Choosing Reusable Nappies For Your Baby, Part Two

Choosing Reusable Nappies For Your Baby, Part Two

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Reusable nappies  aren’t every mum’s cup of tea, I know, but if you’re certain that it’s what you want to do, then it can be done  successfully. The good news is that cloth nappies nowadays aren’t as cumbersome as they were for me or the generations of mums before me.

Rather than the traditional flat cloth, cloth diapers are now sleeker, hourglass shaped like disposable diapers ( All In Ones, All In Twos, Pocket Diapers etc)  more user friendly, ready to use, and even as convenient as disposable nappies, some  mums will argue.

What most parents fear about reusable nappies though ,is the  work involved, handling poo and the constant wash cycles.

A Mixed Bag

While some mums actually love to cloth diaper their babies, others wouldn’t  consider it as an option at all. There are  yet some who gave it a try but were repelled by the volume of work it entailed.

Rommy, a mum of two grown children, who resides in France is one of such mums.

She said:

The reusable option didn’t work for me cos I couldn’t keep up with the pace of changing, washing, cleaning, drying, etc.”

As a new mum, I used both cloth and disposables for my first three children. Cloth for when we were at home, and disposable for when we were going out.

I was able to cloth diaper effectively then, due to the fact that I had the time and the support.

Having three small children within two years and four months was a full time job, not to mention   adding cloth diapering to the equation!

Choosing Cloth Nappies For Your Baby

This post is for mums who in spite of everything else still  want to give cloth diapering a go.

To them, I will say:

It can be done.”

Cloth diapering is gaining grounds and there are herds of likeminded mums  on social media forums  holding the torch for newcomers like yourself  every day.

Diaper manufacturers have mobile apps aimed at  helping  mums through the diapering process as well.

I can safely say therefore, that you’re not alone as you have a community of supporters to learn from and  to share valuable experiences with.

With that being said, you also have to play your part by  putting some structure in place.  It has to be so, giving  that  you are going to be dealing with human waste which  shouldn’t be handled with levity.

Today, I’ll  help guide you through with some of the tips  I learned along the way. Mainly, things to avoid and things to try, planning and managing your time, your laundry schedule and caring for your nappies.

I know that I had said in my last post that today, I’ll be telling us about the various types of cloth diapers, their pros and cons, and  review some of the best brands out there. However, I will leave that for the concluding part of this series.

The Beauty Of Cloth Nappies

Cloth diapering has progressed in leaps and bounds from the 19th century to now.  Modern cloth diapers make the work a lot easier and more manageable, and I’m delighted to see how far it has come.

They Are Safe

The beauty about  choosing  cloth is that from the onset, you know that  there are  no additives or chemicals sneaked in on you, under any pretext.

You are in control of what goes on your baby’s skin and  are rest assured that the label is what it says that it is.

You Are Spoilt For Choice

You have a variety of  fabrics to choose from depending on the level of absorbency you want.

You  have; hemp, bamboo, charcoal, wool, cotton, and microfiber inserts and boosters  available to you,  and you can  combine  them  to achieve maximum effect or use as you see fit.

They Are Way Cheaper

Cloth nappies  are cheaper in the long run than disposable nappies. You may invest  a lot initially. Still, they cost less and you’re able to reuse them over and over again.

The money spent on a cloth diaper goes further than one time use, unlike the disposable diaper where you use once and then dispose.  Do you get the picture?

Cloth can be passed down as many times as possible. I had cloth nappies (flats) passed down  to me by my big sisters that  were more than 18 years older than my first child!

You can also get new and  good quality nappies second hand. Just ensure that  the elastic on  the legs and waists of All in Ones, All in Twos, Pocket Diapers and Covers  are in good condition, otherwise you will experience leaks.

They Have Secondhand Value

There is a thriving market for  secondhand cloth nappies, social media buy and sell groups attest to this.

The cool thing about it is that you gain in multiple  ways namely:

  • You  get  value for your money; you could get brand new nappies that have never been used.
  • You  get your nappies amazingly cheap which means you can  try out different brands and types.
  • You can still make some extra change from your nappies, after they have served you well.

They Are Great For The Environment

Unlike disposable diapers, cloths are better for the environment as they are made of organic and biodegradable materials. Not only are they biodegradable, having  secondhand value  means   they can be reused over and over again.

