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Re-usable Nappies - Want to be greener but help needed to get going

(151 Posts)
Wills Sun 20-Jul-03 21:19:27

I've always wanted to be a little greener, unfortunately though with dd she was in disposables all the way. With only 5 weeks to go I'd really like to get myself kitted out to use re-usable but I'm completely lost as to where to start. Ideally I would like to find a company that clean them for me as I'm "not good" with pooh at the best of times hence why I failed first time round. I have a number of questions but would be grateful for any advice.

1. My dm is adament that disposable allow the baby's bottom to "breath" better thus preventing nappy rash. She's full of doom and gloom that if I use cloth nappies I will constantly be fighting the dreaded nappy rash. True/False.
2. There are sooo many different types and they are rather expensive - what in everyone's experience where best?
3. How do you go about finding a company to do the cleaning for you? Are they dependable? Do they supply the nappies or do you have to buy an initial load? (images of sewing names tags into nappies comes to mind).
4. If you are using a company to do the cleaning did you ever have qualms about using a piece of cloth that other babies could have poohed on?
5. Are cloth nappies any good for b/f babies? With dd her pooh was shooting out the ends and I get the impression that cloth nappies are far looser than dipsoable.
6. If you do clean your own - how the heck do you cope with that on top of everything else

Would very much like to hear from people who are using re-usable nappies to hear their experiences.

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 21:45:59

I have loved my cloth nappies.

1. How can plastic and paper breath better than cotton? Disposables have nasty chemicals in them that can be quite harmful (they can actuallt burn baby's sensitive skin). As long as you use a barrier cream nappy rash shouldn't be a problem. I must admit we've had a couple of nasty bouts, but dd has very sensitive skin and has had bouts when she's used disposables too.
2. I used Imse's (which I like but would not recommend as they are v. expensive and v. fiddly) and motherease, which I loved - they are really lovely poppered ones. Otherwise I have heard very good things about tots bots. There is a company who will let you try out various different styles of nappies, I will look out a url for you in a minute.
3. Can't really answer this as I never used a laundry service, but I believe they are local ones.
4. I do know the nappies are sterilised so that shouldn't be a problem.
5. I didn't find nappy washing a problem. I did them every couple of days and bunged them in with the white washing. I have always line-dried - it's just a case of getting into a routine so you don't run out. I've actually missed having the nappies (dd is virtually potty trained now) as I now don't have enough washing!

Anyway, I'm sure there will be lots more responses by now so I'll go find that url for you.

bossykate Sun 20-Jul-03 21:53:44

wills, The Nappy Lady has an excellent reputation for offering good advice to cloth nappy virgins. alternatively, you could try Plushpants - v. knowledgeable advice also offered.


Gem13 Sun 20-Jul-03 21:55:57

Crikey Wills - this could be the start of a GF-like debate!

I seem to remember you're in Burgess Hill? If you are and fancy a morning out in Lewes I can highly recommend calling in at The Baby Shop. They have some competitive deals with washable nappies and do 3 (?) different makes and will take the time to explain the pros and cons.

I'm not related to the shop in any way but I found the owners really helpful and they understand the grossness of nappies.

In the meantime here are my answers -
1. False - we've only had nappy rash 2/3 times and I'm sure that was once due to negligence and the other time/s due to teeth.

2. Motherease (that's what I'm using) but I'm tempted by Tots Bots. Will probably stick to ME as I should be able to buy 5 more and then have 2 in nappies (DS will be 18 months when D? arrives)

3. Didn't.

4. Yes and felt I could do a better job myself!

5. Fine.

6. You just do - like everything else with new babies! It helps if your DH/DP takes the odd turn too especially in the early days.

Oh, and another word of advice - if you do decide to go for it, get stuck in early on and then it just becomes second nature. DS has been in them since day 4 (once the black poo was over and done with) and we haven't looked back.

