The Lowdown on Modern Cloth Nappies

A little while ago, a Childhood 101 Facebook follower asked me for my thoughts on cloth nappies.

When Immy was three weeks old I tried cloth nappies (a friend had kindly loaned me some which her bub had grown out of). I put the first on and it was wet mere moments later. I put the second on and it was soiled within seconds. I am ashamed to admit that my tired, befuddled brain stopped there as all I could foresee were mountains of terry towelling waiting to be washed and as quickly as my experience with cloth nappies had begun, it was was over. In hindsight, I should have waited a few weeks to find our routine, our rhythm, and tried again, isn’t hindsight a marvellous thing.

Luckily I have a good friend who succeeded where I failed and here she happily shared her experiences with modern cloth nappies with not one, but two daughters, just 16 months apart! Take it away Mon…

Cloth nappies have come a long way in the last few years, so although people still assume that cloth nappies equal terry towelling squares (the ones we all wore as babies), boy are they wrong!

With this in mind, it was easy for me to make the decision to use modern cloth nappies but it was very difficult to make decisions about where to buy them, which brand to buy, how many to get, etc. However, I got there in the end and here are my tips about using cloth nappies.

They are very effective, easy to use (I PROMISE!), save lots of money and are absolutely adorable!

Brand, style and price
There are many different brands of cloth nappies that play on similar styles. They usually have removable inserts and either a built in cover (called an ‘All-in-one’ nappy) that stops wetness from touching clothes or an additional cover (called a ‘pilcher’) that goes over the top of the nappy (like plastic pants). Most brands use poppers to fasten the nappy together and the additional pilcher is usually fastened together by Velcro tags.

Some brands have sized nappies (small, medium, large) and others are one-size-fits-all, which is possible because of the amount of poppers on the nappy allowing you to adjust the fitting. Expect to pay around $20-$30 for each nappy, though there are cheaper and more expensive brands out there too. Some brands offer discounts if you buy a certain number and also have sales on throughout the year. Sized nappies will be a snugger fit, but overall they are more expensive as you will need to buy enough of each size as your baby grows.

How many do I need? What else do I need?
I think it is necessary to have 2 days worth of nappies, and maybe a couple of extras on top of that, so around 15.

Using cloth wipes instead of disposable wipes is also a good idea because they can be put into the nappy bucket and washed along with the nappies. If you use disposable wipes, you will need to have a bin plus a nappy bucket. I find it more straight-forward to use the combination of cloth nappies and cloth wipes at home, and disposable nappies and disposable wipes when out and about.

I also recommend getting a spray gun that attaches to your toilet so that you can rinse the nappy easily before putting it in the nappy bucket. Rinsing is only necessary when your baby has poo-ed, and having the spray gun makes this process quick and easy.

Washing and drying
The nappies can be washed using hot or cold water and can also be put in the dryer. Some brand of nappies dry much faster than others, but that can also mean that they will need to be changed more frequently than other brands, as they are less absorbent. Unless soiled, pilchers are washed every second use and they dry very quickly. Your nappy bucket will almost certainly be full after two days so expect to do a load of nappies every second day – it’s an easy system to get used to and essentially means one extra load of washing for you to do every two days on top of your usual loads. Using the dryer only infrequently, if there have been several days of rain for example, will obviously keep the running costs of using cloth nappies down.

How often they need to be changed? What about night time?
Most brands encourage changing your baby’s nappy every 2 hours. And like all nappies, cloths will obviously leak if they are very full. Most are extremely absorbent, however, and so will last longer than 2 hours but of course it’s better for your baby to have regular nappy changes. One or two extra-long inserts are put in the nappy for the night time. In my experience this has worked fine and there have been no midnight leakages to keep me from my well needed sleep.

Benefits and drawbacks

The benefits are

  • The nappies are made of natural materials, so they are better against your baby’s skin.
  • They are really cute and come in a range of colours and patterns.
  • They really work.
  • They are easy to use.
  • It’s not difficult to get into a washing rhythm – just remember one nappy wash every 2 days.
  • They will save you money and it’s one less thing to have to buy each week/fortnight.
  • Use them at home and out and about or just use them at home and have disposables for outside, you will still save money either way.
  • They are better for the environment.
  • Good discounts are usually available when you buy in bulk.
  • You can sell the nappies when your baby doesn’t need them anymore.

The drawbacks are:

  • They are bulkier than disposable nappies which can affect what style or size pants will fit your baby or toddler.
  • It’s difficult to know which brand to choose and you have to rely on the internet to research them. There are no try-before-you-buy schemes as far as I’m aware.

In a nutshell
There is no need to think that you will make life harder by using cloth nappies. They are a funky and fashionable item for your baby so why not invest in a bunch and use the money that you would usually spend on disposable nappies for something more fun?

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  1. katepickle says:

    We are cloth nappy converts here… mostly because I detest that I spend so much money on disposables that are used once and then chucked away!!!

    Mind you I am no slave to my washing machine, and we are not cloth purists we still use disposables at times too.

    And I agree the hardest thing about cloth is finding the perfect nappy for your child!!

  2. We love our cloth nappies here! We only made the switch when DS was a year old but now, after using them with DD from birth, we couldn't imagine not having them! I don't think I would even know when to change a disposable anymore ;)

    We use OSFM fitteds along with some AIOs for going out and they last about 3 hours (not that we use them anymore, as DD is toilet trained). I rarely put them in the dryer as I find that they wear a lot faster that way. Our nappies are now 3 years old and still going strong so they are worth their money!

  3. We use modern cloth nappies and I love them! The only regret I have is buying ones that fasten with velcro – the velcro has worn and they fall off now (yes – that was a very messy discovery!!). Next time I'd buy the pop-button ones.

    We use disposables at night though, because I find the cloth ones (even with extra padding in them) leak through.

  4. red in oz says:

    There are a couple of places in Australia that offer a try before you buy program (Melbourne) (Australia Wide)

    We love our cloth nappies and most of ours are well into baby number two. We have a wide stash. For me the main issue is reduction of landfill.

    I think the key to successful cloth nappying is deciding why it is you want to do it and buying up accordingly.

    Do you want to be environmentally friendly (eco fabrics, wool covers, quick drying solutions to avoid using the dryer).

    Do you want natural products against your child (cotton and bamboo, wool again).

    Do you want to save money (bulk packs of well known reliable nappies, cloth flats, home mades using recycled fabrics etc.)

    Do you want to use them as a fashion statement (custom mades, minkies, one in every colour, babylegs etc.)

    Is ease of use more important that absorbancy (i.e. change more frequently but put on like a disposable, velcro all in ones). Do you live somewhere that things take a long time to dry (synthetic boosters).

    That way you fall in love with them for your own reason and not because someone else said you ought to.

  5. This is such a useful post! I am going to bookmark this right away. Thank you so much! You know what is my favorite point? "They are better for the environment." Absolutely! =)

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