Confessions of a Cloth Nappy-holic

My lovely neighbours had their first child a few weeks ago. Being laid-back actors who opted for a home birth, I figured they might be in my wavelength about a few things. So I tentatively asked them if they’d considered using cloth nappies. Why, yes. It’s something they were considering.

And so it starts.

I used cloth nappies on my two. It started off as a way of saving money, a way of helping the environment, a way of getting away from disposable nappies that smell so weird and feel so harsh.

I initially started part time. Still using a disposable at night or when travelling. But by the time my daughter came along, I’d gone into full ‘cloth nappies as special interest’ mode. I researched them, bought obscure brands, tried out all sorts of novel arrangements. I even had a blog. Yes, my very first blog, seven years ago, was dedicated to cloth nappies. But I only wrote a few posts, as there really isn’t too much to write once you’ve covered the basics.

So, with that background, was it any wonder that I recently went to have a gander over at Fluff Heaven, a cloth nappy store based in Newry, Northern Ireland. They really are the closest Irish shop, as the ones based in the Republic seem to have all closed down. I suppose we don’t have the market for them.

It just so happened that Fluff Heaven had a sale that day. Yup, you know what that means. My finger just accidentally slipped on ‘buy’ for a few items! And so today I popped into my neighbours with some fluffy post! I feel like a drug dealer giving out free initial samples. Maybe Fluff Heaven ought to pay me commission. Or a gift voucher. Hint hint. But obviously I just like promoting cloth nappies. It seems special interests never quite leave you.

For the rest of this post, I’m just going to write a very quick primer on cloth nappies. If there’s enough interest, I may write in greater detail about them at a later date. So, here goes:

Cloth Nappies 101:

All cloth nappies consist of two basic components. A waterproof outer layer, and an absorbent inner layer. These can be separate layers,  or sewn together. There are also various combinations and permeations but that’s the basic bottom line: waterproof and absorbent.

As for sizing, you can either opt for sized nappies, buying bigger sizes as your child grows, or Birth-to-Potty ones that you can expand to fit different sizes. It was these that I decided to buy, as they work out at better value, though the sized option can be a better fit for some babies.

The first nappy I got my neighbours is a Bumgenius Freetime. It’s an All-in-One nappy, which means the cover and inside are sewn together, so it’s the closest in form and function to a disposable nappy. The inside is made of microfibre cloth, which fold out as flaps and so make drying much faster than other All-in-Ones. The flaps are covered with a stay-dry layer as its not good to have microfibre actually touching the skin. As Freetimes were not around until my kids were too old for them, I’ve no personal experience of using them. But I do like the Bumgenius brand, and the makers Cotton Babies, a US company that produces high quality products. So I’ve no doubt it’ll get a lot of use. Because they’re quite easy to use, All-in-Ones are often a good choice if leaving your baby with grandparents or babysitters. This particular version uses Hook and Loop closing, so it’s again  very like a disposable nappy.

[image of a white Bumgenius Freetime Nappy, in the closed position and newborn size setting]

[image of a white Bumgenius Freetime, opened out to show the inner absorbent layer]

The next nappy I got them was a Bumgenius Pocket Nappy V.4. The versions I used with my kids were V.1 and V.2, and the newest is V.5, but they all work on the same basic principles. Pocket nappies are so called because the outer layer is sewn to a stay-dry layer to form a pocket. The stay-dry layer helps wick away moisture from the skin, while also ensuring the microfibre doesn’t touch the skin. The microfibre layers come as removable inserts, which come out in the wash and so dry really quickly. You get two inserts with the nappy, a newborn insert and a one-size insert that you can adjust in size as your baby gets bigger. The newborn inserts make great boosters too. You then stuff them back into the nappy when dry, and stuffed nappies then function as All-in-Ones and so are also very similar to disposables. The nappy I got uses poppers instead of Hook and Loop, which some people prefer for toddlers as they are harder for them to get out of! The poppers can be a bit tricky to close on a wriggly newborn though!

[image of a closed Bumgenius Pocket Nappy in a bright yellow colour]

[image of two microfibre inserts, a newborn one on the left and an adjustable size one on the right]

The final nappy I bought for my neighbours was a Flip Hook and Loop Cover with a box of Newborn Inserts. Flips came out when my daughter was nearly done with nappies, and I wish I had had them from the start. They were, by far, my favourite nappy system. And at the height of my obsession, I’d tried at least 30 different brands of nappies! They consist of an amazingly leak-proof waterproof cover which contains flaps at the back and front to hold in place the inserts. You can buy organic cotton inserts, disposable inserts (handy for travelling) and stay-dry inserts, which is what the newborn ones are. But, to be honest, you can use nearly anything as an insert as the flaps hold them in place. I’ve used pad-folded muslins, old t-shirts, even tea towels in emergencies. The covers also fit around any other type of nappy, so you can mix and match with different brands.

[image of a closed Flip nappy cover, in light pink.]

[image of a pink Flip cover, opened to show a newborn insert inside.]

Cotton Babies also have an economy range called Econobum, which consist of a one-size cover and prefolds (pre-folded pads of cotton absorbent layer, which are also great inside Flips or pocket nappies). I used these a lot too and loved them, though the lack of Flip-style flaps made them a bit trickier to keep in place with a wriggly baby. They are a great option too, but as they weren’t included in the current sale, I didn’t buy any.

I won’t go into the washing, storing etc right now. The personalised advice feature of the Fluff Heaven website is very useful though for more specific help, as is their general advice area. And there are many similar websites and shops based all over the globe.

Writing this post has made me a bit broody, so I’m off to do housework to remind myself why I don’t want any more kids! 😆

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