A very brief introduction to cloth nappies

Saturday, 20 October 2012

 The Toddler is dry.  As in super dry.  Day and night, So the task of bagging up all the lovely cloth nappies is somewhat bittersweet as we embrace the next chapter in his development yet The Husband is most adamant that there shall be no more babies.  Ever.

Why did i use cloth? Many reasons, the biggee is that it's cheaper, if you add up the costs over the duration of an average 2-3 years of wearing nappies the savings can be immense. Then there's the fabric, after birth i never bought disposable knickers which many suggest, the thought of paper knickers is just revolting so why on earth should a baby wear plastic and paper?  Cloth is soft and comfy.  Then there's the chemicals, one study found there is a link between disposable nappies and fertility problems in later life for men.  The absorbency is due to chemicals, they react with the wee, a chemical reaction often creates heat.  Often due to advertising claims many disposable nappies aren't changed often enough which means babies and toddlers have a saggy, heavy, hot wet plastic nappy dangling between their legs.  Then there are the environmental factors,  some cynics may refer to a government report that claimed using cloth is equal if not worse then using disposables however, if you read the report they assume everyone washes at 90c, uses a full dose of powder, tumble dries and even irons the cloth nappies, all rather silly and hugely inaccurate assumptions. ' You don't notice it when they're all you use but disposables actually smell too, an awful chemical nasty smell.   Cloth nappies keep babies hips in an anatomically beneficial position and some studies have found babies in cloth can potty train earlier. Then there's the shallow side of me, because really.....they're cute.  Disposables are...well....fugly.  My only regret is that I didn't use them with Thing One and from birth with Thing Two (we switched at ten months)  It's never too late to switch, you'll still reap the numerous benefits.

One of the first rules of cloth nappies is to never ever buy bulk in advance, even if you find the best deal ever...seriously....the easiest way to put you off cloth is to do that. Every mum and every baby is different, some swear by one nappy and others will hate it. It's best to get a few different ones and see which suits you and baby best. Any you don't like you can sell pre-loved and spend the money you get back on different ones. Many people buy pre-loved and save lots of money and get to try diff types for a fraction of the price.

Okay firstly there are many types of cloth nappies, the main ones are shaped two parters, pockets and AIO's, terry squares and pre-folds.

Nappies come in two variations of sizing there's 'sized' and 'birth to potty'. Sized nappies usually come in small, medium and large and obviously as baby grows you'll have to keep purchasing the next size up. However, sized nappies can give a better fit and aren't as bulky etc. BTP nappies should fit from birth up to 35lbs so you only need to buy 'once'. I buy btp ones because i'm on a strict budget and i bought a load for Thing Two and am reusing them on The Toddler.

I won't talk about pre-folds and terry squares because i've personally never used them (though they have been used on me when I was wee) However they are the most economical option, offer great versitility in various folds, are quick drying and you can buy them in traditional white, bold bright colours of even tye dye your own etc.  Rather then nappy pins you can buy 'nappy nippas'.  You'll need a waterproof wrap or woolies to go over the top of these.


Two part nappies consist of a 'shaped' nappy usually made from cotton terry or bamboo. These fasten either with applix (velcro), poppers or with a nappy nippa. You 'boost' these to suit the absorbency level you need and then cover with a wrap (this is the waterproof part and the designs range from plain to very very pretty/cool.) You can line the main nappy too with fleece liners which draw the wee away from babies bum and keep them dry or flush-able liners (tho they gave my dd nappy rash and they're papery) If you don't want to use a wrap you can use 'longies' or 'soakers' which are knitted trousers pants that look super cute and are lanolised which allows the wetness to evaporate naturally and keep baby dry. Many people swear by two part systems, i tried them with Thing One and it put me off cloth completely, yet i've recently tried them again with my third child and i'm liking them alot

Examples of shaped nappies are Mother Ease, kissaluvs, Tots Bots or you can go for posh fluff like holdens landings, dunk n fluff and the likes to name but a few.

Many cloth users prefer two part systems for night time.

