I like big butts and I cannot lie.
Let me clarify. I love a big fluffy bum on a baby and especially toddlers as they teeter around on those yummy chubby legs. Cloth nappies have made a bit of a comeback. No longer are your options plastic pants over terries that need to be boil washed. Now, the world is your oyster. I kid you not. It’s a whole new world with its own language and code. A bit daunting when you first come over to the fluffy side but so easy once you’re settled. I have had a few people asking me about cloth nappies of late. So I thought I’d just post about it here.
If you are even vaguely considering cloth nappies, the first thing to do is really get to grips with the different types of nappy systems. Then you can figure out about brands and colour v/s prints etc. You can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it. Some things are just basic and get the job done and some are really cute. You can get nappies custom made from a lot of WHAMs (Work At Home Mams) and some people go mad trying to get hard to find prints that sort of become collectables but that’s an expensive habit to get into. And we’re all about doing things on the cheap here.
Types of systems:
So, very briefly, all nappies basically have a waterproof (PUL) or breathable (wool or fleece) cover which keeps baby’s clothes dry and an absorbent inner which absorbs pee. Some nappies you have to put the cover on separately and others come assembled. There are lots of types: All-In-Ones (AIO), All-In-Twos (AI2), pocket nappies, fitted or shaped, prefolds, terries and hybrids. Lost already? I’ll try and break it down a bit further.
AIOs are about as close to a disposable for putting on as you’ll get. They have a waterproof cover made of PUL and an absorbent inner. They can take longer to dry as they are thick for absorbency. Some can be pulled apart for drying and simply folded back on top of themselves once dry.
AI2s have an outer shell and various inserts that go inside. You take the insert out at change and wipe down cover and put fresh insert in. Change the shell if there’s a poo. There are often little poppers inside for clipping inserts into place.
Pocket nappies have a slot that you stuff inserts or boosters into so that they lie between the PUL layer and the fleece inner surface. Once assembled they act the same as a AIO but come apart for washing so are often very handy for crèches or grandparents etc. They usually come with MF inserts but you can buy others for them and stuff with anything you like – a tea towel if you’re stuck!
Fitted or shaped nappies are all about absorbency. They are a two-part system and need a separate cover whether that’s wool, fleece or PUL. They give great containment for explosive poos but take a bit more effort to put on.
Prefolds are flat pieces of material usually with a central band that’s more absorbent than the rest. These are typically folded in two or three and laid inside a shell or wrap of some description. They can be used as extra inserts with the AI2s.
Terries are the old school nappies. More fiddly than any of the others but definitely the hardest working nappy. They can be folded differently depending on whether you have a boy or a girl to give absorbency where it’s needed most. You can fasten it with either pins or snappis/nappy nippas (plastic three pronged grips).
When I think of hybrids I think basically of Daisybirds Kids which are essentially AIOs that need a cover if using over night for long periods of time. The outer cover of them while it may be water resistant isn’t water proof. But you can also have hybrids which consist of a shell or cover with a choice of reusable or disposable inserts such as Bumgenius Flips.
Phew. Still with me?
Getting a nappy on:
So you’ve got your nappy. Now you need to close it up. Your wraps and nappies will have either poppers or Velcro tabs for closing. Velcro is sometimes referred to as hook and loop. It’s all a preference thing. Velcro is faster if you have a wriggly baby but then poppers are harder for toddlers to open.
Ok. Surely once you have figured all of that out, putting a nappy on is a piece of cake then? It is. Just different to putting a disposable on. They say a picture speaks a thousand words. Someone else, better than I has put together a picture lesson in putting a nappy on. Remember low at the back, high at the front and squeeze the nappy between the legs to sit into the leg creases.
But will it really hold that much? I’ve heard that you have to change them more often than disposables.
But that’s because they don’t have any of those crazy chemicals sitting beside baby’s bum that swell and expand with liquid. But never fear, all nappies can be boosted for extra absorbency with boosters or inserts.
Inserts and boosters are the same thing. People tend to use the term ‘insert’ for what comes with the nappy and ‘booster’ for any additional stuff they buy. You can either put boosters inside the nappy between liner and nappy or around the nappy itself – so between nappy and wrap (not suitable position for AIO or pockets!).
The order of absorbency from most absorbent to least is: hemp, bamboo, cotton, charcoal, microfibre (MF). The more absorbent, the slower to absorb if that makes sense? So if you have a baby that holds the wee for ages and then does huge power wees, layer a MF ontop of a hemp or bamboo so that mf catches it quickly and hemp/bamboo has time to absorb.
Won’t baby’s bum be wet all the time?
Nappies have liners to catch the poo and allow liquid through making it easier to clean everything while also keeping baby’s bum dry. Of course, just to confuse you, there are lots of different types: disposable, fleece, silk etc. If baby is breastfed you don’t have to worry about liners until you start introducing solid food after the 6 month mark as they use the breastmilk so efficiently. Formula fed babies are totally different and you’ll need liners.
It’s a myth that cloth nappies means nappy rash. Just remember to change fairly quickly after a poo.
Clear as mud?:
I did say it was going to be a crash course. I imagine you need more clarification. I certainly would. The Nappy Lady website is a good first port of call. Her free questionnaire gives her a good idea of your needs and she’ll give you options. But bear in mind that it will only be based on what she sells, although it is a good wide variety that she stocks. If for nothing else you’ll get a good idea of quantities needed. She also has a great ‘Nappy Info and Tips’ section and good videos. It will give you a run down of cost comparisons etc. And a good idea of the ‘whys’ that drive people to switch to cloth.
Another good link is the Cloth Nappy Library who do newborn nappy loans here in Ireland. I certainly wish I had known this earlier. The Irish library have a Facebook page but that’s public so any comments are seen by friends. Certainly when I was starting out, I wasn’t ready for friends and family to know we were thinking of going down this route so the privacy aspect was important. The website itself also has good information especially to get your head around an overview of nappies.
Are there really other crazies out there who are cloth bumming?
We’re everywhere! Facebook is a great place to find like minded people. Obviously, the pages I mention will be Irish groups. But maybe there are other groups for your area.
As mentioned above, closed groups are nice in that if your not ready for friends and family to know you’ve gone off the deep end, your comments and posts in these won’t show up in News Feeds. A couple of great closed groups are Cloth Nappy Chat Group (Ireland) for info and advice.
And Irish Cloth Nappy Essentials who run raffles (referred to as dips) etc where you can win nappies and all things nappy related. They usually have an Irish retailer running a showcase each week. They will offer discounts, dips and RAOKs (random acts of kindness or giveaways). Good to keep an eye on it for any bargains.
There is also a page for second hand sales. It can really bring cost down and if you are quick you can get stuff that hasn’t been used or has only been prewashed whenever it comes up.
My head is spinning just writing this. Let’s leave storage and washing till another day, shall we?