Always wanted to try using cloth nappies but don’t know how to get started? There’s no better time to make the switch than at the start of the New Year! But we know that it can feel daunting getting your head around a whole new system, so today we’re bringing you 7 easy steps to get started with cloth nappies.
Do some research
Before you buy anything, it’s always best to do some research first. There is a huge variety of different cloth nappies out there, and what suits one family won’t necessarily work for the next.
There is plenty of information to be found through Google and social media that will give you the basics of the cloth nappy world. You can also take a look at our other blog posts to get you started.
A quick Facebook or Instagram search for ‘reusable nappies’ or ‘cloth nappies’ will give you a selection of groups where lots of cloth parents like to hang out. Cloth nappy users love to pass on their knowledge, though do remember to take things with a pinch of salt. Not everything on social media is helpful!
Sometimes at the end of this step you can find yourself feeling even more overwhelmed. Don’t panic! This is where step 2 comes in…
Once you’ve scoured the internet for information you’re likely to feel confused by all the different options available to you. This is very normal!
To help you narrow down the options and work out the right one for you, the best thing you can do is to ask for advice. One of the best places to go for advice is your local nappy library - you can find your nearest one here.
If you have a friend who is experienced with using cloth nappies, they would be a great person to ask. Cloth users are often very happy to pass on their knowledge and help a new parent get started.
Finally, we would also love to help you! Get in touch by email or Instagram if you need more help.
Once you’ve gathered all your knowledge, the best thing you can do is to get stuck in. It’s difficult to know exactly what will work best for you without actually trying some nappies and getting a feel for how each one is unique. It’s surprising how often people find they like something quite different than what they initially thought.
Again, your local nappy library is a great place to go. They hire out kits of nappies for you to try for a small deposit, so you can give cloth a try with relatively low risk. Some cloth nappy retailers also have hire schemes.
If you don’t have a nappy library locally, you can always buy some nappies to try. It’s best to start with 1 or 2 from a few different brands, so you can compare and contrast. Any nappies you don’t like can be sold secondhand (Facebook is the best place to do this), or donated.
Learn how to put them on
If you’re used to using disposable nappies, then putting on a cloth nappy will feel a little different. Because of how they work, cloth nappies sit differently on your baby, and fitting them right is quite important to avoid leaks. Don’t worry though - it’s straightforward and once you’ve had a few tries it will start to feel like second nature.
You can find our guide to fitting cloth nappies here, including pictures to help show you exactly what you need to be doing. And if you’re still struggling, get in touch! We’d love to help.
Once you’ve got them figured out, cloth nappies are very reliable and often more reliable than their disposable cousins. Trustworthy elastics and better waterproofing mean that the risks of blow outs are minimal, which means less washing of dirty clothes!
To begin with though, it’s very normal to find you get leaks. The two biggest culprits are the fit of the nappy (see step 4!) and the nappy not having enough absorbency in it. If you’re confident your fit is good, then the best thing to try next is to add more inserts to your nappy. You can find extra inserts for Pim Pam nappies here.
If you’ve tried adding more absorbency and you’re still struggling, take a look at this blog post all about cloth nappy leaks.
Learn how to wash themThis is one of the biggest questions people have when they’re starting out with cloth nappies. How do I wash them? We have good news - it’s not as difficult as you might think, especially if you’ve heard horror stories from your mum or grandma about soaking and scrubbing!
Here’s our simple routine:
- Start by putting any solids into the toilet. If your little one isn’t weaned yet then solids don’t need to be removed before they go in the washing machine. Place nappies into a bucket or waterproof bag and aim to wash them every 2-3 days. If you’re using pocket nappies like ours, it can be helpful to remove the inserts before you put the nappy in the bag.
- On wash day, tip the nappies into the washing machine and run a rinse cycle with no detergent.
- Once that’s finished, run a long cycle (ideally more than 3 hours) at either 40° or 60° with a full dose of detergent. We recommend washing the waterproof part of the nappy and any wet bags at 40° to prolong their life. Absorbent inserts and wipes can be washed at 40° or 60°. For most people, washing the inserts at 40° should be fine, with the odd 60° wash where a deeper clean is needed (such as when there’s a tummy bug in town!)
- Line dry your nappies. We don’t recommend tumble drying our nappies, to help prolong their life.
You can find even more tips on washing in this blog post.
Think about going full time
So you’ve figured out how to use your nappies, you’re using them part time and you know which you like best. Now’s the time to start thinking about investing in your nappy stash! For full time day use, most people need around 20-25 nappies (more for smaller babies, fewer for older babies and toddlers).
If you’re feeling daunted by using nappies full time, then remember that even part time use is better than not at all. Even if you switch one disposable nappy a day for a reusable one, you’ll save around 700-1000 nappies from landfill over the time a child is in nappies!
We know lots of parents who choose to use disposable nappies when they’re out and about, or on holiday, and plenty who still stick with disposables at night. It is much better to work cloth nappies into your life in a way that is sustainable than to burn out after a few months.
We hope you’re feeling inspired to get started with cloth nappies in 2022. Take a look at our full range of reusable nappies here to jump in!