I have received a lot of questions (ok, four girls asked me) regarding reusable nappies, so I really wanted to put a “how to” guide together and show what’s been working for us. We are both working full time and barely have time for anything. So we had to step away from some things that we were doing in the spirit of the environment to keep our sanity. Some conscientious choices that we have made are maybe not that comfortable, however cloth nappies are NOT of them. In saying that, we have opted for the easiest option in the reusable nappy world.
Newborn nappies: for babies under 3kg. In my opinion, these are really not needed and are bit of a waste of money. If I were to do the shopping again, I would just stick to disposable nappies or prefolds for this time. It doesn’t take long for the baby to grow into the OSFM.
OSFM: one size fits most. Exactly as advertised, this nappy fill fit your baby from 3kg to undies. This further goes to:
All in 1 (AI1) – no inserts, no shells, just one nappy as it is. Sounds good, but it didn’t really work for us, it loses it’s shape, you cannot reuse the shell and it takes forever to dry.
All in 2 (AI2) – the best option, which includes the insert and the nappy shell. A lot of the times the shell can just be rinsed in the sink and reused again.
Snaps vs Velcro – always go for snaps, velcro stops working and destroys other clothes that you wash with the nappies.
Folds, these can be used for newborns that don’t move much and go through quite a lot of nappies, it’s not really useful later on.
Here’s how to fold them after you just put a shell on the voilaa. Definitely the cheapest option, doesn’t last very long, gets very wet, but it is useful for the newborn stage before OSFM actually fit.
Outer: Pul shell for when you want to reuse the shell and just wash it at the sink or take it to the sea or a pool. Minky for when you want you baby to be cozy in the night with this soft outer layer. Both are waterproof. Do not buy anything that’s not waterproof, why would I bother with yet another layer?
Inner: bamboo is great, but it’s even better when it’s covered with “stay dry” micro fleece suede.
Bamboo liner: we have only used this one from about 6 months (when baby is on solid foods) until 9 months when baby J started using the potty for number twos. Otherwise it doesn’t capture much and it’s not very useful. However it can be flushed into the toilet and it can be used as a baby wipe.
What you need:
All you need is a good soap, bucket with air flow (it can be closed, just not airtight), laundry detergent, washing machine, dry stand. Wet bags are also useful on the go. If you are not using wet wipes, I have also made my own bum spray. For my Czech readers: Perlan je zlato.
I like to be comfortable and I don’t want to wash the nappies more than twice a week now. It was probably three times in the earlier stages. For us 25 nappies are the ideal number. 25 really good nappies that work well, that don’t leak, are super cute and easy to use. Not 20 good nappies and 10 cheap ones. Not a few velcro ones because they were on sale. Just simply 25 of the best nappies that are on the market. Those are waterproof, have snaps, are perfectly adjustable and a great fit, ideally have double gussets, great absorbency, can be used overnight, wash easily, are quick to put together and have the cutest prints. Even these can be found second hand if that’s something you’d consider. We knew we wanted to have more kids so I bought everything new. I have tried several different options and several different brands, but I really wish I knew this before. For us these best nappies were: Bare and Boho AI2 and baby bare Bare Cub AI2 both minky and pul. Fair enough the investment for this quantity of good quality nappies can be about $900. This is pretty much “paid off” in the first year of baby’s life as on average people spend about $850/year for disposables, if not more. And if you are having more than one child the price per one poo goes down even further. And despite being in daily use, they still look like new.
Taking care of business:
Wet nappy – throw into the bucket, ideally taking out/unclipping the inserts as you do. Either reuse the shell or throw it in too.
Soiled nappy – dump what you can into the toilet, wash under a stream of water what you can and go across the dirty parts with your designated soap bar. You do not have to scrub the nappy clean. Then put it in the bin as it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s soaking wet. When your bin is full, tip it over into the washing machine and do the quickest wash with detergent. For us it’s about 18min wash. Make sure you set it to a “heavy load” as the nappies are literally designed to soak up the water and will become really heavy, this will stop you from damaging the drum. Drain the water after and add whatever laundry you have, usually I add all the other baby clothes. Top up the detergent and wash as normal. We are very fortunate in Queensland as there’s no issues with nappy drying, however in colder climates it might take a little while for them to dry completely. In some cases we use the dryer. And even when you use the dryer, the energy used is still far less than the energy used for manufacturing the disposable nappies goddamnit.
Some other questions that I got:
Does the bamboo liner stay in place?
Yes it somewhat stays in place, but sometimes it doesn’t. Just go with the flow.
Hemp, bamboo, microfleece?
I love bamboo with fleece suede top layer, but I hear hemp is great too.
Pocket nappies or clip on inserts?
Both are absolutely fine. I also like the combination pocket and clip on, especially for the night.
Why do you prefer the inserts to wraps or pre-folds?
Wraps get really wet all around, who would want to have that on their bums?
Don’t the cloth nappies leak?
Not that I know off. The only massive leak we had was when we were on holidays and used some disposable ones.
Do you have to change them more often?
I think so! However a nappy that stays on for hours without feeling wet only shows how unnatural the materials are.
Does it bother you to pretty much always have the dry stand out?
Yes it does, completely ruins the aesthetics of our balcony. It doesn’t bother me as much as 2.5 tuns of landfill waste.
Does it cause more rash?
Not in our experience. We use just simple water to wipe and occasionally hand made bum spray and a completely natural hand made cream and we are golden. Of course every kid is different.
Is it better for babies’ hips?
Yes in fact it is. I know in Czech Republic we are very focused on the hips, posture, sitting and so on with little babies and this actually keeps the legs apart and helps the posture and positioning of the hips for the future.
Why didn’t you use pre-folds all the way through?
I like to live an easy life, what can I say.
What soap do you use?
Well I have been using a Czech brand of Gall Soap. I have also heard great things about the Tuff Stuff soap from Bare and Boho. Anything natural that’s meant for stains works.
What did you use instead of baby wipes?
Anything but baby wipes, I hate that smell. We have actually used material called Perlan, which is biodegradable and flushable, unfortunately I have not been able to locate it in Australia. However I know other girls have been using really good paper towels, bamboo inserts, cheeky wipes, or cloth wipes.
Now I will end with a quote, which I hear somewhere ages ago and I love to use it all the time. It’s also something that encourages me to live a life that we do despite being discouraged by the top 10%, authorities and governments and certain lifestyles around me. Thankfully we are privileged enough to be able to make the small differences at least in our household.
‘’When my daughter asks me one day whether I knew what was happening with the world, I don’t want my answer to be: yes, but it was just more convenient to ignore it.”