You And Your Baby

Credit: Ibi Enebi You And Your Baby

You and your baby are the two most important people in this journey.  If you understand yourself and your baby, you are halfway there.

Here  are some of the reasons why…

Your Baby

Your baby’s skin sensitivity or allergic reactions, gender, height, weight, and number of wet nappies and more, determines the diaper, inserts, liners, and boosters to use and the quantities to buy.

In terms of quantity, your child will  use an average of  6 to 10 nappies  per day as an  infant, and 6 to 9 nappies per day as a toddler.

As they grow older and begin potty training, the number of  nappies required become further reduced.

The respectable amount of cloth nappies you will need starting out should be around 25-40.

This number could be more or less, as it is determined  by  your baby’s daily nappy requirements,    your lifestyle  and  wash routine; whether you are a stay at home mum or a -work-outside -of- home mum, and if you choose to wash daily, every other day or two, or once in three or  four  days or once a week.

You…

You’ve seen how your baby and your lifestyle and preferences potentially  influence your cloth diapering choices.

So also does  your planning, time management and how organised you are, impact  tremendously on this journey.

You Decide What You Want

You have to decide on what you want before your baby arrives.

Do you want to use cloth nappies from birth to potty training (exclusive cloth diapering) or do you want to use both cloth and disposables (part time)?

Knowing precisely what you want gives a certain level of mental preparedness and control.

Be aware too,  that  in deciding what you want, you are free to change your mind before  or after  your baby arrives.  It’s  absolutely grand, nothing should be cast in stone, when it comes to this.

You Have To Be Organised

To be organised, you have to…

Manage Your Space

Not everyone has a large enough room  to work with, I understand that.  But managing your  space helps you get  better organised and helps to reduce any chance of clutter and cluster.

For example, you may want to rearrange things or  dispose of  things you don’t need, to make room for  your baby.

Have  Designated Pails / Dry Diaper Pails/ Wet Bags

In order to be organised, you’ll need to have structure. Structure for me was having designated containers or pails with lids for  used nappies and other baby items.

I had a pail  for  dirty nappies. I didn’t like to leave soiled items on the floor, in the sink or  the bathtub.

There was a  second pail  to pre-hand wash the dirty nappies  into,  and a sizable  deep container where I disinfected the nappies in hot water and Napisan or Milton.

I usually let  the nappies  soak  in the  solution overnight  before I washed them in the morning. I called the process, “treating” my nappies.

I understand that not every mum will do things  the way I did mine. Again, it’s about preference and what works best for you.

Dry Diaper Pail

Some mums prefer to keep soiled nappies in a diaper pail. They separate the nappies, wee and poo soiled  inserts, boosters, liners, and wipes, and leave them in the pail  until wash time.

If you want to use the diaper pail, ensure that it is lined with a pail liner and always closed securely. That way, there is no stench oozing out.

Wet Bags

Wet bags too, can be used for  soiled nappies. They are very good because they are leak and smell proof. Like the diaper pail, soiled nappies can be kept in a wet bag until you are ready to wash.

Tip: Avoid washing  diapering things and feeding things together.Again, I believe that as much as possible, avoid using the general household stuff for your baby. I would say to wait until the baby  has developed a strong enough immunity.

You Have To Use Your Time

One of the ways to be ahead of things is to start early. My late mum always said that  once you start  having babies, you can’t  over-sleep or sleep as before.

What she said to me was hard to take in,  but true. She was right because I loved my sleep and was very saddened by the prospects of my new reality.

With her help,  I kind of  overcame  that part of me and learned  the importance of time management, to know my strength and master time.

Credit: Pixababy Know Your Strength, Master Time

Do you prefer to do things early in the morning or  late at night?

My wake up time under my mum’s tutelage was between 5am – 6am. She told me though, that  hers was  much earlier than 5am!  She wasn’t kidding, she had 13 children under her belt!

She  believed that getting up early gives you a head start for the day. You gain extra hours  and get things done quicker especially when the baby is asleep.

For you, it could be getting things done late at night. If this is so for you, then do it.  This again helps you get better organised in the morning, because you had put things in place, the night before.

Your Procrastination Drains Your Strength

Unless you are genuinely knocked out and need some time to breathe, please avoid procrastination. It wastes your  time and drains out  your energy.

