Using cloth nappies might be something you have fleetingly considered and just as quickly dismissed for fear that one, they equal hard work and two they are expensive. Cloth nappies are no more hard work than disposables and bearing in mind that poop should be flushed down the loo regardless of whether you use disposables or cloth nappies, there should be no nasty lingering pongs either. If you are curious, I hope this read, will shed some light on what has now become a hugely popular nappy alternative. At the end I have included some useful links; but you will find a myriad of useful websites, Facebook groups and local support groups once you start looking.
But right now, when just popping to the shops is no longer the norm; when supermarket stocks of disposables have been low and incomes are uncertain, now, just might be the perfect time to consider cloth nappies. So let's get cost out of the way first. If you buy new, the upfront cost can seem staggering, but if you can find the money, it's an investment well worth making. In the long run you will save not just penny's but many pounds, and, if you use them for your next baby the saving becomes even greater.
However, read on and you will discover that there is not only a thriving second hand market in cloth nappies, but there are also nappy libraries and incentives to make it easier to switch or try before you buy.
Most of us are now much more environmentally aware and this might be a reason why you would consider using cloth nappies. Did you realise that a disposable nappy can take a staggering 200-500 years to fully decompose which means that every disposable nappy ever used, is still on the earth in landfill somewhere! I don't know about you, but I find that fact alone pretty daunting . . . to think my own sons nappies from 30 years ago are sitting in some huge landfill pile somewhere is a horrible thought!
Of course cloth nappies still use energy to get them clean but they are still far better for the environment and when you have finished with your set, you can sell them on. What? I hear you say in dismay, second hand nappies!
I have to admit when I first became aware of second hand nappies I was wary to say the least. I was at odds with the concept of sharing something that has been pooped in by another little person, but hold on why not? They are washed and perfectly hygienic to use; after all, Terry cloth nappies used by our parents/grandparents would do the rounds of the whole family and probably friends and neighbours too!
All the nappies, stuffers, boosters and reusable liners I have photographed in this post have been well used and there's not a single skid mark in sight! I can promise you, they have not been photo shopped to remove any marks, there are no stains, they all smell freshly laundered and still look pristine and pretty.
I'm definitely now a firm advocate for second hand nappies and see it as a fantastic recycling opportunity! No wonder the second hand market is thriving.
Comfort, potty training, sore bums and hips
There is a school of thought that cloth nappies are more comfortable and I'm not sure how anyone can know that unless they remember wearing nappies themselves!
It is also sometimes suggested that cloth nappies can help with earlier potty training, call me cynical, but it would take a lot to convince me that nappy choice determines a child's readiness or ability to use a potty.
My parents had no choice but to use cloth nappies and without a washing machine, there was every incentive to potty train sooner, so maybe this train of thought is based on historic practicalities rather than current trends.
I have often heard it said that nappy rash is less of a problem with cloth nappies because of the chemicals found in disposables; but I have witnessed nasty nappy rash in babies wearing both types of nappies and I suspect there isn't a one size fits all answer to this.
There has been a big move towards using washable liners and washable wipes and maybe using these plays a part in keeping little bottoms free of rashes and sores? I feel another post coming on dedicated solely to washable wipes and liners!
Some parents share a concern about the bulkiness of cloth nappies, but actually this extra bulk can be helpful for babies hip development. In years past, if a baby had hip dysplasia, it was common practise to put babies in double nappies to keep their legs apart and hips in the optimum position. I've certainly known several parents who have been advised to do this by their paediatricians as a first port of call to avoid a hip brace.
How do you know which kind of cloth nappy to choose?
There are tons of different options to choose from. As a newborn photographer I see so many new mums and cloth nappies are often a topic of conversation. Many of my mums start off by hiring a starter kit so that they can try before they buy and importantly choose the style option best suited to them. (Bear in mind that during the Covid Pandemic the loan of nappies may not be available but I am seeing that the second hand market is still very active).
What you need
This is the basic kit you will need:
Cloth nappies of your choice Stuffers/boosters of your choice Nappy liners/consider washable
Bottom wipes/consider washable A nappy bucket A waterproof sealed bag (optional but useful)
Cloth nappies have changed a lot since the 70’s! You can still buy terry towelling squares and nappy pins, they are not as popular as the pretty alternatives, however, they do still have a following and you'll find links and groups if you search on Facebook.
