There are many things I wish I had known about reusable nappies before I got into them.
So I thought well that's some good stuff to share with my fellow cloth nappy community out there.
So here goes my top 3!
1. Proper washing is important: one of the most important things to know about cloth nappies is that proper washing is essential to keep them clean and hygienic. After all they are most likely the dirtiest thing you will ever wash!
This usually involves a pre-wash with a small amount of detergent and a separate main wash with the detergent manufacturer's recommended amount + extra if you have a large washing machine. It is important to follow the reusable nappy manufacturer's instructions for washing and drying the nappies, but good quality reusable nappies should withstand regular washing as the process above.
I inherited my Real Nappies from a friend and just washed them as I would clothes initially. I was doing a main wash only, mixed with clothes and I was using a sensitive detergent but only washing at 30 - 40 degrees C. But I could feel something wasn't right.... I would get some faint stains, some odour in the nappies. After doing some research on the internet I found some better washing advice which I now share with you on the Real Nappies Care Instructions page.
Failure to wash reusable nappies properly will result in premature wearing of the material (and this is not apparent straight away but happens a few months down the track) and can result in baby getting nappy rashes, both due to ammonia build up in the nappy.
Stains and smells are not normal with reusable nappies!
2. What if your partner/husband/spouse is not on board with reusable nappies? It is still doable to use reusable nappies. Even part time is better than none. Your partner may be as committed as you to using reusable nappies... or some find it difficult to do cloth nappies at first, but generally they do come around or at least to some degree.
Preferences regarding nappies can vary widely and may depend on a variety of factors such as personal values, convenience, cost, environmental concerns, and practicality. Some may prefer to use reusable cloth nappies because they are more environmentally friendly than disposable nappies, and can be more cost-effective over the long term (as long as you only buy the number you need and don't keep shopping for the latest design!). Using reusable nappies is a good way to reduce waste and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle.
My partner likes the cost saving and environmental/ waste reduction benefit from cloth nappies and he was on board with using them thankfully but he HATES dealing with the poo (and well I don't either! but I just get on with it!).
There are ways to help with that with some tools and setups which I will go into more details in another blog. But something you can do if you are using reusables and your partner wants to use disposables, is to always have the reusables in an easier to reach place and only have a small number of disposables around so that sometimes you will be short and your partner will have to use a reusable even if it's just putting it on! Practice makes perfect right! Also if your partner uses disposables, well they can be in charge of doing the groceries when they need some more.
In terms of reusables, velcro (hook and loop) nappies are easier for beginners to master the nappy fit with; as it is just more intuitive to whip it on and close it like a disposable.
One thing that I was really proud of my partner for saying is that one day we were hanging the washing together (how romantic lol) and he said "every time I look at the nappies drying, I realise it's that many nappies less in the rubbish bin and going to landfill and that makes me feel better about doing the whole thing." Well said Wayne!
3. Reusables come in different styles and inserts and it is important when shopping around to compare like-for-like: Cloth nappies come in a variety of styles and materials. As a soon-to-be or new parent, we want to find the best nappies and spend the money wisely and get it right first time. Sorry to burst your bubble, but you don't know what you don't know! But fear not there is help out there!
There are many factors that will eventually influence what is your personal preference with reusable nappies. It is important to choose a style and material that works well for your baby's needs, your lifestyle, financial situation or washing conditions to name a few. Baby's needs will change over time as they grow for example and so will you as you learn what works best for you. So don't be afraid to get a stash of mixed brand second-hand nappies, or try a few different styles (for example at Real Nappies we have an Intro Pack for only $29.99!).
When comparing brands, it is really important to look at the inserts the nappies come with. How many are there? What material are they made of? How thick are they or how many layers of material sown together? Do they have some measure of how absorbent they are?
For example cheaper brands of pocket nappies will come with microfibre inserts which are fine when baby is small but from around 3 months of age, they will not be absorbent enough and are subject to compression leaks (the urine comes out of them really easily when squeezed which creates leaks). So you buy them thinking they will do fine and after a few months you start having problems and find out you have to research other options and spend money again or the nappies are so slim-fitting that adding more inserts to increase absorbency is affecting the fit of the nappies and creating other leak problems.
I've tried different brands and I now know what I like - Real Nappies of course!! The other brands I bought to try...well I only end up using them as a last resort. I just reach for Real Nappies to go on adventures as I know they have good absorbency that lasts and I don't have to worry when I go out.