Sunday, 17 April 2016

Cloth Nappies and Mums who Love Them

When I wrote my recent post about 7 disposal items we should not be using there was one item I very specifically left off the list, not because I believe we should continue to use it but because I wanted to write more about it than that blog post had room for.  That item is disposable nappies (diapers).

Up until the 1950's all nappies were reusable with each nappy used time and time again after being washed and in many cases one set of nappies (usually terry nappies that needed folding and pinning) would be used for several children.  It meant mums were often tied to the home, washing (usually by hand) and drying (no tumble driers) nappies and so when the first disposable nappies appeared around the 50's and 60's mums felt that, at long last, they were being handed a huge piece of freedom.  Pop the all in one shaped nappy on baby, fix with the sticky strips and and once it was soiled just chuck it away and use another one.  No pins, no folding, no washing, no drying.  So much more freedom to go anywhere and so much time freed up. Bliss.

No wonder disposable nappies have become the norm and are almost universally accepted in much of the western world.

But this convenience comes with a huge price - every single nappy, unless it has been incinerated, still exists somewhere in landfill as they take some 400 years to degrade.  In many cases they contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment and they are made with plastics which come from fossil fuels and so their production leads to increased CO² levels, a factor in global warming.

In Britain alone, 8 million nappies are thrown away EVERY day.

That is nearly 3 BILLION per year.

Can you even visualise that amount?

But there is another way ...  


Our eldest was born in 2002 and at that time the re-emergence of cloth nappies was quite a new thing.  We were sure we didn't want to use disposables but finding cloth nappies that were easy to use was difficult and our first purchase wasn't ideal - they were a little known German design that involved far too much folding, had hard to use ties and that took an age to dry.  Then in mid 2002 Waitrose started to stock a cloth nappy that was shaped like disposable, fitted snugly with poppers and dried much quicker.  No nappy pins, no folding and quicker drying.  We bought a few to try and never looked back. Thank you Mother-Ease.

Toddler gardening in a Mother-Ease cloth nappy

Some 14 years on there is far more information available about cloth nappies and far more brands on sale.  And it wasn't difficult for me to find people who had used or are now using cloth nappies and wanted to sing their praises:

Kate from My Family Fever had her husband point out how much cheaper cloth nappies are ...

 It was my husband who suggested reusable nappies - he had done some research into how much money they could save us, and so we decided to give them a go. 10 years on and onto baby number 4, we are still using them now. My favourites have always been Tots Bots, and we have used the Easyfits, Bamboozles and PeeNuts. We recently reviewed the new Easyfit Star and were incredibly impressed with them - they would be perfect for anyone just starting out.

Easy Fit cloth nappy - image with permission from My Family Fever

Vicki from EllieBearbabi tried them after being offered to review a brand but didn't initially get on with them, but Real Nappy Week helped change her mind ...

How did we get started? I was offered the chance to review a cloth nappy for a Work at Home Mum (wahm) when my little girl was a couple months old. I decided to buy a few extra nappies to try alongside the review nappy. I didn't do much research before buying them and went for 4 fitted and 2 wraps. I didn't like them and to be honest it really put me off. After the review period I decided they weren't for us. Then Real Nappy Week came around and suddenly my social media feeds were filled with lots of brands and lots of types of nappies with some gorgeous colours and beautiful prints. I was intrigued and decided to take the opportunity of buying some bargains and purchased a range of styles of nappy. From there our stash evolved to include everything from prefolds and covers to all in ones and everything in between. I was totally hooked. The first few weeks were a learning curve, washing being the main hurdle, however I actually found the washing a breeze. I loved nothing more than my washing line filled with an array of colours of teeny nappies.
My favourite nappies were pockets, I loved how easy they were to use how I could adjust the absorbency if needed. My favourite brand is Blueberry second is Bumgenius
We are now at the end of our first cloth journey as my little girl is potty trained. However we are hoping in the not to distant future to have another little one and I already have a extensive newborn stash gathered up. I'm excited at the thought of being able to hopefully cloth nappy from birth next time round. Hoping to try out some Sloomb fitteds next time as well as some Applecheeks but our stash (stored currently) has bumgenius, Kissaluvs, Tots Bots, Fuzzibunz, Miloiva, Alva, Ecopipo and more).

Colourful and fun cloth nappy covers
Image with permission from EllieBearbabi

Cheryl from A Time to Craft couldn't bear the though of clogging up landfill with nappies ...

