As a long-term cloth bum mum, I love talking about cloth nappies! So, if you’re thinking about using cloth nappies for your baby, my top tips for beginners will help you get started.
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I have been a cloth bum mum for almost four years now and, without sounding like a total weirdo, cloth nappies bring me absolute joy! The patterns, the prints, watching my kids walking around with a little duck bum…it all makes me happy. As well, of course, as the fact that I have prevented thousands of nappies from sitting in landfill for up to 500 years waiting to decompose.
I originally began using cloth nappies when I was expecting my third child – I already had one in disposables, and money was tight. I had planned on breastfeeding, using hand-me-downs where possible, and I needed to find a way to save more money. I can honestly say that using cloth nappies was the best thing I ever did.
At one point, I had three babies in cloth at the same time – it was tough for a while, but the rewards most definitely outweighed the convenience of a disposable cloth nappy for me.
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Top Tips For Using Reusable Cloth Nappies
#1. Choosing Your Cloth Nappies
- AIO – These little beauties mirror disposables, and I’d highly recommend these to start off with when trying out cloth nappies. They consist of a waterproof outer layer, an absorbent soaker, and an inner layer. These nappies fasten with both snaps or velcro and have snug elastics around the legs.
- AI2 – These have an outer waterproof shell almost like a nappy cover and inserts get put into the shell and lie directly against your baby’s bum. Some inserts attach with snaps and some get tucked under flaps found in the cover.
- A pocket cloth nappy consists of a waterproof cover that has a stay-dry lining that acts as a pocket between the lining and the cover. This allows you add an absorbent insert or prefold into the pockets between the two layers.
- Prefolds are old school and the cheapest option. They are rectangular in shape and made of several layers of ordinary cotton sewn into three panels. The central panel has the most layers. They can be folded in different ways and I personally find them great to stuff pocket nappies with.
- Fitted nappies do not have a waterproof outer layer, and require some kind of waterproof cover be used. Fitted nappies consist of multiple layers of absorbent material. They have elastic along the leg and back and fasten on baby with snaps or velcro hook and loop closures.
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#2. Pre-Washing is Essential
Always, always, always pre-wash your new nappies numerous times before you use them so they reach full absorbency and always follow manufacturer’s instructions to keep them in tip top shape.
#3. Wash With Care
Never ever use bleach, bicarbonate of soda or vinegar on your nappies for stains as they can damage the PUL and elastic in your cloth nappies over time.
Also avoid using fabric conditions when washing your nappies, it prevents proper absorption and coats the fibres.
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#4. Get Out in the Sun
Natural sunlight will be your best friend. Not only is line drying going to save on your energy bills the sun will help erase any stubborn stains left in cloth nappies.
#5. Find a Routine
Invest in a nappy bucket to store your cloth nappies after use, it will keep the smell at bay until wash day. I just use a plastic bin with a lid under my sink that I got in Dunnes, it’s nothing special. You will also need a wet bag for your travels, any waterproof beach bag from Penneys should do the trick.
#6. Line Up Liners
Nappy liners aren’t necessary but they are great for catching poop especially in the early days and they also help prevent staining. Not all liners are flushable so always read the instructions.
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#7. Put It On Properly
Putting on a reusable cloth nappies is completely different to a lashing on a disposable. If you’re a complete novice, this video on how to apply cloth nappies is invaluable.
#8. Try Before You Commit
If you’re unsure what nappies to buy, get in touch with Cloth Nappy Library Ireland. You can get a nappy trial kit, newborn loan kit and try out all the different brands, and find what suits your baby before you start building your cloth nappy stash.
#9. Learn About Leaks
You should not get leaks with cloth nappies. If this is an issue:
- your nappy isn’t fully absorbent enough yet
- it hasn’t been applied properly
- the baby may be a heavy wetter
- or it could be compression leaks.
#10. Find the Right Size
You can always add an extra booster or change your baby’s nappy more often if they are a heavy wetter. Cloth nappies are a little bulkier than disposables, so I found going up a vest size helped us with compression leaks (or you could pick up some vest extenders to help prevent this problem).
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Have you ever considered using cloth nappies? Do you have any other tips to share with our readers? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!