I read an article while I was pregnant that said every new mother has a ‘thing’ that she wants to try. For the woman writing the article it was home-schooling, for me it was breastfeeding. More oddly, I became obsessed with cloth nappies.
I don’t know where or when I actually decided on clothing, (thats what they call it, rhymes with ‘frothing’). I’d imagine maybe Instagram, and I think it was actually before I got pregnant. Somewhere along the way I came across the new version of cloth nappies and thought yep, 100%, that’s for me. I had literally no other information, other than I thought it was really cool. There is definitely a growing cloth nappy movement, but its not that fast in Ireland. I don’t actually know anyone else of my friends or family who have done it so I wanted to do a little post on some of the questions I’ve been asked. Also my thoughts now from the other side of the journey.
Why would you bother?
A baby from birth to potty training can produce up to one tonne of non-biodegradable waste. They can use up to 5000 nappies before they’re toilet trained. It can take up to 500 years for these to biodegrade. I care about the environment, I recycle where I can. I get the bus or walk if I can, and I try to minimise my carbon footprint. One tonne of waste to me was too much. I appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I wanted to give it a shot. I mention more here.
Also I was keen to breastfeed and I figured if I was going to that extra effort with a natural input, I should try and match it with a natural output. When I came across the modern cloth nappy I just figured I had nothing to lose.
Are they the old triangles with safety pins?
No they’re not at all! I remember these from me and my sister and I’m glad to say times have moved on. There is not a pin or needle in sight, they all use Velcro or poppers now.
There are two main types:
All-in-ones have a nice fancy outer ‘shell’ and a soft inner lining and in between this goes a nappy ‘flap’ that is attached but you can pull out for washing and drying.
Two-Pieces are where you buy the fancy outer shell that’s shaped for your baby and you pop in a folded nappy, the outer shell holds the nappy in place.
How do you know which type to get?
It’s a personal preference. I bought a birth-to-potty kit to start with in the two-piece set simply because there are more nappies so you can go longer between washes. When the baby was a few months old, Aldi did a special offer with the brand I use offering some all-in-ones, so I got a couple of those too. They both have pros and cons so I’ll do a separate post on those.
Is it not loads of washing?
You see the thing is, the machine does the washing. We also have a tumble drier which I don’t love but you know, Ireland. I fold them while I wash the telly and have them back on the shelf for the next run.
So how does it work, how do you wash them?
After the baby has used them if there’s a ‘solid’ situation, we take off the filter and flush it down the toilet. The filter is flushable. When we just have a wet nappy, we shake out the nappy, (the folds hold very well), and leave it in a bucket. This is called dry pailing. There’s no water, just nappies in a bucket. Its only for a couple of nappies so it doesn’t smell and any really smelly stuff has been flushed.
For washing the nappies initially I was doing it all wrong. If there was a stain I would leave the nappy soak in bleach for a little while and then put it in the wash. It got easier as she moved to solids because the filter is more useful now, before it all just leaked through. Anyway, I didn’t like the bleach and I didn’t feel the nappies felt as good so I wanted something different.
Now when I have a few nappies I fill the bucket with hot water and I add in a scoop of vanish oxi-action white. I leave the nappies soak overnight. Then I pop them in the wash as normal, with all of the other clothes. I dry outside if the weather is nice, otherwise on a low tumble dry. They’re doing much better now.
How do you dry them?
I made mistakes with the outer shell too, I used to leave them in bleach and then wash them in the machine and them tumble dry, but they couldn’t take it. The bleach and heat did damage to the shells and the elastic was starting to stretch. Luckily she was ready for her next size and I’ve been much more careful. Now I rinse them after each use, again the filters and solids mean its very rare they get stained. I rinse them under the tap or shower and leave them to dry on the radiator. If they get stained, I use the shower at high pressure to ‘blast’ off the stain. Then into the washing machine. Otherwise I take it in turns to wash them in the machine and in no circumstance do I tumble dry any more.
Using a pre-soaking treatment and not tumble drying would be my absolute top tips for using cloth nappies going forward.
Do you have to stick with one type?
I don’t, I use whichever one suits me. My aesthetic preference is the all-in-one, but my practical preference is the two-piece. I’ve had no leaks in the two-piece since I got the hang of them but I can’t say the same about the all in one.
In relation to shell to nappy mixing, again, the brands are interchangeable.
Do you use them all the time?
Nope. It’s just not practical for me. The baby is with a childminder now and I can’t expect her to be as committed to cloth nappies as I am. Plus I have always left her in an extra absorbent nappy overnight. I’m sure the cloth nappy can take it but I don’t fancy trying. If I am out for the day and I don’t fancy carrying wet cloth nappies around with me I’ll use a disposable. Basically if I am home and it suits me I will use a cloth nappy, but if it doesn’t I use a disposable. Been a ma has enough pressure without adding on more!
Would you recommend Cloth Nappies?
I’ve waited to write this post so I would have enough experience to do it honestly.
The short answer is yes I would, but with some caveats.
Pluses: They are relatively easy to use, they’re cute, they’re cost effective and they’re super environmentally friendly. They’re great for shorter use. Also, never a panic about running out of nappies.
Negatives: In the interest of honesty I would add that they are more work and they do have mishaps. Not enough mishaps to never use them, but definitely more than disposable nappies. Also they’re hard to buy, and pricey. I had to purchase them online without seeing them first. Luckily there are lots of great online reviews to read first.
Final Verdict: Would absolutely do it again.
In short, we’re so used to using them now its not even a thing. The filters come in packets of 150 and we are into our third packet so that’s x amount less disposable nappies in landfills and that makes me feel better. They have easily paid for themselves by now we’ve got so much use out of them and the baby is absolutely none the wiser. I’m glad I did it and will continue to use them until she’s not using nappies any more. I’ll also use the same brand for potty training and swim nappies in the future.
In the short three years since I began looking at this cloth nappies have grown in popularity in Ireland. There is the AMAZING Cloth Nappy Library Ireland they have open mornings where you can see the nappies in action and even borrow one to try at home before you buy a whole set. Their website is FULL of useful information too.
The company I used to buy my nappies were Bambino Mio in the Uk and Ireland. They were the best value I could find and their starter pack had everything I needed to get going. When you first use the website you can register for a 15% discount which is brilliant if your ordering a large set. Bambino Mio is also the company who works with Aldi when they do their Baby special offers, I always kept an eye for these.
For tips and ideas you cannot go wrong with Pinterest Clothing pins and of course Instagram, just remember best search results will come from calling them Diapers.
And for instructions on everything from folding and cleaning, hints and tips, YouTube is priceless. You will find everything on there!
So there you have it! I actually drafted this post two years ago and am only posting it now. If you have any questions please pop them in the comments and I’ll answer what I can!