Frequently Asked Questions
Which cloth nappy should I choose?
It can be easy to become confused and disheartened when you start researching the world of cloth nappies. But once you start it’s so much easier to know what you like and how things work.
Some families like to have a variety of different nappies in their collection, whereas others just want to buy one thing and make it work for them. Research shows that families who cloth nappy successfully for the entire time their baby is in nappies have about 5 different brands and/or styles of nappies.
Each family will have different needs and lifestyle as well as a different baby, that grows and changes shape A LOT! This means the different features of each kind of nappy will appeal to different people. When making your decision, think about your budget, how committed you are to doing cloth, if you’re likely to persevere if things get a bit tricky, where your laundry is, do you get sun on your washing line, will you use a drier, do you enjoy / have time to sit and put nappies together. When it comes down to it everything is pretty simple once you’ve practiced it a few times! We have listed different types of nappies below to give you an idea of what the different names mean.
- All in One – The closest to a disposable – They can be boosted to provide extra absorbency if required but they are a simple nappy and you replace the whole nappy when you change baby.
- All in Twos – Comprising of a wrap and pop in insert, you can just change the insert if babies only Wet and reuse the outer wrap
- Fitted – Usually the most absorbent and great for night times – needs a waterproof wrap over the top
- Wraps / Covers – The waterproof outer that’s used over fitted nappies, prefolds, flats, inserts and basically anything absorbent.
- Pockets – These are fleece lined with a hole at the back to stuff your Absorbent inserts into. The inserts need putting back into the pocket before and after each wash
How many cloth nappies will I need?
The number of nappies you will need depends on whether you plan to use cloth full-time or part-time, how often you want to wash, what style of nappies you use and of course, your baby. Most people who successfully use full-time cloth nappies wash every 2nd day and have between 20 and 30 nappies to cover the 8 to 12 nappy changes per day required by the average newborn. Older children require about 15 nappies for an average of 5 nappy changes per day. You may find you need more nappies if you’re leaving more than 2 days between washing, if you don’t get a lot of sun or if your baby uses more nappies than average. Likewise, you may get away with fewer nappies if you wash every day or tumble dry your nappies. If you choose a nappy that requires a separate cover we recommend one cover for every four to six nappy changes (so 24 nappies would require 5 or 6 covers).
Can I start using cloth nappies from birth?
Absolutely! The earlier you start using cloth nappies (and wipes for a lot of families) the easier it is to build a great routine and the more it just becomes part of your life! Considering the average newborn uses about 500 nappies in the first six weeks of life, using cloth from the start makes good economic sense, even if it’s just part-time.
Many of our customers start off with 12 – 15 nappies and go from there, buying more as they work out what they like, how often they wish to wash and if they want to do cloth full time or part time.
Buying nappies that are flexible and well suited to a newborn (small, easily adjustable & quick drying) means you can start right away if you wish to. If you want to team them up with some larger one-size-fits-most nappies you will get a much more flexible collection of nappies and won’t run the risk of having to wait for weeks or months until your nappies fit your baby.
Another option is to get a few nappies to try in terms of fit and style and then supplement with disposables for a few weeks until you find your feet, adding to your collection as you go.
Of course, there’s no reason you can’t go 100% cloth from the start!! We’re here to help you find the most workable and economical system for long term nappy use.
How long will my cloth nappies last?
This question can relate to both fit and longevity.
From our experience, one-size-fits-most nappies fit really well from around 8 – 12 weeks of age, before then they can be a little bulky and unless the legs and back are snug, they may be inclined to leak. Most traditional newborn nappies (flats, fitteds & pre-folds) can go on to be used well past the newborn stage as absorbency in a different nappy, or cleaning cloths etc making them a very economical option.
In relation to longevity, it depends on many variables. When you purchase nappies that are good quality and care for them well you will get a good return on your investment. Nappies that are cheap are made of substandard elastic, PUL and the absorbent materials often wear out very quickly (or aren’t very absorbent in the first place). If your nappies are in high rotation (ie washed and worn many times over a week) they will wear much more quickly than if you have lots of nappies in rotation. Because washing is loaded with so many variables some people may find their nappies wear quicker than others. Likewise, if you have a baby that has a very acidic wee, you may find your absorbent inserts wear quicker.
Every nappy is different, as is every baby. It’s easy to get caught up in how long a nappy will last for in terms of time but equally important is how often you will use that nappy over that period. It’s much more economical to use a nappy you love many times over a short period than it is to only use it a few times over a long period.
What’s the difference between cotton, bamboo, hemp and microfiber?
All fabrics have positives and negatives in regard to absorbency, drying time and ecological benefits.
- Microfibre – Quick to absorb but can leak on compression eg, in a baby carrier or car seat.
- Cotton – Quick to absorb and holds better than microfibre
- Bamboo – Slower to absorb, holds better than microfibre
- Hemp- Can be slow to absorb, but is very retentive – hemp is usually mixed with cotton.
