Many moms consider using cloth nappies instead of disposable nappies, but feel so overwhelmed with all the choices and the logistics behind it that they rather just leave it.
The good news is that it does not need to be this way!
Learning how to use cloth nappies is just like learning how to look after your new baby. It’s just something new. It takes a bit of time to figure it all out, just like having a baby does.
Before you know it you will be a pro. Using cloth is a very satisfying and rewarding journey. Once you have mastered it you will never go back. Be warned, cloth nappies can become quite an obsession.
Why choose cloth nappies?
- It saves lots and lots of money. Using disposable nappies from birth to potty will cost you in the region of R20 000. Using cloth nappies can cost as little as R6000. Those same nappies can then be sold or passed on. If you have two children, the same nappies can be used again, which doubles your savings.
- Far less rashes and sore bums.
- No more stinky disposable nappies in the dustbin.
- To protect Mother Earth. We are fully aware the environmental impact of tons and tons of disposable nappies on landfills. Children produce a lot of waste which can be substantially reduced by using even just a few cloth nappies a week.
So where does a new cloth mom begin?
With good quality, fully absorbent nappies. Fully absorbent means that the entire nappy wraps around the baby and is absorbent as opposed to a nappy that has a single strip to absorb in the wetzone. Fully absorbent nappies can hold a substantial amount and are very reliable if made from good quality fabrics.
Pokkelokkie cloth nappies offers three types- flats, prefolds and fitteds. Each of these will work as well as the other – which one you choose will depend on how much you want to spend.
Flats are like the old school Terri nappies – remember those? It’s a square of hemp or cotton that you fold (in under five seconds) and put it in. Our modern day flats are super trim. No more massive bums or big sharp safety pins. Most moms prefer flats as they can custom fold it for their baby’ bum to prevent leaking. Being a single layer, they are also fast drying, which most moms love. Never be put off by anything you have not tried. Almost all of our new moms favour their flats over any other nappy.
Prefolds and fitteds are presewn nappies- they mirror a disposable and have things like elastics and velcro for size adjusting. They look easier and are definitely our top dad’s choice. Having said that, with a bit of coaching most dads manage just fine with flats.
All Pokkelokkie nappies need a cover. A cover is the barrier between the cloth inner and the outside world, so it`s important.
When should I start?
Lots of moms wonder if investing in newborn cloth nappies is worthwhile as clothes don’t fit for long. In the realm of cloth nappies, how long they fit all depends on what you buy. Cloth nappies like flats can fit from birth to ten months. That is a huge amount of wear and only covers need upsizing at around the 6-7kg mark. The earlier you start, the more worth your while it will be financially.
But you can start at any age and are still guaranteed to save. Even at two years of age a toddler can still go through around two hundred nappies a month. If potty training happens at three years of age, this amounts to about 2400 nappies – you can do the maths.
Now the big question – how do I wash them?
Washing modern day cloth is a lot simpler than it was in the good old days. There is no need to soak nappies in buckets bleaching solutions. Dirty nappies are stored in a basket, then rinsed and washed in two machine cycles, and then hung up to dry. There really is not much more to it than that.
Using cloth full time you can expect to have around 2 – 3 extra loads a week. Very manageable and very satisfying.
A mom’s cloth journey
Celeste van der Berg, lifestyle photographer and mom of two shares her own cloth journey.
Opting to use cloth was met with a variety of reactions from our friends and family, ranging from “Are your crazy?”, to “But why?”.
I felt compelled to use cloth to save money, reduce wastage and reduce toxic exposure. Here are a few tips and tricks I have learnt about cloth over the last 3 years with my two little ones.
Get a good start to ensure success
Ok, so big truthbomb coming up here: as pretty as some cloth prints are, you are looking for quality material above all things.
I find a hemp/cotton blend to be my favourite, as it is extremely absorbent and I have not had one
single leak, EVER. Hemp is more expensive, yes, but for me it has by far ben the best option. I also love hemp because I can pop them in the tumble dryer on the lowest heat setting.
