Choosing Reusable Nappies For Your Baby, Part Two
Reusable nappies aren’t every mum’s cup of tea, I know, but if you’re certain that it’s what you want to do, then it can be done successfully. The good news is that cloth nappies nowadays aren’t as cumbersome as they were for me or the generations of mums before me.
Rather than the traditional flat cloth, cloth diapers are now sleeker, hourglass shaped like disposable diapers ( All In Ones, All In Twos, Pocket Diapers etc) more user friendly, ready to use, and even as convenient as disposable nappies, some mums will argue.
What most parents fear about reusable nappies though ,is the work involved, handling poo and the constant wash cycles.
A Mixed Bag
While some mums actually love to cloth diaper their babies, others wouldn’t consider it as an option at all. There are yet some who gave it a try but were repelled by the volume of work it entailed.
Rommy, a mum of two grown children, who resides in France is one of such mums.
The reusable option didn’t work for me cos I couldn’t keep up with the pace of changing, washing, cleaning, drying, etc.”
As a new mum, I used both cloth and disposables for my first three children. Cloth for when we were at home, and disposable for when we were going out.
I was able to cloth diaper effectively then, due to the fact that I had the time and the support.
Having three small children within two years and four months was a full time job, not to mention adding cloth diapering to the equation!
Choosing Cloth Nappies For Your Baby
This post is for mums who in spite of everything else still want to give cloth diapering a go.
To them, I will say:
It can be done.”
Cloth diapering is gaining grounds and there are herds of likeminded mums on social media forums holding the torch for newcomers like yourself every day.
Diaper manufacturers have mobile apps aimed at helping mums through the diapering process as well.
I can safely say therefore, that you’re not alone as you have a community of supporters to learn from and to share valuable experiences with.
With that being said, you also have to play your part by putting some structure in place. It has to be so, giving that you are going to be dealing with human waste which shouldn’t be handled with levity.
Today, I’ll help guide you through with some of the tips I learned along the way. Mainly, things to avoid and things to try, planning and managing your time, your laundry schedule and caring for your nappies.
I know that I had said in my last post that today, I’ll be telling us about the various types of cloth diapers, their pros and cons, and review some of the best brands out there. However, I will leave that for the concluding part of this series.
The Beauty Of Cloth Nappies
Cloth diapering has progressed in leaps and bounds from the 19th century to now. Modern cloth diapers make the work a lot easier and more manageable, and I’m delighted to see how far it has come.
They Are Safe
The beauty about choosing cloth is that from the onset, you know that there are no additives or chemicals sneaked in on you, under any pretext.
You are in control of what goes on your baby’s skin and are rest assured that the label is what it says that it is.
You Are Spoilt For Choice
You have a variety of fabrics to choose from depending on the level of absorbency you want.
You have; hemp, bamboo, charcoal, wool, cotton, and microfiber inserts and boosters available to you, and you can combine them to achieve maximum effect or use as you see fit.
They Are Way Cheaper
Cloth nappies are cheaper in the long run than disposable nappies. You may invest a lot initially. Still, they cost less and you’re able to reuse them over and over again.
The money spent on a cloth diaper goes further than one time use, unlike the disposable diaper where you use once and then dispose. Do you get the picture?
Cloth can be passed down as many times as possible. I had cloth nappies (flats) passed down to me by my big sisters that were more than 18 years older than my first child!
You can also get new and good quality nappies second hand. Just ensure that the elastic on the legs and waists of All in Ones, All in Twos, Pocket Diapers and Covers are in good condition, otherwise you will experience leaks.
They Have Secondhand Value
There is a thriving market for secondhand cloth nappies, social media buy and sell groups attest to this.
The cool thing about it is that you gain in multiple ways namely:
- You get value for your money; you could get brand new nappies that have never been used.
- You get your nappies amazingly cheap which means you can try out different brands and types.
- You can still make some extra change from your nappies, after they have served you well.
They Are Great For The Environment
Unlike disposable diapers, cloths are better for the environment as they are made of organic and biodegradable materials. Not only are they biodegradable, having secondhand value means they can be reused over and over again.
You And Your Baby
You and your baby are the two most important people in this journey. If you understand yourself and your baby, you are halfway there.
