For some people the decision to use cloth nappies is easy while for others it requires more consideration and a little encouragement. Getting started can be daunting- there's a whole new language to learn and wading through the product maze is confusing to say the least. It is really with time and experience with your children that you'll master cloth nappies but there is plenty you can do to be well prepared when you're starting out. We've made this list of our Top 5 tips to help those of you who are getting started!
Tip #1: Choose Nappies Sized To Fit Your Baby
A newborn baby needs newborn sized nappies. Newborn size cloth nappies will fit babies from a teeny 2.5kg through to around 6kg, which for average-sized babies is around 3 months of age. Newborns can wear Modern Cloth Nappies which are the cloth equivalent of disposables, or they can wear a traditional nappy such as terry towelling flats or prefolds under a waterproof (PUL) cover.
Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs) are great as they are easy to use and a trim fit compared to traditional terry flats, however they are considerably more expensive and take longer to dry. Many newborn styles are All-In-One nappies, meaning there's no stuffing pockets or folding inserts, you just fit the nappy to bub and do up the velcro or snaps. Our All-In-One Package features this style exclusively. Traditional nappies such as terry flats or prefolds under PUL covers are comparatively inexpensive to get started with and are faster to dry, but require folding and Snappi-ing (that's modern day pinning!) so are more labour intensive at change time and there's a little bit of finesse required when it comes to getting a great fit. Many parents choose to try both and a hire package such as our Variety Package accommodates this desire.
Once your baby is around 5-6kg they'll begin to fit one-size-fits-most (OSFM) nappies. OSFM nappies come in number of different styles, all variations on a theme- a waterproof outer and some kind of absorbent inner known as "inserts". The inserts can be sewn in (All-In-One nappy), snap in (All-In-Two nappy) or stuff in (Pocket nappy) among others. You can find a huge amount of information on Youtube and via your favourite cloth nappy manufacturers and retailers. Each style and brand will fit your child/ren differently so it can be worthwhile trying a number of different nappies rather than putting all of your eggs in one basket when you're starting out.
Tip #2: Begin Your Stash with 24-30 Nappies
You'll need a nappy for about every 2 hours during the day, plus whatever you want to do for night time (with a brand new baby you usually change them at each feed). Let's say 8 daytime nappies per day as an example. Multiply the number of nappies you expect to use per day by the number of days you're going to go between washes. If you wash after the 2nd day, 8 x 2 = 16. If you're line drying you'll need a good day of drying time in nice weather so add another 8 nappies (16 + 8 = 24). If you're line drying in bad weather... let's not even go there! If you're tumble drying your nappies you'll need enough to cover the time it takes to wash and dry and fold/stuff/prepare them. You'll want a few extra for emergencies/unexpected poos/stashed in the car etc.
24-30 nappies is generally reported as a reasonable amount of nappies to get you started and as you can see, this estimate is quite reasonable but doesn't give you much wiggle room and for this reason, you'll find many people have more (well that plus they are cute, and addictive, and so on!).
Tip #3: Cloth Wipes Are Easy When You're Already Using Cloth Nappies
You can buy cloth wipes (many nappy manufacturers sell them- we stock Grovia Cloth Wipes as an add-on to our nappy hire packages), sew your own (two layers of flannelette is popular) or use what you already have (such as cotton washcloths). Store them dry and wet as you go, they easily become smelly if you keep them wet in a container. As for wetting them as you go, we like to use a 1 litre squeezy sauce bottle such as a Decor Sauce Bottle, it's super easy and you just refill the bottle when it runs out. No need for any special solutions, just water is fine for newborn bums! Pop used wipes into your nappy pail and wash with your nappies.
Tip #4: Prepare For The Poo
Before you have your bub it's worthwhile thinking about how you might deal with poo clean up. You'll be doing clean up no matter which nappies you choose (disposables often leak newborn poo badly and then you have to change your bub's outfit and clean their clothes too!). Newborn poo is the least offensive poo you'll ever have to deal with which is definitely nature's way of easing you gently into parenting. You can rinse and pretreat the poopy newborn nappies in your laundry sink (just don your gloves and a bar of Sard Wonder Soap) or you can invest for the future and buy a nappy sprayer. We've had our Little Squirt nappy sprayer around four years at the time of writing and it's brilliant! You can buy a Little Squirt from many online nappy businesses. There are other nappy sprayers too, this is a helpful write up courtesy of the Australian Nappy Association.
Tip #5: Ask for Help!
The online cloth nappy community is a wonderful thing to be a part of- it's amazingly active and helpful. If you've any questions that your retailer can't help with then online is the place to ask. You can join any number of groups on Facebook, each with their own variation on the cloth nappy theme, and start chatting. You'll quickly find your new online home to discuss all things cloth! We have a little group called #getintocloth Queensland where are are always welcome :)