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What's so great about cloth nappies?

close up of toddler sitting on floor wearing a miosolo cloth nappy

Tomorrow (Monday 23rd April) marks the start of Real Nappy Week, a nationwide celebration of reusable nappies and their benefits. With loads of great offers, competitions and freebies up for grabs, it's a great time to think about getting involved and giving cloth a go.

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of cloth nappies (or real nappies, or reusable nappies, or whatever you prefer to call them!) but what exactly is it that's so great about them?

Now let me start by saying that this isn’t an extensive how-to guide for cloth nappies - there are plenty of those available online that explain things far better than I can! There are so many different types of reusable nappies but I just wanted to share my experience of the ones that we use and point you in the right direction if it’s something you might like to try. 

toddler playing in colourful playroom wearing miosolo cloth nappy

We first tried cloth nappies way back when Finley was 16 months old but our success with them was very hit and miss so I gave up (which I really regret!) But fast forward a few years and they’ve been absolutely brilliant for Jacob - he wore his first cloth nappy at 10 weeks old and we haven’t looked back since! 

In that time I’ve been asked quite a few questions about Jacob’s nappies so I thought I’d share some of the more common ones:

What made you choose cloth?
Well put simply, they’re so much better for the environment, for your little one’s skin and ultimately for your bank balance. Oh and they look great too - there are so many funky prints to choose from! 

We umm-ed and ahh-ed about trying them for ages but the biggest eye-opener for me was the environmental impact. Did you know that disposable nappies take around 500 years to break down?! If Henry 8th had worn disposables then they’d still be sitting in landfill today - that fact alone was enough to shock me into giving cloth a go.

toddler playing in playroom wearing bumgenius cloth nappy

Aren’t they expensive? 
The initial costs can seem quite steep but as with anything, there are cheaper and more expensive brands out there so it all depends. Our stash contains 25 nappies which were all in the region of £10-20 each - if you call that an average of £15 per nappy then that adds up to just under £400. It sounds like a lot but those nappies will keep Jacob going until he's potty trained and can be sold on to someone else afterwards. And to give you an idea of how that figure compares to single use nappies, real nappy experts Fill Your Pants estimate that "It is easy to spend upwards of £14.50 per week on disposable nappies, nappy sacks and baby wipes during the first 2.5 years of infancy, so for the average child you are looking at spending a whopping £1885 just to get them to potty training!"

They seem a bit complicated? 
Nope - not at all! Honestly, if it was hard work then I wouldn’t be doing it! We use ‘all-in-one’ (AIO) style nappies during the day and they're super easy to use. Our favourites are Bumgenius Freetimes, Bambino Mio's Miosolos and Tots Bots Easyfits which are all birth to potty sized nappies. There’s virtually no folding or stuffing and they fasten in the same sort of way as single use nappies (some with poppers, others with velcro). We use a different type of nappy at night time which comes in two parts so they can be a bit more fiddly but it's one of those things that's easy when you know how!

close up of cloth nappy fastenings with poppers and velcro

inside of two cloth nappies one miosolo and one bumgenius

Aren’t they big and bulky? 
Not really. Obviously they are slightly bigger than single use nappies but most AIOs are fairly slim fitting these days. Our night time nappies (Tots Bots Bamboozles) are chunkier to allow for the extra absorbency but it doesn't bother Jacob in the slightest. Despite what people think, our cloth nappies don't take up much room in the changing bag and they’re not big enough to need special clothes to accommodate them (although some do fit better than others - for example Next and H&M are both great for cloth bums!) 

My baby is older, am I too late to give it a try? 
Definitely not! I’m probably not the best example of this since I gave up the first time around but I put that down to a) not doing enough research and b) not being determined enough to stick at it! I think as long as you’re prepared for a bit of trial and error then there’s nothing to stop you from giving cloth a go at any age. As I said before, most of our nappies are birth to potty sized so they can be adjusted to fit whenever you decide to start using them. And speaking of potty training, it’s thought that children in cloth tend to potty train earlier because they’re more aware of the wetness in their nappies - another great reason to switch to reusables later down the line! 

And, erm... what about the poo?! 
I think this is most people's biggest worry with cloth but I promise it's nowhere near as gross as you think! Newborn poo is water soluble so you can just pop the nappies straight in the washing machine without handling any of the yucky stuff. The best thing about cloth nappies at this stage is that they are SO much better at containing poosplosions than disposables - we still had the occasional leak but I can honestly say that they were so much fewer and far between in cloth nappies. The weaning stage is the trickiest to deal with but we found using biodegradable nappy liners to catch the worst of it then rinsing the nappies out before putting them in the wash worked best for us. Once babies are past that stage, everything gets a million times easier - solid poos can just be dropped straight down the loo and that's that! See, I told you it wasn't so bad! 


close up of miosolo cloth nappy being worn by toddler

What do I need to get started? 
Now this is the fun bit! At the most basic level, you'll need a stash of cloth nappies for daytime use (about 20 on average), a handful of nighttime nappies, a nappy bucket with mesh laundry bag or a large wet bag (for nappy laundry) and a medium sized wet bag (to store used nappies when out and about). There are plenty of other bits that aren't essential but make using cloth nappies a whole lot easier, such as liners (for catching poo), cloth wipes (for cleaning up), boosters (to add absorbency) and nappy cleanser (to pop in with your washing detergent and keep nappies fresh).

There are a few different routes you can go down. If you're super keen then you could just jump straight in at the deep end, grab a couple of nappies when you're next doing your food shop (Miosolos are available in Asda, Sainsbury's and Morrisons) and go from there!
I found that it helped to do a bit of research first though so I'd recommend either visiting your local nappy library and hiring a trial kit to see what works best for you or getting some advice online. I used the free advice questionnaire service from The Nappy Lady before buying our first cloth nappies and it was absolutely brilliant!

Switching to cloth isn't an all or nothing process and if anything, changing everything at once makes it seem more daunting! Just start off with a couple of nappies that you like the look of and work your way up. You don't have to use cloth full time either - plenty of people use reusables during the day and disposables at night.

If you're thinking of giving reusables a try then there’s no better time to do it than during Real Nappy Week. There are loads of great offers to take advantage of which I’ve shared here but if you find any more then let me know and I'll add them to the list!

  • The Nappy Lady - 20% off across the whole site 
  • Babi Pur - video demonstrations and giveaways 
  • Tots Bots - 20% off nappies and nappy bundles with code: REAL20
  • Bambino Mio - 20% off everything
  • Cheeky Wipes - 25% off everything
  • Ecopipo - 15% off all products with code: #RNW2018 
  • Plush Pants - 25% off all nappies, swim nappies, trainer pants and wraps, plus offers on liners, wet bags, boosters and buckets
  • Fill Your Pants - 20% off selected ranges plus expert advice
  • Lizzie’s Real Nappies - discounts on reusable cloth nappies, washable sanitary pads, washable baby swim nappies etc.
  • Yes Bébé - new nappy ranges, advice and top tips
  • Daizy Babies - 20% off nappy packs and individuals 
  • Tickle Tots - 25% off wet bags
close up of toddler sitting on floor wearing bumgenius cloth nappy with space design