Here are some of the reasons why…
Your baby’s skin sensitivity or allergic reactions, gender, height, weight, and number of wet nappies and more, determines the diaper, inserts, liners, and boosters to use and the quantities to buy.
In terms of quantity, your child will use an average of 6 to 10 nappies per day as an infant, and 6 to 9 nappies per day as a toddler.
As they grow older and begin potty training, the number of nappies required become further reduced.
The respectable amount of cloth nappies you will need starting out should be around 25-40.
This number could be more or less, as it is determined by your baby’s daily nappy requirements, your lifestyle and wash routine; whether you are a stay at home mum or a -work-outside -of- home mum, and if you choose to wash daily, every other day or two, or once in three or four days or once a week.
You’ve seen how your baby and your lifestyle and preferences potentially influence your cloth diapering choices.
So also does your planning, time management and how organised you are, impact tremendously on this journey.
You Decide What You Want
You have to decide on what you want before your baby arrives.
Do you want to use cloth nappies from birth to potty training (exclusive cloth diapering) or do you want to use both cloth and disposables (part time)?
Knowing precisely what you want gives a certain level of mental preparedness and control.
Be aware too, that in deciding what you want, you are free to change your mind before or after your baby arrives. It’s absolutely grand, nothing should be cast in stone, when it comes to this.
You Have To Be Organised
To be organised, you have to…
- Manage Your Space
Not everyone has a large enough room to work with, I understand that. But managing your space helps you get better organised and helps to reduce any chance of clutter and cluster.
For example, you may want to rearrange things or dispose of things you don’t need, to make room for your baby.
- Have Designated Wet or Dry Diaper Pails/ Wet Bags
In order to be organised, you’ll need to have structure. Structure for me was having designated pails with lids for used nappies and other baby items.
I opted for the wet diaper pail method, since I used mostly terry and muslin squares and contours. I had a pail for dirty nappies. I didn’t like to leave soiled items on the floor, in the sink or the bathtub.
There was a second pail for pre washing with detergent and soaking in hot water and Napisan or Milton.
I usually let the nappies soak in the solution overnight before I washed them in the morning. I called the process, “treating” my nappies.
This method of soaking nappies with hot water will not be ideal for modern cloth nappies as they come with elasticated legs and waists which can easily get damaged.
I understand that not every mum will do things the way I did mine. Again, it’s about preference and what works best for you.
- Dry Diaper Pail
Some mums prefer to keep soiled nappies in a diaper pail. They separate the nappies, wee and poo soiled inserts, boosters, liners, and wipes, and leave them in the pail until wash time.
If you want to use a dry diaper pail, ensure that it is lined with a pail liner and always closed securely. That way, there is no stench oozing out.
- Wet Bags
Wet bags too, can be used for soiled nappies. They are very good because they are leak and smell proof. Like the diaper pail, soiled nappies can be kept in a wet bag until you are ready to wash.
Tip: Avoid washing diapering things and feeding things together. Again, I believe that as much as possible, avoid using the general household stuff for your baby. I would say to wait until the baby has developed a strong enough immunity.
See related post choosing reusable nappies for your baby part one
You Have To Use Your Time
One of the ways to be ahead of things is to start early. My late mum always said that once you start having babies, you can’t over-sleep or sleep as before.
What she said to me was hard to take in, but true. She was right because I loved my sleep and was very saddened by the prospects of my new reality.
With her help, I kind of overcame that part of me and learned the importance of time management, to know my strength and master time.
Do you prefer to do things early in the morning or late at night?
My wake up time under my mum’s tutelage was between 5am – 6am. She told me though, that hers was much earlier than 5am! She wasn’t kidding, she had 13 children under her belt!
She believed that getting up early gives you a head start for the day. You gain extra hours and get things done quicker especially when the baby is asleep.
For you, it could be getting things done late at night. If this is so for you, then do it. This again helps you get better organised in the morning, because you had put things in place, the night before.
Your Procrastination Drains Your Strength
Unless you are genuinely knocked out and need some time to breathe, please avoid procrastination. It wastes your time and drains out your energy.
My mum always said to strike it when it’s hot! To do things quickly.
You Should Have A Day For You
It may seem impossible, but it can be done if you ask for help.
First, to be able to rest, you have got to ask for help. Don’t be shy to ask friends and family members for help.
