Getting started with cloth nappies is at the best of times a bit of a minefield. When you haven't used them before and decide to see what the options are, you find that there are a lot. And I mean a lot! There is an overwhelming choice of nappy systems and accompanying accessories and it's hard to know where to begin. It can be particularly off-putting when you try a system and it doesn't work for you (which is what happened to us) and you begin to question whether cloth nappies are a good idea at all.
If you are in this position, I encourage you not to give up as cloth nappies are great environmentally friendly option and there are a number of advice outlets out there to help get you started. The first system that we used didn't work at all and there were leaks with nearly every nappy change. This led me to look into cloth nappies a little further and I found that there are great information outlets out there and ways of trying out different systems so that you don't have to go with the first option that you try.
A good place to begin is to contact a cloth nappy advice service. You can just go on a website that sells them and see the options, but you can very quickly get overwhelmed (I know I did!) If you are in the UK, The Nappy Lady and Go Real are two brilliant websites that offer advice. The Nappy Lady has a great helpline which was a lifesaver when I didn't know what to do next after our series of leakages. They are not attached to any particular brand and will make unbiased recommendations. Thanks to them we are now using a system that we are happy with. They can also offer advice on how many nappies and wraps to will need to buy to get started. If you want general information rather than advice on specific nappy systems, then Go Real is a good place to start. Here you can find information on where to buy nappies, basic equipment you need, washing and drying advice and even information on Nappy Laundry services. These are local services that will take away, clean and return nappies for a fee.
I have personally not used a lot of this advice and have cared for the nappies using trial and error, but I definitely recommend checking this advice to get the most life out of the nappies. You may also be able to find shops that sell cloth nappies in your area and it is definitely worth checking online. We have even found the brand that we use (Tot Bots Bamboozle) in our local Tesco, although it is a large store - but it is certainly worth checking around. It is also worth asking other mothers that you meet, especially at mum and baby groups and activities what they are using.
As another option, you can try your local nappy library. This is a service where you try out different brands of nappy before you buy. You can either search for your local library on Google, or check on Facebook as they very often have their own groups on there. Our local library for example, is called Fluff Is The Future and can be found on Facebook. This is good option is you are having trouble choosing a brand or want to be sure that is is right for you before you buy, especially as cloth nappies are expensive. It is important to bare in mind however, that although cloth nappies are expensive to buy in the first instance, they will save you money over time as you will not be buying nappies every week. You will only need to buy replacements every so often as your child gets bigger.
Now once you've chosen your nappies, you are going to want to know what else you need to buy. Above is the basic system that we use. If you buy a kit you will get the basic nappies, which are pictured in the middle and inserts, shown on the left. The insert is attached into the nappy and ups the absorbency. You will also get some wraps, shown here on the right and these go over the top of the nappy to keep your babies clothing dry. I was advised with the Tot Bots system that I am using that you can use a wrap for about four nappies, before switching to another one, however I find that the wraps feel quite wet on the inside when taken off. So I have two wraps on hand and let one dry whilst the second one is worn. You may not need to do this with the system that you use and the wear-time for the wraps may be different, so I highly recommend seeking out advice from one of the above websites. All of the above is put on in the same way as a disposable.
We also use biodegradable disposable liners which can be wrapped around the insert and are good for catching poo so it can be easily removed from the nappy and flushed. A number of brands of liners are available - we like the LittleLamb ones but it is always good to try and see which you prefer.
Another essential accessory, pictured at the top of the photo above is a supply of wet-bags. These are waterproof bags which are great for containing dirty cloth nappies while you are out and about. We use the ones from LittleLamb and have found them to be leak and smell proof. Once you can get home, you can then wash the nappies as usual. There are systems for washing in which dirty nappies are stored in buckets of water until they are put in the wash, but this is not something that I have done. I usually rinse the nappies in cold water as soon as I can after changing to remove access wee or stains and then throw them into the washing machine until I put a load on. As I have said previously, I have not looked into washing methods properly (I don't get much time these days) but I recommend that you do, as it will help keep your nappies in good condition for longer.
It is important to note that when you first use cloth nappies you might be surprised to find that your babies bottom and front areas are wet. In my experience this is normal and doesn't seem to make the baby uncomfortable, as long as there are no leaks through the wrap and the clothing. Just give your baby a good wipe with a baby wipe and dry the area thoroughly before popping on a new nappy and wrap.
I hope that you have found this information useful! Please let me know in the comments how you get on. I have written a review of the Tot Bots Bamboozle Stretch system which we are using and you can read it here, although as ever I encourage you to find which brand works best for you and your baby.
Thank you once again to Mr Foxy for modelling the nappies for this post.