“Where do I start with cloth nappies?” is the most common question I get asked and to be honest it is actually a bit of a tough one to answer because every baby and child is different and working out what works for you will depend on them, your routine, whether or not you want to cloth full-time and what brands you prefer. What I can most definitely help with is clearing up some of the areas that seem daunting and confusing.
Where Do I Start?
Ok, first of all, do a bit of research. Don’t look into buying just yet, just get online, take a look at some websites that sell cloth nappies, for example, Baba and Boo, Totsbots, Bambino Mio and Little Lambs. I would also highly recommend joining cloth nappy advice groups on Facebook and following people on Instagram who use cloth nappies (there are plenty around these days!)
Basically, immerse yourself in the cloth nappy community and take a read of all the helpful posts and articles out there. The thing is, cloth is still largely thought of as being complicated due to hearing stories from back when our parents or Grandparents used them. I promise you they are so, so simple to use and easy to care for, you just have to get your head around the fact that you keep these, wash them and reuse them rather than throwing them away. We are of a very disposable culture, which is a very unhealthy culture and reusing shouldn’t be seen as hard, it should be seen as the easiest and the cheapest option.
But What About All The Washing?!
I know, I know it sounds daunting and a lot of people have trouble getting past the fact that you are putting soiled items in the washing machine. So, lets clear that one up first. All clothes are dirty and yet we put them in the washing machine. If your baby has an explosive poo all over a babygro or vest or basically everywhere, where do you put those items? In the bin? If the answer to that is yes, I would say going reusable isn’t for you! Most of us won’t do that because let’s face it, that is crazy when a washing machine will clean them up and a bit of stain remover will work wonders. How about a vomit-covered bed sheet? That goes in a washing machine doesn’t it? What about a dog towel? Where does that go after you’ve rubbed your dog down from a muddy walk or a dip in the pond? Into the washing machine. We think all of this is ok, yet it isn’t ok to put a nappy in? I promise you it is fine and the reason for this is because your washing machine removes the dirty water and takes it away. With cloth nappies, you always do a pre-wash or rinse load first. This removes most of the dirt and the water is pumped out. You then wash with powder which gives them a deep clean and again, the water and all the dirty contents are removed. Your machine is not dirty. If it can take away mud, vomit, blood, food, sweat etc. It can take away urine and poo.
As for washing instructions I have an entire post dedicated to that here.
There are a lot of new terms to learn when it comes to cloth nappies but they aren’t as scary as you may first think:
All in ones or AIO’s are all in one nappies which means that the insert is attached to the nappy.
Pocket nappies are a nappy with a pocket area where the insert can go. This means you will have to stuff the nappy after each wash.
Two-part system is a nappy that fully absorbs the moisture and so requires an outer shell to keep the wetness in.
Pre-fold nappies are you traditional-looking nappies like the terry towel.
All in two is a nappy that has an insert that can popper inside which means you may be able to get away with just taking this out and reusing the nappy at change time.
Inserts– This is the absorbent layer that goes inside a cloth nappy.
Boosters– These are extra inserts (usually made in bamboo, Microfibre, Charcoal, Hemp) which provide an extra boost to that absorbency layer. For more info on both of these last points check out this post from Cloth Bum Mum.
For more on the terms, I have answered more questions here.
Gone are the days of safety pins. Today’s cloth nappies do up with velcro or poppers or with a snappi for a pre-fold nappy. All are easy to do and what you go for is your own preference, however, if you have a baby/toddler who can undo velcro you will probably want to look for nappies with poppers.
Right, so now you have taken a look at what is available on the market, read tips and advice in groups or in blogs, have thought about what you think you may like I’d say go ahead and purchase a few. I started with Bambino Mio’s all in ones because I liked the idea of not having to think too much at the start. I wanted to see if I got on with them, see how they looked and get a feel for how they would work for us. I also bought quite a few on eBay to keep costs down.
If you know this is the swap for you I would say go for it and buy however many you want BUT… if you want to work out what works for you just buy 3-4 nappies to test them out. Nobody is saying YOU MUST GO CLOTH NAPPY FULL-TIME ASAP so don’t put pressure on yourself. It can take months to build up your entire stash, the fact that you are willing to try is amazing in itself and remember that one reusable being used a day will mean one less disposable going into landfill, which is 7 a week and even that small difference will be helping.
Most people recommend that to go cloth full-time you will need around 20 nappies. This will allow you to do a wash every 2-3 days and comfortably manage. Of course, I do have to warn you that this rarely happens because cloth nappies are so darn cute and the styles are addictive! Once you’re in, you will be hooked!
I’ve covered this before but I just love it so here it is again:
“You buy all the reusable nappies you’ll need upfront. They cost you £195.
You buy all the disposable nappies you’ll need upfront. They cost you around £1,000.”
Baba and Boo
It may seem expensive but really it is because you immediately think about what you have to pay straight away. What most people don’t factor in is how many disposables we pay for and then we just happily chuck in the bin (yep, been there done that). The other great thing about cloth nappies is that they re-sell easily and most don’t lose much value (you’ll realise this when you join selling groups!) They can also go on to cloth bum siblings or you can pass them on to friends or family. Once they are bought they can be reused over and over. Disposables only ever get used once and then sit in landfill for around 500 years.
There are still far too many myths and misconceptions around using cloth so I have an entire post covering busting cloth nappy myths here.
And That’s It
I think I have covered everything you need to know to start with cloth nappies but if you have more questions please do take a look at my other cloth nappy posts, as well as the links I have added throughout this post. Also, have a look at my Instagram account and feel free to drop me a line if you think there is something I haven’t covered.
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