The second thing is, if you had a head start by doing things early, you can sleep when the baby is asleep.
You Can Let The House Be!
Sometimes, you have to overlook your untidy house. It doesn’t have to be in top shape nor should it become a pig’s sty.
Condone a little messiness sometimes to give yourself a few minutes to catch your breath.
Find time to catch some sleep when your baby is sleeping, especially during the day.
There is no such thing as a super mum, so make room for your humanity, know your strength.
If you can afford to pay someone to clean the house, by all means, go for it. If you can get friends and family to assist, please ask them for help. If it’s just you and your baby, look away and take that much needed rest to refresh and reboot your energy level.
Caring For Cloth Nappies
Managing The Soil
Managing poo is one of the reasons why a lot of mums are put off by cloth nappies. You know what? It’s not as bad as you think.
The thought of it may gross you out initially, but relax, you get used to it after a while.
Use Disposable Liners
Using disposable organic nappy liners could be a lifesaver for you if you are very squeamish.
All you need to do is to lay them over your inserts, prefolds, or boosters. When it’s time for a diaper change, you remove them from the nappy and dispose of them in the trash (I’ll put it in a nappy bag) or flush, if they are flushable.
When the baby starts eating semi solids and solids, and the poo becomes harder, it gets easier. All you need to do is to shake it off into the toilet, flush and you’re done.
Organic disposable nappy liners to me are best for tackling poo for the reason that the poo doesn’t get on the nappy itself.
Where you don’t use a disposable nappy liner, you may have to scrape the poo into the toilet with a spatula or you can use a diaper sprayer.
Removing Poo Stains
A breastfed baby’s poo is water soluble, making it runny and yellowy in colour. This explains why it leaves the yellowish stain on the nappy. The stain can be removed effortlessly.
I normally soak my nappies overnight with Napisan or Milton which disinfects and removes stains from the nappies and whites.
Likewise, when you wash and dry your nappies and whites out in the sun, it acts as a bleaching agent and can help remove the stain.
Pre Wash Or Rinse,Treat And Wash
As a new mum, I was made to understand that it was improper to wash soiled nappies and other items without first “treating” them.
This informed the reasoning behind my pre-hand washing or rinsing out soiled nappies with a baby friendly detergent to remove poo and urine stain, and then soaking them in a hot water solution of Milton or Napisan overnight, which I refer to as “treating”.
It made perfect sense to me and gave me peace of mind, as doing so sanitised the nappies and clothes as well as helped maintain their sparkle.
I then washed them and hung them out to dry.
Washing Without Pre Hand Wash or Treatment
Alternatively, some mums prefer to keep used nappies in a wet bag or diaper pail until wash days.
Modern cloth nappies don’t require to be soaked in hot water as this may damage the elasticated legs and waists.
Again if your baby is breast or bottle fed you can wash them without hand pre wash or soak because their poo is water soluble and washes well.
On the wash day, they first do a round of pre-wash in the washing machine with a detergent that contains enzymes which removes fecal matter and urine.
(I would recommend that you don’t fill the washing machine to capacity to allow room for the nappies and clothes to wash well).
This round is followed by doing the main wash with hot water (optional), detergent, and nappy sanitizer (optional).
Some mums prefer to sanitise their nappies once a month.
The important thing here is to make sure that the nappies are clean. If you feel that the nappies ought to go in for another wash or rinse cycle by all means do it, it isn’t uncommon.
I still repeat the wash and rinse cycle for my towels and bedsheets when I feel the need to.
Your Laundry Schedule
Putting structure in place also means determining how frequently you intend to wash your baby’s nappies and all.
Having a new baby in itself means constant washing of nappies, bedding, towels, burp cloths, bibs, and clothes.
In order not to get overwhelmed, you have to come up with a plan. You have to schedule wash days, ironing days and free days.
Some advice that you wash nappies and other baby items, every other day or every two days or once a week or every day.
There is really no right or wrong way to do this as it comes down to preference. My thing is only bite off what you can chew.
In order not to get confused, you can wash all your poo stained clothes, inserts, boosters, liners, nappy wipes, towels, and nappies together.
Some mums like myself pre hand wash and do a sterilisation soak overnight before washing, others keep the nappies in the dry diaper pail or wet bag until the next laundry day.
