Cloth nappies seemed like a MINEFIELD when I was pregnant with my first. There was so much conflicting advice and everyone made it sound so complicated. Here's 6 things I wish I knew when I started looking into reusable nappies...
There is NO best nappy!
Everyone and their mother has a favourite cloth nappy brand that they swear by, and one of the most Googled cloth nappy questions is "which nappy is best?"... But I'm here to say with CONFIDENCE that there is no best nappy!
Nappy brands are like any other product brand - everyone has a preference but they all do well because different people like different things. Don't get hung up on a brand that your friend recommended and said it's the 'only one that worked for them', when in reality there are loads of nappies suited to you and your lifestyle.
Washing nappies isn't a science
Contrary to popular belief, there's no 24 hour stovetop boiling process with ridiculous ingredients. All you really need, like clothes washing, is a washing machine and a powder detergent. Don't complicate things by adding extras.
The most important thing is to read the detergent box. Almost every parent I have met has spent their entire life just eyeballing a scoop of detergent into every wash - I too was guilty of this! It's not that big of a deal for lightly worn adults clothes, but once you delve into the world of baby puke and poop it's worth checking the amounts you're using to keep stuff clean.
Every detergent box has a guide to follow. Just find out your water hardness and treat the nappies as 'heavily soiled' items of clothing. Add the right amount and your nappies will stay clean and fresh.
The scoop guide on the box is there for a reason - trust it and use it.
Don't bother with disposable wipes
We used cotton wool and disposable wipes for the first month of our cloth nappy journey and it was such a faff. Disposable wipes are terrible for cleaning dirty bums and then we had to go through the faff of separating the wipe from the nappy. But cotton wool and water is even harder to use! Just use cloth wipes from day 1 and chuck both the wipe and nappy into the same wet bag or nappy bucket for cleaning.
Cloth wipes pick up so much more mess and save a fortune. You can soak a couple days worth in water if you want, but there's no need for wipes solutions really. If you're bad at planning ahead like me then just store the wipes dry and wet them as you go.
Nappy classes are your best friend
Attending a nappy class can really help make sense of cloth nappies during a time of intense baby brain. I actually attended a class when pregnant with my first and it was a total game changer. Being able to see and feel the nappies in person made such a difference, and talking through the types of nappies with an expert gave me a clear idea of what I did/didn't like in a nappy. In my experience, I've seen much better success rates with parents who attend a nappy class over those who don't.
You can use nappy creams!
So many sources say that you can't as it clogs the fibres, or you can only use 'cloth safe creams. There is a little truth in this as it does make nappies less absorbent with prolonged use, but an easy way around this is to use a nappy liner (disposable or reusable) and slap on whatever cream you fancy!
If you forget the liner on one occasion don't worry your nappies aren't ruined! Just wash as usual a couple of times and it should be back to normal in no time. It's only repetitive use of thick oily nappy creams that will make a real difference to nappies in the long term.
Be careful of a bargain
I fell for a bad bargain a few times when I started looking at reusable nappies which ended up costing me more in the long run. There's two main 'bargains' to look out for:
- Super cheap (often unbranded) nappies from sites such as AliExpress, eBay and Amazon. These nappies have no warranties on them and no certifications, and are typically made from much lower grade materials and contain mostly microfiber which isn't very absorbent. You can typically expect them to last a few months with regular leaks before losing their waterproofing. A big red flag is when they aren't typically sold in 'real' online nappy stores - if a specialist retailer doesn't trust them then be wary.
- Second hand nappies can be hit or miss, so it's worth knowing what to look for. Check how they have washed the nappies, as bleaching or incorrect washing can deteriorate the nappy and leave smells. Keep in mind that even reusable nappies typically have a limit on how long they will last, so if they've used them full time on a couple of kids then they may not have much more life left in them. Of course it they're free then by all means give whatever is offered a go as you have nothing to lose!
Sadly many parents opt for a bargain and are put off reusable nappies for life as they assume that leaks, stinks and bad fits are the standard expectations of reusable nappies, which is simply untrue. I recommend having at least a couple of new nappies from trusted brands to get an idea of what modern reusable nappies are really like.
If the upfront cost is off putting then consider starting a wish list, ask friends and family for gift vouchers, or use Klarna or Clearpay to spread the cost of a kit.