Now, the timing of this post is somewhat ironic given that Izzy decided a few weeks ago that she no longer wanted to wear nappies and thrust us into the world of potty training a little earlier than I'd anticipated. However, cloth nappies are something that are very close to my heart and really opened my eyes to our global obsession with single-use plastics, so this is a post that had to be written. I also know that not everyone is in the midst of parenting a nappy-wearing miniature human, but please do share my post with anyone you know who may be or may be considering it.
Izzy wearing her first cloth nappy, aged 4 days old
Even before Izzy was a mere twinkle in our eyes, we'd already decided that we were going to use washable nappies - mainly because of the chemicals used in disposable nappies to make them absorbent. But then I did some more research and it suddenly dawned on me: disposable nappies are single-use plastic too. They get worn for a couple of hours then get lobbed in a bin to either be buried in the ground or burnt. Not great either way.
In the UK, we throw away eight million single-use nappies every day. Eight. Million. That's nigh on 3 billion a year, or 400,000 tonnes. And those evil, hard-to-recycle coffee cups, they equate to a mere 25,000 tonnes. Imagine extrapolating those figures globally. Terrifying. So why is nobody talking about disposable nappies?
Again, I think it's because the big-wigs out there have convinced us that we *need* disposable nappies but I can assure you, we really don't. In fact, washable nappies have been a dream. No leaks (bar one or two over the past two and a quarter years), and definitely no nasty exploding ones that are often the subject of memes seen flying around social media (despite my mum managing to put them on backwards on more than on occasion!).
There is also a feeling that they're hard work, but again, I can promise you, they're not. Long gone are the days of having to boil them in Napisan for hours on end. Modern washing machines are so thorough that a long 40° wash with standard washing powder is more than good enough. They just create an extra load of washing every 2-3 days. And let's face it, all parents know that little people make *a lot* of washing, so what's the harm in adding an extra one in?
Nothing more satisfying than hanging the nappies out in the evening and waking up to them dry in the morning. I love summer!
The Nappy Lady and the Worcestershire Nappy Advisory Service offer a wealth of information, and the Nappy Lady's free questionnaire is a great place to start if you're feeling a little overwhelmed as there is a lot of choice out there these days. As with everything in life, you get what you pay for, so we decided to buy slightly more expensive nappies but that came highly recommended and they have been utterly bomb-proof. We also bought some second-hand ones via the various Facebook groups aimed at using cloth nappies (Cloth Bum Mums is fab) and I've also got some others that a friend used on her two children before they came to hug Izzy's bum, too.
But here's my quick run-down of the various options out there:
Two-parters: These are the most reliable and absorbent as they are generally made of bamboo, cotton and/or hemp. We use TotsBots Bamboozle nappies covered in a Motherease Airflow wrap; the nappy is the absorbent bit and the wrap stops baby's cloths getting soggy. The Bamboozles are brilliant because they come with an extra snap-in booster for extra absorbency, and also come with poppers to adjust the size of the nappy as the child grows. Izzy's been wearing the same TotsBots nappies since she hit 3 months old and was big enough to wear them. A word of warning though, in our experience, the TotsBots Peenut wraps aren't great as they are tricky to fit around chubby legs whereas the Motherease wraps are just brilliant. I know Little Lambs also come highly recommended, but these are sized nappies rather than birth-to-potty ones, so you'll have to buy the next size up as baby grows. They're not as expensive as the TotsBots though, so they may be a more viable option when considering all the other baby-related purchases required in the early days.
All-in-ones: These do exactly what they say on the tin. The absorbent section is stitched into the nappy wrap, and these nappies are the most similar to "conventional" disposable nappies. We've got a few second-hand Real Easy nappies and found them very useful for out and about. I've also heard really good things about Miosolo all-in-one nappies. If you're interested in these nappies, they are often on sale cheaply when Aldi do their baby and toddler events. And as a little aside, I can recommend Bambino Mio's washable swim nappies, too.
Pocket nappies: These are a cross between two-parters and all-in-ones. These nappies come with a couple of absorbent pads that you simply stuff into the waterproof wrap section. Again, pretty similar to a "conventional" disposable nappy. They are also available in a huuuuuge range of patterns and I used to take great pleasure in teaming a zebra nappy with a zebra dress (Alva nappies are just gorgeous and I've had to stop myself buying them all on more than one occasion!). I'm a big fan of Smartipants nappies because they dry so quickly and aren't too bulky around baby's legs. Pocket nappies aren't absorbent enough for overnight though - for that you definitely want to invest in a couple of TotsBots Bamboozles.
I could go on and on about cloth nappies for hours (possibly days?) on end, so I'll stop here before you all zone out. If anyone has any more questions, please do send them my way and I'd be more than happy to help. I've been known to give demos over Skype when friends have been deliberating about making the switch to cloth, so happy to do that too. I'll close with a beautiful picture of our nappy stash, just waiting for Baby Worrell #2 should we decide to go down that route one day ;-)