Sunday, August 14, 2016

6 Steps To Choosing Cloth Nappies

My SIL's pregnant! I can't wait to be an aunty! Recently she asked me to help her navigate the world of cloth nappies and I've decided to share with you an edited version of the e-mail I sent her. Happy Reading!

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Congratulations on making the awesome decision to use cloth nappies-not only will you be lessening your baby's environmental footprint, you'll be saving your hip pocket and have a cute little toosh too!

I've used cloth nappies on all three of my children and love them so much I can't help but advocate for their use. Just one of the reasons why I am a supporter member of the Australian Nappy Association.

Entering into the MCN (Modern Cloth Nappy) world can be quite overwhelming but I'll try and make it as simple as possible. (Keep in mind the information below is anecdotal-based on my experiences with cloth and your experiences may be different!)

1. First thing to do is decide what type of nappy you want to use. 

There's 6 types to choose from, I've listed them below with a quick description:

Flats-Old school terry towelling or flannel nappies. These need a cover and you have to fold them. They dry really quickly, are the cheapest option and are actually not that hard to use-both my birthing hospitals provided these nappies for use in hospital. My issue with them was they're not very absorbent! The Nappy Lady on Youtube has some great tutorials.

Prefolds-Prefolds are just like flats but sewn into thirds-the midde third is thicker and more absorbent.

Fitteds-Fitted nappies look alot like AIO, AI2 and Pockets but they require a waterproof outer (plastic or wool cover). Popular brands are the Baby Beehinds Bamboo Nappies and Bubblebubs Bam Bams.

AIO (all in one)-These are the cloth nappy that's most like a disposable. They have their own waterproof cover, absorbency sewn in, you simply take the nappy off and throw it in the machine-no need to stuff or snap. They usually take the longest to dry.

AI2 (all in two)-These are just like AIO's BUT instead of the absorbency being sewn in you snap it in and out so they dry quicker. I love AI2's, some of my favourite brands are Itti Bitti, Bambooty and Bubblebubs.

Pocket-These are the ones you've most likely seen on my girls. They have a waterproof outer and you stuff the absorbency in the 'pocket'. The cheapest ones on the market are known as "China Cheepies" (aka. Alva, Babyland and many other names!). You have to beware with these that lots of WAHMs (Work at home mums), buy these from China, rebrand them and charge $15-$20 for them. Supporting WAHMs is always worth while but if you're on a budget you can buy them yourself from Aliexpress for about $6 depending on how many you buy at once. They're ok nappies but you need to buy the ones with the hip snaps or they leak and you need to use at least 2 microfibre inserts or they leak. They also don't last as long as the other brands-mine lasted about 2years in full time use. CC's get a bad rep online as alot of people use them with just the one insert they come with which is useless, you need to use at least 2 inserts.

I loved my CCs but since being able to afford other nappies I've found I prefer Seedling Baby and Bumcheeks, they're dearer but much more absorbant and longer lasting.

2. Once you've chosen the types you need to choose whether you're going to go for OSFM (one size fits most) or sized nappies.

OSFM (One Size Fits Most) are the cheapest option as you just buy the one set of nappies. Sized nappies are like disposables with sizes-each time your baby grows you have to buy a new set of nappies which can be very expensive! I recommend OSFM. There are some who argue you can't use OSFM on newborns however I've used OSFM on all three of my girls (but they were big babies!). With Squiggles I bought a few newborn ones and they never fit her!

3. Next step is to choose your fabric.

Absorbency wise there are three popular fabrics:
Microfibre: The least absorbent choice but the quickest drying time!
Bamboo: This is the most absorbent, softer than hemp and my personal favourite even though it takes awhile to dry.
Hemp: Similar absorbency to bamboo, needs to be dried in the drier or it goes as hard as cardboard, takes awhile to dry.
My favourite nappy boosters/inserts atm are made up of a combination of layers of microfibre and bamboo.