I chose to go down the cloth nappy route, as I couldn’t stand the idea of used nappies taking 400 years to degrade in landfills. Also I didn’t like the idea of the water absorbing chemicals next to new skin. I wouldn’t want to wear them. Why should my baby?
We used cloth nappies for all our children. Luckily our child-minder was happy to use them too. The only time we used disposables were on holiday. After one camping holiday with a nappy bucket, I just knew even I had my limits. Even then, we chose earth friendly nappies.
For Eldest I tried lots of different types. We tried shaped and prefolds. She was a slender baby and I found Mother-Ease to be the best, as they dried quickly and fitted snugly, plus the wraps never let us down. We also tried hemp, which were my favourites, but they took ages to dry and were very stiff.
I stuck with the shaped nappies and ended up using the prefolds as boosters for the shaped nappies, as we had containment problems with the prefolds on their own.
For the other two children, we needed more nappies, so we moved on to Little Lamb, as this gave me a chance to use bamboo. This was brilliant. They were super soft, snug to wear, easy to wash and quick to dry, plus it was a move away from cotton, with all its chemical baggage.
Not all fasteners are equal. I had preferred the popper nappies as the fasteners didn’t snag the cloth or become tangled with threads. The Little Lamb velcro seemed better quality and lasted longer.
I used fleece liners which I cut out myself. Not a lot sticks to fluffy fleece and they dry very quickly. I was given a few rolls of the paper liners, which were good.
We used the nappies for over eight years. Once the last child was potty trained, I put all the nappies, wraps and buckets on Freegle and they went on to another family. For all I know they could still be doing the rounds on Freegle. Something that could never be aid of disposable nappies.
Last tip: This is probably standard now, but I only discovered them for second child. Net bucket liners. Would not have done without them!

Toddler in a Mother-Ease cloth nappy

Clare from The Happy Work at Home Mummy was initially scared of using washable nappies but was won over when she realised it was the disposable nappies that were contributing to her son's eczema ...

When I was pregnant with my first child, I toyed with the idea of cloth nappies. As a keen environmentalist with some experience of studying conservation, I knew it should be the right choice for me. But I was scared. Too scared. Of what having a baby was going to mean, and whether I'd even have time to wash myself, let alone the nappies! I was nervous about all the poo, and all the washing. So I brushed my landfill-related concerns under the carpet and got on with using disposables. It wasn't until a few months later that my son developed eczema, and it was almost his first birthday by the time I was really tearing my hair out with it. I started being much more careful about what came into contact with his skin, and that's when I started seriously looking into real nappies.

I joined an advice and selling group on Facebook and bought a couple of preloved nappies to try. He's been cloth bummed ever since, and his baby sister has been in cloth since she was discharged from the neonatal unit. I'll be honest, upset tummies aren't pleasant to deal with, but in the main I have very little to do with the poo. We use fleece liners and it just rolls of them. Vests for the baby can be an issue as not many are cut for chunky cloth bottoms these days, but H&M and Frugi ones are, or you can get packs of 'vest extenders' which clip on to the poppers and just give you a bit more length.

I just stick the washing on overnight and barely noticed the extra with one in cloth, with two the washing is still fine but the folding can take a bit more work, so we decided to move over to a mixture of all-in-one style nappies (Tots Bots and MioSolos) which are dead easy, and two parters for night time. We like Tots Bots Bamboozles with either a Tots Bots stretch wrap or a Blueberry coverall. The Coveralls in particular are bomb proof, and contain even the biggest of breastfed baby poonamis! When Elliott was little, I remember having to change his clothes after every big poo because the disposables always leaked, and I'd forever be soaking stains out of his sleepsuits. Martha is 4 months old and we've only had one tiny poo leak so far! I love how cute their chunky bums are to pat, I love the fact that I'm not putting chemicals next to their skin and finally, I love the fact that I'm doing my bit to reduce landfill.

Baby wearing MioSolo cloth nappy - image with permission from Toby Goes Bananas

For one more story please do visit this guest blog from Karen at The Mad House of Cats and Babies - she has so much to say about them!

To me, it is obvious that continuing to throw away so many nappies simply isn't sustainable.  Disposable nappies have been around for less than 70 years and they are ALL still out there, festering in landfill and building up problems for the future.  Even more worryingly, disposable nappy companies are trying to break into the Chinese and Indian markets, where disposables are currently little used so now, more than ever, we need to show that cloth nappies are a viable alternative. 