These days cloth nappies are very similar in design to disposable ones with poppers or velcro instead of sticky fastening. You can even get nappies that are adjustable in size so they fit from birth to potty training.
The best advice is to start with something easy. An ‘all in one’ cloth nappy is literally just that - you don’t need any additional stuffers or waterproof covering. They are simple to use and change. They are also easily available with supermarkets like Tesco and Aldi and stores like John Lewis and even Argos, stocking all in one cloth nappies. https://www.argos.co.uk/product/1187520 Stuffers/Boosters Most cloth nappies have a pocket or space for a stuffer or booster. This is literally a pad of very absorbent material that you can add to your nappy as your baby grows and needs more absorbency. They are usually made from a natural material like cotton, bamboo or hemp and are useful to add to night nappies once baby starts sleeping through. You can buy packs of boosters separately to nappies and they don’t need to be the same brand as your nappy.
Nappy Liners These are essential to helping keep your nappies from being really soiled and easy to clean. A liner goes in the nappy next to baby’s skin and catches any solids. You simply hold the nappy and tip any solids into the toilet and flush it away. If your liner is a disposable one and safe to flush that goes down the loo too, otherwise you will be left with a washable liner and a mainly wet nappy to deal with!
A Nappy Bucket You’ll need a plastic lidded nappy bucket to store your dirty nappies until you have enough for a load of washing. You can use any bucket with a close fitting lid but it’s a good idea to get a mesh liner for it like this one https://www.thenappylady.co.uk/nappy-buckets-waterproof-bags/totsbots-mesh-bag-twin-pack.html You can add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to the lid of your bucket to neutralise odour but you will be leaving your nappies in the bucket for no longer than 2 days in any case. When you change your baby, you flush the liner away, pull the booster out of the pocket and close the velcro tabs back on themselves. You pop them both in the mesh bag in your bucket. When you are ready to load the washer, pull out the mesh bag and put the whole thing in the washing machine. Check the washing instructions for your particular brand but most all in ones are washed at 60 degrees. There's no need for fabric softner which can reduce absorbency anyway.
Wetbag - optional The final purchase is a wetbag as you’ll need this when you’re out. It’s a waterproof sealed bag for you to put your wet nappies in for you to bring them back home with no mess. The bags I photographed have external pockets to keep nappy sundries in as well, so perfect for when out and about.
I used both disposables and Terry Squares for my own children and have used modern cloth nappies with the children I have looked after including twin babies and their toddler brother at the same time. My family was completed years ago, but if I had my time over again, what would I use now? Without hesitation, I would use cloth. . . and besides, they look a darn sight prettier!
There is a lot to consider and understandably this is a decision many parents want to keep an open mind about until little one arrives.
If you have already made the commitment to use cloth nappies or are thinking about a switch, have a peek at the links below.
LITTLE PICKLES MARKETS I'm a big fan of Little Pickles Markets where you will often find me showcasing my newborn photography. Of course whilst I'm there, I can never resist the opportunity for a good mooch around myself! These Mum to Mum selling events are fantastic for picking up good quality used baby wear, equipment and toys and cloth nappies are no exception and are always snapped up almost instantly! Check out your nearest Little Pickles Market here.
Bottom Fluff of Wiltshire Real Nappy Network on Facebook is a great go-to place for support, tips and second hand nappies. Sometimes they take a table at the Little Pickles Markets too, so it's worth keeping an eye out for them if you visit the Salisbury market. https://www.facebook.com/groups/272493736206426/
WILTSHIRE REAL NAPPY NETWORK
I’d recommend you take a look at the Wiltshire Real Nappy Network - there’s so much advice there as well as experts to answer your questions. https://www.facebook.com/Wiltshire-Real-Nappy-Network-295936497557274/
LOCAL COUNCILS Many local Councils run schemes to encourage the use of cloth nappies; some with financial incentives. Wiltshire offers a free one months trial kit. I can't get the URL link to work but if you check out the 'Fill Your Pants' link below you will be able to navigate to the Council Nappy Incentives on their site.
FILL YOUR PANTS I found this a really useful shopping site with lots of popular nappy brands with thorough descriptions. You can also buy the accessories, laundry care products and skincare products. It's worth a look. http://www.fill-your-pants.com/ I’d love to know if you use cloth or are thinking about trying cloth - leave me your comments below with your cloth bum questions or best tips for newbies AND if you have any useful links or tips to share, please let me know.