Reusable nappies have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Cloth nappies are a great alternative to disposable nappies, and although they can appear somewhat daunting at first, modern cloth nappies are just as, if not more, absorbent and easy-to-use as disposables. In fact, many people prefer them to disposables as they're much kinder to the environment. However, many parents get confused by what they actually need to get started with cloth, so if you've been convinced by all the benefits of cloth nappies but aren't sure where to start, this guide is for you!
The most obvious item on the list - the nappies themselves! For full time use you'll want around 20-25 of these per baby, assuming you're washing every 2-3 days. Some parents happily use just 15 and wash every day, others have upwards of 40 in their stash!
I would recommend 15-20 standard day-time nappies (pockets, all-in-one, prefolds etc), and five night time nappies (fitted or terry towel) with wraps.
For two-part nappies which include a wipe-clean wrap, you probably won't need as many wraps as you will inner nappies as you can reuse the wrap a few times before washing. A good rule of thumb is one wrap for every 3 or 4 inner nappies.
Wet Bags & Bucket
You'll need somewhere to store the dirty nappies until wash day. At home you have two options - a large wet bag or a nappy bucket. Wet bags can be hung on the back of a door to save space, and get washed with the nappies so you'll need two, that way one is being used whilst the other is in the wash. Nappy buckets just need to be wiped down with antibac or rinsed out in the bath once a week to keep them clean, but do take up floor space.
Out and about you'll want a few wet bags for storing your dirty nappies. Ideally you'll want 3-5 small to medium sized wet bags with a snap on the handle so that you can easily attach to your pram.
Cloth-Safe Nappy Cream
Some thicker creams, such as Metanium, aren't suitable for cloth nappies as they can clog up the fibres. Luckily for you, nappy rash is much less common in cloth nappies but it's surprisingly easy to find cloth-safe nappy creams anyway! Just about all reusable nappy stores sell them, such as this Calendula Vegan Nappy Rash Balm which is proven cloth safe, vegan and plastic free!
Most creams state if they are cloth-safe as this is a huge selling point now that modern cloth nappies have become so popular. If in doubt, our advice would be to use a nappy liner (reusable or disposable) with your cream in order to protect the main nappy.
Technically, nappy liners are an optional extra for reusable nappies, but most parents will tell you that they couldn't live without them as they make life so much easier! You can get both reusable and disposable nappy liners, each has their benefits and many overlap:
Reusable liners are made of fleece and wick moisture away from baby's skin to keep them feeling dry, in the same way the chemical gel does in disposables. They protect from staining and feel incredibly soft on your baby's delicate bum, which helps to reduce nappy rash. Reusable liners make for easy poop disposal as you just pick up the liner and shake it over the toilet to dispose of any poop. They're a one-off cost, you only need around 20, and they last multiple kids.
Disposable liners are usually made of cellulose, paper or bamboo fibers and are designed purely to catch the poop. They are a great option when one parent isn't entirely on board with cloth and you need to compromise. The solid waste produced is still much lower than disposables and they're plastic-free. Some parents also choose to use disposable liners on holiday or out-and-about to make things a bit easier.
If you're using reusable nappies then cloth wipes really are a no-brainer. In fact, they actually save you even more money than reusable nappies do! You can buy a full set of reusable wipes for under £20 and they are well-known to last through multiple kids and even be re-purposed as cleaning rags 5+ years on.
We recommend just using water with cloth wipes for the gentlest clean on your baby's delicate skin. you can even use cloth wipes from birth, omitting the need for cotton wool in those early days. They have great 'gripping' power on even the stickiest of meconium poops, and even the worst of nappies will only require two or three wipes for a great clean.
Of course, you'll need a way to clean your nappies! There's no special cloth nappy detergent required - a full dose of powder detergent will provide the best results! Supermarket own brand or Fairy, the choice is yours so feel free to find one that works best for you. Have a read of our guide on how to wash reusable nappies to see how simple it really is.
With these essentials, you'll be off on great footing to begin your reusable nappy journey. Want to learn more? You'll love our cloth nappy advice blog!