TobyandRobynsmum Sun 20-Jul-03 21:57:54

I used Bambino Mio nappies with my first and am now reaping the economic rewards second time around. I wash my own and they look very impressive on the washing line! What we do is to use flushable liners and have a nappy bucket at the ready full of a pre-soak solution. I hot wash with a non-bio wash powder and no fabric conditioner. Cotton nappies do leak more, are bulkier but I have not had any more problems with nappy rash than I had with disposables. The only compromise I make is to not use cotton at night - with long sleepers they simply do not hold enough! Your local NCT branch should be able to help you with a local 'supply and wash' company, people I know who have used them pay a subscription and have clean nappies delivered and dirty ones taken away I beleive the price is comparible to using disposables but have no experience of them. Give it a go - it takes determination but is worth it!

lilymum Sun 20-Jul-03 22:07:58

Wills, I've been successfully using cloth nappies since my dd1 was born, nearly 4 years ago, and dd2 and dd3 have both used them too. I'm going to answer your questions below:

1. No, this is just not true. None of my 3 have ever had bad nappy rash. In fact, with dd2 who has fairly sensitive skin, she was more prone to rash in disposables. These days the outer waterproof wraps you put over cloth nappies are made from breathable materials - none of the sweaty plastic pants that went over the old terry nappies.

2. I can heartily recommend a company called eco-babes from which you can hire a nappy kit consisting of many different types of cloth nappies, here You hire them by the week, and return them when you have finished trying them out. This gives you the opportunity to figure out which type of nappy you prefer. For the record, I have settled on motherease popper wraps, over a two-part nappy called Snuggle Terry, which has suited me just fine over 3 babies. I started off with a different nappy - Kooshies all-in-one, with outer wrap integral, and it leaked all the time - I wouldn't recommend it.

3. Sorry, can't help here. I wash my own. It's not really as bad as I thought it would be - after all, you're dealing with the mess when you change the nappy anyway. You can get large mesh bags that fit inside nappy buckets. When the bucket gets full, you lift the contents out in the mesh bag and place it straight into the washing machine, therefore not having to come into contact with the dirty nappies.

4. Sorry, can't answer this one either.

5. I breastfed, and with newborn poo, I found that disposables were just as likely, if not more so, to leak as cloth nappies. But here I must admit that when my babies were really young, I just didn't have the energy to be washing nappies, and so cheated for the first few weeks and put them into disposables. This meant that the cloth nappies were a better fit as the babies were a bit bigger when I started to use them.

6. You just get into the routine of it. I have two large nappy buckets, and I probably empty and wash them every couple of days, but it really depends on how often you use them, and how often they need changing. Sometimes it is a bit of a nuisance to remember to do them. It's a lot easier if you have a tumble drier, which I didn't at first, although line drying is good for airing and bleaching them. It's actually not that big a deal.

The best thing about using cloth nappies is that after the initial outlay, you really notice the difference in not having to fork out for disposables every week, and over a couple of years or more if you have other children, that makes all adds up. I've been using my current cloth ones since May 2000, and they're still going strong.

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:12:10

Just found this click on 'eco nappy kits for hire'...

But this was the one I meant. Click on 'try before you buy'.

I'm sure several of the nappy companies do it though. A great place for information is the nappy lady - you can tell her your requirements and she will suggest which nappies would suit you. Fantastic service - she was great when I wanted some advice, and I never even ordered anything from her.

Twinkle has a fantastic selection, and finally
here and here on UKP have some great advice.

HTH - Oh, and I forget to say in my last post, that I believe (could be completely wrong here) that is you use a nappy laundry you have to use a specific type o nappies.

(You would not believe how many times I have had to preview this message to get all those links right! Just hope they work now)

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:13:34

Pah, and someone beat me too it

zebra Sun 20-Jul-03 22:20:22

Hi Wills, Answers to your questions:

1) There was a (?Bristol Uni?) study came out last year (or 2001?) about nappy rash. Upshot was that the more frequent the nappy changes, the less rash. Disp. or cloth made NO DIFFERENCe.

2). Not easy to tell you which nappies are "best" without knowing what you are like. I like "terries" because they're cheap & flexible (birth to potty). TotsBots are British made & universally popular if you want an "easy" if more expensive nappy system.

3) I can't recommend companies; I can't see the point. You get all the work & smelliness, with hardly any benefits. More Expensive than disps, too.

4) I don't have those qualms (have happily bought 2nd hand nappies), but I wouldn't use a company, anyway.

