A NHM Readers Experience: Reusable Nappies

Amber sent me a very lovely email asking me if she could share her experience of Reusable Nappies with you all.

I jumped at her email! lol.

You can really tell how passionate Amber is about reusable nappies from her post below. I wish I had seen this post before my little one was born as I wanted to use reusable nappies but had absolutely no idea where to start.

If there are any topics that you feel passionate enough about enough to write a post that you think NHM Readers might be interested in, please drop me a line at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com. Thanks!

Thank you to Amber for the excellent post below!

Reusable Nappies

When I volunteered to write this article I questioned why I had done that. I’m not a rainbow eco warrior mum that feels passionately about the amount of landfill that our population creates, nor a crazy corporate conspiracy mum who believes that disposable nappies are filled with harmful chemicals which are burning our babies’ bottoms.

No, I just enjoy (yes, enjoy!) using cloth nappies and I wanted to share my experience with other mums in the hope that others will have that experience too.

I had grand ideas of using cloth nappies with my first baby but when it came to it, the sheer upheaval of having a new small person in my life was too much and I bottled, resorting to ‘easier’, more ‘convienient’ disposables, and those are in inverted commas for a reason, more about that later.

However I was pretty disgusted that we had gone from a family which produced less than a quarter of a wheelie bin of rubbish a week, to one which wheeled out a bin containing more than double that amount, groaning under the weight of stinky, un degradable nappies.Nappies further wrapped in little plastic bags no less.

This was further compounded by the fact that this continued for years! Number 1 was potty trained during the day at around 2 years and I cringe at the thought of just how many of our nappies were just sitting, festering in landfill.

So when I found I was expecting number 2 I was determined that I was going to use, and succeed with cloth nappies. I started researching in earnest, in hindsight I think that was part of the problem with number 1, I just wasn’t prepared enough and when it came to it I just gave up.

As I started reading about the different types of nappies, I was truly baffled and I quickly became quite overwhelmed by the variety, let alone the different makes.There are 2 parters, all in ones, pockets and hybrids, to name but a few, and I had no idea which ones I really should be choosing.

Then I was recommended thenappylady.co.uk, Wendy Richards, she runs out of Farnham and has a fantastic website which sells everything cloth related but also has some invaluable advice pages and an advice questionnaire.

The questionnaire is very in depth and aims to help you find the best type of nappies, number required and cost for your personal circumstances.

She asks what drying facilities you have, how many times you’d want to wash per week, how you rank various properties of the nappies, what height and build you and your partner are, seemingly irrelevant information but it all goes in to determining which nappies would be best suited to help you succeed with cloth nappies.

My recommendation was for a brand called Bumgenius with their Freetime nappy, this is an all in one, birth to potty nappy, but I almost fell off my chair with the cost! Each nappy was £15.99 and it was recommended I had 15 of them!!!

It’s an enormous outlay and people often ask me if I really think I’m saving money this way when you factor in electricity, washing powder, washing machine wear and tear, hassle factor etc. There are many calculations out there which argue that it is, but actually that’s not the sole reason that I wanted to do it.

Despite having the nappy lady’s recommendation for my Freetimes I was still hesitant to part with the best part of £300 for something that I wasn’t sure was going to work, which is when I found the Basingstoke Real Nappy Library. This is run by a lovely lady, whose name completely escapes me, out of the NCT Coffee and Chat group in Brookvale Hall.

She’s there on the first Friday of the month with a selection of cloth nappies and she sits with you going through everything you’d want to know and ask and more. She said that it would be best to wait for baby to come along then she would pop round to my house, have a new baby cuddle and a cup of tea, and leave me with a selection of nappies which I could try for however long I wanted (within reason!). It is a voluntary organisation but she asks for a donation which I was more than happy to provide given how helpful she had been.

Armed with my selection of birth to potty nappies I went about trying them out on number 2. I had several reservations about cloth nappies and fit was one of these, it’s something that the nappy lady asks in her questionnaire.

I didn’t particularly like the ‘chunky bum’ look that was inevitable with cloth nappies and on a 4 week old baby, birth to potty nappies (these are adjustable using poppers, allowing them to be used, as the name suggests, all the way from birth to potty training) do look a little ridiculous but I had to look beyond this and at the greater picture.