We all have our preferences and know what we want. I would say that you go for what works best for you.
Tip: You can use the solution from your sterilising unit for the nappies and soiled whites instead of pouring the solution out. This way, the liquid serves both your baby’s bottles and nappies/whites.
If you notice, I didn’t recommend bleach. I don’t use bleach for my baby’s nappies or clothes, I prefer Napisan or Milton because I feel they are formulated with babies in mind.
Above all, always read labels for laundry instructions.
- Washing Everyday
If you choose to wash every morning, and you have presoaked overnight, all you need do is to wash and dry the following morning.
If you prefer not to presoak, you can leave soiled items in the diaper pail or wet bag to wash the following morning.
- Washing Every Other Day or Two
If you choose to wash every other day or every two days using the presoak method, you will have to leave nappies to soak for a day or two as the case may be.
Only remember that you’ll be adding new contents to the already soaked items every day. Therefore, you would need to wring out the soaked items, add the new contents, and then resoak with hot water (optional), detergent and Napisan or Milton.
You have to repeat this process every day until your next wash day considering that it’s your intention to treat the new contents as well.
Adding new contents to already soaked items or leaving things soaked without changing the water, gives off a foul odour plus the contents and water get slimy. When this happens, your aim of sanitising the nappies is defeated.
A note of caution here: I feel that if you want to go for the presoak method, you shouldn’t soak items for more than two days. Soaking things for too long wear the fabric out.
Also, ensure that your wet diaper pail is securely closed with a lid and kept away from the reach of young children and pets as they could be hazardous to them.
Finallly, always read labels for manufacturer’s laundry instruction.
UK new mum, Jules tells us how she handles her soak:
You have to pre-soak soiled items/white. What worked for me was leaving it overnight or a day or two. In terms of smell, you will need to change out the pre-soak water and contents, so re-add Napisan + detergent.”
Conversely, for the mum who washes without the presoaking method, leaving them in a wet bag or a diaper pail until your next laundry day will do.
Like I said, it’s all in your court and what works best for you.
See related post choosing reusable nappies for your baby part one.
I would advise that once you have decided on a washing schedule, it will be best to stick with it.
The next thing then is your ironing.
I would suggest you iron on the days you aren’t washing, it’s always better not to pile up a ton of work for yourself in one day.
Only be sure not to leave clothes to stack up. Allowing things to heap up will cause you to become easily overwhelmed with work.
Ironing is important because it helps kill any parasites that may have latched onto the clothes and nappies while drying outside. I used the traditional flat terry and muslin nappies in my days, so ironing them was a must.
I also think that whether you tumble dry or leave out to dry naturally, ironing makes clothes look better and well preserved.
Tip: After you have washed and dried the clothes, whether out in the sun or in the dryer, fold immediately. This leaves the clothes with little or no crease.
The lesser crease means the faster and quicker the ironing. I find that folding the clothes makes things appear organised and stresses me out less.
If you have to iron nappies with outer protective coverings, turn the nappy inside out and iron only the fabric side, also mind the elastic on the leg and waist.
Better still always check the label for washing and ironing instructions.
I was taught that stained nappies or clothes must be rinsed off or pre handwashed immediately and then soaked in Napisan overnight to wash the following day or two.
The same goes for milk or food stains on clothes, burp cloths and bibs, because they get mouldy, if not washed immediately.
Moulds leave dark stains that may or may not go off even after being washed. Worst of all, you don’t want mould on your baby’s clothes as they are dangerous.
So is throwing wet or damp cloths into your baby’s laundry pile. They dampen the rest of the clothes and give out a foul odour.
A Quick Review
Today, you learned that you and your baby play a key role in your cloth diapering journey.
Your baby decides the type of cloth diapering option to go far and even the amount of diapers to buy to a large extent.
You, on the other hand, are responsible for the management and planning of your time as well as deciding your diaper options.
You learned about the beauty of cloth nappies, caring for your cloth nappies and your laundry routines.
You also learned that you are not alone in your cloth diapering journey, that you have a teeming community of likeminded mums.
Next time, I will be telling you about the different types of cloth nappies, their pros and cons and the best brands around.
Till then, stay safe and please leave a comment or reply below.