5) Both my babies were breastfed. I had more leaks with First baby than 2nd, but I use terries which do need more skill to get a snug fit. All my friends with babies in disps had as many awful leak stories as me. (Father mistaking poop for mustard on his sandwich, etc.) Virtually no leaks ever with my 2nd baby.

6) Cleaning: I think it's a matter of getting used to it. There are just little habits to get into and now I have the habits, not too much to think about or do. What I do is: 2 buckets with lids, one upstairs loo, one downstairs in conservatory. Wet nappies go straight into machine or bucket whichever is nearest. Poop into toilet (you are supposed to empty poop on disp nappies into a toilet, anyway). Dirties into conservatory bucket. Liners (if not washable) into bin next to dirties bucket. Filter bucket contents into machine as and when required. Air or radiator dry if suitable (terries are also nice because they are hardy for tumble driers!). Throw nappy wraps into wash when I notice they're smelly. Make sure to wash dirty nappies at 60 degrees. Swirl bleach around the buckets about once a year. I honestly don't know why people claim this is such hard work. Everything I describe is a habit, not a lot of effort in itself.

The only time I half miss not using disps is end of the day when baby & I are both cranky & tired and I know I "have" to change baby into a night nappy, whereas if they were in disps. I would just put them down and not have to worry about extra night-time aborbency.

Demented Sun 20-Jul-03 22:21:37

Hi Wills, we use cloth too. My DS1 was in disps and we didn't change over until DS2 was 8 months and I wish I had done it sooner. We have Tots Bots with Motherease Airflow wraps and four stuffable nappies for night time Bear Behinds , and Minki Nappies , these are beautifully made by work at home mums and can be stuffed with terry squares, prefolds etc as much as you require, the more you put in the more absorbant the nappy is.

I haven't found the washing too much of a problem, I use fleece liners in the nappy, the poo mostly falls off this down the toilet, any that is left can be held under the flush until it goes. We dry pail and wash every couple of days. I don't have a tumble dryer and haven't had a problem getting the nappies dry in time (12 Tots Bots and four stuffables although I would imagine you would need more for a newborn). My DS2 has only had nappy rash once since changing to cloth even although we don't routinely use a barrier cream.

A couple of things influenced my decision to change to cloth, we moved to a house with a garden (more outside drying space), I read someone's comment (perhaps even on Mumsnet) that went something along the lines of 'what would you rather wear next to your bum, soft cotton or scratchy paper?', that made me think and I also found out that you can sell on secondhand nappies so I felt if they didn't work out I wouldn't be too out of pocket.

Another vote for the Nappy Lady here also.

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:22:15

Gem13, couldn't you combine the ME and the TB?

I remember several occasions with ds (using disposabels) where we had those nappies that ended up with poo all the way up his back. I have never had that problem with dd (in cloth). Both were breastfed - we've just never had a problem personally. We also never had leaky nappies over night.

Also, we just rinsed and dry-pailed rather than soaking the nappies. Found that smelled a lot less.

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:24:28

Duhhhh, just realised I didn't use motherease - I used KISSALUVS- which are fab, it was the motherease wraps I used.

HZL Sun 20-Jul-03 22:34:05

Wills, another posting on this thread suggests you're in Burgess Hill. If so, Cotton Bottoms (nappy laundry service) should deliver to you - look them up in Yellow Pages. They're based in Sussex and deliver all over the south. I used them for about 5 months, and then decided it would be cheaper to buy and wash my own (which I'm still doing - ds is 20 mo). Having them laundered for me at first was brilliant though - got me through the runny poo stage, it was one less thing to worry about when getting to grips with a new baby, and you feel terribly smug for being green.

I think the laundry costs are currently £9.99 a week for small babies (goes down to £7.99 for toddlers using fewer nappies), and for this you get 50 nappies a week. You get provided with a large bin and binliner to put the used ones in (I used to keep mine outside the back door, and had no problems with nasty smells). The company collects the dirty nappies on a given day each week and delivers you clean ones. You don't get your own 'personal' supply ie. don't worry about sewing in name tags (perish the thought!). The nappies all have to be washed to hospital laundry standards, so there is no question of them not being clean enough. The nappies they use are pre-folds (cotton squares) with a waterproof wrap (you're loaned six of these, which you have to wash yourself) - not the most advanced type of nappy, but I've always been happy with them.