Pocket Nappies

These are what i use. Basically you have a waterproof funky 'shell' lined with fleece/micro-suede with a 'pocket' at the back that you stuff with inserts and boosters. The inner of the pocket draws the wee away from babies bum and the inserts absorb the wee whilst the shell keeps the clothes dry. Pockets are very versatile and you stuff them as much or as little as you need. They're often slim fitting and fasten with either poppers or applix. If you pre-stuff them as soon as they're washed, they're just as easy as putting a disposable on but they're cuter, softer and have no nasty chemicals. Liners are optional,

Once again you can buy sized or btp, Mine are predominantly btp.

They're very quick to dry too.

Examples of pockets are: Rumparooz, blueberries, fuzzi buns, Happy Heiny, Happy flutes, greenkids, issy bears, weenotions etc to name but a few

These are possibly the easiest to use. The absorbent bit is snapped/sewn onto the main shell bit so super easy to use but can take longer to dry as you can't take them apart. These aren't 'always' the most absorbent but you can add snap in boosters etc.

Examples of these are cushie tushie couture, tots bots easyfit and itti bitti d'lish.


The cheapest and quickest drying boosters/inserts are terry cotton. This is a 'thirsty' fabric so drinks up wee really quickly however, it's not the most absorbent.

Hemp is natural and very absorbent but takes longer to dry then terry and can occasionally dry a little stiff (not an issue tho if it's just an insert) It usually doesn't gain it's full absorbency until it's been washed at least 4 times.

Bamboo is super absorbent  soft and naturally antibacterial. However, it takes considerably longer to dry then the others and can take up to 8+ washes to gain full absorbency.

If you use hemp or bamboo it's useful to wrap in a micro fibre cloth (very cheap from poundstores and supermarkets) as the mf soaks up the wee quickly and then the hemp/bamboo holds it.


It's a myth that you have to have a tub of stagnant liquid with nappies festering in them. Most of us dry pail. When you take a nappy off just throw in a nappy bin (you can stick a sanitary towel or cotton wool with some essential oil on in the bin to keep it fresh, lavender and tea tree oil are natural antibacterial agents) then just bung in the wash. Some people use a laundry mesh bag to line the nappy bin with so all they have to do is lift the bag out and bung it the machine.


Never ever use a full dose of detergent, it's unnecessary and will leave residue on your nappies and negatively effect their absorbency  If you use powder you need a tablespoon full. If you use liquid  use a teaspoon full. Never ever use fabric softener, it ruins the absorbency as it coats the fibres however, you can use bold 2-in-1 as the softener in that is clay based (other softeners are oil based)

Some people do a pre-wash first, or just do a cold rinse. Then wash at either 40 or 60 and follow this with an extra rinse.

I wash every 2-3 days or so.

White vinegar is a natural fabric softener (& an anti bacterial agent) don't worry, you can't smell it at all after the wash.  Some people add essential oils to the wash. Bicarb soda can help deoderise.  However, if using pockets or wraps, keep any additions to a minimum to protect the PUL.

Most nappies can be tumble dried but if you line dry the sun is a natural bleaching agent. If it's raining i dry mine on those lil sock driers you get, round with loads of pegs... indoors.

If you use only one cloth nappy a day that is 365 LESS disposable nappies a year!


If you use cloth wipes it's just as easy to use reusable wipes and cheap too! You can buy wipes or make your own (cut up an old fleece blanket!) or i buy packs of six baby washcloths for £1 from poundworld, they're large, thin, stretchy and soft. I roll them up and put them in a Tupperware box and pour my solution over them other times i keep them dry and spray a wipe solution each nappy change. Your solution can be simply cooled boiled water or i use chamomile tea (chamomile is lovely for their skin) Sometimes i add to this either lavender  tee tree oil, almond oil, aloe vera gel, honey etc. If you go out you can either take a few wet in a small wet bag or else take them dry with solution in a spray bottle.

When you go out you'll need a wetbag, these are waterproof bags that either zip close of have a drawstring that you put wet/dirty nappies in when you're out. these bags then get washed with the nappies.

It's best to try one or two of diff makes to see which you like best and which suit your baby best. many people buy these pre-loved as it's cheaper. Cloth nappies also have excellent re-sale value.


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