Choosing a Reusable
Nappies were a big concern for us from day one – as soon as we found we were having a baby, we started researching resusables. Fun fact, nappies take between 200-500 years to degrade and most babies get through around 5 or 6 a day so that’s an AWFUL lot of nappies that are just clogging up landful. Just switching to reusables once a day will save 300 nappies from the tip and it’s really not as horrifying as people think. My sister had used Little Lamb Pocket Nappies for her youngest and so we looked into them as our first port of call.
Choosing nappies is hard though – there are lots of things you need to learn about rapidly – not least of which is the different types of nappies (all-in-one, two-in-one, pocket nappies and more). Then there’s figuring out what size your small person might need, and if there’s one thing we’ve learnt over the last few weeks, it’s that babies vary in size vastly and you really have to hunt around to find the right nappies.
So, we decided that from birth we’d have a mixture of biodegradable nappies and reusables just to get our head around things.
Buoyed by my sister’s success, Stuart decided to dive right in with Little Lamb nappies and buy some Microfibre and bamboo size one nappies as well as some wraps, boosters and liners. The majority of what he bought was from eBay second hand or from The Nappy Lady. The thing is, reusable nappies are actually better if they’re second hand because they’re more absorbant, the more they’ve been washed.
We learnt that you need to use a liner, booster and wrap for each nappy – booster to absorb extra wee, liner to catch the poo and go in the bin and wrap to make it waterproof. The bamboo ones were great for ultimate absorbency, but took a good 12-18 hours to dry, whereas the microfibre absorbed less, but dried almost as soon as they came out of the machine so we ended up with four of each as a nice middle ground.
When we first put William in the reusable nappies with the wrap, they looked huge on him, but he quickly grew into them… and then out of them! As a summer baby, he was often just in a nappy, so it was great that we had such vibrant coloured wraps to make his bum a bit more interesting.
We also still used more disposables than I would’ve liked – looking back, I think it was my own lack of confidence which lead to that and I wish I’d been more willing to use the reusables more from early on. I prefered to use the disposables overnight as I was worried about leakages, which I think may have been a mistake as we had plenty of boosters and experience has now shown me that two part nappies with wraps are far better for overnight.
In terms of disposables, we had another problem – our little man was a strangely skinny hipped little boy so the Eco Naty nappies from our local supermarket wouldn’t cut it – they just didn’t fit as they were ridiculously loose around his waist, and by the time they fit around his waist, they were too small around the bum. Luckily, at some point I’d picked up some Kit and Kin nappies and they seemed to fit ol’ snake hips quite well without any leakages.
Stuart had been having fun buying second hand Little Lamb Pocket Nappies online along with loads of boosters, and I had a voucher for Ocado so I decided to splurge and buy a brand new Bambino Mio to test out. William was about a month old and, according to their site, it should be fine from 4kg – unsurprisingly, it was too big around the waist so we had to wait a few more weeks to use it. Interestingly, when we were first able to use it properly (with one cotton booster), we had a few up-the-back poonamis – probably because of his skinny waist – but it hasn’t been a problem since.
At some point, I decided to be brave and start using the Bambino Mio overnight with a cotton and charcoal booster – I’m not sure where Stuart got the charcoal boosters from, but they are meant to be super absorbant for overnight so we gave it a go and it was a great success. I tended to save my Bambinos for either overnight or when I wanted a nappy to last a few hours as they tended not to leak or get full too quickly, whilst remaining comfortable for the little man.
One thing I’ve noticed about them Bambino Mios is that no matter how wet they are, William doesn’t seem to get bothered until it leaks through to his clothes, so they’re a clear winner for comfort.
At about three months, we had to abandon the little lamb size one nappies, but we decided it was time to try out the one size pocket nappies instead. This time we did have a few problems, and still are, with leaks around his legs, even with two boosters and a fleece insert, however, I’m beginning to suspect that might be more down to the volume of pee that my son produces than anything else.
I like the pocket nappy because it’s so adjustable, but it seems really tight around his thighs and yet still tends to leak after two or three hours (maybe I just need to change the kiddo more frequently).
