I decided pretty early on to use cloth nappies with Mackenzie. I remember mum used the old white cotton nappies with the red stripes and safety pins when we were kids and it was my job to fold them when they came in off the washing line.
Modern cloth nappies (MCN’s) are amazing, there’s only two (or three) extra steps on top of what you’d already do with a disposable nappy: Washing, drying and sometimes some assembly/stuffing. No need to soak or scrub, no touching of stinky nappies, nothing! We use cloth wipes too which is great for baby’s skin and for our wallets as well.
Here’s a few things I’ve learnt the hard way… Hopefully you’ll benefit from my tips, I’d love to hear what works for fellow cloth nappy parents!:
– Decide why you’re doing it.
Is it to reduce your carbon footprint? To contribute less to landfill? To save money? Or to care for baby’s skin and overall health?
Whatever it is, decide and stick to it. It’ll be what pushes you ahead when you’re elbow deep in shitty (literally) nappies.
– Talk to other cloth nappy mums about what brands and types they use, they are an endless resource of advice and tips.
– We waited until baby was a few weeks old before putting any additional pressure on our life.
We started cloth at 6 weeks old and I’d do the same thing next time too. Little newborns will often not fit “one size” nappies, so you’ll need to look into buying newborn sized MCN’s which baby will soon grow out of, and with the amount of nappy changes a newborn requires…. ugh, the mind boggles.
– Buy one or two nappies from a few different brands to try out on your baby.
Each baby is different, what works for us doesn’t work for other friends’ babies. You need to determine which ones you like and don’t like, and which ones suit your baby’s toileting routine.
– DO NOT go all in and buy a whole heap of nappies that you haven’t tried yet (that’s an extra special lesson, just from me to you. lol)
– Money talks here… Our more expensive nappies hold up better, still look new and are more absorbent, BUT, I also have a few middle and lower range nappies that I like too.
– Decide if you want to do washing every day or second day. Nappies don’t do well being left for longer than this unwashed.
If you’re looking at a one day cycle, you’ll need at least 8 nappies, but I’d say you’re safer to have 12.
Whereas on a two day cycle you’ll need 16, but to give you more breathing room, go for 20.
For the record, we’ve got 36 nappies and wash every second day. We have a buffer of nappies ready to go on washing and drying days and I find we don’t feel pressured to wash, dry and fold as fast as we can during the cleaning process.
– Buy enough for a one day cycle then add to your stash slowly. It’ll space the cost out.
With cloth, the more you have the less they’ll each be used overall, so your stash will last longer over time. Alternatively, set some money aside before baby arrives so you can buy a whole bunch and not worry too much about the money!
– Figure out how you’ll store your dirty nappies between washes.
We have a heavy duty bucket with a lid and use a giant Pea Pod brand wet bag to line the bucket. The bucket sits on our drier which is next to the sink in our laundry. Poop gets rolled into the toilet (yay for solid food!) and nappies get put into the bag/bucket and the lid seals in the stink… You honestly can’t smell anything once the lid is closed, and I’m really smell sensitive.
When it’s time to wash them, I pull out the bag, tip the nappies into the washing machine and then chuck the bag in after it. No need to touch stinky nappies!
To keep on top of smells I also make my own pail deodorisers. I’ll post a set of instructions soon…
– Figure out a good wash routine based on the manufacturer’s recommendations.
A few different brands have different instructions but most agree that a hot wash is not necessary. Personally we do a high water level, heavy duty warm wash with ecostore washing liquid, then a high water level, short cold wash, no soap. The longer heavy duty warm wash gives the naps more time to get clean, and this only happens with lots of water, the right amount of soap and the fabric rubbing against each other to agitate out any stains. This is why it’s also a good idea to cloth nappy mostly full time, the more nappies you’re washing the better the stain removal due to them getting all swished around together. If you’re doing cloth part time add a towel or two to the mix!!
The short, cold cycle is more of a long rinse cycle, to make extra sure the soap is washed out. Soap is a barrier to a fabric’s absorbency, so any leftover soap is not a good thing. No one wants a leaky nappy 😦
– On that note, try to limit the use of baby balms and if you can, use disposable liners and do a strip wash every month or so. It’ll keep the fabric in good nick and at its optimal absorbency.
We’ve not had to battle with nappy rash so I’ve never had to use a cream, however if I did, I’d probably go by a fellow MCN mum’s recommendations to let baby’s bottom air out as much as possible and stick to a natural antibacterial nappy rash cream. That method would be kind to your MCN’s as well.
– It’s not all or nothing!! We use disposable nappies when we go out as it’s easier to change and then chuck into a bin, and also overnight as they last longer.
All things considered, I’m comfortable with the cost of one disposable nappy per day compared to the cost of full time disposables.
– Finally, if you’re in New Zealand checkout the nappy lady and go to one of her talks. She’s amazing and it’s so worth it to be able to ask questions and handle a few different cloth nappies in person!!! She also has a website with info on modern cloth nappies and other sustainable and environmentally friendly products! See: http://www.thenappylady.co.nz
– Edit: I forgot one of my favourite tips… Sunlight!! Any stains left over from washing can be nixed by leaving the garment out in the sun, this stands for all items of clothing. This here is a great example of how effective sunlight is in beating stains… http://www.nappyneedz.co.nz/stain-removal-cloth-nappies-sunshine/
Any other cloth nappy mums out there like me?
What are you cloth nappy tips?