Popular outer fabrics are:
Basic PUL: PUL is a soft clear coating of polyurethane that is chemically and heat applied to the back of fabrics resulting in a product that is both waterproof and has a small amount of breathability. Minkee: Soft and beautiful-my favourite (these nappies also have a layer of PUL but they have the pretty soft minkee on top)
Cotton: I hate cotton nappies as I found they leaked more but they come in pretty patterns and are good for babies with sensitive skin. I do have friends who only use cotton so again it is a personal preference.

4. Choose your closure.
Snaps or velcro? I recommend snaps all the way as velcro wears each time you wash it not to mention velcro is ALOT easier for little hands to undo!

5. Washing and storing.
All you need is a good $10 nappy bucket from Kmart with a tight fitting lid to store the nappies when they're dirty.

Despite what you often hear, washing cloth nappies should not be complicated. I love this quote from Darlings Downunder:
"You don't need a science degree to wash your clothes,
and you don't need one to wash your nappies."

Here's the Australian Nappy Association's 5 Step Wash Routine as an easy guideline to caring for your cloth nappies. We've washed our nappies like this for 5.5years with great success!

6. Wipes.
I recommend going cloth. Even the midwives at both our hospitals say to use cloth wipes when at home as the disposable ones are quite harsh on newborn skin-I found the bamboo dispoable wipes or water wipes are the least irritable

You can be like me and just buy heaps of Big W's cheap facewashers (I recommend buying at least 20) or you can buy a special wipes system like Cheeky Wipes.

When I just had Bubbles I also used cloth out of the house by doing something similar to this:

With 3 kids I've lightened my load a little and now just use sposie wipes when out and about though!

Hope you're not feeling bamboozled by all of that! Basically my advice would be to go AI2 or Pocket, OSFM, Bamboo and Snaps. But it's a personal choice.

All the best,

If you liked this you may like Our Cloth Journey. Just click the picture to read all about it!

Please always supervise your infant/child at play.  Please stay within arms reach and never leave infants/children unattended.  You know you're infant/child best, use your own judgement-considering your infant/child's temperament, habits, behaviour and development before you play with a new play medium.

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  1. Wow, I wish I'd read this before my son was born! This is a great explanation of all the cloth diaper options.

  2. This sounds like a much better idea for the environment than the disposables. I admit we used the disposable diapers, though!

  3. Oh, we absolutely love cloth diapers. So many have these strange misconceptions about how inconvenient they are or smelly, but we found the opposite to be true. In fact, I had not used a disposable diaper until my oldest was 2.5 and youngest was 4-ish months and it was because we were moving across the country.

  4. What a fantastic resource for anyone looking at what cloth nappies to get. Ace

  5. We used cloth with both of my boys. I loved them and felt good that I was having less of an environmental footprint. I agree that I prefer snaps over velcro.

  6. I love that diapers are called nappies outside of the US. Such a cute name! I never tried cloth with my kids, but I know some new moms, so I'll pass this great info on.

  7. This is such a helpful post! Would have loved to find something like this when I was trying to figure out cloth diapers. We loved them so much for our twins.

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE all of the great information on cloth diapering-it's the best!

  9. I wish I had known how much cloth diapers had changed before I had my kids. I love all the bright colors that are available now.

  10. This is great! Will pass on to my friend who is planning on using cloth diapers with her new baby.

  11. Wish I read this years ago. This is so helpful. A great resource for those who are thinking about cloth diaper but don't know where to start.

  12. Great resource! Perfect for untangling the web of cloth nappies, I never knew there were so many choices!

  13. THis is a great resource! I remember trying to find all of the information on cloth diapers when my babies were new!

  14. So many decisions parents have to take about their newborn - it can be really overwhelming. You make easy for the ones who want to go with cloth diapers.

  15. Oh my gosh! When my kids were little, there was really only one option for a cloth diaper. I just love that families have a choice in how to be environmentally conscious when caring for a baby now!

  16. I never realized there was so much to know about cloth diapers! Wow! I've actually been considering them for my youngest who is special needs and is quite sensitive to disposable diapers. Good info!

  17. I have used cloth diapers with both of my girls. Snaps are better in my opinion. It has only meant one or two more loads of laundry per week. There are so many cute ones too! We ended up liking covers the best.