Unfortunately, in the past two weeks (at four and a half months old), we’ve started to find the Bambino Mios aren’t cutting it overnight anymore – they were leaking out the back and soaking his sleeping bag and babygrow from the sheer volume of wee, but we were reluctant to change him overnight as he takes around an hour to settle after a night change. My other half suggested we try a terry towel with Nappi Nippa and a booster along with a wrap (he’d got a couple of Mother-ease wraps from eBay too) and while this contained the wee, by around 4.30 he started to fidget and fuss and we realised the towel was soaked through and must’ve been irritating him.
As a temporary fix, we’ve been using the Bambino Mio with the Mother-Ease wraps, but this is a bulky solution and therefore not ideal.
My research suggests that two part nappies are better overnight so we’ve just got a TotsBots Bamboozle to try out with the Mother-ease wraps and a booster – I’ll report back after a couple of weeks.
You may have noticed that I mentioned terry towels – I just don’t have the energy for origami when I’m dealing with bodily fluids, but using the nappi nippa, Stuart absolutely loves them. My one problem is that they tend to get so wet all around that baby is basically sitting in a pee-covered sheet, but that’s true of most reusable nappies so maybe I’m overthinking it.
Our little man is now eight months old and we’ve settled on our nappy plan for the time being.
We sadly had to abandon the Little Lamb pocket nappies, no matter what we did, they just kept on leaking – I’m hearing from people that this might be a boy/girl thing relating to the way they wee, but either way, they didn’t work for us, which is a shame because my sister loved them for her girls.
In contrast, I am loving the Bambino Mio Solo; with two boosters we are rarely seeing any leaks unless he’s wearing them for over three hours. We have seven of them and have invested in a tumble drier, although the nappies themselves dry fairly rapidly, it’s the boosters that tend to take longer. I’m a sucker for a nice design and the Bambinos do look so pretty.
One negative of the Mio Solo is the velcro front, our little darling has figured out how to undo the velcro (presumably disposable wearing babies also discover this??). He loves to hear it rip open and can even do it through one layer of clothing – it’s fine for the time being when we have on a bodysuit and either trousers or a sleepsuit, but as we move into warmer weather, I’m a little concerned that he’ll be pulling his nappy off.
For overnight, we’ve got on really well with the TotsBots Bamboozle – we now have four of them, just to be safe, but could’ve gotten away with three. We sometimes use one charcoal booster, but now that night feeds are done, he doesn’t really need the booster, it’s just for the occasional heavy wetting night. We also put in a fleece booster as my sister mentioned that they help wick away the moisture, making it more comfortable overall. We have one TotsBots Peenut wrap, but found it occasionally leaked overnight, whereas the Motherease Airflow wraps* that Stuart has secured from eBay seem to be bombproof. To be fair, he did have the peenut wrap on a couple of night’s ago and it didn’t leak, so I might try again now that he’s weeing less.
We’re finding now that we change his nappy in the morning, after naps and just before bed as a general rule, unless he’s done a poo**.
One other thing that is useful to note about reusable nappies is that there is a noticeable increase in bum size meaning that some trousers don’t fit at all and others he grows out of quickly. Shops like Frugi make all their clothes ‘cut for cloth’ meaning there is plenty of room, but the majority of high street brands are designed around smaller, disposable nappies. We’re finding that we’re already on size 9-12 months for body suits, with one or two of them already being a little too tight around the nappy (and we don’t want compression leaks if it’s too tight). Of course, we also have quite a tall, long baby so that doesn’t help!!
Another thing we’ve noticed about using reusables is that we’ve barely had any nappy rash – we’re still on our first pot of Sudocream and it’s only about a third gone – again, we might just be really lucky, but I suspect this is a consequence of the nappies we’re using. We have occasionally got a bit of dry skin on his thigh, where the nappy sits and that’s our most common use of Sudocream rather than a red, sore-looking bum.
*Motherease medium wraps seem to be currently available from the Nappy Lady, but the sell fast so get in there quickly.
