5 things you need to know before you start using cloth nappies
Since we started cloth diapering with Clem, I’ve become a cloth evangelist. Seriously, I’ve told all my mum friends, many non-mum friends and a few random strangers about the amazing benefits of cloth. I can’t believe using reusable nappies isn’t more widespread - it’s better for the environment, better for baby’s bottom, better for your purse. And while there’s a little bit more work, it’s actually very straightforward once you’re in a routine.
When I’m on a cloth-vangelist mission, one of the big questions I get back is “where do I start?”. This is an understandable question, given that the world of cloth nappies can seem big and confusing! So here are my must-have tips for getting started with reusable nappies.
1. Do your research or get advice
Before you start buying, do some research on the different varieties of nappy that are out there and the benefits of each kind. My number one resource for this is The Nappy Gurus, who have a whole heap of free advice on getting starting. This video covering the different types of cloth nappy is a great place to start.
If the information online isn't enough, then I would love you to get in touch with me for more personalised advice. I love to help parents get started with cloth, and would be so happy to help if you're feeling a little stuck! You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram.
Finally, there are also plenty of resources on social media - a quick Facebook search for ‘cloth nappies’ or ‘cloth diapers’ will give you a selection of groups where experienced clothvangelists like to hang out. Likewise reddit’s clothdiaps group is full of willing advisers. In my experience, cloth diaperers love to pass on their knowledge, so make the most of the free advice!
2. Try them out
Different nappies will work for different families, so a key step is to try nappies before you commit. There are a few options. Firstly, you could buy a cloth nappy bundle which will give you a few different kinds to try out. The Nappy Gurus have some super options, and you can get 10% if you use the code "ABODERIE". If you're stuck, you can always contact me for some recommendations! Any nappies that don't work for you can be easily sold on via Facebook (I'll talk more about this in a second), or even better, passed on to a friend to try!
Similarly, some areas have a local cloth nappy library where you can hire a kit for a fixed period, and you can find out more about them in this post. Cloth nappy libraries will often come with an advice session too, though you may find that waiting lists are long.
Finally, you could consider buying a range of used nappies to try out. The preloved cloth nappy market is very active, so you shouldn't struggle to re-sell any used nappies that are in decent condition. The best place to find preloved nappies is Facebook - search for groups near you for some options.
What are you looking for when you try your nappies out? It will depend on what is important to you! Fit is a biggie - you might find that one type of nappy just doesn’t work with your little one’s chubby legs. You also might find that drying time is an issue, or that you’d prefer poppers rather than velcro. We were surprised that, having tried a range of different nappies, we preferred something slightly different than what we’d initially thought.
3. Liners are important
Ok, time to talk poo. One big preconception about cloth is that there’s more dealing with poo, and to a certain extent that’s true. However, we have found that we spend significantly less time with poo thanks to finding the right nappy liners. Initially we used some light and flimsy liners, but we found that they barely covered 25% of the nappy and therefore only caught a fraction of the poo! Switching to different liners was a game changer for us. Now we use these liners from The Nappy Gurus, which cover the whole nappy. 9 times out of 10 the poo is all on the liner and we can just pop the whole liner in the nappy bin. Plus, they're bamboo so natural next to little one's skin.
Alternatively, some parents use fleece liners, which can be better for sensitive bottoms and are cheaper. For me, the extra cost of the disposable liners is worth it to be able to dispose of the poo easily, but it’s worth trying both to see what you prefer.
4. Create a washing routine and stick to it
The thing that will make or break your cloth nappy experience is the washing. Washing is the sacrifice you make for cute fluffy bums, so making it work is key. That’s why it’s super important to create a routine that works for you, and to stick to it. In our house, I have designated days for nappy washes aligned to the days when Clem is at nursery. On those days, the first thing I do when Clem is in bed is to put the nappies in the wash. By connecting the washing routine to the pattern of our week and day, it has become a habit and we never find ourselves without clean nappies.
want gleaming white nappies? sunshine is your friend
5. Sunshine is your friend
When I first started out with cloth nappies, I couldn’t understand how it was possible to keep them stain-free. Even when I used a liner, I’d still end up with some nasty stains, and I didn’t want to use commercial stain removers as the nappies touch Clem’s bottom. I read somewhere that sunshine could remove stains, but I couldn’t imagine that it would be all that effective. It didn’t seem to me that sunlight would do much! However, when summer came around and I started hanging nappies outside, I saw the results of sunlight on stains and I was blown away. Sunlight is better than just about any commercial stain remover I’ve ever tried, and it’s free! Bonus tip: this works on anything white, so if you want sparkling white bed linen, this is the way to go.
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