Monday, 17 March 2014

cloth nappies (diapers) - 6 years and still using them!


Something I get asked about all the time is my cloth nappies. I'm onto my 3rd baby in nappies now, so I guess I've changed my fair share of them. When I was pregnant the first time around I read everything I could get my hands on about cloth nappies (or cloth diapers, depending on where you live).

I knew I wanted to use cloth nappies, but had no idea what type. I didn't know anyone in real life who was using them to ask for advice. Most people thought I was a bit crackers for wanting to go down the cloth route.

There are so many different types of nappies out there. It's not just your traditional terry squares anymore. There are prefolds, all-in-ones, pockets, fitteds with separate covers, sized or one size fits most, natural fibres or synthetics, snaps or velcro. It's more than a bit confusing for someone just starting out! One thing I did learn, is that largely it comes down to personal choice. Some will only want to use natural fibres, some will just want the easiest care nappies. It's about deciding what works for you (and your baby of course!) No choice is wrong. It's up to you what you want to use.

When I was deciding what type of nappies to go with I based my decisions on a few factors. I knew they would have to be easy care, or I would quit using them. I also didn't want loads of different sizes to keep track of, as it would become too much for me to manage. Price was also a consideration. I wanted them to be as economical as possible and give the same kind of convenience that disposables offer. The more convenient they are to use, the more likely it was I would use them.

For me, the answer was a one-sized-fits-most pocket nappy, with a velcro fastening. The velcro is Dad friendly and the one sized nappy meant I didn't need all those nappies in different sizes (which end up taking up quite a bit of space). I liked the idea of the pocket nappy over an All In One (AIO) as you can separate the parts and get the nappy really clean when washing it. AIO's are the closest thing to a disposable nappy, but I was worried about getting them really clean and how long they would take to dry with all those layers.



Being someone who can sew, I decided to make my own. It's by far and away the cheapest way to get a good stash of nappies. The thing about making them yourself is you can buy the very best materials and they still work out amazingly cheap to make! I drafted my own pattern and bought some fabrics and got to work. It took me a few drafts, but I finally came up with something I was really happy with! Mine have a PUL outer and a suedecloth inner, which stays dry next to the baby's skin, minimising rashes. I decided on suedecloth because of our warm climate. I didn't want any excess sweating going on down there causing problems. It also doesn't pill and stays new looking for years.

I stuff the nappies with microfibre inserts, which keeps them nice and thin. I originally had some hemp inserts, but they started to disintegrate after a lot of use. The microfibres still look good after hundreds of washings.

Amazingly my nappies are still going strong on baby number 3! Although they have needed the elastic to be replaced once (in almost 6 years of use). These nappies fit from newborn age up until toilet training and have genuinely been a one-sized nappy for us. They have been probably the most useful thing I have ever made and have saved us a whole lot of money. They paid for themselves within 3 months of using them with my first baby! Within the first year of using them, the money saved was enough to buy an industrial snap press and an overlocker (serger).

If you're wondering when the biggest savings be made when using cloth nappies? I'd say definitely in the first year! That is when babies go through the most nappies. In the first few months, one of my bubs went through up to 20 nappy changes a day. That's a lot of $$ if you are buying disposables. Another thing I made was our wipes. Just flannel squares that were overlocked around the outside. So more savings there as well.

Having said all that, there have been times when I've used the odd disposable nappy, especially when travelling or when our water tanks have run dry. But, I do think using cloth nappies even part time, can save you some money if that's what you are hoping to do.

Cloth really isn't difficult to use, just a couple of extra loads of washing a week. I'll do a separate post another time, about the washing because there are some different options.

OK that's probably enough nappy talk for today. If anyone has any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer them in the comments!

18 comments:

  1. Wow, your CDs look incredible! We also cloth-diapered/diaper all our children, and I have made a few here and there but mostly we use commercial brands, and the longest any have lasted has been three years, before getting leaky. Yours are very professional looking and clearly good quality if they have lasted that long!

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    1. Thank you! I bought a couple of commercial ones as well, but they did start to leak pretty quickly.

