Cute bum in his TotsBots wrap
Now that J-cub's turned a year old, and we seem to have cracked most areas of raising a baby (really?), we've been thinking about branching out into cloth nappies.
Our reasons for not having done so thus far are as follows:
- I read the government paper into the environmental impact of reusable vs. disposable while I was pregnant, which concluded that the impact is only significantly lower in reusables if you don't tumble dry them, and if you use them for more than one child. Here in rainy Wales, living in a house with little available clothes-airer space, we tend to use our tumble dryer quite a lot. And having taken the best part of 6 years to get knocked up, I couldn't say for sure that we'd get to have another one.
- We are rubbish at doing laundry. The floordrobe in our bedroom is testament to this - piles of clean clothes never get put away, because they're stacked in front of the closed wardrobe doors, and the piles get higher and higher and it's just silly. I hate laundry, it's so stupidly time-consuming, having a domestic task which takes more than a day to complete, has several physically-tiring components and which you're expected to do more than once a week.
- A good friend had tried them, and hated them, and put me off.
- We didn't have the available cash to make the initial outlay, and kept being given vouchers for disposables.
- When J-cub arrived, everything was so ridiculously difficult that it never really crossed my mind again. I would say that only in the last couple of months have I started to feel like I actually know what I'm doing, and to feel comfortable with our day-to-day life, and maybe like I need a new challenge.
Triggered by my final 3 unpaid months of maternity leave, when money wasn't so much tight as entirely non-existent, I started to talk about getting some cloth so we wouldn't have the cost of disposables in our weekly budget. I also think that it'll be easier to get the hang of them now, and get into a good system of washing and drying, now that living day-to-day with a baby isn't such a massive struggle. And then we'll be experienced enough to use them from the start next time, and can re-use the ones we get now for the next baby, so everyone's a winner (especially me, because I get to have another baby! Not yet though, obviously. But maybe soon, please?).
A friend very kindly told me that she had a load of cloth nappies which she no longer had any use for, and which I was welcome to. We ummed and ahhed a bit more, then decided to give it a go and collected them a few weeks ago. Cloth nappies nowadays come in a frightening variety of types and shapes and brands and colours and fabrics and absorbencies, which websites like the Cloth Nappy Tree helpfully detail to guide you through the maze. The ones my friend gave me were pocket nappies, which have a waterproof outer layer, and an inner pocket which you stuff with a variety of fabrics to soak up the pee. We excitedly tried one, and it leaked. I started reading up on why leaks might occur, and the reasons seemed to be endless. Too much stuffing causes gaping around the legs, and the pee comes out. Too little stuffing and the pee has nowhere to go, so it comes out. If a tiny bit of the inner fabric isn't covered by the outer layer, then your baby's clothes wick the pee out. If your baby's clothes are too tight, then the pee gets squeezed out. And of course, the nappies might be too big, or too small.
I spent ages trying to figure out where I was going wrong, and trying different combinations of stuffing materials, and looser clothes, but all to no avail. I came to the conclusion that all but one of the nappies were too small for J-cub. He is a big boy, the size of an 18 month old at just 12 months, and all but one of the nappies are a medium size. Consensus seemed to be that he needs a large.
I started to investigate the other types (by this point my head was reeling - and in fact I've been dreaming about Swaddlebees and Minkis and Blueberries and TotsBots and MEOS and bamboo and hemp and fleece and prefolds and wraps for weeks now, it's very tiring.), and picked up a couple of cheap fitted nappies to try, which are shaped like a disposable and have a separate waterproof wrap to cover them. My experiments with pockets had kind of put me off continuing down that route, but they're very popular so don't let me put you off if you're reading this and looking for advice about what to get. I should probably put a disclaimer somewhere around here which says "I'm mental, don't listen to anything I say, especially when I'm giving my opinion about things, because I'm usually wrong".
The fitted nappy with a wrap worked well, fit J-cub nicely and were easy to wash and dry. Another friend demonstrated her system to me, consisting of Mother-ease one size (MEOS) nappies and Mother-ease Air Flow wraps (left); the combination of which were far less bulky than the ones I'd been trying.
I started having a look around ebay for some cheap ones to try, which proved practically impossible as most cloth nappies have a high resale value, even when used.
I happened across a posting on my local Netmums nearly new board, offering a free (FREE!) Mother-ease trial pack consisting of 3 different ME nappies, a wrap, a pop-in insert and a roll of paper liners. I emailed the lister quickly and crossed my fingers. She got back to me quickly, saying she lived a few miles away and would drop them off the next day. The trial pack was worth £38, but she didn't want any money for it, and brought it right to my door.
And they fit beautifully! One of the sized nappies and the wrap were sized small, so I've put them away for the next baby. I tried the nappies with the wrap I already had, by TotsBots, and while it's not a perfect fit, it'll do.
So that just left me with trying to pick up enough nappies to get going with. Around 20 seems to be the suggested amount, and at £10 each (ish) new, that's a lot of money. Even at knocked-down prices on ebay and usednappies.co.uk, bundles of nappies and wraps go for well over £100. Yet another friend offered me her complete stash for £100, which for what she was offering, was a massive bargain. But again, actually coming up with £100 in cash is way beyond our means. Have I mentioned that I stupidly rammed my car into a bollard a couple of weeks ago, and have a £300 excess to pay?
I finally mentioned our dilemma to my Dad during a phone conversation this afternoon, and a few minutes after I ended the call I received an email from him telling me to order what I need and he'll put the money in my account. THANKS Dad ;)
So now I'm off to make my order, and to commence on our cloth nappy adventure. And to brush aside those feelings of guilt that I haven't done it earlier, because better late than never, right? And at least we can do it right next time around. Just maybe after the meconium is all out of the way. And the breastmilk-poo explosions.