Today’s guest blog for #RNW2018 comes from Kathryn, mum to Alexander and cloth nappy advocate! Read on for details of Kathryn’s recommendations for a newborn nappy kit and her experiences with reusable. For more information about Real Nappy Week and local resources, please click here. Thanks Kathryn!
Until I was trying to get pregnant, it never even occurred to me that cloth nappies were an option for parents nowadays. I had never seen them in shops or advertised, and I had never come across anyone who used them. They were something from a previous generation.
When staying with a friend who had recently had a baby, she went to change her little one at a café, and showed me that she was using real nappies. I was surprised to see how practical the new designs were. Nothing like the terry squares and pins I pictured- in fact they went on just like a disposable, but with poppers or Velcro. I asked her how she managed when out and about, and she showed me a wetbag- explaining that the nappies were kept in there until they could be added to the wash at home.
Back at the house, she showed me her nappy station- and a dry pail with a lid, rather than the soaking bucket our parents would have used. The poo is water-soluble until weaning, so it all just goes straight in the pail. Nothing smelled, nothing was messy, and it seemed so easy! The prints and colours were also really cute, and when she explained that her baby had never had nappy rash I thought it was definitely worth looking into.
The more I researched, the more certain I was that using cloth was the right decision for us. Anecdotally I could see that cloth-bummed babies tended to potty train earlier than their disposable-wearing counterparts. They also tended to have less nappy rash, and fewer poo explosions.
Although the initial outlay is expensive, real nappies can save you around £500 per child in the long run, and even more when subsequent children use the same nappies. The environmental impact of disposable nappies is also staggering- they take up 3% of all household waste in this country. That is approximately 8 million nappies going into landfill every day, and they take hundreds of years to degrade. Each child uses between 4000 and 6000 nappies until toilet trained, and I could picture the mountain of thousands of nappies that my family would be contributing to the waste on the planet.
I was convinced!
I got sucked down the rabbit hole of adorable fabric prints, wetbags, cloth baby wipes and accessories. I found brightly coloured and hard-wearing clothing brands which are ‘cut for cloth’ to fit around big fluffy bottoms… I joined Facebook groups and found a wealth of advice and ideas. There is actually a big community of real nappy users, and most are very keen to support new parents on their journey. You can buy new if you like, or pre-loved if you want to save pennies and extend the environmental impact by continuing to use nappies that other parents have no use for now. You can also recoup some of the cost of your stash by selling it on once your family is complete!
We have loved our real nappies. Alexander get a sore bum so very rarely, and he has extra cushioning for landings whilst learning to walk! Our bins are no fuller now than they were before he arrived, and the chemical smell of ‘sposies’ is not an issue in our house. I now do a nappy wash every 5 days or so, and we have never had a poo explosion- so the extra nappy washes are offset with fewer clothes washes. Plus he looks so cute toddling around in his little campervans, rainbows or monkey prints J I warn you- the print collecting can be addictive!
My husband took a little convincing, but once he saw the set-up at our friend’s house he relaxed a bit. He was happy to go with whatever I wanted to do- since it was me at home and me handling the washing, but whatever apprehension he had disappeared very quickly once we began to use them. My mum and my in-laws have got on board too. They admit to thinking this all sounded like too much hassle, and quietly expecting us to switch to disposables quite soon after the realities of parenthood set in. They have told me they are so impressed with the system we have, and they can’t believe how easy it actually is in practice! My sister has also been talking about using cloth once she starts her family; and she just thought I was mad when I told her our cloth-nappying decision. I think all you need is to know someone it is working for, and the whole thing suddenly seems like a good idea.
The amount of options can seem overwhelming, but once you find a system that works for you it’s a piece of cake.
I did a questionnaire on the Nappy Lady website, and Wendy sent me a recommendation based on the features I considered most important- eg. Drying speed, containment, type of fastening. After considering these, and also taking advice from the Facebook group community, I collected my initial newborn kit. Another option is to access your local nappy library (yes, it’s a thing!), which will loan different types to try or entire starter kits, and give you lots of useful advice.
Hopefully some of this information will be useful to you when deciding if cloth nappies are for you. I cannot recommend them enough. They are great to use, and we also feel like we are making a contribution to the reduction of waste in the UK. With so much in the media currently about plastics and throwaway culture, it’s the perfect time to make some changes to what is considered normal, and this is certainly one significant action we can take.
My Newborn Kit:
- 1 lidded nappy bin
- 3 Mesh bags (to line nappy bin and the whole bag goes into the wash- no need to touch the nappies)
- 24 ‘Muslinz’ quality muslin cloths (to be folded in the ‘Jo fold’ and put on like a terry nappy. These are a good cheap option for newborns, as they can be fitted exactly to the size and shape of any baby. Newborns need so many changes per day, it’s helpful that these wash and dry very quickly too. We still often use this system now on my 11-month-old, with a bamboo booster added)
- 3 ‘nappy nippas’ (a plastic grippy device that replaces the old style nappy pin)
- 3 small milovia wraps (waterproof covers for over the folded muslins- lovely soft fleece around the waist and adorable prints)
- 2 small motherease Rikki wraps
- 2 wetbags (With two zipped compartments- one for clean damp cloth wipes, one for used nappies)
- 3 vest extenders (cloth nappies are bulkier, so these make your vests last well)
- 10 little lamb bamboo absorbancy boosters
- 1 pack of fleece liners
- 5 little lamb bamboo shaped nappies- size 1 (very absorbant for night times)
- A starter kit of ‘Cheeky Wipes’ reusable terry wipes
I’ve moved on to a combination of Tots Bots easyfits, Close pop-ins and Bumgenius Elementals. These are all ‘birth to potty’ size, with poppers to make them smaller when needed. We use Little Lamb sized bamboo and Tots Bots Bamboozles at night or on longer trips out. I rinse cold, then wash at 60, and hang the nappies on an airing rack near the radiator in winter, or line dry when the weather allows.