My mum always said to strike it when it’s hot! To do things quickly.

You Should Have A Day For You

It may seem impossible, but it can be done if you ask for help.

First, to be able to rest, you have got to ask for help. Don’t be shy to ask friends and family members for help.

The second thing is, if you had a head start by doing things early, you can sleep when the baby is asleep.

You Can Let The House Be!

Sometimes, you have to overlook  your  untidy house. It doesn’t have to be in top shape nor  should it  become a pig’s sty.

Condone a little messiness sometimes to  give yourself a few minutes to catch your breath.

Find time to catch some sleep when your baby is sleeping, especially during the day.

There is no such thing as a super mum, so make room for your humanity, know your strength.

If you can afford to pay someone to clean the house, by all means, go for it. If you can get friends and family to assist, please ask them  for help.  If it’s just you and your baby, look away and take that much needed rest to refresh and reboot your energy level.

Caring For Cloth Nappies

Managing The Soil

Managing  poo is one of the reasons why a lot of mums are  put off by cloth nappies. You know what? It’s not as bad as you think.

The thought of it  may gross you out initially, but  relax, you get used to it  after a while.

Disposable Organic Nappy Liners

Using disposable organic nappy liners could be a lifesaver for you if you are very squeamish.

All you need to do is to lay them over your inserts, prefolds, or boosters. When it’s time for a diaper change, you remove them from the nappy and dispose of them in the trash (I’ll put it in a nappy bag) or flush, if they are flushable.

When the baby starts eating semi solids and solids, and the poo becomes harder, it gets easier. All you need to do  is to shake it off into the toilet, flush and you’re done.

Organic disposable nappy liners to me are best for tackling poo for the reason that the poo doesn’t get on the nappy itself.

Where you don’t use a disposable nappy liner, you may have to scrape the poo into the toilet with a spatula or  you can use a diaper sprayer.

Removing Poo Stains

A breastfed baby’s poo is  water soluble, making it   runny and yellowy in colour. This explains why it  leaves the yellowish  stain  on the nappy. The stain can be removed effortlessly.

I normally soak my nappies overnight with Napisan or Milton which disinfects and removes  stains from the nappies and  whites.

Likewise, when you wash and dry your nappies and whites out in the sun, it acts as  a bleaching agent and can help remove the stain.

Pre Wash  Or Rinse,Treat And Wash

As a new mum, I was made to understand  that it was improper to wash  soiled nappies and other items  without first “treating” them.

This informed the reasoning behind  my pre-hand washing or rinsing  out soiled nappies  with a  baby friendly detergent  to remove poo and urine stain, and then soaking  them in a hot water solution of  Milton or Napisan overnight, which I refer to as “treating”.

It made perfect sense to me and  gave me peace of mind, as doing  so  disinfected the  nappies and clothes as well as helped maintain  their  sparkle.

I then washed them and hung them out to dry.

Washing Without  Pre Hand Wash or Treatment

Alternatively, some mums prefer to keep used nappies in a wet bag or diaper pail  until wash days.

On the wash day, they  first  do a round of pre-wash  in the washing machine with a detergent that contains enzymes which removes fecal matter and urine.

(I would recommend that you don’t fill the washing machine to capacity  to allow room for the nappies and clothes to wash well).

This round is followed by doing the main wash with hot water, detergent, and nappy sanitizer (optional).

The important thing here is to make sure that the nappies  are clean.  If you feel that the nappies  ought to  go in for another wash or rinse cycle by all means do it, it isn’t uncommon.

I still repeat the wash and rinse cycle for my towels and bedsheets when I feel the need to.

Your Laundry Schedule

Washing

Putting  structure in place also means determining how frequently you intend to wash your baby’s nappies and all.

Having a new baby in  itself means constant washing of nappies, bedding, towels, burp cloths, bibs, and clothes.

In order not to get overwhelmed, you have to come up with a plan. You have to schedule wash days, ironing days and free days.

Some advice  that you wash nappies and other baby items, every other  day or  every two days or once a week  or   every day.

There is really no right or wrong way to do this as it comes down to preference. My thing is  only bite off what you can chew.

In order not to get confused, you  can wash  all your poo stained  clothes, inserts, boosters, liners, nappy wipes, towels, and nappies  together.

