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We’ve been trying since the Muppet was born to get around to using cloth nappies. We knew that our local council has a Real Nappy Project which encourages families to use cloth nappies to reduce landfill waste. They also have a money-back offer so that when you spend a certain amount on cloth nappies, you get £30 back – that was a definite incentive!

We borrowed one of their trial kits for a month to see how we would get on with them, and we did quite well! It can be quite mind boggling, all the different nappy brands and styles, and a trial kit to find out which we liked best was invaluable. I’m honestly not sure if I would ever have taken the plunge had it not been for this! I certainly wouldn’t have got my head around it all if we’d tried soon after the Muppet was born; about 9 months in a few of my braincells had regained consciousness!

The kit included cloth nappies with wraps, pocket nappies, and all manner of boosters and liners. In terms of fabric and absorbability, I liked the Little Lambs cotton/bamboo nappies the best. You have to put a separate waterproof wrap over the nappy, and make sure there are no gaps around the legs for potential leaks. Tots Bots Bamboozles are exactly the same, and we ended up buying eight of these from a friend who was getting rid of them. These are definitely the best sort in terms of performance: as long as the wrap is sealed around his legs, they can go for 12+ hours overnight with no leaks at all. The only downside to these is that they’re very bulky, so while the Muppet was actually wearing 6-9 months clothing, we had to go up two sizes to 12-18 months. This is particularly relevant for vests and trousers, and skinny fit jeans/chinos are more or less out of the question. Not that he minds – I’m pretty sure baggy trousers are far more comfy to shuffle around in!

In terms of convenience, the pocket nappies were the best. These are all in ones, so the waterproof layer comes attached to the nappy, and there is a ‘pocket’ into which you stuff one or two fleece or bamboo boosters depending on the level of absorption you need. They’re quick to put on too: no holding a wriggly baby still while you wrestle the wrap on and check for gaps. The ones in the trial kit were FuzziBunz (I think they’re an American brand); the only criticism I have of these is that their ‘one size’ is a bit small. They fitted ok for now, but give it another month or so and I think they’d struggle to contain any explosions…

My one reservation about the pocket nappies is the fabric they’re made of. They’re all polyester, either fabric or fleece, which is great for keeping the wetness away from baby’s skin, but I worry about the impact their production might have on the environment. I know this is a small gripe, because as they’re reusable, you’re only buying a few to last from birth to potty, so it’s not like standard disposables of which you’d buy hundreds if not thousands. However, we have bought four of the Tots Bots Easyfit ones of these, because like I say, they’re so convenient. They are also more compact, so aren’t quite as bulky as the bamboo or cotton ones under clothes. I found we still needed to go up a size for comfort, but that’s no bad thing. I think we’ll probably invest in a few more of these in due course, despite my environmental misgivings! Performance-wise, these don’t do so well as the Bamboozles + wrap, we’ve had a few leaks, so I’d say they need changing about as often as disposables.

In total, we have eight cloth nappies and two wraps, and four pocket nappies. I find this is enough to last about a day and a half to two days before we run out. If I do a wash everyday, we can almost manage, but the bamboo nappies do take a good two days to dry. Even if they’re out on the washing line all day, they still need another day on the airer indoors, or half an hour in the tumble dryer. I think we’ll need to get a couple more wraps, and maybe a couple more pocket nappies to be fully disposable-free at home.

Cloth nappies definitely have a feel-good factor: I like the fact that we’re saving money by not buying so many disposables, I no longer feel guilty about the environmental factor of disposables, I find laundry quite a therapeutic task (I know, I’m weird!), and they are so much more gentle on the Muppet’s skin. He’s only ever had nappy rash a couple of times, mainly when his first tooth was coming through, but since starting to use cloth nappies he’s not had any little red patches in the creases of his legs either. Surprising in a way, as they don’t keep wetness off the skin like disposables do, but most people I know who use them say nappy rash is virtually eliminated.

We are still using disposables occasionally, particularly for outings when we’ll be out all day, and those days when the laundry is piling up around my ears. I feel I ought to put a good word in here about the disposables we use – I’ve always steered clear of Pampers and other non-biodegradable brands, because I just didn’t feel right about using them. Mainly because they contain so much artificial stuff and so many chemicals, not to mention the fact that they can take up to 500 years to decompose. That’s for each nappy! Scary stuff. We’ve always used Naty nappies, because they’re biodegradable and made from corn fibre so contain no nasty chemicals. As far as I can tell (not having ever used any other brand), they work just as well as other disposables.

For us, around the 9 month mark was the best time to start using cloth nappies, and I can definitely see us continuing to use them until potty training. As a bonus, I’m told that they help babies potty train quicker, because they can feel when they’re wet. Of course, this isn’t true for every family, and there are plenty of parents whose braincells remained intact and started off using cloth nappies at the newborn stage. I’m hoping next time around I’ll be one of those!

Here’s a picture of our little cloth bum at a recent Real Nappy event at the Blue Skies Centre

Mum and George