Q&A with Emma Ross aka Mamalina

We caught up with the lovely Emma Ross, @mamalinauk to talk about her cloth nappy experience, advice on what you need to get started and lots of washing tips!

What made you first consider reusable nappies? Did you use them on all your children?

I first heard about reusable nappies during an NCT session where we were being run through newborn essentials. The teacher spent most of the class doing demos with pampers, and wet wipes, and it was only right at the end that she shoehorned in reusable nappies and wipes. My interest was immediately piqued and I knew this was my type of parenting. Real Nappy Week was taking place a few weeks after our now eldest child was born which was the catalyst for me actually buying my first cloth nappies and starting out on our cloth nappy journey. I've never looked back! I started when my two eldest were both a few months old and from day one with our third child.

What is important to you when choosing a reusable nappy?

For me, it has to be a combination of practicality and price point. For example, pocket nappies are brilliantly practical for nursery as they can be pre-stuffed and they’re super easy to put on and off. Pre folds are great for newborns as they can be really tightly fitted to avoid leaks. I adore wool nappies, but they can be pricey. If the nappy has a cute design, that’s also a big bonus! I’m a sucker for cute patterns!

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It can be overwhelming to start, what are your top tips? What do I need to start?

There is unfortunately so much jargon surrounding cloth nappies that can make the whole process overwhelming, and unnecessarily confusing. Here’s what you need:

  • 2 wet bags
  • Cloth wipes - at least 30 - more than you think!
  • 15-20 nappies - though this really depends how much you plan to do a wash
  • Nappy bin and liner OR a giant wet bag
  • A sense of humour and willingness to sometimes get your hands dirty (not literally, well sometimes….!)

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Are they hard to wash? How frequently will I need to wash them?

Reusable nappies couldn’t be simpler to wash. I store dirty nappies in a lidded bucket lined with a mesh bag in the bathroom. Every few days, I pop the entire bag into the washing machine, emptying it slightly to ensure none of the nappies get stuck but certainly there’s no need to handle the nappies. Then I run a pre-wash for 55 minutes, without detergent, then I run a longer wash at 60° which takes a few hours, using an eco egg. Once done, I’ll hang them on the line or on an indoors drying rack - I actually love this part of the process and find it quite therapeutic! 

What is the best age to start using reusable nappies?  

For me, using reusables from the newborn stage is the easiest age as the nappies are so tiny, and the poop isn’t proper yet! I would add a disclaimer that it might depend on how birth has gone, and some mums might feel more ready to get going with reusables once the baby is a little older. At the other end of the spectrum, potty training is a great age to start with reusables - when you’re not even sure if your child is going to wet or soil a nappy as they’re getting used to the toilet, to me it makes even less sense to use a disposable nappy!

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How many hours roughly will a cloth nappy last for/how often will I need to change it?

A quality cloth nappy will last a good few hours. 

What’s the process like with reusable nappies when you’re out and about?

Again, it’s super simple! I’ll do a change before we leave and take out a wet bag with a few clean nappies with us that will be exchanged for the dirty ones over the course of the day. I also take some cloth wipes and wet them with water from my water bottle if I need to wipe any bottoms (or hands or faces!). Then once home, I’ll just empty the wet bag into the nappy bin. So simple, zero waste and super satisfying. 


All photos taken by Emma Ross. Thank you Emma for a really useful insight into your cloth nappy experience over the years. Follow Emma on Instagram @mamalinauk 

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