Hi there. I hope that some of the information posted below will help you with your nappy dilemmas.
If you're planning a full-time kit, this gives you an idea of what you'll need:
Exactly how many nappies you need will depend on the age of your baby, the style of the nappy & how you will be drying them. We don't recommend using your tumble drier for every nappy, so we recommend enough to allow for indoor line drying time (this is Wiltshire!) and washing every other day. This means you'll need 3 days' supply. A newborn baby will need 8-12 nappies a day, levelling out to about 8 a day roughly until they are mobile, when it goes down to about 6.
3-6 waterproof wraps (unless using All-in-One nappies)
You'll need more wraps for younger babies, particularly breast-fed ones in pad-folded nappies, fewer for older babies. Some wraps can be washed with the nappies, others need cooler water. If you wash all your wraps with your nappies, then you'll need a few more than if you were washing them as you go along.
A few other things can make your real-nappying-life go a bit more smoothly ...
A bucket with a lid – choose a good sized one, those tiny little 9 Litre buckets you can get may look cute, but unless you wash your nappies daily, they'll lose their appeal pretty quickly!
2 net laundry bags or old pillowcases – lining your bucket with a washable bag means you can just throw the whole thing in the washing machine, which will take less time than emptying a bin of disposables!
A waterproof bag – to carry used nappies when out & about. There are plenty of us, normal, sane parents who don't like a lot of hassle, who find it no bother at all using real nappies when out of the house! A larger bag is needed for a full day at nursery or overnight stay.
Liners – you can get flushable and washable liners for catching poo. Flushable liners are probably the best place to start, as they are quick and easy to use. Avoid disposable liners that can't be flushed, as putting poo in the bin is never a good idea! Flushable liners are mostly paper bound with a tiny amount of latex, to hold them together, so wet ones can be washed with the nappies a few times. A roll of 200 liners will last 1-3 months, depending of how many you wash & reuse. Washable liners are normally made of polyester or recycled fleece, most poo will fall off fleece quite easily, they feel dry to the touch, and dry in a few minutes when out of the wash.
Sanitizer –a 40 - 60 degree wash is fine for wet nappies and is all that is needed to clean and sterilise any dirty nappy. You can add a few drops of tea tree oil to the washing powder for extra sanitation and cleaning. If your baby has particularly sensitive skin, avoid adding anything to a mild, biodegradable detergent to prevent a reaction. Avoid nappy cleaners containing bleach which will shorten the life of your nappies, as well as polluting the water.
Washable Wipes – well, if you're washing nappies, why not wipes? A couple of dozen terry, muslin, fleece or flannel wipes will mean you never have to use another chemical-based disposable wipe again, which can save up to £250 on wipes alone. Wipes can be soaked in water or a cooled herbal tea, like chamomile, overnight in a plastic tub (like the ones for disposable wipes) and will be ready to use the next day. Or, you can use a small spray bottle with water or cooled herbal tea with dry wipes.
Using washable wipes means you are in total control of what goes on your baby's delicate skin, and can avoid perfumes, lotions, preservatives and harsh chemicals which can irritate.
Questions, Questions …
What will I need?
What about leaks?
The right real nappy system for your baby won't leak any more than a disposable nappy,
and is less likely to experience those 'poo-up-the-back' explosions famous with disposables on very young babies, because there's more protection around the waist. If a real nappy is leaking it needs more absorbency, to be changed more often, or a different style of waterproof wrap, small things that are all easily solved.
What about Nappy Rash?The incidence of nappy rash has massively increased since disposables were introduced to the market place. The most important thing to prevent nappy rash is keeping your baby’s bottom clean, not just feeling dry. It’s really easy to know when a real nappy needs to be changed, not so easy for a disposable that always feels dry, and changing your baby as soon as possible is the key to avoiding nappy rash. Many of the real nappy parents I know saw hardly any nappy rash, and only then when their babies were ill or teething. Nappies made from natural fibres, or those with a breathable wrap over the top allow much more air to circulate, keeping skin cooler and less irritated than a combination of paper pulp, chemicals and a non-breathable plastic layer.
What about comfort?Would you choose chemically treated paper pants over natural cotton ones? Would your baby? Real nappies are soft and comfortable, let skin breath and reduce the possibility of irritation from added chemicals. Babies have been in real nappies for hundreds of years, without all the modern styles of nappies, with no problems at all. It’s only adverts for disposables that make us think that they must be more comfortable, common sense tells us otherwise!Again, adverts for disposables would have us believe that no baby ever learnt to walk before the new, hyper-slim-fitting disposables were invented, and we all know that’s rubbish, literally. While some real nappies may look a little bulky at first, it’s just a matter of what you are used to, and of course a nice soft, comfy cotton nappy gives lots of padding when the little ones land on it when they’re learning to walk.
What about hygiene?What’s hygienic about putting poo in the bin? Human waste belongs in the sewer system, where it can be properly treated, and not in a landfill site where it can leach out pathogens, viruses and emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. If soiled nappies are washed at 40-60 degrees, then real nappies are far more hygienic than putting poo in a bin. With any kind of nappy, store used ones sensibly, and out of reach of toddlers.
What about childcare?A lot of people worry about what their child-carer will say about real nappies. No registered child-care provider should have a problem with using real nappies. Some child-carers need just a little bit of advice and support, and they will be changing real nappies along with the best!
What about going out?Going out & about with just real nappies for the first time can be a bit daunting, particularly if you’ve used disposables before, but it’s really not a problem. All you need is a waterproof bag to store the nappies in until you get home, when you can throw them in the bucket. For days at nursery or overnight stays you’ll want a bigger bag, or a couple of smaller ones. If you’re using flat nappies, it can be handy to have a couple folded & ready to put on in your nappy bag. If your nappy arsenal includes any fitted or AIO nappies, when you’re trying to balance your baby on one of those teeny public changing stations, they can come in handy.Changing real nappies, like every bit of being a parent, comes with practice, none of us are experts to start with, but it doesn’t take long to be winning nappy-change races against those who haven’t cottoned on to real nappies yet!
What about nights?Those pesky ads again! Babies have been sleeping through the night for generations before sodium-polyacrylate was invented (that the nasty gel which absorbs all the wee & can absorb vital moisture from delicate skin). There are millions of parents around the world who get a good night’s sleep with a baby in real nappies! Disposable nappies don’t make babies more intelligent, sleep better or for longer, eat better, or able to do somersaults at the age of 2, that’s all just marketing, designed to get parents to spend £100s on rubbish, literally.When using real nappies at night time, an extra booster to add absorbency can help. And fleece liners keep babies feeling dry, which isn’t important unless that is what your baby is used to, so if you’re switching from disposables, they might help.
What about breastfeeding?Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby, and the benefits increase the longer you are able to breastfeed for. There is lots of help and support available in all areas of the UK, so ask your midwife or health visitors for more information on local support groups & advice.Breastfeeding is only a nappy-issue for the first months, before introducing solid food. Because breast milk is exactly what your baby needs, so much of it is digested that the resulting poo can be quite runny, so you’ll want to think about what nappy system will hold it in. Any nappy, flat or fitted, made from terry material will hold on to the poo best, the bigger the loop, the better the poo-handling.
What about potty training?Children today are potty training 6-12 months later than they did 50 years ago, and many parents using cloth nappies see their children potty trained by 2 years. Cloth nappies allow babies to feel when they are going to the toilet, and so they do not have to learn a whole new set of sensations when training. Choosing wraps or nappies which close with poppers for this size can help, as they can be pulled up & down like pants.