An introduction to reusable nappies

Yes, this is my first blog post in over a year! Sorry to have let you down. Where was I during all this time? Changing nappies and trying to survive on very little sleep! 

Last June, I had a baby. It's bit quite an adventure. I feel extremely lucky being a parent, especially as at some point I feared that it would never happen to us. However, to be perfectly honest, the challenge of looking after a small child is much bigger than anticipated. 

B sporting a second-hand Close Pop-In bought on Gumtree

The little beast (aka "le petit burrito" and "little rocket man") still doesn't sleep through the night. And, despite the fact that he goes to nursery full time, juggling my freelance journalist work with all the rest is a balancing act (which won't be news to anyone in the same position, obviously; it's called "being a parent"). Nevertheless, about three months ago, I became seriously committed to using reusable nappies. Better late than never! 

My husband and I had decided to use reusable nappies before our son was born. Why? To reduce plastic waste, of course. Disposable nappies end up in landfill and take hundreds of years to degrade. Our choice was also motivated by health reasons.

A study published in January 2017 by French consumer magazine 60 millions de consommateurs revealed that the vast majority of non-reusable nappies sold in France contained toxic plastic chemicals and, in some cases, glyphosate -as in the stuff contained in Monsanto weed killer Roundup. 😠😠😠😠😠😠😠😠😠 

Despite knowing that, we didn't use reusable nappies straight away. We had been advised by a midwife who had used reusables for her daughter not to bother with "real nappies" - as they are also called - right from the start because new born babies need changing very often. Some people recommend investing in special new born nappies, which seemed too much of a commitment to us at the time. 

When B was about two months though, I invested in six brand new Bambino Mio nappies. I went for the all-in-ones (AIO), the miosolo model. Prior to that, we had also bought 2 gNappies pants and biodegradable inserts.

We had some leaks with both of them, as far as I can remember. Putting the gNappies pants the wrong way round probably didn't help (the logo sits at the back!). We also realised that gNappies biodegradable inserts were very expensive. It did take some time for the penny to drop. Remember that we were awfully sleep deprived - B had reflux. 

Fast forward to last January. West London Waste Authority emailed me to let me know that the reusable nappy pack I had asked to borrow (quite) a few months prior to that was available. I jumped at the opportunity.

The kit came in a nappy bin. It contained a very good selection of nappy brands (BumGenius, Bambino Mio, Totsbots, Little Lamb, Sweet Pea, Wonderoos, Close, Bright Bots) and various nappy accessories such as wraps, booster pads, prefolds and liners -the latter are designed to catch poos and limit stains. Don't worry: I'll detail the various nappy accessories in an upcoming blog post.

I was able to use West London Waste Authority nappy kit for 4 weeks. It enabled me to get my head around the various types of reusable nappies (all-in-ones, pocket ones, two parts etc.). I also got to experiment with night nappies. Yes, you need special nappies for the night, I'm afraid. 

Being able to try all those different nappy types and nappy brands was extremely helpful. It made me feel confident to 1) switch from cotton pads to reusable Cheeky wipes and 2) invest in more reusable nappies. 

So, right now, we use:
- reusable Cheeky wipes with some liniment to wipe B's bottom (they are very economical!);
- two-part Totsbots bamboozle stretch nappies (size 2) mainly at night;
- two-part Little lamb bamboos (size 2) mainly at night; 
- Close Pop-In with Totsbots bamboo inserts and/or Close Pop-in Night boosters during the day;
- all-in-one birth to potty Bambino Mio with Totsbots bamboo inserts during the day;
- liners with all nappies (a mix of reusable ones and non-reusable ones)

I'm eagerly waiting for some medium Motherease airflow wraps to arrive in the hope of putting an end to the early morning leaks that we have had to deal with for a few weeks now (bigger baby = more pee = higher risk of leaks at night, in my experience). (Breaking news: they've just been delivered! Hurrah!). 

We haven't switched 100% to reusable just yet. At the moment, B wears them at the weekend + at night + in the morning. I change him into a clean reusable nappy just before taking him to nursery to limit the risk of an "incident", i.e. a leak. If the Motherease wraps/covers live up too their bomb proof reputation, I'll probably try to switch to reusable entirely. Watch this space. 

As a conclusion to this introduction to reusable nappies, here are a few tips: 

1. Try the nappies on your baby before you buy some. Not all reusable nappies will fit your baby, simply because baby bodies are not all shaped the same. 
Search for a nappy library in your area, contact your local waste authority or local parents groups to see whether someone would be happy to lend you some nappies against a deposit maybe (just an idea) etc.
Even better, hire the nappies from a nappy laundry service! If you live in North London, you can use Nappy ever after

2. Buy second-hand nappies, wraps, inserts etc. 
The price of brand new kit can quickly add up to several hundreds pounds (still, that would be cheaper than using disposable nappies for 2 years but it's an investment). Second hand nappies and inserts can be very good value -provided that the nappy elastics are still good. There are also more absorbent than brand new nappies. That is also true for inserts. 
Where? There are lots of second hand stash for sale on eBay and on dedicated Facebook groups (such as the Pre-loved Cloth nappies and accessories group). You can also find some on Gumtree.
πŸ‘‰Don't forget to check the size of the nappies and wraps you buy! Some products are birth to potty ones but other nappies and wraps/covers come in different sizes! 

3. Talk to/exchange notes with parents who have a long experience of using real nappies. 
There are quite a few of us out there, at least many more than you would suspect. You're not alone trying to do the right thing for your baby and the environment.

4. It's Real nappy week until Sunday 29th April 2018. Some nappy brands offer significant discounts on nappies and nappy accessory. If you buy some brand new nappies, you can recoup the cost by selling them once your baby has outgrown them. 

What's your experience of reusable nappies? Leave a comment below!