got into these. Wish I’d done it sooner. We are still figuring out how much boosting we need to do, but they are great and so cute. The terms can all be a bit mind boggling and there are so many brands!
    We’ve used cheeky wipes the whole time (although not when out) and they are so great.

    1. Hi Jools,
      Yes I’m just getting used to different levels of boosting as he goes through wetter and drier periods. It’s all part of the fun! Interested to see how it changes as he gets bigger…

  6. Yes yes yes! Love reusable getting talked about more. We love our Bambino Mio and close parent and cheeky wipes

    1. I nearly went for Bambino Mio! I love the designs…I might treat him to one, just to see how we get on with them. 🙂

  7. We used disposables initially as I was concerned about not coping with all the washing, but I quickly realised that life with baby means constant laundry anyway! I started looking at reusable around 4 months and thanks to the nappy lady questionnaire and a trial kit from a local cloth nappy group quickly settled on bumgenius v5s with fleece liners and cheeky wipes. I didn’t go for the disposable liners as they’re not really flushable so that meant putting them in a plastic nappy bag in the landfill bin which I felt defeated the purpose. We just keep a basin and gloves in our bathroom to rinse the liners before putting them in the nappy bin.

    I do still use disposables overnight as my wee one is a heavy wetter and our cloth nappies aren’t absorbent enough to last the night! But I figure every time we use a reusable over a disposable during the day is one less nappy in landfill, and I’m off-setting it with the reusable liners and wipes! We’ve got cheeky wipes for hands and face now he’s weaning too. Love them!

  8. It’s so important people don’t flush any wipes or liners down the toilet, no matter what the packet says, I work in the water industry and see the carnage (and cost to customers) this causes. Only poo, wee and toilet paper should be flushed.

    We use little lambs with the fleece washable liners and they are brilliant, I’m on my second child with them and it is all about the washing routine, then as Emma mentioned it’s not remotely a chore as it’s just what you do. I bought mine when Little Lamb had a sale, which they do once or twice a year, so they were actually half price.

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