Our cloth nappy journey has been a long one, with many changes along the way. It first began when the mancub was four months old and I decided that buying partially biodegradable disposables was a much too expensive option and started looking into alternatives. My second baby has been in cloth pretty much full time since he was born. I’ve tried to collate everything I’ve learned along the way here and you can click the links as you go along to see more detailed explanations of the different nappies and systems.
Cloth nappies, for the uninitiated, are just that. Instead of using disposables that get thrown straight into landfill, you use a washable nappy, launder it and reuse. The financial benefits of opting for cloth are significant, despite the initial outlay and the money spent on water, detergent, tumble drying etc. Of course you also get to feel all warm and fuzzy as you do your bit for the environment, and man, do they look cute. A cloth nappy and a tshirt is a fully functioning outfit in my book. On a baby obviously.
The disadvantages are of course that they are more labour intensive. I generally wash our nappies every third day, then organise them back into our change table. To be honest that quickly became routine and I barely consider it these days, but using cloth nappies does require commitment as there can be occasional trouble shooting as your baby grows and their toilet habits change. That said there is plenty of online support available and there is something very satisfying about working out the cause of a leak and getting your system working.
So, if you have weighed up your options and are considering beginning with washable nappies the first thing to know is this: The world of cloth nappies, although niche, is vast and confusing. There are many different types and everyone seems to swear by a different combination, which can make deciding what to go for a nightmare. The advice to try out a few different ones seemed to me to be an expensive way to proceed, so instead I did what seemed like an infinite amount of online research and plumped in the end for Fuzzibunz One Size Elites. These are a fully adjustable birth to potty pocket system. Roughly translated that means that they can be made small enough to fit a newborn and large enough to fit a toddler. The pocket is made out of waterproof PUL on the outside and fleece in the inside and you stuff them with an absorbent insert.
This system worked brilliantly on the mancub for well over a year. You can read exactly what we bought and how i got started here. As he grew and became a particularly chunky toddler a very heavy wetter I had to get a little creative. I stuck with the Fuzzibunz pockets, but instead stuffed them with prefolds, which are much more absorbent and can be folded to have more padding at the front, where boys tend to get more wet. You can read more about our year in cloth and the changes we made here.
When #2 arrived I was determined to begin cloth sooner, but one size nappies don’t tend to fit newborns brilliantly, so I went on the hunt for a more suitable option to start us off. However the problem with newborn cloth nappies is that they are used for such a short amount of time that you don’t get long to offset the cost of disposables. Of course there are other advantages to using cloth (less waste, comfort and how ridiculously fluffy they are to name a few), but I was loathe to buy a whole set of newborn nappies, which I would only be using for a couple of months at most.
That’s when I discovered that The Nappy Lady, a fantastic UK based business, hires out newborn kits. This was the perfect solution. I paid a set fee to hire 20 Easy Peasy Bimbles as well as Nappy Nippas and wraps, which meant it was cheaper than buying disposables for the same length of time and allowed us to begin cloth immediately.
Once we were done with the hire kit two things happened simultaneously: The mancub outgrew his Fuzzibunz (he weighed a whopping 36lb at 25 months and was on the 99th percentile for his age), and I realised that the Bimbles nappies had been much more reliable than our Fuzzibunz were. Not as stylish, a little more effort and much more bulky, but hella absorbent.
So I decided to take a punt. I sold my Fuzzibunz stash and reinvested in the larger Easy Peasy Bumbles. These look just like the Bimbles, but are a birth to potty nappy (fully adjustable, fleece lined, secured with a Nippa and worn with a separate water proof wrap over the top). Their innovative design makes them suitable for larger toddlers as well as small babies and they are quick and easy to use.
Currently #2 is in cloth full time. He wears a mixture of the adjustable Bumbles
and some old fitted Little Lambs that I got on sale (edit: When #2 outgrew the Little Lambs i replaced them with 10 more Bumbles, so they are now our full time nappy), with a Popolini Vento or Blueberry Coverall wrap over the top. The Bumbles adjust as you put them on (as opposed to the more convoluted Fuzzibunz button elastic system), and they have never leaked on us, as the two part system makes them extremely reliable. The Mancub is now fully potty trained and dry at night, but he also wore these for a few months and I would highly recommend the Easy Peasy Bumble as a great workhorse nappy that can be used on two children of different sizes at once without any fuss.
So, in a nutshell that has been our story so far in cloth nappies. There are far more comprehensive overviews all over the Internet, but my advice would be to look for a system that works for you and your particular baby’s needs. The Baby Centre forum is a great source of advice and there are Youtube videos that demonstrate pretty much every nappy out there. The bottom line is that you have to want to make it work, to put in a bit of leg work and you will reap the rewards.