I'd echo what other people have said about nappy rash - it's a myth that cotton nappies cause this (possibly put about by disposable nappy manufacturers?). Give reuseable nappies a go. Yes, they're probably more fiddly and a bit more bulky, but do you really want all those chemicals wrapped round your baby's bum, not to mention plastic festering in landfill for generations to come? (Sorry - didn't mean to sound like eco-warrior).

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:41:32

HZL, what's wrong with being an eco-warrior???

HZL Sun 20-Jul-03 22:46:16

Absolutely nothing at all anais! I do tend to get on my hobbyhorse about reusable nappies (bending the ears of expectant mothers at work etc) - realised I was starting to go off on one.

Mocha Sun 20-Jul-03 22:48:25

Hi there,
1. I found no difference in nappy rash using cloth or disposable nappies.
2. I use Sandys and Motherease multisize during the day and Tots Bots at night and motherease Air-Flow wraps with both. I still use disoposable when out and about though as I dont fancy carrying dirty nappies about.
3 & 4 Have never used a cleaning service so I am unable to help with this one.
5. My daghter is nearly 1 and still has breastmilk. I find that disposables leak more than the cloth nappies. I have found that the cloth nappies only "leak" if not properly covered by the wrap.
6. We change her in the bathroom and have the bucket there for the dirty nappy to go straight into after flushing the liner down the loo. I then take the bucket downstairs when full (every 2 days usually) and wash them at 60 degrees. In the winter i did them at night and set the tumble dryer timer so we had dry nappies in th morning. Now it is summer I tend to do them in the morning and hang them outside.

anais Sun 20-Jul-03 22:50:24

And that's a bad thing?

bloss Mon 21-Jul-03 00:48:13

Message withdrawn

chiggles Mon 21-Jul-03 07:41:22

Sorry to hi-jack this thread, but I was reading about washable nappies a few months back and decided to give them ago. My ds is very nearly toilet trained and I was finding it a pain (and waste of money) to keep putting disposables on him for one wee and then he wanted it off and to use the toilet. I got some kooshies. The only problem I have with them, and I don't know if it's cause ds it nearly 2 and quite a big toddler anyway, is that if I put most of his trouser or shorts over the nappies they either don't fit, or are very tight and he looks uncomfortable. At the minute I'm using the Kooshies for round the house and then using disposable ones when we go out and for night-time.
I know there are loads of you out there who use washable ones and I'm expecting my 2nd in March and would like to try them from the start, but are they all really bulky and hard to get clothes over?
Just to add, I don't have a tumble but I dry Kooshies (and they're thick) in the airing cupboard cause my hot water's always on it's hot in there. If I put them in, in the morning, they're dry by the next morning.
Sorry this is so long.

jennyj Mon 21-Jul-03 08:51:43

I have used TotsBots nappies and wraps on my 3 month old since day 4, and we love them! They look really cute, and washing them hasn't been a problem. Ds has never had nappy rash and our eco-consciences are clear!
Some clothes are a tighter fit over them; we were recommended by other users that Next baby clothes in particular seem a bit small, your baby may simply need a bigger size of bodysuit / sleepsuit a bit earlier.
All re-usable nappy companies will offer trial packs; try for a selection.
If you want to use a laundry service, Cotton Bottoms ( as mentioned already ) provide one. The only down-side I can think of is that you get a fixed number of nappies for the week, so might worry about not having enough?
Go for it, Wills! Green is good!

Enid Mon 21-Jul-03 08:59:51

SIL leant me my first pack of washables and there were a couple of kooshies in there - they were rubbish, so I wouldn't bother going there. I found TotsBots excellent for tinies - Size one fitted my daughter until she was about 7 months. I tried a size two but decided they were too bulky and I really like a popper fastening. I didn't take to Motherease One Size and none of the three other washable using mums I know liked them either. I now use Motherease Sandys with the Motherease popper and velcro wraps together with liners - brilliant as they keep bottoms feeling dry and the poo just peels off down the loo.

