A LAZY PERSON'S GUIDE TO WASHABLE NAPPIES

01:00 Hayley Brockie-Dunlop 0 Comments

INTRIGUED BY REUSABLE NAPPIES? READ ON...


Woodland bottom (this is a Bambino Mio nappy)
People always seem surprised when I tell them I'm a naturally lazy person because I always appear to be on the go. That's because I'm actually very good at disguising my laziness (think of it this way: to me, each "on the go" moment is simply a way to get to the the next opportunity to sit down more quickly). My family, however, they know the truth, since my slothful tendencies have been intact since birth. So when I told my mum I was considering using reusable nappies (also known as 'washable', 'cloth' or 'real' nappies) once my baby was born she was very surprised. Her scepticism, however, was based on visions of big towels that you had to fold and pin in place, much like the kind of nappies she used with me and my brother in the 1980s. She was doubtful that I could be arsed with it all, especially given that disposable nappies are so (ridiculously) cheap these days. What she didn't know - and what I didn't know until I saw pictures of friend's babies with fab, bright, billowy pants on their little bums while I was pregnant - is that washable nappies these days are in fact brilliantly designed and simple to use. Before I go on, an important disclaimer: I am not a washable nappy guru. I don't use them on a full- time basis and I doubt I ever will. I go through phases of using them a lot, and not using them at all. There are plenty of extremely knowledgeable people out there who know everything under the sun about cloth nappies and are incredibly passionate about it. My own nappy oracle is the wonderful Sarah from Nappy Geek, who lives down the road from me and is always on hand to provide a sensible solution to my latest practical query. Sarah - like many other nappy experts - also runs regular "nappucino" coffee mornings from her home in south London, during which she demos all the various types of nappies and answers all of your burning nappy questions. I attended one while I was still pregnant and on maternity leave and it was incredibly useful. I wish I could have 1% of Sarah's enthusiasm but, well, see above regarding my laziness, which prevents me from being hugely passionate about most things in life (with the exceptions of my family, hand dryers, puns, putting food in my belly and sitting down), but that's a blog post for another time and another blog which I'll undoubtedly never get around to writing because I'm too lazy. But I thought if I outlined some of the top level stuff for those of you whose interest is mildly piqued by the thought of washable nappies, but not piqued enough to look into it properly, that I may hopefully tip you over the edge so you can seek out your very own nappy guru - there is bound to be one round the corner from you. Why use them?
Babies get through thousands of nappies a year which means that, every single day, 3 million disposable nappies go to UK landfill. I don't know about you but that makes me feel pretty awful. There are also financial benefits - even though the up front cost seems like a lot at the time, in the long run you would actually save money by using washable nappies instead of disposable ones. Also, have you seen how fab they look? There are some amazing designs out there. Bear in mind that some UK councils offer incentive schemes - often cashback - to encourage people to use washable nappies - there's a list of participating councils on this website. Isn't it all a bit of a faff?
It's a bit more of a faff, but nowhere near as faffy as you think. In short, you put the nappy on (they mainly fasten with Velcro or adjustable poppers) the babies do their thing, you take the nappy off and put it in the wash and dry it before the next use. You don't need to soak the nappies before washing or anything cumbersome like that, you can simply put them in a mesh bag within a well-sealed bin and then chuck the mesh bag in the washing machine with the nappies still inside. How do they work?
There are various types and loads of different brands that I won't go into, and different styles work with different families and different babies (I'm a particular fan of the flat nappy which is simply a wad of super-absorbent material that you fold and stuff inside a waterproof wrap, and at the next nappy change you just stuff a new wad into the same wrap). But the principal for each is the same - absorbent material inside a waterproof cover. Some nappies have the absorbency built in (easier to use), and others have them separate (quicker to dry). The great thing about most washable nappies is that they expand with your growing baby, meaning that - in some cases - the same nappy can last from birth right up until the little one is potty trained. And this point is the key one for me - even if I'm not using them very much at one point in Elliott's babyhood, I can quickly switch back to them at another point. The way I see it is that part-time or occasional use of cloth nappies is still better for the environment. Right?! BUT WHAT ABOUT THE POO???
The thing I didn't realise until I went to the nappucino session is that you insert a liner - not unlike a slightly larger sheet of loo roll - between your baby's bum and the nappy. So when there's poo you can scoop it up and throw (or flush, depending on the liner) it away and hopefully be left with a non-soiled (albeit wet) nappy. But, let's be honest, not all poos are scoopable, especially in the early weeks, but once you get to know your baby's habits you could choose to be a bit tactical, e.g. use disposables until the poo has happened and switch to washables later in the day.

If your baby poos A LOT and you can't face the pooey washing you could consider waiting until their poos become more solid before you start using washable nappies. We've just started weaning and I imagine our washable nappy use will increase substantially in the coming weeks as the poos become more manageable (but more stinky!). I never thought I'd write the word 'poo' so much. Won't my baby's bum feel all wet and yucky?
They are surprisingly absorbent, and because the nappies themselves are adjustable you can ensure they are really snug to prevent leakage. Interestingly my parents swear that, because they used cloth nappies with me rather than nappies that keep babies' bums feeling falsely dry, I was easier to potty train because I wanted to get out of the damp nappies quicker. I have no idea whether this is true or not, but you can see the logic. Night time is a different matter, and we always use a disposable nappy to reduce the risk of a wet bum waking Elliott up. I believe this is quite common amongst washable nappy users. OK, I'm interested. How can I find out more?
Reading this superb guide by the aforementioned Nappy Geek (with whom I have no affiliation, honest!) is a good next step. You can then search for "washable nappies" and your local area online to find a local guru / supplier to find out more. I'm interested, but I'm even lazier than you...
I have good news. There are companies out there who provide a "nappy laundering service", collecting your dirty nappies and delivering fresh ones to your door, although it's obviously not as cost effective as doing it yourself. More details here. I remain unconvinced.
You can still do your bit for the environment by investing in some other washable baby items without going down the nappy route. We love our washable baby wipes, which are effectively a stack of super soft mini flannels. Because you can use them dry as well as wet they have tons of uses beyond cleaning your baby's bum (we dip ours in warm water with a little drop of baby wash, much nicer than cold wipes) - patting dry your baby's bum, washing them in the bath, cleaning mucky faces and hands, wiping runny noses etc etc. The best known brand is Cheeky Wipes but you can probably pick up a set from your local nappy supplier for a much lower price.


I mostly resisted the urge to whip these out of my bra and show everyone. Mostly.
I also love my washable breast pads. I don't know about anyone else, but I never got on with disposable ones as they invariably ended up as a sticky ball inside my bra and never stayed in place. Washable ones are much easier to move around, they don't lose their shape and, more importantly, they come in all manner of fun designs. My favourite ones have a brilliant Dalek print on them. BREAST-ERMINATE!

Happy washing!


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