To use reusable nappies from birth or not....this is a big question on the mind of a lot of new parents, and there's absolutely no wrong answer! Whether you use reusable, disposable, or both in the newborn stage, the choice is yours and should be whatever makes you and your baby happiest.
We thought we'd start by dispelling three very common misconceptions we often hear regarding newborn nappies:
1. "Meconium is impossible to wash off of cloth nappies" - Despite it's tar-like appearance, meconium washes out of cloth nappies just like anything else, in fact my newborn nappies are still pristine after two newborns!
2. "You're not allowed to use cloth nappies in the hospital" - The decision is yours to make as a parent and midwives/doctors should have no problem with cloth nappies, they are washed for hygiene just like clothes and will be stored in a sealed wet bag until wash day. If you are in for a few days then make sure you have a lovely friend/family member who can bring you clean nappies and take home the dirty ones for washing! Note - This may not be the case in NICU, my second son had to have his nappies weighed regularly whilst in NICU (during a COVID lockdown too) so cloth wasn't possible for the first few days, but once he required less support the midwives were more than happy with cloth.
3. "You can only use cotton wool to wipe a newborn's bum" - This 'rule' exists because modern disposable wipes often contain a LOT of ingredients which are likely to irritate a newborns very sensitive skin, so it is recommended to use cotton wool and water for the first few weeks. Cotton or bamboo cloth wipes are just as delicate when used with water and they're actually fantastic for 'gripping' onto that sticky meconium poo - just one wipe needed!
Why Use Cloth Nappies From Birth?
Parents choose cloth for a whole range of reasons, the top three that we often come across are:
Environmental reasons - Newborns get through around 10 nappies per day, this means that by 8 weeks old your baby will have used between 450 - 670 disposables which will sit in landfill for around 500 years, eventually decomposing into harmful microplastics. By using just one cloth nappy a day, you could save 56 disposable nappies from landfill in those first 8 weeks alone!
Affordability - Newborn cloth nappies have a one-off cost from just £50 which will see through multiple children and can be largely recouped if selling on after use. Disposables can cost anywhere in the range of 4p - 20p each and, of course, cannot be used for multiple children or sold on after use!!
Skin Sensitivities - Many cloth nappies are made from natural materials such as cotton, bamboo and hemp which are naturally cooler and more breathable than synthetic disposable nappies, reducing incidents of nappy rash and other issues.
What Will I Need?
When choosing to use cloth from birth it is likely that you will need a separate newborn size as 'Birth To Potty' nappies aren't truly a good fit until around 12lbs. If you are choosing a sized system then it's likely that your size 1's will fit from birth if your baby is 8lbs+, but of course you will still require size 2 nappies in the future.
You will likely need around 20-25 newborn nappies to cloth bum full time with ease. Whilst this could be costly if buying 25 individual All In One newborn nappies, many parents choose a cheaper route for the bulk of their stash such as muslin cloths with wraps, as well as a small range of AIO's for ease when out and about. You will need approximately one wrap for every 3 or 4 absorbent inners.
A favourite budget full-time combination of ours is a Close Pop In Newborn Nappy Set and 12 Muslinz Muslin Squares, this provides you with 6 wraps, 10 close newborn inserts, and 12 muslin cloths which can be pad-folded and used as additional inserts in the wraps.
Newborn nappies can come in a variety of styles just like BTP, this includes Pocket's, AIO's, AI2's, Fitted's and Flat's. Unsure on what these terms mean? Check out Cloth Nappy Cheat Sheet & Terminology.
Try a range of nappy types
Now's your time to work out what you love and hate before investing in a full BTP kit, so take advantage! Give a bunch of nappy types a go, now's the easiest time when baby isn't wriggling and kicking all over the changing mat. It's also an ideal time to try out your origami skills with some spare muslin cloths - they make a very inexpensive nappy system when coupled with a wrap and are super quick to dry. Check out our Top 5 Nappy Folds and give them a go on a teddy for practice!
Have a nappy 'station' in a few rooms
You don't need the full changing table in every room, but regardless of whether you're using cloth it's always handy to have a little box/basket set up in each room containing the essentials - a few nappies, wipes (and water), a fold up change mat, a spare outfit, a wet bag and some muslin cloths. This means you aren't having to move around the house too much in those early (and often very sore) days after birth.
Show off that cloth bum!
Modern cloth nappies are still a fairly unknown option to a lot of new parents, so spread the word to friends and family with some adorable cloth bum baby pictures! Who knows, one day you may see their new arrival rocking the latest cloth nappy print. It's also a great opportunity to get some lovely cloth nappy photos whilst they're still too small to run/crawl away, you'll treasure them forever and wish you had taken even more.
Ask for help
Struggling to get your head around terry towels? Feeling like your wash routine is wrong? Don't know what to choose? Whatever it is that you're struggling with - ask for help!! There are plenty of cloth nappy retailers and libraries out there who just want to help you succeed in cloth, so please do get in touch if you need it. We're a lovely bunch and will help you to make use of what you already have before suggesting anything else.
Don't feel pressured
If you're struggling with newborn life then know that it's totally fine to take a break from cloth nappies or even go part time, you can always try again when you feel more confident. And please do chat to someone you trust (friend, family member, health visitor...) if you're struggling postpartum, no parent should feel alone.