Natural Parenting

Natural pregnancy, birth, and parenting: healthy, happy and ecological ideas from a mother's personal experience.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Cloth nappies

They are cheaper in the long run and can be used for all your children, no risk of chemicals against your babies skin, no risk of the nappy causing heat as it is thought that disposables do, the baby knows when he/she is wet and is therefore aware ready for the no nappy stage, all you need to do is get into the habit early on and it is no more hassle than anything else!

There are pre-fold nappies (I used Cotton Bottoms) which are a tea towel sized piece of double thickness cotton that is folded up within the plastic wrap, this is the only cloth nappy that is loose within the wrap. The cheapest option is the original terry towelling, a simple piece of towelling that dries really easily and can be used with a nappy nippa, a plastic clip instead of the old fashioned pin. Shaped nappies like for example Tots Bots which take longer to dry but fit really nicely and don't seem to leak as easily, easy to use when you are out or if other people are changing the nappy. All these nappies need plastic wraps over the top. There are also All In Ones with have the plastic wrap included in the nappy but they don't last as long apparently. You need most nappies in two or three different sizes.

Most nappies are made with bleached cotton, but some are available in unbleached cotton, hemp, fleece or bamboo which is more absorbent and ecological due to the harvesting methods. Towelling seems to be the most absorbent type of cotton. Fleece nappies don't really seem to work that well to me. Nappies can be fastened with poppers, nippas or Velcro which is the quickest to use but some babies do go through a phase or trying to undo the Velcro and maybe it is not so hardy in the long term.

You need around 25 cloth nappies and around half the amount of plastic wraps. You can use anything from 4 to 10 nappies in 24hrs, you will change a newborn baby a lot more that older babies. The cloth nappies will cost around £200 depending on which ones you buy, and will last all your children until they are out of nappies.

I have been advised by the Suffolk Real Nappy Network that for someone who is new to cloth nappies it is best try some different ones out, and to mix and match to start off with. Motherease wraps seem to be most popular too.

I found that the pre-folds were quite wide and hard between the babies legs which worried me sometimes (although I'm sure I had no need to!) and sometimes meant it was harder for them to move around. I think towelling is softer and more flexible and less bulky between the legs.

You may need to dress your baby in slightly larger clothes when using cloth nappies as they are larger than disposables!

NAPPY ACCESSORIES (all you need are the nappies/wraps and a bucket but the following helps)
Fleece liners for night to wick away the moisture - easy to flick poo off into toilet
Boosters or flannels on top of cloth nappy for nigh time
Fleece wipes/flannel or biodegradable wipes (I just wash Oscar's bum under the tap for as he won't lie down)
Cotton wool for newborns
Rubber gloves to save cracking skin which seems to happen after birth
A bucket with a lid, you might want another small bucket too to separate nappies/wraps wet/dry etc
Tea tree oil or eco friendly nappy sanitiser or bicarb (buy in bulk from chemist or market) or white vinegar (buy in bulk from cheap supermarket) or lemon
A wipe clean nappy bag/sandwich bag or old plastic bags when out
A piece of cloth/towel as a changing mat, or non pvc changing mats are available
Flushable paper liners (these can also be washed and re-used!), only needed once the poo is not liquid anymore if you think you need them as well as fleece liners

WHERE TO PURCHASE NEW AND 2ND HAND NAPPIES - I found Tots Bots for good prices some are Velcro some need a nippa - they have local reps in every area who can show you nappies and give advise - 2nd hand available

NCT nearly new sales
Waitrose and Boots
Find more information in Green Parent or Juno magazine
You can get £30 real nappy money back from your local council
It is cheapest to buy second hand or a bulk deal via the internet

Poo changes with age, newborn is liquid yellow/stains more, and it gets thicker and more smelly when on solid food
Nappies will need washing 2 to 3 times a week
Soak dirty nappies in bucket with tea tree etc for no more than 3 days, scrape poo into toilet after changing, wring out and pour dirty water from bucket into toilet before washing
Wash with natural soap flakes (buy from Waitrose/health food shop/internet) and eco balls (you can buy these cheaply as 're-fills' without the 'ball', just use with a net and plastic bag clip)
Or if you want to use washing powder use Ecover non-bio, and if you really want white nappies you can use Ecover bleach and softener
You can wash nappies at the more ecological temperature of 40 and perhaps at 60 now and again for really bad ones or just to give them a good wash occasionally
The wraps do not need to be washed as often as the nappy
Laundry services are available too!
DRYING: outside on the washing line is best, sun is a natural bleach and whitens the nappies within a few hours, in winter you may need to dry them inside too on a clothes horse, radiator, tumble drier (I have a tumble drier but hardly ever need to use it)

Air your babies bum outside in the sun is the best thing you can do
Change the nappy often and straight after pooing
Poo and wee together are worse
Use the fleece liner more often
Rinse your babies bum under the tap after each change
Wash the nappies at 60
Wash your baby in chamomile and lavender/tea tree oil
You could use the occasional disposable nappy to dry out the skin
Chamomila homeopathic remedy and chamomile tea help with the discomfort and apparently neutralise the acidic urine from teething
Teething and some foods can affect nappy rash
There are natural non-petroleum creams available, calendula cream is brilliant and very gentle, zinc and castor oil cream is natural and very cheap from somewhere like boots (it can be used as sun block too)

70% biodegradable Nature Babycare nappies are available in Waitrose and other shops - German Moltex 100% biodegradable compostable nappies, slightly more expensive
These nappies can be composted, we have tried composting them in a small bin in our garden and they seem to gradually be going down but there are only a few, a wormery is more efficient if you use a lot

WEBLINKS - they offer real nappies to try for £5

Click on comment below from my friend Clare for some more first hand detailed advice on cloth nappies: -