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Everything you need to know about cloth nappies

In the post I address some of the questions/arguments people have about cloth nappies and show how much I saved by using them.
Buying cloth nappies is expensive to start.
Hmm no.  Not really.  Most expectant mums I know by a couple of boxes of pampers before their baby is born. It's part of the nesting impulse to be ready. These boxes aren't cheap at £26 a pop one box will last roughly a week.
I recommend by a small second hand stash of about 20/30 nappies.  With a variety of brands so you get an idea of what works for you.
I budgeted around £70 for my set up stash and got about 40 nappies.
That wouldn't even pay for three boxes of pampers.
A lot of council offer vouchers for reusable nappies too as a thank you for helping reduce waste.
Don't you need more kit with cloth nappies?
I was overwhelmed by nappy pails,  disposable liners,  nappy soak,  reusable liners,  wraps, reusable wipes and inserts too.
The basics of cloth are simple- you have a nappy to absorb the wee, an outer or wrap to stop the nappy making the babies clothes damp, and a liner which goes between the babies skin and the nappy to stop the baby getting damp/sore as it wicks the moisture away and locks it in the nappy. If your baby wees a lot at once then inserts provide extra absorbancy ( also handy at night for longer dryness). Dirty nappies go in a pail ready to be washed.
What liners do I need
Liners can be made of
Bamboo-stays fluffy and is most gentle skin
Polyester fleece- cheap and simple to diy
Disposable liners- you don't need these till your baby is weaned really (for breastfed babies) as until then their poo is runny and wet like curry sauce and just washes away the same as any other liquid. Disposable liners are either flushable of binable. And are convenient when things get a bit more firm. They can cause skin irritation in some babies.
You can also shake and flick the solid contents off a washable liner.
Once a baby gets into a routine you can predict a bowl movement and put the disposable liner in anticipation.
Most cloth nappy mums use a mix of liners.
Note pocket or all in one nappies have a polyester fleece top to skinside which acts as a liner.
Where can I get a nappy pail
Nappy pails are hard to get hold of. However most cloth nappy brand stores sell them. I also found John Lewis sold them. I felt they were quite expensive. I got one at a nct sale. If I were to buy my kit again I'd just get a regular bucket as we rarely have the lid on ours
Do I need nappy soak and how do I wash them
My son is nearly six months old and I'm yet to soak my nappies. I dry pail, which to put simply means I put the dirty nappies in the pail and wash them when needed.  In my washing machine with normal washing powder on 40 degrees.
Some nappies have got stains,  which could be removed by soaking in a stain remover or nappy bright or blueing. I will probably do this before storing them , but while he's using them I can't see much point.
Do I need inserts
To start with no.  You will be changing nappies every 3/4 hours with tiny babies. As they get bigger boosters or inserts are a handy way of getting more milage out of a nappy.
Inserts can either be put between the nappy and the liner. Or stuffed into a pocket nappy.
Like liners there are a few options-
Microfibre- cheap and quick to wash but not super absorbant. Can cause nappy rash.
Terry- absorbant but slow to dry and need multiple layers
Bamboo- very breathable but not as absorbant as Terry.
Trifold/prefolds- are technically nappies in their own right. For this reason they are really absorbant.  They aren't as cheap and some people find them confusing.
Some nappies (mainly American brands and less common in the UK) will have pop in liners of multiple layers that are fleece side up and cotton/Terry side down.  These are  absorbant and reduce the need for a separate liner, but in my experience not so good as other nappies as the dampness stays in one spot.
How many wraps do I need.
No more than 1 to every four nappies.  You can reuse them off not soiled for multiple nappy changes and when washed they dry quickly. You don't need to buy the same brand of wrap as nappy.  The only wrap I've had problems with is the tots bots because the Velcro doesn't hold the whole waist band.
You can also buy or knit soakers or longies which are made of wool. They do the same job and make nappy changes fast. They will need lanolising to retain the water repellent properties.
Pocket nappies have a wrap outer already as part of the design.
How do you know what brand to buy?
I bought a selection of different brands as I saw mixed reviews for all.
My stash was made up of:
6 trifold bambino mio inserts (these make great stuffing for pocket nappies too) with bambino mio outer nappy shells (which work as wraps for first size nappies). These were great for the early days as I could more often than not just change the trifold.
12 tots bots nappies.  These have sewn in  boosters . Some have sewn in liners.  I really didn't like these to start with.  They are very expensive even second hand. They take a long time to dry which is annoying when you have a baby going through 14 nappies a day and they are still wet when you need them.  Now I'm changing half the amount of nappies I appreciate their absorbancy, ease of use and fit more.
6 sandy/mother ease/ popalinos.
These are fab for newborns. The fit is nice they are breathable  you can stuff them to make more absorbant if you need too.
I was also given some cheeky monkeys by a friend these have popper in insert/liner. They are also great for young babies but not so common in the UK.
I didn't use them but an option is the old fashioned Terry nappies. These are folded in half to a triangle and fastened with nappy pins or nappy nippers. They are really cheap to buy new.  A bit more fuss to put on and can leak so are best use with a wrap with a leg gusset.
2 All in One-great for being out and about and very reasonable.  The sites selling these claim they are birth to potty.  I like them a lot but until my boy weighed 13lbs he occasionally leaked out of the leg.  I've just upped my stash to 10 of these in preparation for when he grows out of his size ones at 19lb.
These grow with your baby as you adjust the poppers
Little lambs- I love these. I really recommend them. They are such good value.  Their pocket nappies are good, but is their standard nappies I love.  They are absorbant and fit really well. Like the tots bots they need a while to dry.  But the price is brilliant at £4 each.
What about the cost/amount of washing.
Since our son was born we've been washing an extra 3/4 loads a week. This includes his clothing/ bedding changes.  He suffers with reflux so this adds to the load. The cost of running the machine for these loads works out about £1 a week in electricity.
I make my own laundry powder which costs 3p a load.
80% of the time I dry my nappies on the line/radiators so I spend around 50p a week using the tumble dryer.
What about going out?
Cloth nappies are easier on the go than you might think. You can buy dirty bags to store used nappies  most hold 3/4 soiled nappies without smelling. These wet bags are handy for mucky clothes too. It also removes the need to track down baby change bins whilst on the move.
How much does it save?
Compared to pampers I save at least £15 a week.
What are the other benefits?
The planet. Disposable nappies go into landfills. We have no idea how long it takes to decompose. We have to get real about the rubbish sooner or later. You will also be using at least 50 nappies a week. That's more than enough to fill a regular council bin on their own. And boy do three day old nappies stink.
Babies skin- my son has barely had nappy rash and we rarely use nappy cream or bottom balm.
Buy for one use for all- once you've bought nappies there yours for ever. My mums stash has seen her through three babies and two grand babies.
No chemicals
Less shopping - great for confirmed pedestrians like me.
They are so much nicer looking and feeling than disposables.
You don't have to worry about running out.
It's easy to tell if the nappy needs changing.
What about cloth wipes
If you are going to wash nappies you might as well wash wipes too. They are much kinder to babies skin and more effective. I will post a blog about these son.


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