Cloth Nappy Questions (and answers!)

Cloth-Nappies

Using cloth nappies often gets a fair bit of attention, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Personally I think they’re the single best baby purchase we made, and to help others understand why, or perhaps help others in their quest to find the perfect nappy, I thought I would blog some of the most commonly asked questions and give me answers to them!

Why did you decide to go for cloth nappies?

Long before baby loop was born I started researching cloth nappies. I hated the idea of disposables, the idea of contributing hundreds of them to landfill sites where they would remain for years (it is thought up to 500 years but I can’t find a reliable source for that information so lets just say ‘too long’). I don’t like the look of disposables, and I don’t like the price of them either!

How did you decide which cloth nappies to get?!

On my quest to find something suitable I came across a website called thenappylady.co.uk which helped me immensely. There were a LOT of options out there, and a lot of things to think about, and it’s kinda overwhelming for a new Mum, and this is where the nappy lady comes in. On her website you can fill in a form which asks many questions about what you expect from a cloth nappy and which aspects are most important to you such as how often you need to wash them, how bulky they are, how cute they are, the price etc. This wonderful lady then goes through each form individually and gives you her PERSONAL recommendation most suited to YOUR needs. This was wonderful. It gave me some confidence as what she recommended was pretty much exactly the system I was thinking of getting but too scared to just jump right in and buy in case I got it horribly wrong.

So which cloth nappies did you get?

I ended up buying 14 BumGenius Freetime nappies in various designs, 4 Totsbots stretchies, 2 motherease wraps, a pack of towel liners, and a bucket to put the dirty nappies in until they go in the wash. This was enough nappies to mean I only have to wash every other day (and actually, sometimes I only have to wash every 3rd day as I don’t have a very heavy wetter on my hands here!). The Totsbots, motherease wraps and liners were for night times when more absorbency would be needed.

How much do they cost?

The whole lot mentioned above cost just over £300 which sounds a lot, but when you tot up how much you can spend on disposables over the time your baby will be in nappies, they actually save you a fortune (we’re talking hundreds, even into a thousand or more depending on when you potty train your kid). Both of these nappy systems are adjustable meaning you only need one size from birth to potty. Amazing.

 What do you find so great about them?

When Baby Loop was first born she was a little bit too small for the cloth nappies we bought (she was 6lbs 11ozs and the nappies were meant to be for 8lbs upwards) so we put her in some disposables. That didn’t last long at all because we soon came to realise that every single time she did a wee (shown by the blue line on the particular pampers we bought), she cried. I have no idea what they make those nappies out of but it did not sit well with the sensitive skin of our little newborn, at all. She would sit there quite happily in a dirty nappy, but a wet one, all hell broke loose. Some chemical in those nappies must have been reacting with her urine and causing her some irritation 😦  So even though she was a little bit small for the cloth nappies, I put her in them. The crying every time she did a wee stopped. This was obviously an unexpected perk of the cloth nappies but one that provided much relief for some new parents who thought they might have a particularly bad cry baby!

We also had a few poo explosions in disposables, but not ONE in the cloth nappies, and she’s now 7 months old, and on solids. Both the Bum Genius and the Tots Bots are excellent at containing EVERYTHING! On top of that, when she did a poo in the disposables, it stank, you could smell it across the room. In the cloth nappies I only know when she’s done a poo if I’ve heard her do it (nice! Who knew a tiny bum could make such a huge parp!), it’s REALLY hard to sniff it out unless you get your nose right up next to her little bottom and take a good whiff, and when the nappy comes off, the smell isn’t even CLOSE to the awful smell that came from the disposables. What DO they make them out of?!

Plus, they look frikkin’ ADORABLE!

Tots Bots Cloth Nappy Wrap

This is a Tots Bots wrap over a Tots Bots stretchy nappy which we use for night times with an extra night time liner. It’s the bulkier option compared to the Bum Genius that we use for daytime, but for the hours she is asleep at night it’s the more absorbent option.

These reasons alone are enough to convince me we made the right choice but there are also more benefits (I think) which are further explained mentioned in the next questions.

Aren’t they more hassle than disposables?

