Okay, so I probably should be clear before you start reading – i’m not an experienced user of cloth nappies. I’m no guru. However, what I am is a normal mum who has just started using cloth nappies on her four-month old (well, we started when he was three months). I wanted to write this post to show you just how easy it is to convert to cloth nappies – and not even full-time if you don’t want to (there’s no pressure in the community!) but part-time like me. I did however, ask the lovely Mama Scrumpy – cloth nappy connoisseur – to give her friendly advice on using cloth nappies. She has the years of experience behind her, unlike me!
Why cloth nappies?
I made the decision to start using cloth nappies before our little one was born. I’d heard at my antenatal class that local councils give away a voucher to help start you off with your cloth nappy stash. I thought, why not? It would be a good way to dip our feet in the cloth nappy waters, so to speak! I was curious, and after some research, here were my two reasons –
I’ll be honest and say that it was purely from an environmental point of view that we wanted to give them a go. I’d heard that something like three billion nappies are thrown away in the UK every year. This shocked me. Doesn’t it shock you? Just think of them all piling up.. nowhere to go until 500 odd years, the rough length of time it takes for them to decompose. Not to mention the fact that it takes one cup of crude oil to make a single nappy. I mean, oil?! Our poor babies bottoms being wrapped in crude oil…I’m not down with that.
Cloth nappy company, Baba and Boo have some pretty shocking facts on disposable vs cloth nappies, if you’re interested.
From a economic point of you, cloth nappies also save you a whole bunch of money! According to Baba and Boo, for one child alone, cloth nappies can save you around £440 a year, taking into consideration the cost of both types of nappies, as well as water bill and landfill costs. That’s a hell of a lot of savings. You’ll spend around £1,000 a year on disposables when a pack of cloth nappies will cost around £200. I know which I’d choose.
How should I get started with cloth nappies?
Council voucher scheme
I first started off by applying for a voucher from my local council. The Real Nappy Council Incentive Scheme will subsidise you for a starter pack of nappies. What I would do is google your local council + nappy scheme and see what comes up. Fill your Pants have a list of councils taking part but I would still google, just in case anything has changed. How it works is you apply and put down what starter pack you want; the company will call you (in our case it was Tots Bots), and you simply pay the difference. By doing this, it helped us try out a variety of different types of nappies. I think we got £30 off our starter pack from Tots Bots which included all the essentials to get us started. I won’t go into that here as it’ll sound like a whole new language and ends up getting very confusing! Don’t let that put you off though – it’s not as confusing as it sounds.
A few more places you could look would be online cloth nappy stores such as the following three –
We haven’t yet used Baba and Boo but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them.
We managed to buy quite a few Bambino Mio cloth nappies in, would you believe it, Aldi! Keep an eye in there as they quite often pop up as one of their special buys.
Second-hand is also great. Cloth nappies wash so well that there’s no need to worry about another baby’s bacteria crossing over to your baby! That would be ludicrous. I was lucky enough to receive a huge bag of second-hand cloth nappies from a friend. Check out online nappy Facebook groups such as The Nappy Lady.
Our cloth nappy kit
You really don’t need a lot to get started with cloth nappies. You should have all you need from the starter pack, but here’s what we would typically use on a daily basis:
- Bambino Mio Miosolo all-in-one (the easiest to use are the all-in-one types – most companies sell their own version of this)
- A biodegradable nappy liner which sits inside the nappy
- A nappy bucket with a laundry bag inside
- Natural laundry cleanser to help take away any odours
And that’s it! I don’t use anything else but those four things.
How do I use cloth nappies?
I’m going to explain this in a few simple steps because it really is that easy (P.S check out the highlight on my instagram where I show you how it’s done):
- Grab my preferred cloth nappy (normally an all-in-one), open it up and place a liner inside.
- Sit my baby’s bum inside the nappy, as you would a disposable one. Depending on the age of the baby/toddler, I adjust the size of the nappy using the clips at the front as my baby is still quite tiny.
- I do the nappy up, just as you would a disposable.
- Wait for baby to wee and poo.
