This post has long been bouncing around in my head (as is often the case), so much so that I no longer have two in cloth nappies! Well…sort of. Don’t mention the war or hold your breath and all that, Eleanor’s toilet training has it’s *ahem* challenging moments at present, perhaps ask me on another day…but that whole saga is a post for another day!
I digress. Cloth nappies. Some of my most commonly asked questions about all things baby related is about modern cloth nappies. Which brand? What style? What’s the cleaning routine? But more recently: what’s the verdict after almost three years of cloth nappying?* And admittedly it had been a long time between drinks when it came to cloth nappy posts around these parts, so for those not familiar with my post on the topic from when Eleanor was a baby, here’s something I prepared earlier.
In a nutshell, we use Bum Genius** Freetimes almost exclusively. After having various brands and styles when Eleanor was a newborn (mostly preloved handmedowns or gifted to us) we decided that the Bum Genius were the best design and fit for Eleanor, and the Freetime all-in-one (AIO) style meant no inserts to reassemble after washing (this did Matt’s head in!) and the double ‘wing’ fold-in’s seemed to be plenty enough absorption for Eleanor. I will say though that I recommended Bum Genius to my bestie Kate and she found they simply did not stack up to the needs of her heavy wetter – and I’ve heard similar stories from a few boy mums. We have never had a leakage problem though, if ever the Bum Genius’s leaked it was due to a poor fit which was easily fixed (at the waist when Eleanor needed to go up in the rise size or in the leg elastics which I’ll get to…)
In our stash we have 18 Bum Genius Freetimes (AIO), 4 Bum Genius Original (pocket style) as well as 2 Bonnibuns which I bought on a bit of a whim because it was a cow print on sale and now, despite having to fold and snap in the insert, Daddy can’t part with them – ha! If Bum Genius ever did a Freetime in a cow print that would be right up his alley. The pocket style Bum Genius’s I have were part of a bundle I bought and also a limited edition print (mermaids!) which I simply had to have and was only available in a pocket style. I don’t find the pocket style that much more work…but I only have 4 of them. I definitely recommend having all of the same style though, it just makes it super simple, and when you’re completely non-functional on zero sleep with a screamy baby, every brain cell counts.
As for having two in cloth nappies? Was it more work? Absolutely no more work than two in disposable nappies, although obviously I have no comparison. But I honestly do not find cloth nappying any harder than disposables. Yes there is on average an extra two loads of washing a week (I wash every 3-4 days now with just Harriet in cloth) but I’m constantly washing anyway so what’s some more?! At every opportunity I hang the nappies on the clotheslines to get some much needed Vitamin D bleaching and sanitising, but over Winter (and with a toddler and baby who make it impossible to even get out to the clothesline without a major incident) hanging the nappies around the fire sufficed to dry them. Nice and warm even and straight onto bums! Girls can’t complain about that, don’t get that luxury with disposables. The microfibre of the Bum Genius nappies are quick drying, the two Bonnibun nappies I have are bamboo are noticeably slower to dry. Some friends who also cloth nappy (with heavy wetters) use exclusively bamboo and their nappies can take daaaaayyyys to dry – eeeeep! As a result they end up having more nappies in their stash as half of them are always drying! Thankfully we don’t have this issue.
Both of my girls have had nappy rash of varying degrees at times during their baby-days and nappy ‘careers’. Often I think this could be due to them being in cloth, but I’ll put them in disposables for weeks to ‘get on top of the nappy rash’ and it makes no difference at all. I have come to the conclusion that their nappy rash has little to do with whether they wear cloth or disposable nappies – in either case frequent nappy changes and as much nappy free time and a good barrier cream has been the cure all. Harriet’s nappy rash at times has been next level, broken skin and bleeding bottom, the works, awful awful awful. This has always (always!) correlated to her miserable disposition (well, probably because her bottom is so sore…) but also her epic teething. The child teethes like the devil! I have come to terms with that now though and just batten down the hatches when it happens. Change change change her nappy, all the time, all the time. To help the nappies ‘do their thing’ though and not irritate her skin further I have done a very thorough strip wash of all our nappies, using the instructions found here. I have previously ‘stripped’ my nappies just on the hottest wash possible in my machine and used white vinegar, this will work to an extent, but after 2+ years of washing powder build up (and the obvious other liquids and solids!) a really deep clean strip really ‘resets’ your nappies back to their original state and absorption capabilities. If you’re having trouble with leakages or nappy rash/irritations you may need to strip your nappies riiiiiight back using the above method.
