Back when I was growing our ‘little’ Blossom in my belly, I wrote a blog post on our intentions to use modern cloth nappies with our ‘Blueberry’ baby. Well… fast forward about 12 months and I think I’m ready to re-visit the topic! Lots and lots of you have asked lots and lots of questions on here, on Facebook and on Instagram, about how we are going using cloth, what we use, how we find it, all the in’s and out’s that I wanted to know when I was pregnant and really had no clue either – ha! I have resisted writing this post until we were well entrenched in nappy-land, and Eleanor had started solids (because we know nappy-land changes phenomenally then!) Warning: if you don’t care for a load of baby talk about nappies, now is probably the time to read another blog…for many of you though, got a cuppa?
First off, I can not stress enough that when you start investigating modern cloth nappies it is bamboozling. Beyond bamboozling. Sheesh! Inserts, folds, pockets, bamboo this or microfibre that. Let’s not even start on the acronyms (a VGC AIO BBH anyone?) But…it does become all very apparent and obvious and a second language, y’know, once you actually have a baby to use these pretty nappies on! I very much resisted the urge to buy up big when I was pregnant, as I knew I really had to try out different styles and brands of nappies to know what suited us (or even if cloth nappies were going to be our thing, I was open to it totally not being, and also being okay with that). We were lucky enough to have some great condition secondhand nappies passed on to us – some BumGenius, some Baby Beehind, some Peapods. I also bought a few Issy Bear, Baby Bare and Pickapu on sale.
Nappy Style: When it comes to what ‘style’ of nappy to go for you basically have three choices: all-in-one (AIO), all-in-two (AI2) or pockets. I did my research and came away believing that pocket styles would suit us. A pocket style nappy is where there is an outer shell of the nappy (sometimes with an absorbent layer in it, sometimes not) and there is a little pocket which you can stuff an insert in. This can be great as you can adjust the absorbency to suit your baby, just stuff some more inserts in the pocket. Despite what some people think, once the nappy is used you don’t have to pull the pocket out, it will just agitate out in your washing machine. True story. However…once we actually started using cloth nappies it became pretty apparent that I didn’t want to be stuffing nappies all the time after washing them (the inserts agitate out in the wash, then you have to stuff them back in to ‘re-assemble’ the nappy before use again). Also, Eleanor has never been a heavy wetter, more absorbency has never been on our radar. We had a few AIO (all-in-one) style nappies which I quickly determined to be the way to go for us. AIO’s are just that – all in one piece, no inserts, no pockets, pretty simple really, and simple is good! We started using the BumGenius Freetime AIO’s and fell in love. These are hands down my favourite nappy and I started stocking up on just them (and selling off other brands/styles which didn’t suit us or that we only had 1 or 2 of, as husband was so confused having 17 different brands and styles of nappies!) People do say that the down side of AIO’s are that they take longer to dry. I have never found this a problem, especially with the BumGenius Freetimes and their two-flap design. We had a Winter baby in Gippsland and I never found drying nappies a problem! I find them super easy to use and quick to re-assemble to throw in the nappy box next to Eleanor’s change table ready to reuse, much easier than pockets. We do also have a lot of Baby Bare AI2’s – basically just like an AIO except the insert (which is sewn in and can’t be removed in an AIO) can be snapped off or on. I just use our Baby Bare AI2’s as an AIO, in that I never snap off the insert. I use the nappy, wash it, dry it, re-assemble all with the insert snapped in. In this way they are just like an AIO. We do have one Baby Bare AIO which I love, but it just happened that I’d bought some AI2’s on sale to try in the early days so I kept using them rather than sell them and re-buy AIO’s. We do also still use three BumGenius pocket styles, simply because I bought them in the experimenting days and don’t find it a drama to stuff just three nappies as opposed to ten. About 70% of our nappies are AIO, about 25% are AI2 (which I use as an AIO) and 5% pocket. If I were starting from scratch tomorrow I would simply buy all AIO’s though. Ah hindsight!
Nappy Size: After style, you can choose sizing, but that can depend on brands…most brands will have a OSFM (one size fits most) which will do you up to 2 year old. You can also do pre-folds and covers for newborns, when most modern cloth nappies won’t fit a teeny tiny newborn, but with our 9lb heffalump this was never a problem! We basically said we’d do disposables to begin with until we found our feet as parents, then start using cloth when bub was a few weeks old. A lot of the hand-me-down nappies I had were newborn sized, we starting using them when Eleanor was about 3 or 4 weeks old and they were far too small! I have basically always bought OSFM and they’ve always fitted her well, although a lot of people with smaller framed babies (little skinny legs!) swear that a sized nappy is far better (buying for their size/weight specifically). I’ve always found the fit of the BumGenius to be fantastic, another reason I love them, but every baby is different (obviously) so it’s really hard to recommend on sizing. Most modern cloth nappies will have two ways to adjust: in the waist and in the ‘rise’ (sized nappies generally don’t have a rise adjustment, you just move up a size in nappies). Eleanor was really quick to be on the full rise, fully unbuttoned, like a big girl! We had a gaping issue at her belly for awhile before I realised she needed to go up a rise – der! A friend who used MCN for her three babies advised me to go with snaps rather than velcro as by baby #2 the velcro was stuffed, let alone baby #3. I’m so glad I did go with snaps as the few velcro ones I did have (which I’ve since sold) got caught on everything in the wash, and I could see weren’t going to go the distance. Velcro is obviously really quick and easy for nappy changes with a wriggly baby, but I don’t find snaps much slower to be honest. And just recently Eleanor has been fiddling with her nappy fastening when she does wear a disposable, I think she’d figure out velcro to pull a nappy off before she was strong enough to unbutton a snap! I also find the ‘butterfly’ stretchy wings of the BumGenius to be fantastic. You can stretch and pull them to get a good fit, basically BumGenius’s seem really well made and I’m a big fan! Did I mention I love BumGenius? Totally not paid or perked by them (but if you’re from BG and reading this that’d be sweet – ha!)