I never thought I would like number two’s chunky bum but I really do now, I guess part of it is what you are used to, but disposable bottoms feel quite wrong to me now and that saggy nappy look is really not a good one.

As a result of trying out my nappy selection I took the plunge and bought my cloth nappies, opting for the ones suggested by the nappy lady and buying  10 (ouch!!), I still couldn’t manage to buy the number I needed to wash every other day.

I then found that there was a huge market for preloved nappies, initially I did recoil at the idea of using nappies which had been used on other babies’ bottoms however the reality is that if they have been washed properly the nappies are still in fantastic condition and I now have no reservations about buying preloved.

There are numerous Facebook selling pages where you can buy or swap them at a fraction of the new price using Paypal which does offer an amount of protection to the purchaser. I have gradually increased the number of nappies in my ‘stash’ using preloved and further orders from the nappy lady.

A year later and we are still using our cloth nappies and I do enjoy it.

That may seem to be a strange term to use but let me explain.

Every time I put a cloth nappy on it means that the only thing that I throw in the bin is a degradable liner to catch post weened poo and that’s going to continue until number 2 is out of nappies.

They are pretty, I’ve got a lovely selection of colours, some people are proper addicted to collecting nappies and pay extortionate amounts of money for limited edition prints but in my opinion at the end of the day they are there for collecting wee and poo! They have got to better for those delicate, peachy, little bottoms.

There are plenty of people who are convinced that the chemicals in the nappies are very bad for babies’ skin, I have to say that I believe that they will have been tested rigorously, however I do believe that is far better for the skin not to be next to be constantly next to something which has a large quantity if chemicals in it. Both my children suffer from eczema and number 1 had some awful nappy rash, something that has been limited to teething with number 2.

There is a phenomenal amount of research that goes into the development of cloth nappies, inner fabrics are super absorbent so will hold lots of wee, outers are  waterproof so contain all the wetness and most, mine included, have a soft fleecy layer which wicks away the moisture from the skin so they don’t actually feel wet. They really aren’t the outdated ‘terry towelling fastened with safety pins’ that some people think they are.

What about the other cons of using cloth nappies?

There are some, but I don’t find them an issue and the pros, for me, certainly outweigh them. Hassle factor – yes you do have to do a wash every other day/three days  but it has just become part of my routine and even in the early days I didn’t find it particularly bothersome.

My nappies dry very fast and in the summer on an average day they would be dry within a couple of hours, in the winter it is more like a day when hung inside. I have a sock hanger from Lakeland which allows me to hang all nappies out on one hook and there is something extremely satisfying about seeing lots of clean nappies hanging out to dry in the sun.

Dealing with smelly poo filled nappies – just like disposables they just get whipped off and shoved in the nappy bin or bag until wash day. Pre weaning all nappies went into the wash as is, poo and all, but post weaning I just remove the liners and bin those before putting them in the wash.

I do pay more attention to the cleaning of the washing machine these days to keep it smelling fresh, something which should be performed regularly anyway according to those ‘in the know’, but that only consists of running a super hot wash every now and again or washing an empty load with soda crystals.

Cost – the initial outlay, as I said, is hard to swallow but as I say I am using them for other reasons so I had to keep that in mind. I do hope to recoup some of the cost at the end of our use by selling them on the Facebook selling pages but that would just be a bonus.

I also went down the route of reusable wipes, which if using cloth nappies is a no brainer. These are like little flannels which are kept damp in a Tupperware box and are far superior for wiping bottoms than any number of baby wipes, they just get put in the wash along with the nappies for using another day. Inconvenience – after washing I do have to fold the nappies up, put liners in each and stack them ready for use, when I’m busy I do get irritated by this but in reality it takes a matter of minutes to do and then they are just ready to go.

When out and about I just take clean nappies with a wet bag which I can put the dirty nappies in, wipes are taken in a mini wet bag, it’s not much different from disposables.

Phew! That’s a lot of words, maybe I am more passionate about cloth nappies than I had first thought?

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  1. Pingback: NHM Reader Experiences: Would you like to write a post on NorthHantsMum about your experiences of parenting? - NorthHantsMum

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