Some mums like myself  pre hand wash and  do a  sterilisation soak overnight before washing, others  keep the nappies in the dry diaper pail or wet bag  until the next  laundry day.

We all have our preferences  and know what we want.  I would say that you go for what works best for you.

Tip: You can use the solution from your sterilising unit for the nappies and soiled whites instead of pouring the solution out. This way, the liquid serves  both your baby’s bottles and nappies/whites.

If you notice, I didn’t recommend bleach.  I don’t use bleach for my baby’s nappies or clothes, I prefer Napisan or Milton because I feel they are formulated with babies in mind.

Above all, always read labels for laundry instructions.

Washing Everyday

If you choose  to wash every morning, and you  have presoaked overnight, all you need do is to  wash and dry the following morning.

If  you  prefer not to presoak, you can  leave soiled items in the diaper pail or wet bag to wash the following morning.

Washing Every Other Day or Two

If you choose to wash every other day or every two days  using the presoak  method, you will have to leave nappies  to soak  for  a day or two as the case may be.

Only remember that you’ll be adding new contents to the already soaked items every day. Therefore, you would need to  wring out the soaked items, add the  new contents, and then resoak with hot water and  Napisan or Milton.

You have to  repeat this process every day until your next wash day considering that it’s  your intention to treat the new contents as well.

Adding new contents to already soaked items or   leaving things soaked without changing the water, gives off a foul odour plus the contents and water get slimy.  When this happens, your aim of disinfecting the nappies is  defeated.

A note of caution here: I feel that if you want to go for the presoak method, you shouldn’t soak items for more than two days. Soaking things for too long wears the fabric out.

UK  new mum, Jules tells us how she handles  her soak:

You have to pre-soak soiled items/white. What worked for me was leaving it overnight or  a day or two. In terms of smell, you will need to change out the pre-soak water and contents, so re-add Napisan + detergent.”

Conversely, for the  mum who washes without the presoaking method, leaving them in   a wet bag or a diaper pail  until your next laundry day will do.

Like I said,  it’s all in your court and what works best for you.

Ironing

I would advise that once you have decided on a washing schedule, it will be best to  stick with it.

The next thing then is your ironing.

I would suggest you iron on the days  you aren’t  washing, it’s always better not to pile up a ton of work for yourself in one day.

Only be sure not to leave clothes to stack up.   Allowing things to heap up will cause you to become  easily overwhelmed with work.

Ironing is important because it helps kill any parasites that may have  latched onto the clothes and nappies while drying outside. I used the traditional flat  terry and muslin nappies in my days, so ironing them was a must.

I also think that whether you tumble dry or leave out to dry naturally, ironing makes clothes look better and well preserved.

Tip: After you have washed and dried the clothes, whether out in the sun or in the dryer, fold immediately. This leaves the clothes with little or no crease.

The lesser  crease means the  faster  and quicker the ironing. I find that folding the clothes makes things appear organised and stresses me out less.

If you have to iron nappies with outer  protective coverings, turn the nappy inside out and iron only the fabric side, also mind the elastic on the leg and waist.

Better still always check the label for washing and ironing instructions.

Personally Speaking

I was taught that  stained nappies or clothes must be rinsed off or pre handwashed immediately   and then  soaked in  Napisan overnight to wash the following day or two.

The same goes  for milk or food stains on  clothes, burp cloths and bibs, because they get mouldy, if not washed immediately.

Moulds leave dark stains that may or may not  go off even after being washed. Worst of all, you  don’t want mould on your baby’s clothes as they  are dangerous.

So is throwing wet or damp cloths into your baby’s laundry pile. They dampen the rest of the clothes and give out a foul odour.

A Quick Review

Today, you learned  that you and your baby play a key role in your cloth diapering journey.

Your baby decides the type of  cloth diapering option to go far and even the amount of diapers  to buy to a large extent.

You, on the other hand, are responsible for the management and planning of your time as well as deciding your diaper options.

You  learned about the beauty of cloth nappies, caring for your cloth nappies and your laundry routines.

You also learned that you are not alone in your cloth diapering journey, that you have a teeming community of likeminded mums.

Next time, I will be telling you about the different types of cloth nappies, their pros and cons and the best brands around.

Till then, stay safe and please leave a comment or reply below.

Thank you.

