Cloth Nappy Info
We want to keep this simple, because using cloth nappies doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’ve ever dared to research “cloth nappies” then you’ll know it’s a minefield of “do’s and don't's” along with often conflicting information to say the least. It really doesn’t have to be complicated at all! We’ve included a few tips below along with a few links to more information should you feel so inclined to do further digging into the cloth nappy world, but you’re also more than welcome to contact me or join our Facebook VIP group if you have any questions about using cloth nappies.
Why use cloth nappies?
Cloth nappies are MUCH better for the environment in so many ways.
They are a better choice for your baby’s skin – disposables contain chemicals and can often cause nappy rashes.
Modern cloth nappies can save you around $1,000-3,000 and that’s just on your first baby!
It doesn’t have to be an all or none approach…
You can use cloth nappies part-time or full-time. Just doing 1 cloth nappy per day is 365 less disposables a year going to landfill – that’s a BIG difference!
Being a new parent is hard work – don’t put too much pressure on yourself to do 100% cloth from day 1. By all means, if you feel that you can and want to then GO YOU! I’m just saying that you don’t want to put pressure on yourself and then give up because you’re still adjusting to being a new parent and getting into a routine. My suggestion is try one out on a day when you’re at home and settled in and go from there as you build your confidence.
Parts of a cloth nappy:
There are a couple of parts to a cloth nappy.
Cover or Shell – This is the waterproof outer part of the nappy.
Inserts – This is the absorbent part. Inserts can come in a range of shapes, thicknesses and fabrics with different absorbency. Natural fabrics such as bamboo, hemp and cotton tend to be the best for both absorbency and comfort for your little one as they can be used against their skin without causing a rash.
Liners – These are optional. Some nappies have a liner sewn onto the cover (like pocket nappies) and a couple of brands have them sewn on to the top of their inserts. They are generally made from a microfleece or suede cloth and they help to keep your baby’s bum dry by drawing moisture away and into the inserts. They can also help make cleaning up pooey nappies a bit easier. You can buy reusable liners or disposable liners to sit on your nappy. The biggest thing to remember is NOT to flush disposable liners down the toilet – even if they say they’re flushable, they tend to cause problems.
How to prep a cloth nappy:
Before you use a cloth nappy for the first time you will need to wash it first. Any inserts made with natural fibres (such as bamboo, hemp or cotton) will need soaking for 24 hours to build up their absorbency first. If you don’t want to wait that long, you can use them after just one wash, but you will need to change more frequently the first few uses as they take about 6-8 washes to reach their full absorbency potential.
How to use a cloth nappy:
Get your nappy and lay it under the baby’s bum so the top of it sits just above the lower back/butt crack – make sure you have both the insert and cover part of it. Do it up so that it fits snugly but not too tight around their waist and legs. It's okay to have compression marks on the skin just like we could from our underwear, but it shouldn't look like it's sore or rubbing. There should be no gaping around the leg or you’ll have leaks. If the nappy is too big, you’ll need to use the rise snaps – those are the ones on the front of the nappy which snap down to make the nappy smaller. Tuck any excess fabric upwards with your fingers. After a couple of hours or when they poop then you’ll need to change the nappy. Be sure to flush any poo down the toilet.
How to wash cloth nappies:
This is where some people can get overwhelmed with different information. It doesn’t need to be confusing though. It is, however, VERY IMPORTANT to follow the manufacturer’s washing and care instructions for each brand of nappy as they can have different requirements and by not following them, you could shorten the lifespan of your nappy and void their warranty.
When you take the dirty nappy off, you can put it in a wet bag, bucket or straight into your washing machine – you do NOT need to soak it, in fact this will ruin your nappy’s lifespan. Be sure to flush any poo down the toilet and then if it has poo residue on it then I’d suggest you rinse that off first. If you aren't washing every day, then I'd suggest using an airy basket (dry pail) to store the nappies in. Good air flow will help prevent mold growing and odours from concentrating. I personally do a cold rinse cycle first and then a warm-hot regular cycle afterwards – you can even add towels, etc to the wash if you feel comfortable doing so. Your everyday laundry detergent is usually fine to use – just avoid ones with softeners, enzymes or optical brighteners. Don't be tempted to add extra in, just use what the packet recommends otherwise it can cause buildup on the nappy and prevent them from absorbing properly.
The best way for them to dry is in the sunlight. Sunlight is a natural antibacterial and antifungal stain remover. You can dry some nappies in the dryer on a low or no heat option, however it does tend to reduce their lifespan. If you really need to use a dryer, try to pop the inserts in and dry the covers on the line. Covers take hardly any time to dry but a dryer often can ruin their elastics and PUL waterproofing.
How many do I need?
The amount of nappies you need depends on how frequently you plan to wash them (we recommend every 1-2 days), whether you plan to use them full time or part time, and of course the age of your baby (newborns tend to need more frequent changes). As a general guideline, we suggest 10-15 for part-time use and 20-30 for full time use. It’s a good idea to try a few different styles and brands before buying in bulk as you may find that the brand your friends like isn't the one for you.
With any styles that have separate covers and inserts, you can buy extra inserts to use with the covers as the inserts take longer to dry than the covers and often covers can be wiped clean and used for more than 1 change.
Types of cloth nappies:
There are quite a few different styles of cloth nappies around now – some come in Velcro closure and some in Snaps or Domes. Here are some helpful descriptions so you know what’s what.
AIO or All in One – This means the nappy comes in 1 piece. The insert is generally sewn into place on the cover which makes them a super easy nappy to use as there’s no mucking about. Perfect for first timers, reluctant dads and grandparents.
AI2 or All in Two – You can probably guess this one now. It comes in 2 parts – the cover and the insert. The inserts sometimes snap into place or can just sit in the nappy depending on the brand. The benefit of this style is you can often reuse the cover and just replace the inserts when changing – provided there were no poos in it.
Pocket Nappy – This style is a cover with a sewn on liner with a pocket at the back where you pop the inserts in.
Flat Nappies – These are the traditional style of nappies you probably remember from your childhood. They aren’t waterproof so it’s recommended that you use a cover over them.
Pre-fold Nappy – These are basically the same as a flat nappy, but they are folded and then sewn down so you don’t have to fold them yourself.
Fitted Nappy (often referred to as a Night Nappy) – Instead of an insert in a rectangular shape, the absorbent part is the whole nappy – it has elastic around the legs and waist so it fits well and generally holds a lot more liquid than other styles of nappy which is why they’re often used as a night nappy. There is no waterproof layer on the fitted nappy though so you will need to use a cover. We’d recommend a big double-gusset nappy.
Double Gusset Nappy or Cover – This means the nappy has a gusset around the legs – it allows extra space for inserts and is especially great over bigger nappies such as flat or fitted nappies or for night use when you need to pop extra inserts in.