This post is going to look at cloth diapering, how we do it. Every family is different, every baby is different, so that is something we all need to keep in mind. Something that works for us not necessarily would work for others.
Most people when they hear about cloth nappies they think about terry cloths and safety pins, leaking poop…things that were common with cloth nappies years ago.
Modern cloth nappies are very user friendly and a lot prettier than their predecessors.
This is our beautiful stash of cloth nappies, minus one that he was wearing when I took the photo. That guy sitting next to the nappies is Mr. Rainbow Pants, guardian of all nappies 🙂
We started transitioning to cloth about two month ago. Started with a loan from the Cloth Nappy Library. It is a great deal: you get 10 nappies for 2 weeks to try out for €25 including postage. There are different types and brands in the loan, so you can see what you like.
I was drawn to a brand called BumGenius, because they were a good fit and seemed easy enough to put on. By the way, putting a cloth nappy on is a bit different from disposables.
So then I got another loan from Earthmother.ie . That was an only BumGenius trial kit. Same deal: 10 nappies for 2 weeks. This is a €100 that includes postage to your house and the deposit of €85. So basicly it is €15 for the nappies.
While I had the BG trial kit I knew I really liked cloth and started to built my stash.
In the beginning we only used cloth during the day, disposables during the night, but this soon changed. I went to a Cloth Nappy event and asked for some advice from people who have been using them for long.
Then I was able to get my night nappy stash and that’s where we are now.
All of our nappies one size nappies which means that they can be usually used from birth to potty (8lb-35lb). There are poppers on the front and you can adjust the rise of the nappy.
We own three different types: All in Ones (AIO), Pocket Nappies, and prefold and wrap.
Most of our nappies are BumGenius, we have a few other brands too but my favourites are BGs.
All in Ones:
In AIOs the inserts that absorb the liquids are sewn into the nappy. They usually fold out like the one above. They are very easy to use, you just fold them in and ready to go. They dry very quickly to it is good to have a few of these. I dry mine flat, because I want to make sure that the elastic at the gussets are going to be in good shape for longer.
There is another AIO brand that we use: Bambino Mio. In this case there is a pocket on the outer layer and that is where you fold in the insert (still attached to the cover)
These have velcro closures. I prefer the poppers, but these were on sale in Aldi, so I got two.
Reason I prefer the poppers:
- Poppers seem to last longer, velcro can collect all the fluff and lose its effectiveness
- Toddlers can learn easily how to open velcro
- You have to make sure to close the laundry tab, otherwise the velcro can damage your other nappies in the wash
Pocket nappies have separate inserts that have to be stuffed in the nappies after wash. It isn’t a big job, but if you have 20 pocket nappies then it takes time. Half of our nappies are pocket nappies. I would prefer the AIO-s but some of there were on sale (£10 instead of £17) so I got 5.
Here are a few more nappies we have:
Top Left: Milovia Pocket Nappy. I think it is a Polish make. Very Soft with microfibre insert, there’s only one raw of poppers on it. I like it, but for this price I would buy another one.
Top Right: Charlie Banana: I got this because of the Dude text on it. I’m not that very fond of this. It’s ok, but would buy another one. I use it for short times. Morning before swimming class, or when we need to change a nappy but in an hours it’s bathtime. According to the manufacturer’s instruction you only supposed to wash them at 40 degrees. I wash nappies at 60 degrees, so we will see how long it lasts
Bottom left: Grovia. This is a great nappy, takes ages to prepare (several washes before proper use, to improve absorbency) It is an AIO with organic cotton insert. The only awkward thing about it is the side poppers and how it closes.
Bottom right: Cat in the Hat nappy. I bought it because we love Cat in the Hat in this house! Middle range nappy, work fine but not my favourite.
There’s one more: Smart Bottoms. Most people in the cloth nappy community in Ireland love these. I’m not a 100% with them yet. The reason could be that it is an organic cotton AIO and it takes several washes to reach proper absorbency. It is also possible that the fit wasn’t right, I had a chat about this with an experienced cloth mum, she showed me how to fit it properly. So I hope I will like it more.
The great thing about these nappies that if you don’t like them you can easily resell them.
