Aside from the cute prints, environment and potential savings using cloth nappies, there is a lot you need to know before you start your reusable nappy journey. I’m just over six months in with little miss and I’ll admit we’ve had our up and downs but I’m a complete convert now and bump will be a fluffy bum too. I only wish I had researched everything a little more or got some expert advice. I’m no pro but it’s Real Nappy Week so I thought I’d share some things I’ve learnt about cloth over the past few months.
There’s a cloth nappy slang. Clothian if you like. If you’re a newbie in a cloth nappy group you may be overwhelmed by all the abbreviations. Here’s some of the most commonly used acronyms and words to describe cloth:
BTP – Birth to potty
PUL – Polyurethane Laminate, the waterproof part of the nappy
FS – For sale
FSOT – For sale or trade
GUC – Good used condition
EUC – Excellent used condition.
Inserts are what you stuff a pocket nappy with, they can be hemp, microfiber, cotton or bamboo. They can also be called a booster or doubler.
Different types of nappies:
AIO – All in ones are the next best thing to a disposable. This nappy consists of a waterproof outer layer, an absorbent soaker, and an inner layer. It fastens with snaps or velcro and has elastic around the legs and waist.
AI2 – All in two’s have an outer waterproof shell (like a nappy cover) and an insert that gets put into the shell and lies directly against your baby’s skin. Some inserts attach with snaps or velcro, and some get tucked under flaps in the cover.
A hybrid nappy is very similar to an AI2 nappy, it has two parts making up the whole. A hybrid diaper’s insert can be either cloth or disposable.
A pocket cloth nappy consists of a waterproof cover that has a stay-dry lining that acts as a pocket between the lining and the cover. This allows you add an absorbent insert or prefold into the pockets between the two layers.
Prefolds are rectangular in shape and made of several layers of ordinary cotton sewn into three panels – with the central panel having most layers. They can be folded in different ways and are also great to stuff pocket nappies with.
Fitted are nappies that consist of multiple layers of absorbent material. They have elastic along the leg and back and fasten on baby with snaps or velcro hook and loop closures. Fitted nappies do not have a waterproof outer layer, and require some kind of waterproof cover be used.
Tips for anyone new to cloth:
Do not use fabric conditions, it prevents proper absorption and coats the fibres.
Do not use bleach, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar as they can damage the PUL and elastic in your cloth nappies over time.
Natural sunlight will become your best friend. Not only is line drying going to save on energy bills the sun will help erase any stubborn stains.
A number of nappies for fulltime use varies, I have 24 nappies and I’m happy enough to wash them every 3 days. However, I’m building my stash for bump and I will borrow a newborn nappy kit from the Cloth Nappy Library.
Not all nappy rash creams are safe to use with cloth nappies and can cause the fibres to repel. Coconut oil, mammy milk, and Weleda seem to be the most popular for treating nappy rash amongst the cloth community. A little nappy free time is always best in my opinion, easier when they’re not actively running around your home, though.
Always pre-wash your new nappies a few times before use so they reach full absorbency and follow manufactures instructions.
You will need a nappy bucket to store your cloth nappies, it will keep the smell at bay until wash day.
A wet bag is a must for when you are out and about. You could just get a waterproof beach bag from Penneys/Primark for a couple of euro’s, they do the trick here.
Reasons for leaks:
- Nappy isn’t absorbent enough yet.
- It hasn’t been applied properly.
- Baby may be a heavy wetter.
- Compression leaks.
You can always add an extra booster or change babies nappy more often. Cloth nappies tend to be bulkier than a sposie so I found going up a vest size helped us with compression leaks. There is also vest extenders to help prevent this problem. And the more you wash a nappy the more absorbent it will get.
Nappy liners aren’t necessary but they are great for catching poop and helping prevent staining.
If you’re unsure what nappies to buy get onto Cloth Nappy Library Ireland. You can get a nappy trial or newborn loan kit and try out all the different brands.
Putting on cloth nappies is a little different to a disposable one. If you’re a complete novice this video on how to apply a cloth nappy is invaluable.
Never be afraid to ask for help. There are loads of groups, forums, blogs and experts out there who are willing to advise and answer all your questions. Join some cloth nappy groups on Facebook. You will find a wisdom of knowledge in the Cloth Nappy Chat Group (Ireland). Most probably one of my favourite groups on Facebook, everyone is so friendly and happy to help.
Again I’m no expert so if you’ve any tips to add or correct please add them to the comments section. My friends and family think I’m lo-la using cloth nappies, they believe I’ve given myself more work but realistically with three under three we are saving an absolute fortune. Maybe it’s time to tell them I’ve just started using cloth wipes too…