I prefer using a fitted diaper with a cover. Fitted nappies work great for us, and they are used in the same convenient way as disposable nappies. The also dry in a reasonable amount of time, and I can reuse covers as they are completely separate from the nappy.
Using cloth nappies at night is probably one of the best parenting decisions we ever made. No leaks, no wet clothes, no wet bedsheets. Night nappies are bulky, as they need to absorb a lot. A hemp night nappy is my favourite, as it absorbs like no other material and ensures a comfortable night’s sleep for your baby. At night, I prefer using a fleece cover to ensure maximum comfort for baby.
All cloth nappies need some form of a waterproof cover. You have different options to choose from.
PUL is fairly affordable and commonly used- PUL material always reminds me of the material a shower cap is made of.
Softshell is my favourite- this is a waterproof cover that is lined with a soft material.
Fleece is a less known cover type, but one that I love. It is a great nighttime solution and works well for daytime play. It is not ideal for car rides as compression leaks may happen.
The big question: what happens to my dirty nappies???
- Rinse night nappies
Something that I learned early on in my cloth journey- night nappies need to be rinsed in warm water every morning to break down any crystals that have formed during the night. Skipping out on this step can cause smelly issues.
All cloth nappies need a liner. Initially, I used disposable liners. I have since been introduced to the amazing world of fleece liners. Fleece liners work far better than disposable liners and are cost effective.
3, What about the poop?
Poop goes into the toilet, so a nappy sprayer is a great addition to your cloth routine. When a baby is exclusively breastfed, soiled nappies do not need to be rinsed, as breastfeeding poop is water soluble.
Babies on formula, or babies eating solids, however, do not have water soluble poop and their nappies should be rinsed before going into the washing machine.
4. Storing nappies till wash day
If a nappy is wet, simply pop it into your wetbin until washday. A wetbin is a open basket (I use an old washing basket) in which you store your wet nappies. Modern cloth nappies should not be soaked or kept in a closed container.
If a nappy is soiled, either dispose of the liner or rinse the fleece liner. Once clean, pop into the wet bin till wash day.
I like to add a drop of tea tree oil to the bottom of my wet bin.
5. Washing your nappies
Depending on the material, washing instructions for nappies vary slightly. Some general guidelines to follow:
- Baby detergents are not effective – they are simply not strong enough to properly clean your nappies.
- Do not use a detergent with a softener in it- softeners will make your nappies less absorbent.
- Do a pre-rinse, wash on the longest Cotton cycle your machine offers (at least 2 hours) and do not spin nappies over 800rpm.
- PUL covers should not be washed with warm water.
- Follow the water temperature guidelines set by your nappy manufacturer.
- The sun is your nappy’s best friend to get rid of stains.
- If you are keen on going eco-friendly, Triple Orange is your best bet.
Most traditional bum creams are a NO GO with cloth as they will make your nappies less absorbent. In general, you do not need bum cream when using cloth nappies, but there are some great local creams available if you prefer to use one. (Oh Lief is a local brand and is my favourite)
The nappy bag
When out and about, remeber to take along a wetbag for your soiled nappies.
Cloth nappies are bulky when compared to disposable nappies, so invest in a nappy bag that has space for your nappies.
How many nappies do i need?
A cloth nappy is changed as often as a disposable nappy, every 2-3 hours during the day. In the newborn days, this is often more frequent.
I have 3 night nappies and 20 day nappies in my stash. Along with my nappies, I have 3 fleece covers and 10 softshell covers.
With this stash, I was every third day.
I only discovered newborn cloth with my second child. For me it was a total game changer! While my daughter only used them for 6 weeks, they were worth every cent. Once she outgrew them, I sold them, because the used cloth nappy market is HUGE!
A last word
Invest in good quality cloth to make sure you have a cloth journey that you love. Buy well, buy once. Reach out to fellow cloth moms if you feel stuck, unsure or need some advice. SACNU.com has a wealth of information on general cloth guidelines.