You do have to be a bit more 'hands on' (sometimes literally ) about getting rid of poo, its always nice just to wrap up a disposable and put it in the bin, but it is really simple and I only do a wash every couple of days, wee ones just go in with towels and sheets if I am doing a whites wash and poo ones have their own seperate wash at 60 degrees.

I was the biggest cynic on earth about washables until I tried them and NOW i LOVE THEM! There is something very satisfying about putting on a lovely fresh soft cottony nappy...would second advice about the nappy lady although she will try and sell you motherease one size and totsbots, if I were you I'd buy one of each of: Motherease one size, Motherease Sandys, Tots Bots, a Kissaluv and one other. When you have decided which you want to go for you can easily sell the others on the UKP nappy forum or Ebay. I recommed Twinkleontheweb as a great nappy site, they seem to have everything.

Katherine Mon 21-Jul-03 09:31:31

HI Wills. Good for you. I'm about to embark on the washable nappies this time too. I used kooshies with DS (about 5 yrs ago now) but hated them as they took ages to dry and I could never get wraps which didn't leak so with DD I switched to "greener" disposables. However decided to try again this time and once I looked into it I was amazed how much the nappies has come on in the last few years. There is a staggered range to meet all sorts of needs. I'm going for a stuffable system this time which means you buy wraps with a pocket in them to stuff with something like a terry which can then be washed and dried flat so much more quickly seeing as the drying was my gripe last time. But there are loads of different ones. As people have said the nappy lady and twinkle have loads of info on their sites about it. My advice would be to read as much as you can (can become totally adictive) then try a few different ones out. I've bought one of each of about 7 different wraps and will choose which I like best for when I move on to the next size. Bear in mind as well that different nappies and wraps work for different shaped babies. So all the ones you buy might not work well but the second hand market is really good so you can always sell those ones on. So don't be scared to give it a go - even though there is an inital outlay. You can always sell them on if its not for you but I'm sure you'll find that once you start looking it becomes a compulsive habit. Oh and I've just had a work at home mum make 2 tiny ones for DD and DS to use on their dolls so they can join in too

susanmt Mon 21-Jul-03 10:21:28

Wills, I too would highly recommend washables, I love them and used them from coming home from hospital with both kids.

1. We have had more problems with nappy rash when we have had to use disposables like on holiday abroad. My mum had the same reaction, but I think that is based on the days of plastic pants. Nowadays wraps are breathable and so the skin stays dry and cool. We use a little barrier cream (either zinc/castor oil or vaseline) and have had one or two bouts of nappy rash.
2. I have always used kissaluvs and rikki wraps and got on well with them. I use a minki stuffable for night. I have almost always bought from Twinkle Twinkle and have had a great service from them, very helpful.
3. I didn't have a local company so washed myself.
4. n/a
5. I actually found that the washables were better - they are elasticated round the top at the back which disposables aren't, and so contained the runny mustard poo much better!
6. I stick mine in a pail and wash every 2 days (did it daily when I had 2 in nappies - will do again when No3 arrives). Stick them in the machine after kids go to bed, hang up in airing cupboard before I go to bed, dry in the morning. No bother.

Hope you manage to find something that works for you. Like someone else said, if you do it from the start its much easier, as you get used to it.
Good Luck!

eidsvold Mon 21-Jul-03 10:28:25

Some county councils are running campaigns to encourage people to go greener. MY local council did and I got a starter pack of nappies, covers and liners along with vouchers for £10 off the next purchase or use of laundry service. THey also included lots of info about using cloth nappies and a booklet outlining other types available.

Perhaps your local county council does this too. You might like to contact them.

Marina Mon 21-Jul-03 10:31:18

Wow, Wills, what a brilliant thread to get started - and what a big coincidence that you, me and Katherine are all going the reusable route this time round! I am waiting for the Nappy Lady to get back to me (as others have said, this seems like a great site for advice as well as selling the nappies) with a "tailored advice letter". One issue is that if your little one is going to be looked after by someone else, some types of reusable are easier to get the hang of than others and might be welcomed more by the carer (sceptical mother alert...).
A BIG THANKS to everyone who's contributed to this thread, it's answered a lot of my own questions and confirmed my opinion that we will probably go for Motherease or Totsbots.

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