Ibi

Ibi

Ibi

15 thoughts on “Choosing Reusable Nappies For Your Baby, Part Two

  1. Sunny

    Ibi thanks – another very educative piece as usual. I always look forward to writing your articles every week because they break down in very simple terms an otherwise complex subject. This one was no less. I have learnt a lot and greatly enlightened

    1. Ibi

      Dear Sunny
      I am delighted to know that you find this blog post very informative and our posts something you look forward to reading every week. Thank you. We have reviews on the the best brands of cloth nappies. We will also be talking about the different types of cloth nappies in my next post. See you then.

    2. Ibi

      Dear Sunny,
      I’m happy to hear that you find this article both educative and informative. I’m happy that you look forward to reading our posts. Thank you

  2. Amy Smith

    These reusable nappies actually don’t look anywhere near as bad as I expected, they certainly have come on a lot!
    I don’t think I could use them all the time but definitely 50/50, we all should be doing more to cut down on our waste and nappies are a massive part of it.
    Thanks for this really informative post.

    1. Ibi

      Dear Amy
      Thanks a million for sharing your views with us. When it comes to diapering it’s all about preference.

      I used both reusable and disposable nappies during my time.

      Reusable for when I was at home and disposables for going out.

      Today, it’s a lot easier to manage reusables, as they are designed ready to use much like disposables.

      And just as you would put used disposable nappies in a disposable nappy baby for disposal, you can put away your used cloth nappies into a wet bag for when you are out.

      Wetbags are leak and odour proof. When you get home, you can dispose of the poo, easily if you use a nappy liner, pre wash and treat if you want to treat or you keep in the diaper or pail and wash on the scheduled day.

      Thank you

  3. Habib

    These are the reusable nappies that I will choose in the near future for my baby 🙂

    I learnt so much about the reusable nappies from your post. I like the idea of it being eco-friendly etc.

    Thanks for the recommendation.

    1. Ibi

      Dear Habib,
      I am glad that you find this article helpful.I’m also delighted to hear that your would be using reusable nappies in future for your baby. And yes there are eco friendly and have great second value.

  4. Yoana

    Hi Ibi,

    Thank you for this article.I believe this article is great for new mothers, especially considering the fact that the pandemic had financially affected so many families. Bringing a baby in this world in times of financial crisis might not be ideal, but with the help on articles like this it is easier.

    I will forward this article to my friend who has just had her first baby last week.

    Thank you.

    1. Ibi

      Dear Yoana,
      It’s great that you find this article useful especially at this time. Please feel free to share with your friend who is expecting her first baby next week. I wish her safe delivery. Thank you

  5. Alyse

    Great article part two of choosing reusable nappies for your baby. I would definitely share this article with my friends that are having babies. It’s great info for them. I’m glad you have given so many valuable tips.
    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Ibi

      Dear Alyse S
      I’m glad that you find this article informative. Please do feel free to share it with your friends. Thank you

  6. Nancy M Hamar

    Hello Ibi – very informative article. I had no idea there were so many support groups, Facebook, and other groups to help a new mom along the way. I also didn’t realize there was a second hand nappy market out there. You really brought up a lot of good ideas in your article. I really love the suggestion of waking up early or staying up late to get organized for the next day. This was key for me to do 29 years ago. I haven’t ever looked for either of the soaking detergents you mention. Are they available in the US too? Thank you for sharing, I hope new moms will find your website, you have very friendly suggestions.
    Keep well,
    Nancy
    BedroomsbyNancy.com

    1. Ibi

      Hi Nancy,
      I am happy to know that you found this article to be very informative.
      The detergents I mentioned is the fairy nonbio detergent which is very popular in the UK and Ireland. Alot of mums who live in the States use Tide. It’s a detergent that contains enymes though not plant based.
      You can also check out the detergent index on fluffloveuniversity.com, you will find a list detergents that you can or can’t use for your baby diapers. It is very helpful.

  7. Iquo Dawodu

    Dear IB,
    It’s incredibly amazing to learn that reusable cloth diapers are still available and in use today. What trips me most is knowing as mentioned that there are “no additives or chemicals sneaked in on you.” Cloth diapers are obviously healthier for the baby as well as the environment since the materials are ecofriendly.
    Very nice and enlightening.

    1. Ibi

      Dear Iquo
      You are absolutely right, reusable nappies are healthier for baby and the environment

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