In my last post I talked about how I chose which type of nappy I wanted to use and my favourite brand. That was the easy bit… now let’s discuss how they actually work in practice.
Now, I had never changed a nappy before having my own baby. I didn’t grow up with loads of babies around and was never overly baby orientated. So I went into this whole nappy thing with a mixture of what swung from blissful ignorance to the sheer terror of the unknown. To be honest, that’s how I went into the whole baby thing, and six months in it’s been amazing (I have learnt A LOT).
So nappies. As I said in my last post I didn’t start using the reusable ones until about 8 weeks whilst I was finding my feet. In that 8 week period I was blown away by how many bags of used nappies I was taking to the bin everyday, and with every bag I thought about the landfill and the amount of time nappies take to break down. Not cool. I was pleased I’d made the decision to try reusable ones but I decided to be kind to myself (always) and not beat myself up if I found it too hard. At this point I’d only bought about five nappies so the investment wasn’t so big that I felt bad if I stopped (spoiler alert: I didn’t stop, I really like using them!).
I was not too familiar with what baby poo is like so I read about how to clean the nappies and followed the advice of the nappy companies and blogs of people that were using them.
Generally, milk fed babies poo is water soluble so you can just chuck everything in the washing machine. It also doesn’t smell too offensive, so whilst it wasn’t the best part of my day, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be (although it has put me off chunky sweet potato dip for life). I kept a slide top bin next to my change table and just threw the soiled nappies in there. This was in the winter so the room was cooler and the bin didn’t smell too bad. I could get away with washing them every 2-3 days.
I wash the nappies on the “mixed” setting of my machine at 30 degrees C. I use a natural detergent for them, but not one that contains plant oils. I did no prewashing or soaking.
I always dry my nappies outside, but under a covered area. These octopus hanging driers have been one of my most used items, they are so convenient for nappy washing. The bamboo pads really don’t take long to dry so the whole process is not too arduous.
If I’m feeling organised I’ll reconstruct all of the nappies and line them up beautifully so they are ready to go, but more often than not they just end up in a mixed pile of pads and covers and I make them up as I use them.
Now that my baby is on solids things have changed a little. I was dreading the poo from solids but in all honesty it’s much better to deal with than the milk poos. I use a bamboo liner in the nappy now and can just lift it out and throw the poo in the toilet. It’s much more like a play doh consistency so doesn’t go everywhere like milk poo. Too much information? Maybe, but I had no idea before having a baby and could have done with someone making it nice and clear for me!
Also, it’s now much warmer here so I can’t leave the bin for too long. I’ve got in the habit of washing that day’s nappies just after I’ve put my baby to bed so they don’t sit in his room overnight.
How often I change nappies
You will find with cloth nappies that you have to change them far more regularly than disposables, as they don’t have the magic water absorbing chemicals that the disposables do. I generally change his nappy every 2-3 hours, and I definitely had a few times where I left it too long and they couldn’t hold any more liquid. More regular changes means a fresher, drier bottom and I think this contributed to the fact that my son has had no nappy rash.
I’ve been told recently that reusable nappies make it easier to potty train as your toddler knows the feeling of being uncomfortable with a slightly damp nappy and so will let you know that it needs changing. This was only anecdotal so I can’t promise anything!
When he was still waking every few hours during the night I would check and usually change his nappy but as he started to sleep longer, and stopped pooing in the night, I wanted to be able to leave him without worrying about leaks. I started to use an extra pad in them but found this didn’t work as well as I would like. So overnight he sleeps in a disposable. Remember how I said I wasn’t going to beat myself up if I could do it perfectly? Well, I decided that one disposable per day is so much better than one bin bag full per day so I’m ok with my choice. I might start trying to use the cloth ones again over night, but I switch to a disposable because he was waking due to a wet nappy rather than anything else. Changing him then woke him up more so I made the call that longer periods of uninterrupted sleep was better for both of us.
The only other time I’ve used disposables is when we went overseas on holiday. I really admire anyone who would continue their reusable routine on a plane or whilst staying away from home, but I decided not too. After two weeks of disposables I was wooed by how convenient they are but made sure I got straight back into my reusable routine when we got home and I quickly remembered why I love using them.
What about when you’re out?
No one wants to lug smelly nappies around with them, do they?! This was an area that I thought I would just use disposables because it would just be too much effort but it’s been fine. I always keep a couple of disposables with me just in case but in general it’s been fine. Keep a wetbag with you and empty it as soon as you get home and it’s really not as bad as you might think. I use this wet/dry bag because I can just grab it out of my big nappy bag when I need it.
Give it a go
If you’ve read this far you must be considering using cloth nappies. If you’re not sure, just get a couple to try and incorporate them into your routine, perhaps on days when you know you’ll be at home. You may find that gradually you lean towards using them more and more, but every time you use a reusable instead of a disposable is one less nappy ending up in landfill. Which is a winner.