Friday, 31 December 2010

Cloth Nappies

Now cloth nappies are not for everyone.  But they have quite a few advantages.  They are cheaper, kinder to baby's skin, they don't leak (mine anyway), and they don't fill the landfills.  Their disadvantages include lots of washing, they are a bit fiddly when out and about, and they use up water, soap and electricity.  They can also be a bit bulky looking compared to today's disposables, but I think they are cute.  (Disposables also use electricity to produce, travel and store in the shops, but you aren't paying their electric bill directly).

I knew that I wanted to try cloth, but admit I was really naive going into it.  In point of fact I had planned to do some research on the subject, but my son made an early appearance.  I hadn't even purchased the car seat yet when my waters broke.  (I had to get money from the cash machine in the hospital lobby and phoned my friend to pick it up from Babies-R-Us.  I couldn't remember the name of it but gave her a description of it!)

Back to nappies.  At the time the only ones I found in the shops were Bambino Mio and Kushies at Babies-R-Us. And I knew you could get muslin squares and terries at Mothercare and Boots.  (It did not occur to me that there were hundreds of brands available on the internet.  I was just starting out in this business.)  I chose Bambino Mio because they were cheaper and they dry more quickly. 

Bambino Mio are called pre-folds.  They have a rectangle of fabric which is folded and then covered with a waterproof cover.  The covers come in several sizes, so they fit the baby really well and are comfortable.  Forget the plastic pants of your childhood.  These are soft with velcro fastenings.  I was very quickly very disappointed with my purchase.  Maybe it was my poor folding technique, but I always found baby poo on the covers.  While you are meant to be able to use a cover through a few changes, I had to change the cover each time.  With only a few covers in the pack, I would run out before the end of the day and had to resort to disposables to get me through until I could wash and dry the nappies.  Even drying them on the AGA took  half the day or more.

When I complained to a new friend, she told me about Motherease.  I quickly went online and ordered some.  I also ordered some Wonderoos and some Kushies from e-Bay.  I later tried terries and muslins with nappy nippas.  I had one Motherease all in one.  And I bought one fleece nappy which was a homemade one,off e-Bay.

I have Motherease one-size shaped nappies with covers which come in different sizes.  The nappies are terry and mine have a stay-dry lining.  The nappies have snaps which adjust so you can fit them on a newborn or a toddler.  The covers have several snaps so they adjust around the baby's legs and waist, which makes them last for ages before you need to change sizes.  They are quite bulky on a baby I must admit.  But they never leak.  Ever.  And when the baby gets older you can add a snap in liner to absorb more urine.  I know people who have used these for four kids or more and so they last forever---although the cute designs on the covers do fade with time.

The Kushies from e-Bay were good, but I was expecting to have the all in ones.  Where the ones I won were just shaped inners.  I still liked them a lot, and used them with my Motherease covers.

The Wonderoos were a disaster for me.  I now know that I might have been washing them all wrong.  The other nappies could take a higher temperature wash.  I needed it to get rid of odours.  But these do not like to be washed above 40C apparently.  They also don't like too much soap or fabric conditioner, but no nappies do.  It reduces absorbency.  So my Wonderoos which were supposed to be this amazing, adjustable, birth to potty pocket nappy leaked all of the time.  I will try again with my daughter and see if I can make them work.  A pocket nappy is a shaped cover with a lining, and a pocket to place a thick pad in.

I found the Motherease all-in-one was not absorbent enough.  The fleece one I purchased both leaked and the velcro came undone.  I would find it slipping halfway down my son's trousers.  And terries were absorbent enough, but I couldn't find a neat fold I liked and the nippas came undone and scratched my son a time or two.  With all of these you will find many people who just love them, but these are my experiences.

For my daughter I would like to try adding some new ones to my collection because I think the Motherease will be too big on a newborn.  I have been researching my options and will outline them in a new post.

Using cloth nappies:

(There is a ton of info on the internet about using nappies.  And websites often have tips and advice services.  One of my favourite websites is Babykind.)

  • Assemble the nappies when you put them away to make it easier for you, and especially other caregivers to grab one
  • Keep a small basin nearby to drop the nappy in when you take it off.  Then finish the nappy change, and deal with the basin at your leisure.
  • Use flushable liners for ease of dealing with poopy nappies.  If they are wet you can wash them about three times to resuse them.
  • Do not flush the flushable liners if you have old drains---we made this mistake and it only took a few weeks of doing so to block up 4 metres of drainpipe
  • Once you have removed the poo in the toilet or rubbish, then place the nappy in a dry bucket with lid. Plan to wash every 2-3 days.
  • Do not buy an expensive nappy bucket from a nappy website!  You can get one for under £4 from your local discount store---you know the shops where you see piles of plastic bins and things outside.
  • If you are going to use cloth nappies, then use cloth wipes too.  You can use warm water, make a solution of wash using water and essential oils, or my preference is to use Baby Bits from Babykind.  They are tiny morsels of soap whihc you dissolve in a wipes box.  Then place your wipes in the box.  They need to be changed every few days.  
  • Buy the cheapest cloth wipes you can find.  But go for ones which have at least one side of terry, the other smooth if possible.  The terry really gets the gunk.  Or buy and cut up some cheap flannels. 
  • Use a gentle detergent.  If the nappies are really dirty, put them through a pre-wash.  If they become really smelly then put them in a really hot wash once in a while.  Some people wash wet and poo nappies separately.  I haven't tried that.  Some people soak smelly nappies in water and essential oil (lavender or tea tree). 
  • Above all read the washing instructions which come with your nappies.  They sometimes have different temperature requirements, etc.
  • Shaped nappies last longer and are a good investment if you are going to have more children or sell them used afterwards.  All in ones are easy to use, but sometimes wear out after a few years.  But you are still likely to save money of you buy two sets, depending on brand.  Do you research and read as many reviews as you can.

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