- When changing baby, I throw the liner into our nappy bin (the one we have for disposables) and if the nappy is soaked through, I put the nappy into the nappy bucket. If not, I put another liner in and off he goes!
- Wait a couple of days for the bin to fill and then wash them all (see below how I do this).
How do I wash cloth nappies?
Once we have a full load (along with our cloth wipes), I throw them all into the washing machine, leaving the laundry bag open – the nappies will fall out themselves. At the moment I’m using Ecover laundry detergent, so i’ll add that like I would a normal wash, as well as a scoop of laundry cleaner in the drum. Pop it all on a 60 cotton wash and once finished, either put them in the dryer or hang on the line (weather dependent!) Apparently hanging on the line is better for getting out any stains. It really is that easy.
How often do I use cloth nappies?
Like I said at the beginning, we use them currently on a part-time basis. We use them when at home, when we know we’re having an ‘in’ day. I’m more likely to use them in the morning or late afternoon when we’re back from somewhere. We haven’t got to the point of using them at night, although I have used them through some daytime naps before. We also haven’t had the courage to use them outside yet. We will though, all in good time. By doing this, we’re still significantly reducing the amount of disposable we would buy in a year. We’re still doing our bit for the planet. It all adds up.
A few words of advice from me…
My advice would be to not fret about having to go full-time with cloth nappies. I would start slowly. Get the voucher, give them a try and find your own way with them. Don’t listen to me and what I do – just take away what you want and create your own little cloth nappy journey! It’s about what works for you and your family. Most importantly, have fun and feel good knowing you’re helping our little planet.
And some friendly advice from Mama Scrumpy (A.K.A Cloth Nappy Guru)
Mama Scrumpy is always the one person I think of when I have a question about cloth nappies. Both her children wear them full-time (one only a couple of months old), so she has plenty of experience. I had to ask her to give away some of her best advice for those new in their cloth nappy journey. Here’s what she suggests:
- Start with one, do it at home and just let it build up from there. Don’t make it a big deal.
- Next, buy a wet bag (also useful for dirty clothes, spoons, bibs etc) and try using one when you go out.
- Borrow from a friend or buy a second-hand bundle first to get to know the brands you like. I prefer all-in-one’s like Bambino Mio, Tickle Tots etc.
- For newborns, I’ve found a couple of two-part nappies were useful because they dry quicker.
- Don’t let the cost put you off. I spent £150 on a second hand bundle with my first born and i’m two years in with them. Disposables are expensive but are so normal in our society that we don’t see the cost.
- The one thing being say if they are new to cloth is ‘yuk’. Poo is poo – you can’t get away from having to wipe a baby’s bum. You just put the poo in the loo and wash the wet nappy, that’s the only difference. No smelly bin, that’s a huge benefit!
- I do a nappy wash about twice a week, sometimes three. I store them in a lidded bucket with a mesh liner.
- When I wash, I use a rinse cycle first and then a hot cycle.
- I only use a spoonful of nappy freshener, an eco egg and a few drops of lemon oil or lavender.
- I dry on the line as much as possible because sun and rain keep stains out. In winter I dry alongside the radiator with the occasional tumble dry if I’m behind on a wash.
- I use charcoal boosters with my boy because he is a heavy wetter.
- I don’t often use a liner now that he’s older and we know when he’s likely to poo! When his poo is due, we use a fleece liner that I make myself by cutting around a template. Easy. Even with no liner, I just flick the poo down the loo. Any occasional bad poo’s, I scrape off. I just use toilet paper to do it. I’d rather do that than throw it away.
- You rarely get leaks with cloth as they hold it in. I’ve only ever had leaks with disposables.
“Every time you use cloth, you’re saving one nappy from landfill. One a day saves 365 in a year alone. That’s amazing.” – Mama Scrumpy
Check out Mama Scrumpy’s blog and instagram for the occasional cloth nappy post, as well as plenty of inspiration on how to enjoy nature and be more eco-friendly. Plus she’s lovely and always up for a chat!
P.S – My lovely friend Amy from Amy Jane and Baby has just posted a great easy guide on how to get started with cloth nappies. Highly worth a read. You can read that post here.