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  2. There's your little business on the side.....making a few nappies or selling a PDF pattern which people could download, that's do-able. Get to it girl!!! You are very clever and me, oh my goodness I would not have coped with cloth nappies but I know disposables are very costly. I had enough on my plate and I admire people who do cloth nappies but it wasn't for me. It's the number 2's that are the stinker. Your nappies do look fabulous and if they have lasted 6 years that's pretty good going considering how many times they would have been washed. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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    1. Oh you're very kind Kathy. If only there were more hours in the day :)

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  3. Well done for sewing your own and thx for sharing your experience

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  4. Your nappies look fantastic.
    Either you have much better elastic or much gentler washing/kid effluent etc. I used one-size pockets nappies (identical to yours but I purchased them) and I think I had to replace the elastic every 12 months. If I hadn't already been a sewing type it would have driven me mental. As it was, it was the single most tedious sewing job I've ever had to do!
    Still two kids used those nappies and it saved me money and the planet somewhat too.
    With regard to water usage I did a quick poll of my mothers group (everyone else was using disposables) and I was still using less water than they were.
    Gee I love my toilet trained kids now though. :)

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    1. Thanks McStitch :) I think they've lasted well because I have a pretty big stash of them (which isn't expensive to do when you make them). Some of the favourites are almost due for another elastic change, and I totally agree with you, that job is the WORST. I would actually prefer to make a brand new nappy than do that, but I have sucked it up and done it... it takes forever though!

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  5. Wow, I love that shot of the nappies on the clothes line, love it. You have many talents, how clever are you to sew your own nappies, they look fantastic. As others have said "very professional":)

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    1. Oh thanks! I always like seeing them on the line as well!

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  6. Oh wow-I was blown away when I read you made your own nappies, as I was admiring how gorgeous they are!
    We have used predominately cloth on the kids (now 5 and 2--2 year old still in nappies to a great degree).
    With our first we actually we given a gift of a nappy service for 6 months. My lord whata great gift! You receive a load of flat nappies (that you then fold) once a week and a bin with a garbage bag in it. They pick up the soiled nappies once a week and wash them in hot water and velvet soap in industrial washers. You still need liners to deal with the poop, but with a new born and those constant nappy changes it was a real treat! We then bought MCN which I love, and the boys love choosing which colour/pattern nappy to wear. Both our boys are/were heavy wetters so used a disposable at night (all MCN we tried leaked at night), and my husband cant deal with poop on MCN's so he uses disposable when he is in charge, but generally after 5 years and 2 kids they have held up really well.
    Funny enough some people have been quite accusing about using cloth and the amount of water it uses to clean them. Obviously I bring up that every disposable nappy every used is still in landfill and each one of these nappies needs water and other resources (petroleum anyone) to bring them to production--but they feel the need to attack and argue that MCNs use more water...I find this very strange. I don't know if people feel guilty to some degree about using disposables and thus lash out, but have been shocked and saddened by peoples response.

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    1. Thanks so much Robyn! Some people can be funny can't they? I had people tell me that cloth nappies cost the same or even more than disposables as well. I can say now, after 3 kids that it's definitely not even close when you make your own. We manage our own water (rainwater collected in tanks) so no-one really bothers me on that issue! Oh, and a nappy service sounds like a fantastic gift!

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  7. I'm very impressed. I don't know how to sew, and I really looked into cloth nappies before our now 14-months old was born, but then I decided against it. I was not sure if I could manage and my husband would just panic, I think. (even now, he barely changes nappie - luckily, he has other talents!). I wasn't sure if daycare would want to step in (they are very easy-going, but that might have been a bit too much to handle maybe, I never asked). I also couldn't find my way around in all that information and I think I just gave up on the idea. But if you would ever make extra sets and sell them, I think I would try it if we are lucky enough to have a second child...

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    1. All the different types can certainly be overwhelming can't it! Took me months to decide what type might be right for me. I was very happy in the end :)

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  8. I am blushing but I am a terry towel fold 'em girl. I must admit it doesn't bother me using cloth, at least I get outside everyday!

    Your nappies looks great!

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    1. Nothing wrong with terry squares :) there's a reason those are still around!

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  9. Wow, I am so impressed, I wish I was clever like that.... or perhaps that I had paid more attention in textiles at school. I have used cloth for both my kids and have now passed some of mine on to a friend expecting her third and fourth (twins obviously). I bought all of mine and used a combo of MCN and old fashioned squares which are super economical if you can't make your own. I also found I needed some sized nappies as my girls had super skinny legs (think chicken like) and I could never get a one-size to fit around them properly. The elastic has gone in many of them now, but they're still usable with a good fitting cover over the top. I'm with you on the savings, especially if used for more than one child.

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    1. Oh goodness I was terrible at textiles in school! You've just reminded me of the white tracksuit top I had to make, that took a whole term to sew. It was hideous and I never wore it :)

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