The Bum Genius seemed to fit Eleanor (who is big for her age, always on the 100th percentile for height and weight) until about two and a half years old…then we ran into trouble. She was the size of some three and a half year olds, who are usually not wearing nappies anymore, so we had some leakage issues around her legs and at her tummy as the nappies simply didn’t have the coverage. Although both girls were in our Bum Genius cloth nappies I did tend to have an Eleanor stash and a Harriet stash, giving Harriet the newer ones which I purchased when she was born as they had the new unstretched leg elastics and as she was prone to nappy rash more than Eleanor, the absorption was better with the newer nappies. Eleanor’s nappies leg elastics were hugely stretched, I only realised after buying the new nappies and seeing the difference between a two year old well worn nappy and brand new one! Wowsers. So off the older stretched nappies went to Grandi to get their leg elastics replaced. You can see a tutorial on how to do this here, and can also buy the kits from Bum Genius, or as we did just get some elastic and have a crack yourself! We didn’t replace the back elastics as these didn’t seem very worn or stretched, and we weren’t having leaking issues at the back. The difference replacing the leg elastics made was remarkable: no more leaking for Eleanor and a happy little girl in her nappies for another six months. Brilliant. Bum Genius do a bigger sized nappy which was our next step if toilet training hadn’t arrived on our doorstep. Buying more nappies to add to our stash wasn’t really ideal though, so I’m glad the new leg elastics did the trick!
Now that Eleanor is in undies 90% of the time (she still wears pull-ups when we go out and to bed) it’s hard to remember having two in nappies…but those memories somehow will also never fade! No doubt about it: it’s a busy time. It seems just as Harriet has been changed I’ll need to change Eleanor, and vice versa, repeat aaaaallll day. I am glad however that I didn’t have a screaming newborn needing constant feeding and me attached to the couch whilst trying to toilet train Eleanor…and I’m also glad Harriet was not yet crawling when I was changing Eleanor’s epic toddler nappies on her bedroom floor. Anyone with close-ish in age siblings will tell you that it’s busy though, but the fact that they were in cloth didn’t seem ridiculously busier than if they were in disposables.
When we started down this cloth nappying road, I was absolutely ready to wave the white flag if necessary – I didn’t want to make my early parenting days any more difficult than they had to be. But honestly? I’ll say it again and again: I do not find cloth nappies any more work than having my girls in disposables. It’s just not an issue at all. And we have obviously saved a lot of money not buying endless plastic nappies which would sit in landfill for all eternity. Win win. It’s a no brainer for us. Every time I buy disposable nappies I shudder a little bit of the thought of having to buy them all the time – it’s just totally not on my radar so I’m a bit alarmed when I have to buy them!*** Rude shock.
So, that’s a little update from the land of cloth nappies in our life. Might be intriguing to some and God-awful toilet talk to others! But, it has kind of been a pretty big part of my day-to-day life for the past three years – so there it is! If you have any questions please pop them in a comment here, or on Instagram or Facebook or an email, I’m happy to answer all the queries of first time mum’s (or second or third or fourth!) who really want to give cloth a crack but are completely daunted and bamboozled by it all. Trust me though: it’s really simple and really easy if you make it that way.
Over and out – crazy cloth nappy lady!
* Nappying is totally a word, and I’ll use it accordingly. Can’t stop me.
** In no way am I paid, perked, sponsored or gifted product by Bum Genius (I wish – ha!) I simply found their products suitable for our family and recommend them as such. Like I said, they don’t suit all family and all situations, so I recommend trying a variety of brands and/or styles to see what suits you and your little ones.
*** Both girls wear disposables to bed, and when we are away/at grandparents for the weekend etc. they also wear disposables.