Davina here - Both Hannah and I are big fans of cloth nappies and wipes and have used them for all our girls. I will be honest and tell you that I don’t just LOVE reusable nappies because they are better for the environment, mean your child will potty train sooner and save us money (especially now we are using them the second time round) but I also love them because of the way they look!! I love the bright bold colours and patterns and the fact that in the summer time they can be worn alone and look amazingly cute!
Some facts about Cloth Nappies:
According to a government report published by the Environment Agency in October 2008 reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies. Paper (disposable) nappies often take up to 200 years to degrade and its estimated that each baby will use 4,000!
6 Tips on how to make Reusable Nappies even greener:
- Invest in an energy-efficient washing machine.
- Line dry nappies rather than relying on the tumble dryer.
- Buy used washable nappies - this will save you money too and make the most of the nappies. I am using mine for a second time now with Bonnie and they are just as good as new.
- Reuse your nappies for second and third etc child.
- Wash all nappies at the same time and use lower washing temperatures. I wash mine at 30 degrees, which many people are shocked by but they come out smelling and looking clean.
- Choose greener nappy liners - if you use nappy liners in your washable nappies, try to choose washable, biodegradable or compostable versions. I use biodegradable Ultra liners.
What equipment you need for cloth nappies and wipes:
- Cloth Nappies
- Liners (optional)
- Large wet bag for storing used nappies
- Travel wet bag
- Cloth wet wipes (optional)
- Colourful Muslin cloths (optional - see No Nappy Time)
- Leg warmers (optional - see No Nappy Time)
- Flask (optional - see cloth wipes and DIY Baby Bum cleanser)
- Bowl (optional see cloth wipes)
- Marigold tea (optional - see cloth wipes and DIY Baby Bum cleanser)
- Coconut oil - great for sore bums!
Choosing your cloth nappy brand:
There are so many cloth nappies on the market and so many different types - all in ones and two parts that require waterproof wraps. Many councils run free talks on cloth nappies, where you can see different variations of nappies and discuss pros and cons of each type. Some councils will also give you a finical contribution towards your cloth nappies. Lewisham gave me £30. We went for Fuzzibunz because they are all in one nappies so less fuss and I love the bold plain colours.
13 Tips on using Cloth Nappies:
- If you choose a ‘One Size’ nappies it may take a few trails to get the sizing right and you will know if not fitting correctly as your baby will have leaks.
- Change nappies regularly to avoid leaking - I change mine every 2.5-3 hours (because of this we use paper nappies at night so not to wake Bonnie up by changing her nappy)
- Consider using washable paper liners. If your baby does a poo then the liners catch a lot of it and you simply flush it down the loo! But if they only do a wee then you wash it and reuse it - brilliant.
- Store all the dirty nappies in a special nappy wet bag that when full you simply load into the washing machine so you don’t have to touch soiled nappies. (if you use nappies that have inserts you need to remove inserts before placing in wet bag.
- Don’t use fabric softener as it also clogs up your cloth nappies and stops them from being absorbent.
- Use an environmentally safe washing laundry liquid and only half what you would normally use to stop clogging up of nappies.
- Don’t hang your nappies on direct heat if they have elastic in them (heat damages elastic)
- Encourage your baby to poo out of the nappies to avoid washing. See No Nappy Time.
- When out and about use a small travel wet bag for dirty nappies
- Use shower to spray poo off nappies before putting in wet bag (or soak them).
- If you do get any stains on nappies then place in direct sunshine to remove stains.
- Don’t use nappy creams as these will clog up your cloth nappies and stop them from being absorbent (see DIY Bum Cleanser)
- Dress your baby one size up as cloth nappies are a lot bigger than paper nappies and will make your child's bum huge!
Using Cloth Wipes:
I have to admit that I didn’t use reusable wet wipes with Elfie - I just thought it was too much effort when using cloth nappies and too much washing in a small flat but I am using them with Bonnie and love them! She is 12 weeks old now and I haven’t bought a single pack of wet wipes and I wish I’d known how easy they were to use with Elfie. They are particularly easy to use if you are using cloth nappies as you just throw the dirty ones in with dirty nappies and wash them all together. I also take advantage of having to ‘wet’ them myself and use warm water - warm flannel to clean your baby’s bum - how nice!
So firstly a bit about disposable wipes:
I always thought they were made from paper but after reading Green Living Tips on wet wipes I learnt that they are actually made from silk, cotton, polyester, wool, rayon, polyester, polyethylene, and polypropylene – or a mixture. The cheaper the wipes the more chance they are made mainly from plastic - meaning they too take years and years to degrade in our landfills. The cleaning products that are used contain a range of chemicals, which may not be bad for humans but can be toxic for land ecosystems.
4 Tips on using Cloth Wipes:
- Most cloth wipe manufactures suggest keeping your wipes damp in a container similar to plastic tupperware but I find they quickly go a bit smelly if you do this and like to keep them dry and wet them when I need to.
- I like to use warm water as I think its nicer for the baby especially in the winter months. If you don’t have your baby changer next to sink (like I don’t) use a flask of hot water and simply poor how much you need to dampen a wipe into a bowl. This will mean the bowl is empty once the wipe is wet and therefore ready for next use. (if cleaning a poo then wash bowl afterwards just to be safe).
- Make the wipes smell nice by adding some essential oil to the water (either in tub or in flask)
- After use simply put in dirty nappy bag or if soiled then soak and spray excess poo of with shower.
DIY Calendula bum cleanser:
Calendula is renowned for being good for nappy rash and is the oil from marigold flowers. You are recommended not to use nappy creams with cloth nappies as they clog the nappies up and stop them being so absorbent. But what you can do is make you own Calendula cleaning solution by simply making marigold tea (you can buy this from health food shops or tea merchants). If you like the flask idea then poor it into a flask when still hot and it will make the wipe nice and warm too and well as bing good for preventing nappy rash.
No Nappy Time:
Cloth nappies are quite chunky and do feel damp on babies’ skin unlike disable nappies that use chemicals to stay dry. Because of this I’ve always thought it was important to give babies No Nappy Time, which essentially means time to play with no nappies on to let their bums breathe. We do this at least twice a day. I always let Bonnie have no nappy time on a mat on the floor when I shower and before her bath time. She loves the freedom and her bum seems to love it too. In the winter you can use baby leg warmers to keep their legs warm and always put a muslin cloth underneath bum to catch wee and poos. If you do this religiously like me you may also notice that they will save up their poos for this time and this will mean less nappies to clean! Hurray! And I think its also really nice for them not to have poo nappies and helps with early potty training.
Tip for No Nappy Time:
Use colured muslin clothes and wash with nappies. Save white ones for burping and that way you know which ones have been washed with nappies and therefore which ones not to use to clean baby sick up with from their mouth!
We hope this information is useful and if you have any tips we'd love to hear them so please do add a comment.