There are many reasons why you might be thinking about using cloth nappies:
  • Maybe you are worried about filling landfill with disposables?
  • Perhaps you don't like the idea of the chemicals used in disposables being in contact with baby's bottom.
  • Or then there is all that plastic used in the making of use once and throw away nappie ..
  • Or are you thinking that cloth nappies are cheaper than disposables?

18th April- 24th April 2016 is Real Nappy Week organised by Go Real which, for the 20th year, is celebrating cloth nappies and helping families to make the switch. Please head over to their website and read up on even more information about why cloth nappies are best. There are plenty of local events organised where you can meet other families using the cloth nappies and get advice on the best brand for you and your baby.

Go on - Go Real
Use cloth nappies and let's make disposable nappies a thing of the past. 

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Cuddle Fairy

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.comPost Comment Love


  1. Lovely to read all the other stories. I feel so passionate about using cloth nappies. I can understand why people think it's too much work, but it really isn't. Hopefully others will read these experiences and see it is easy. So glad that there are more choices out there now.

    1. Exactly - with all in one shaped cloth nappies and efficient washing machines they are so easy. I was using them when there was so little choice (like you I suspect) and now there are so any brands there must be something to suit everyone.

  2. I'm glad we stayed real for my four, and daughter had the modern shaped ones for her twins in 2010.
    The old flat ones used with pins do have a certain in other guises when nappy days are over!

    1. I am still using the liners as from the original German ones that I didn't get on with and they are so tough. I first used them as washable wipes and now for cleaning and they are going strong 14 years on.

  3. That is quite a scary statistic - that all the disposable nappies ever used are still in landfill unless they have been incinerated. I've used cloth nappies with both of my girls and love them - they are easy to use and so much cheaper than disposables, as well as being better for the environment. #BloggerClubUK

    1. I really do find it difficult to understand why people are so against cloth nappies as we REALLY cannot keep chucking disposable ones away so the future surely must be cloth.

  4. I LOVED using the cloth nappies with Elodie, so easy and so pretty! OFf to share this for RNW2016! I really don't understand why so many mums are against using them - none of my friends would use them and were very negative me doing so!

    1. It is something I can't understand either. Yes, Terries with pins were hard but now there is such a range of shaped ones with no folding or pins and they are just like disposables.

  5. Looking back I really wish I had used cloth nappies for my two. The idea sort of freak me out at the time though. If we ever had any more I'd definitely be using cloth. #PoCoLo

    1. There really is nothing to be scared of - they are so easy to use and with modern washing machines, really easy to clean too.

  6. Hi Rosie, I gave reusable nappies a good go back when my son was born in 1997, but after a couple of months I gave up and turned to disposables. I had a whole stack of shaped terry cloth nappies, but they were horrible to use and left my sons bottom raw and sore, further more I really battled to keep up with the washing of them.

    If I were to have a baby now I would certainly give reusable nappies another try as I'm sure they are far more advanced than they were back then.


    1. I can understand why you gave up. When I put my eldest in cloth nappies 5 years after you there was the beginnings of more choice. Now there are loads of brands and something for everyone. Neither of my boys ever had nappy rash thank goodness and as some Mum's say, cloth nappies can usually help reduce problems.

  7. I love this post! I don't even have children, but I have friends who use cloth nappies and love them. I also read your post on the 7 disposable things we need to stop using and loved it also. I just made the switch to reusable pads and am waiting for my first order, and am looking into which electric razor to get. Thanks for the eco-positive encouragement and info! #BrilliantBlogPosts

    1. Thank you so much Regina and I am glad my posts are inspiring for you. Do keep popping back for more weekly Green Tips (every Friday)

  8. That is a crazy amount of nappies & then if you think of what's happening in the whole world! It's a serious problem. You have great tips here for anyone considering using cloth nappies! Thanks so much for joining us at #bloggerclubuk

  9. I had no idea! It stands to reason really, and I'm ashamed to say I never thought about it. This would be enough to make me switch to cloth nappies no doubt. :)
    Thanks for linking to #PoCoLo

  10. Great article! I also love Mother-Ease. Here are the details on what worked for my family. I agree, it's NOT too difficult or disgusting, and it's well worth the effort to reduce garbage in our children's future!

  11. I always said I wanted to cloth diaper when I had a baby. I've had several friends who used them with ease. Thanks for sharing on the #WasteLessWednesday. blog hop!.


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