After some research and asking around I decided to go with BumGenius (Ha! Surprised??) BG have a system called Flip. It is a PUL cover and you can buy the inserts separately. I got the organic night insert and the microfibre insert. I found some covers pre-loved, so I was delighted.
This is how you “sandwich” them:
First the organic cotton, then the microfiber insert and then on the top one fleece liner. This combination is bomb-proof for us. Little M is a good sleeper and I wouldn’t like to wake him in the middle of the night to change him. So this is the perfect night nappy, 12 hours and no leaks.
When we used up all the disposable swim nappies it was obvious that I had to look for a reusable solution. I bought a Smart Bottom swim nappy. It works perfectly.
And of course very cute with all the anchors.
When you start cloth diapering you have to decide how you are going to store dirty nappies. A bucket full of bleach is not recommended anymore, most manufacturers recommend a dry pail. We have two large wet bags. I hang one on the back of the door in Little M’s room and store dirty nappies in it. I like the hanging option, because a curious toddler (probably) can not reach into it.
We have two small wet bags too. They are when out and about.
It is good to have a set of liners because disposing of poop is a lot easier with them. We chose fleece reusable ones, but there are lots of disposable brands available. I have 12 of these and they seem to be enough.
We got a set of 12 washable wipes too. We are going to use them as soon as we run out of disposables. I got a big batch of disposable wipes when Little M was born and we haven’t used them up yet.
This is how they look like and the idea is the same, wash it after use. Some people keep them wet, others use a spray bottle. I’m not sure which method I will choose.
So these are the nappies and accessories. Lots of people buy extra inserts (charcoal, bamboo, hemp) but I find that whatever came with the nappies works for us just fine.
Because of all the info out there and all the very cute patterns and colours I knew it is very easy to go overboard with this whole nappy thing. I like to keep it under control and not lose sight of the real reason of them (eg. these are not collectibles for me)
About the routine:
I wash nappies every second-third day. To be able to do this comfortably, not worrying about nappies not drying fast enough, we have 19 nappies for day and 4 for nights. That is enough. I read that about 18-20 nappies is fine for days (+night nappies) if you wash every second, maybe third day. It is not really recommended to wash any less frequently than this.
Every wash starts with a cold rinse (20 degrees), no detergent and I don’t do spin on this. Then I put on the Baby Hygiene program. That is a 60 degree program with a prewash. I lower the spin to 800, it is more gentle on the nappies (taking care of the nappies is important). I add one full portion of powder (up to the 50ml mark on the cup) and share it between the main wash and the prewash in the detergent drawer. Lots of people do a second rinse at the very end. We don’t. It is important to make sure that the nappies smell of nothing when they come out of the wash. If they smell of detergent than that indicates some powder building up in the nappies which will decrease the absorbency. For the same reason no conditioners or laundry additives should be used at all.
We use Amway Baby washing powder. I bought a 3kg box at the end of July and we still have almost half of the box. It is very gentle on baby skin, mostly plant based and biodegradable.
We did a calculation on this before even trying them out.
We did the calculation as the followings:
[Disposable nappies used by day (Aldi) + disposables used by night (Pampers) ] x 365 = amount spent on disposables in a year.
In our calculation we used the price of the size 3 nappies, the one we used at the time.
Then we added the bin charges. It was easy to know what was the increase in that, because we have all this info on our waste management companies website.
That brought us to a yearly amount spent on disposables.
There was an initial investment of a little bit less the €600 buying the cloth nappies and accessories. Which is just a little bit more than we would spend on disposables and bin charges in one year. So this means that after the first year or so, the cost of diapering the child is only the cost of washing them which also can be calculated with a formula shown on the Cloth Nappy Library’s website.
This is really not that difficult to prove that in the long run cloth nappies are cheaper than disposables. Especially for us who want to have a second child and that child can use these nappies too. These nappies are good quality nappies and will be still good condition to use on a second child. There is a CLoth Nappy Hospital here in Ireland, so if a popper breaks etc.. it can all be mended.
Cloth diapering is a little bit more work (2-3 extra washing) but that is no problem for us.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our routine and how this all worked out for us.