I've been asked by a few people to do a cloth nappy FAQ sort of post. So here we go, hopefully I will be able to answer any questions you might have and hopefully convince you to give cloth a go.
Why cloth nappies?
Disposables have only been around for 50ish years, so before that all babies were in cloth nappies. For us, they're just easier. Violet was getting nappy rash in disposables which was the final straw for trying reusable nappies. I think it was mainly down to changing the disposables too often, I was obsessed with the blue line and disposables stink even if it's the tiniest bit of wee. She's been exclusively wearing cloth nappies since she was around 5 weeks and since then we've had no nappy rash issues.
They're better for baby. Disposables contain lots of weird and wonderful chemicals that convert the wee into a gel to stop them leaking. Cloth nappies use different materials to absorb moisture rather than adding things to a nappy. You can get reuseables with bamboo, cotton, hemp, fleece and other man made materials. All which are safe to use on baby's bum and are super comfy at the same time.
They're much better for the environment and don't end up in landfill like disposable nappies. Unfortunately there is only a couple of brands on the market that do bio-degradable disposable nappies, the rest currently take 100s of years to biodegrade and can't be recycled. I read somewhere that if Henry VIII was in disposables, they would still be rotting away now- pretty crazy.
Finally, they're better for your bank balance (once you get started). The initial cost to start up can be a little eye watering. The average cloth nappy price lies somewhere between £8-£15 in the UK, although there are cheaper alternatives if you know where to look. You'll need around 15-20 cloth nappies to use them exclusively and give for time to wash and dry the used ones. I've read a few quotes but I believe you save around £1200 over the few years that your baby is in nappies, if you use cloth instead of regularly buying disposables.
Which cloth nappies?
More often than not, we'll be using all-in-one birth to potty nappies. Generally we buy from a brand called Bambino Mio, which are actually sold in some supermarkets. The birth to potty nappies have a popper system so you can make them smaller or larger as your baby grows. The all in one is exactly what it says on the tin, the nappy comes in one piece and the absorbent layer is tucked down the back of the nappy before it's popped on.
We also own a few pocket nappies, which as the name would suggest, have a little pocket at the rear of the nappy to pop in a soaker to absorb moisture. You can buy so many types of soaker, we find bamboo work best for us. The beauty with pocket nappies is you can use any brand of soaker so once you've got some nappies you like, you can mix and match.
Pop-ins and wraps to me, are fairly similar. Pop-ins tend to have an outside layer coated in the waterproofing and then you popper in a pad to soak up. These are fab if you don't have much space in your changing bag, as long as there isn't any poop, you can just change the pad rather than the whole nappy. This goes the same for wraps, these are very similar to pop-ins they just don't have the popper to keep the soaker pad in place.
Boosting and liners?
Overnight we boost our nappies. This basically means we pop another soaker into the pocket at the back of our all in ones, to add extra absorbency overnight. This means than little one, as long as she doesn't poo, can go 12 hours without a nappy change. As she's started sleeping through the night, this is a godsend. We don't get any leaks and Violet isn't disturbed or woken up by us changing the nappy or her lying in a wet nappy. I'm sure it's no coincidence that she has slept so much better since we moved over to reusables.
At first we used liners regularly, but now we don't bother. Some people use liners for nappies religiously but we find it works better for us if we don't bother. Some brands market "flushable" liners which are just a think mesh-like material that sits in the nappy to catch any solids and protect the nappy from staining. They're great if you have a solid poop but newborn poo still manages to sneak through on to the nappy. Other brands have fleece liners, which again do the same job to protect the nappy and to
soak up any moisture but we don't bother with either. If Violet does have a poop, it's easily wiped clean from the nappy to the loo or nappy bag without any hassle.
How do I wash reusables?
Okay, this is super straight forward. Get rid of any solids and you're pretty much ready to go. Some people use a nappy bin to keep
soiled nappies in, they can be stored for 48 hours before they need to be washed. We go through enough to put a wash in daily so we pop them in the laundry basket with everything else, however if we have a poo nappy I tend to keep that in a nappy bag until we are ready to wash.
Most places recommend using laundry powder instead of liquid as liquid can build up on the nappy, reducing absorbency. However we've always used liquid and we've yet to have any issues. We is an antibacterial powder alongside the liquid which cleanses the nappies and keeps them super fresh. You can pick up Napisan from the supermarket which does the job.
I wash on a 40 or 60 degree wash for 2 hours, this is on the "baby" setting on our machine. We've tried washing on 30 for 1 hour but the nappies just aren't as clean, so for us this works better.
I dry our nappies outside on the line, at every opportunity. If we are having typical British weather though, I pop them on the air dryer near (not on) a radiator and they dry no problem. I've read somewhere a radiator can damage the water proof lining, so stay clean. I believe you can tumble dry some nappies, however I've never tried and I love the smell of line dried washing!
Before your first use, most nappies need to be washed at least once, if not more. The absorbent layer works just like a towel, the more it's been washed, the more absorbent it becomes. Therefore to prevent to many leaks to start off with, make sure you give them a few goes on the quick cycle.
Where do I buy?
There are tonnes of places on the internet that sell cloth nappies. I think it's a little overwhelming to start with but it's become second nature to us. I think the main thing is trial and error. What might work for me and Violet, may not work for you and your baby and it's just a case of trying a different style or fit to suit you. Lots of places offer a money back guarantee or trail kits so you can try before you buy.
Totsbots is a great website for starting out. They sell a trial kit and lots of start up kits on their site, with so many cute prints. If you join their Facebook page they often have offers and reductions on the trial kits. They also do a "seconds" sale every now and again, where you can pick up nappies for much less than the RRP.
Bambino Mio is our go to brand. You can pick these up online, in Boots, Sainsbury's and Asda and I'm sure many more stores. These seem to be the only cloth nappies that have made it to the mainstream retail
market and we love them. Amazon tend to select different prints that are slightly cheaper than their retail price too.
Close Parent is a great place to pick up pop-ins. They do a newborn range and the birth to potty style so there is something for everyone. We used the newborn pop-Ins when Violet was really little (full post here) and they worked well for us, even on a premature baby.
Baba + Boo are fab pocket nappies and are our pocket faves. I love the design and fit of these nappies and the Baba + Boo team are great when I've worked with them in the past. Full post on some of my fave Baba + Boo nappies here.
Amazon is a great place to find a bargain. We've tried a few from a brand called Little Bloom, which are way more affordable than some other brands. The nappy wraps start from around £2 and with a soaker are around £4 so they're a great buy if you're wanting something a little cheaper. I find the nappies are great, the only difference is you need to change a little lore often than some of the other brands. But again these can be boosted and this issue would be resolved.
Facebook buy/sell/trade pages are the ultimate go to for a bargain. Most brands have their own individual Facebook selling page, as well as a generic UK selling page. We've picked up a few bargains from Facebook including three new Baba + Boo nappies for £16, instead of £14 each! People are often selling bulk boosters too, which work out lots cheaper than going directly to the brand. Plus, if you're unsure of the type or brand of nappy that will work for you, this is a great place to start and save some money. Even used nappies tend to sell for close to their retail price, as many are limited edition prints that people want to get hold of.
And, we're done!
Sorry for such a long post but I hope I've managed to answer any burning cloth nappy questions. If there is anything I've missed out or you would like to ask, feel free to send me or Tweet or Instagram comment and I will happily answer them if I can!