- Waterproof Outer – The wrap or shell that keeps it all in: this can be built-in or removable. Usually made from PUL: Polyurethane laminated fabric -this is the most common material: it’s very waterproof, but if nappy is soaked, may wick through stitching. TPU: Thermoplastic polyurethane, similar to PUL but more breathable. Fleece: This repels moisture but allows evaporation. Wool: Naturally water repellant, antimicrobial and a natural fibre.
It’s a good plan to have a few different types of fabrics in your nappy collection. We’ll gladly help you through your different options and give you more information about each type of fabric.
How To Wash Your Nappies
- Remove poo, the thought of poo is much scarier than the reality!! Some families choose to use either a disposable or washable liner. Breast milk poo is fully water soluble and does not need pre rinsing. Remove any poo possible by shaking into the toilet.
- Keep dirty nappies in a wetbag or wash basket dry until you are ready to wash. I remove any inserts from pocket nappies at this point too – usually every 2- 3 days. DO NOT SOAK. Soaking can reduce the lifespan of your nappies
- Secure Velcro laundry tabs so they dont get caught on other nappies and cause damage.
- Do a cold or lukewarm rinse OR quick wash with 1/4 – 1/2 dose of detergent
- As long as your chosen detergent doesn’t contain enzymes, optical bleaches and/or phosphates its fine
- 60 degree long wash – usually your cotton cycle using full dose detergent (its a good time to check this, I never did pre cloth nappies and i was surprised) remember to adjust the dose of detergent for the size of your machine and water hardness).
- You want all dirt removed and for the nappies to smell of nothing at all.
- Start with a full dose for hard water, and if the nappies come out smelling of detergent rinse them again and use less detergent next time. If they come out smelling of wee, wash them again with more detergent.
- If you still have suds at the end of the cycle add an extra rinse
- DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER or BLEACH.
- Peg hangers (or Sock Hangers) hung in a warm place with good airflow work well
- You may occasionally tumble dry nappies on low but it’s best avoided as will reduced their life span.
What nappy should I choose for night times?
Newborns generally require changing during the night and are just fine in the nappies you use during the day. Once your baby stops doing a poo during the night you may wish to put them in a nappy that will last the whole night. A well-fitted one-size-fits-most nappy with all its absorbent layers can be a good starting point. Alternatively, a fitted nappy with a cover is a great option because you can boost the absorbency up as much as required and the cover keeps everything intact. By about six months you will probably find your baby requires a dedicated night nappy with lots additional absorbency, particularly if they’re being fed during the night. We’re more than happy to talk you through your options when you are at that point.
I’m getting leaks!
Leaks from ANY nappy will happen from time to time (even disposables) but there are some simple checks you can make if you’re getting recurrent leaks;
- Check your nappy is pre-washed before first use – bamboo takes about 6 washes before it becomes fully absorbent. Your nappy may need a few more washes to make it really absorbent.
- Check you have the right size nappy for your baby. The nappy should fit around the waist and legs snuggly, but not too tight. There should be no big gaps. Check when your baby is on its side not just on its back. If your nappy is a one-size-fits-most snapped on a small setting, check the ‘extra’ fabric isn’t sticking out of the leg holes or bunched up.
- Make sure no clothing is tucked into any part of the nappy and no part of the nappy is hanging out of the waterproof cover. If your covers have a gusset make sure it’s on the outside of the cover not tucked up between the nappy and the body of the cover.
- Do you have enough absorbency? Many super cheap nappies come with just one microfibre insert. This isn’t enough for the average baby and you will need to add additional (or different) absorbency to avoid leaking. If you have a heavy wetter or are using small or newborn nappies, you may need to boost the nappy with some additional layers of absorbency. You can do this with purpose designed boosters, old nappy inserts, small pre-folds or by folding up cloth wipes and popping them where you need additional soaking power.
- If you’ve been using your nappies for more than 9 or 10 months you may find oils and detergent have built up in the absorbent fibres. Strip washing your inserts will help the regain their absorbency. Head here for our recommendations.
- Older babies often start to do a ‘flooding’ wee as their bladder control increases. You’ll often find their nappies leak out the legs but when you take the nappy off it’s quite dry. If your nappy has a suede cloth or fleece lining you may find it doesn’t absorb the sudden volume of wee quickly enough into the fibres of the nappy. Try folding the insert of your nappy differently so the natural fibre is against your babies skin. If you’re using a pocket nappy lay the insert on the top rather than putting it into the pocket. If you have all-in-ones that you can’t swap around you may like to add a booster made of natural fibre (cotton or bamboo) between your baby and the nappy.
- Is your nappy high enough? lots of babies, particularly boys leak from the top of some brands of very trim nappies that sit low on the waist. Many nappies with a single snap close at the waist are difficult to get a good fit on, especially if your baby has chubby legs and a skinny waist & hips. If you find your nappy has a ‘gape’ at the front this may be the cause of your leaks. It’s worth trying your inserts inside a different style cover with either a double snap close or a velcro close.
Still struggling? Get in contact and we’ll help trouble shoot with you!