For me, no, not at all. The only ‘hard work’ bit is the cleaning, and the washing machine does all that. Putting them on and taking them off is easy (a feature I went for with the Bum Genius Freetime especially, they’re all one piece, no different to a disposable). When you take it off, it just goes in the nappy bin in the kitchen instead of the normal bin.

But how do you clean off the poop?!

Baby Loop is breastfed. This made her poops (before solids) very, erm, shall we say, ‘liquified’. At the risk of sharing to much information and turning you off your food; the poop just sank right in to the liner and the washing machine took care of it. Once she started solids it was a slightly different story, these poops are less liquified and do require a different approach. We started by scraping off into the toilet but for us this just wasn’t a task we wanted to be doing, so we bought some bio-degradable, flushable, paper liners, the poop just simply lifts out and we pop the liner in the toilet. If they haven’t been pooped in the paper liners will actually wash up to 3 times so they’re quite good really.

Does the nappy bin stink out the house?

Something everyone worries about I’m sure, nobody wants a house stinking of dirty nappies! Thankfully, this is not a problem. The nappy bin has a nice secure lid, it is cleaned every time is is emptied, and we’ve not had any problems with smell from it at all.

 How often do you have to do a nappy wash?

This depends on how many nappies you buy and how heavy a wetter your baby is. We bought 14 daytime and 4 night time nappies. We do a wash roughly every second day, sometimes we manage to do a wash on the third day as Baby Loop isn’t a particularly heavy wetter, but this takes us right up to our last nappy which can be a bit nerve wracking if like us you don’t have a drier and so reply on the weather of the putting the heating on to get them dry so I’d rather always have a few clean, dry and ready to go!

What do you do when you’re out the house with the dirty nappies?

We just bought some re-usable, washable, waterproof nappy bags that we can get 2 or 3 nappies in that zip up and contain any smell rather well. We’ve yet to go on holiday, but if we do and we can get a villa with a washing machine or hotel room / apartment with a laundry room then I’m taking the cloth nappies. If not, then I guess for a week or two we’ll have to use disposables :/

Are they really kinder to the environment once you taken into account the extra washing?

This is something I thought I couldn’t answer for sure, but I just couldn’t see how the constant manufacture, distribution, chemical input and disposal (including extra lorry loads of rubbish) of disposables could possibly come even close to the one-time manufacture (per child, although it is even entirely possible to use cloth nappies for a second or even third child if you look after them!) and washing of cloth nappies. It’s one extra load of washing, every other day – there are probably people without kids who do more washing than us (we’re not adverse to wearing something 2 days in a row if it doesn’t smell!). Turns out I was right; the 2008 update to the Environment Agency’s Life Cycle Analysis Report on nappies says cloth nappies can be up to 40% better for the environment than disposables. Unlike disposables, cloth nappies put parents in control of the impact they have on the environment, with the carbon savings directly related to how you choose to wash your cloth nappies.

Plus, disposables are believed to take up to 500 years to decompose. 500 years. So for every single baby who uses disposables that is a HECK of a lot of unnecessary waste going to landfill – around 3 billion a year in the UK alone, in fact. Somewhere there is one ugly, smelly nappy mountain, but it’s not in my house.

Nappy Mountain

Image courtesy of http://www.goreal.org.uk

But won’t that extra washing end up costing?

Research shows that washing cloth nappies at 60 degrees costs £1 per week – this includes wear and tear to your washing machine, detergent and electricity costs. It is recommended to wash the nappies we have at 40 degrees so actually it’s slightly better than that.

 

Because of all the above mentioned reasons, they are the purchase I am the most proud of. I’m glad I had the confidence to ignore the negative ninnies, I’m glad we didn’t take a gulp at the initial outlay cost and decide it was ‘too much’, I’m glad we’ve got nappies that don’t make Baby Loop cry every time she did a wee, cos that’s a LOT of crying in one day. I hope I’ve helped someone, somewhere decide cloth nappies are for them. They really are awesome. I know I won’t have covered every possible question as there are so many different combinations, each suited to different families and babies, but that’s the beauty of it really, you’ll find something that works for you and you’ll be SO happy you made the decision, I’m sure.

 

 

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