Liners: I had no idea about liners, and didn’t really plan on using them – and we didn’t really until Eleanor started solids. A liner is basically a bamboo or viscose ‘sheet’ of sorts, a glorified tissue or wipe if you will. It goes in the nappy and will catch any solids, letting any fluids through to your absorbent layers in your cloth nappy. Now we use Baby Beehinds viscose liners which I buy in a roll of 500 – it’s enormous but lasts forever! I just bought 2 big rolls and am thinking they might even last until Eleanor’s toilet trained! Maybe not… After much research I found these to basically be the only liners we could flush safely in our old farmhouse’s septic system. A lot of other liners claim to be flushable, but that’s only in a house in town sort of situation, not a very old septic like we’re running!
Washing: In my initial research I read multiple times how breastmilk poo is totally water soluble, but found this hard to get my head around until I was actually dealing with it! Yes breastmilk poo is completely water soluble. Huh! When Eleanor was exclusively breastfed we only used liners every now and then, and if we did use liners we would bin them not flush. As I’m sure you mamabear’s know breastmilk poo versus solids poo is a different ball game! All breastmilk fed nappies would go straight in my washing machine, poo and all, and come out sparkling clean like new. Ta da! When Eleanor started eating more food we switched to flushing her liners (and using them at all times!) which pretty much eliminated any poo on her nappies at all. Even if there is a minimal amount which the liner hasn’t caught I’ve never had a staining issue. I can not stress enough how sunlight is your friend. Sunlight is your friend. I will put a nappy on the line which has a bit of a dark patch on it, when I get it off the line it is sparkling white. Sunlight is your friend. Even after Eleanor’s first blueberry experience! Despite what your mother or grandmother will tell you about cloth nappies, these are not cloth nappies of old – do not ever bleach them. Like, ever. Sunlight is the only whitening agent you need. In fact, I use barely any washing detergent on Eleanor’s nappies – probably about 1/4 teaspoon of Woolworth’s Earth brand washing powder per load. Nappies come out clean every. single. time. The more product you use on your nappies the more they will get clogged up with the soapy residue in the microfibres of your absorbent layers, meaning they will eventually no longer be absorbent. Nobody wants that. So easy on the product! And every 6 or so weeks I run the nappies through a hot wash with 1/4 cup of white vinegar. This ‘strips’ the nappies and the fibres of all that soapy residue, making them like brand new again.
So do I love cloth nappies? Absolutely. It is one of the best decisions we made in this parenting gig. People ask if we do it for the environment, the cost, other reasons – honestly, all of the above, none in particular. Mostly though (which is surprising as I hadn’t thought of this before Eleanor came along) I really hate putting Eleanor in a disposable nappy and wrapping her in plastic, like it actually give me the heeby-jeebies. Which was completely surprising, I didn’t think I’d be like that at all. As an added bonus I rarely buy disposable nappies, and I get a rude shock when I have to! Other mums in my mums group talk about when nappies are on special etc. and I have nooooo concept of it at all. Eleanor does wear disposables at night now, as she was starting to wet through her cloths, but I’m hoping to adjust and add in some boosters to hopefully get her back in cloth full time. I should also mention that we’ve never had nappy rash or any skin problems with Eleanor, so we’re blessed on that front. Matt’s cousin who’s daughter is Eleanor’s age has had to go through phases of disposable wearing to get on top of some skin issues, totally the way to go if you really need to get moisture away super fast. We also now wear cloth nappies out and about 90% of the time, something I only got more confident in after about 6 months. I have a great wetbag that I bought on Etsy (which also comes in handy for swimming lessons!) and I throw a few cloth nappies in my bag with liners already put in them, and off we go! It certainly takes up more room but I’m ok with that.
Bottom line (see what I did there?!)… I love my modern cloth nappies! And so does Eleanor, I’m sure. I hope this post is helpful to someone, somewhere, searching for concise non-bamboozling information like I was a year ago. If you have any questions at all please ask in the comments, I’m only too happy to help. You can also find me over on Facebook and Instagram where I’m always available to have a chat! The key is to just get started, even if you buy just one cloth nappy that you use once a week, just dip your toe in and see if it’s something you’d like to try. Because who doesn’t love a little bum like this? Moooo!