**On the note of poos, we’re not sure whether it’s a reusable nappy consequence, a weird baby or pure damned luck, but ever since we’ve switched to solids, we have a baby who far prefers to poo on a potty than in his nappy – he made his poo cues really obvious and will wait until he’s sat on his throne before letting rip! Not always, but quite often, which is something of a relief to us as it is much less messy!
Washing Reusable Nappies
I’ve kept the original post on washing below in italics, but we’ve moved on a bit in our journey and discovered that at least one of our ideas wasn’t actually the best idea.
The first thing is that we’ve caved in and bought a washer/drier – our dehumidifier had been on pretty much 24/7 since William’s birth and it was driving us insane so we bit the bullet. High on our priority list was the eco features of the new washer/drier and so we went for a Miele one which boasts low electricity use and low water use etc. It’s certainly made life a bit easier for us.
We originally used a soapy pre-wash to help ensure our nappies were nice and clean, but after a few weeks, the nappies started to smell eye-wateringly of amonia. A bit of Internet research and we discovered this was to do with soap build up on the nappies and we had to do a strip wash which involved a soap free wash and rinses until the water stopped being bubbly (embarrassingly, this was a very large number of rinses). We now try to keep an eye on our nappies and check whether there is a lot of soap visible during the rinse stage of the wash and make sure we do an extra rinse if there is. We try and do an occasional 60° wash and use nappy sanitiser occasionally too.
We’re probably washing nappies every couple of days and then our clothes on the inbetween days so yes, we have a wash on every day, but it’s not overwhelming!
The first thing anyone asks when we say we use reusables is “How do you cope with all the washing?” and surprisingly, the answer is “Quite easily”. You’ll read this in a few places, but modern washing machines are pretty good so you don’t need to worry about soaking your nappies, just pile them in your bucket and chuck them in the machine when you’re ready – we do tend to find that after a day or so, they tend to smell bad so you’ll need a bucket with a lid or to wash every day.
We’ve also been using biodegradable nappy liners to catch the poo, although with a baby this young, it’s mostly liquid anyway – I’m sure they will become more useful once we move into solid food and therefore solid poo.
We did notice a hint of an amonia smell building up on the nappies and a bit of research suggested that using the ‘pre-rinse’ on a machine doesn’t properly drain and so leaves the wee and poo filled water in the drum for the main wash. Stuart claims our Miele washing machine must be more intelligent than that, but our fragrant, and slightly yellow, washing told a different story. As a cunning counter-measure, I started to do a 15 minute rinse wash with added washing powder in the drum, knowing that it wouldn’t actually be rinsed away, but that I’d follow it with a main 40 degree wash afterwards. So far, so good – I’ve been using this strategy for a couple of months now and there is no smell anymore.
We tend to wash nappies about once every day or so – we’re not ones to faff around so all of William’s stuff goes in together, regardless of colour, along with odds and ends of our stuff that we don’t care about. There are issues with yellow, breastfed baby poo causing staining on the nappies, but we discovered that the best fix for that was sunlight!!!
In the early days, the microfibre nappies would dry in a matter of hours, whereas the bamboo ones took longer and I’ve read that my new Tots Bots Bamboozle may take ages to dry – it certainly took the best part of today on the drying rack over the dehumidifier, so if all goes well, we’ll probably need maybe three or four of them to make sure we have enough. The good news is that they are designed to expand with your baby so should last us right up to potty training!
So, one final point, when we went on a trip away to Manchester when baby was three months old, we discovered that disposable nappies were RUBBISH at holding in the poonamis and we went through several outfits a day – he also had a few glamorous nappy changes in the BBC at Media City. Our next trip away, a month later, and we took the Mother-ease wrap with us to go around the disposables – much less mess! We’ve come to realise that disposables just aren’t as good at holding in the poo (although they’re probably better at holding in the wee).
Anyway, so far so good on our reusable nappy journey – we like to keep a few disposables in for emergencies, but generally we’re waste free when it comes to our nappies!