I consider myself somewhat of a veteran cloth nappy user. I used them almost exclusively on Little Man from the time he was ~6 weeks old. I have tried many different brands and styles and just about everything worked for us. So when I found out I was pregnant with Baby #2, (henceforth called The Munchkin), it was a no-brainer to me that we’d “go cloth” from Day 1. I mean, we’ve done this before, how hard could it be? (DundunDUN!)
So I proceeded to buy all the cute newborn nappies as well as rented a set (more on that in another post) and we waited (and waited) for The Munchkin to make his appearance. We are now 4 weeks in, so here are my thoughts and observations after 4 weeks of exclusively using cloth nappies on a newborn.
Please note that this is OUR experience with OUR child and it’s what fits into OUR lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way and there’s no ‘cloth nappy police’ so if you are doing something differently and it’s working for you, please feel free to share your experiences!
Meuconium sprays off suede/fleece liners really easily.
I was quite worried about this ahead of time. I didn’t want hired nappies stained! But it really was no big deal. A nappy sprayer is the best thing you can invest in! We use ours throughout Little Man’s nappy days, and still use it occasionally now for cleaning out his potty or the rare accident. We will obviously use it more when The Munchkin starts solids and we say a fond farewell to newborn poop.
Newborns pee A LOT.
Far far more that you would think would be physically possible for such a tiny person. This was/is by far my biggest challenge to cloth nappies on a newborn and it boils down to this. If you boost the absorbency “enough” then you end up with an enormous nappy which will invariably have gaps, particularly around the legs and therefore it will leak, defeating the object of said boosting in the first place. Leaks mean you have to change baby’s clothes (and possibly your clothes too, and anything else that the the baby may have come into contact with) which means extra laundry.
Newborns are really small. And Skinny.
How much boosting is enough? Well, every child is different, we may have been blessed with an exceptionally heavy wetter but I personally feel that pocket nappies are a waste of time. Especially if they come with only a single microfiber insert. Ditto AIO nappies. Yes, they are easy to use and blah blah blah but they take too long to dry and don’t hold enough pee to make them worth it for us. I found that they DID work as long as I changed nappies every 45minutes or so. And that just wasn’t’ happening. In general I found I needed to add at least one, usually more hemp boosters, or a cotton prefold to all AIO/pocket nappies. Which made them too bulky and created gaps and therefore resulted in leaks, laundry, loosing the will to live etc.
Newborns are tiny. And skinny. No really; even if this isn’t your first child, you forget just how tiny they are. Even The Munchkin who was a respectable 4kg at birth! I found fitting nappies correctly difficult for various reasons. His legs were scrawny. He’s only now putting on some delicious fat rolls but in the beginning I really struggled to close up the leg openings on his nappies enough, particularly if we boosted the nappies so they’d last longer. I also found that nappies with snaps had poor snap placement/not enough snaps. In general there are not enough waist snaps to get a good fit, I find many snapped nappies gape at the belly. Additionally often newborn nappies, particularly some WAHM nappies have wide crotches. It can be tricky to squish the width of the crotch enough to get the elastics into the natural pantyline and thus get a good fit. Especially at 2am when he Munchkin is loudly expressing his displeasure at being undressed and withheld from boob.
For us personally, what has worked best have been two options. Well prepped natural fiber prefolds (e.g. Indian cotton prefolds) which have been pad-folded and laid in a cover. I used any PUL outer as a cover including pockets however it did mean that with pocket covers I had to change the whole nappy each time. Munchkin is just starting to get big enough that I can padfold flat nappies and use that in a small OSFM cover (e.g. Bestbottoms) as an AI2 option. It’s not my go-to option yet though.
However, the winner for us has been fitted nappies made from natural fibers. I particularly love Pokkelokkie’s snapless fitteds and MiniMatters size 0 and the solitary LittleLambs Size 1 that came with the set I rented. I make doubly sure I have enough for nighttime because the fitted nappies have been the ONLY nappies that last 2-3 hours (I don’t wake Munchkin to feed overnight, he does that all by himself, and stretches up to 3.5 hours on a good night!).
Fitted nappies require a cover and here I ran into more problems. Many of the PUL covers I used have a cotton binding at the edge, which wicked when the nappy got very wet resulting in leaks (etc etc you know the drill by now!). I found adding a fleece cover OVER everything was a worthwhile insurance policy, particularly overnight when an outfit change meant that we’ve be awake resettling an angry baby for 2+hours. Fleece covers or soakers repel small leaks back towwards the nappy, preventing clothes from getting too wet.
However there is one cover that rules them all….
Wool Soakers = Magic
Wool Soakers are the One Ring of covers. The original cloth nappy guru, Marisa from HippieSafari (go read her blog if you are considering cloth nappies….she’s got allllll the info!) was the reason I chose cloth nappies in the first place. Anyway, we’ve become IRL friends over the years. She’s recently taught herself to knit and sent me a gorgeous wool soaker for The Munchkin. Now wool soakers as far as I’m concerned are some kind of black magic. I know intellectually that many moms swear by them. Marisa herself uses them as her go-to nighttime cover. But to my mind, there shouldn’t be any way that a simple woolen item, that has been treated with lanolin, should do BETTER than plasticised material (PUL) at keeping wet nappies and warm dry clothes separated. But it does. It’s phenomenal. I need more wool soakers in my stash. And some lanolin.
You will need MORE nappies than you think!
There are cute little formulas such as; newborns need to be change every 2 hours, day and night, so budget on at least 24 nappies, plus a few extras to get you through laundry day. I often see 30 mentioned as an acceptable number of changes.
Thi is cute. It doesn’t account for the fact that They do not tell you that your squishy little chap will prefer to poo in a brand new dry nappy 10 seconds after you’ve done up all the snaps on his onesie. Or that, given the vast volumes of pee, sometimes nappies will only last 45minutes to an hour. Maybe 1.5 hours if you are lucky. Oh and it will also rain solidly. For a week. Meaning you will be rotating wet nappies on the clothes horse in front of the heater/fan like a crazy person trying to get them dry, just in time for them to be peed in and washed again. I think I have about 35-40 ‘changes’ an this is *just* enough for us to wash every second day.
I primarily use fitted nappies and prefolds which I know are not the fastest to dry BUT…
Ain’t nobody got time to fold flats.
Although MANY MANY Moms swear by the old school flat square, folded fancily & then put on baby and secured; I found folding flats very stressful and not all that successful. I Googled all the various folding options and I could NEVER get them to fit properly around the legs, which lead to leaks & therefore laundry. If you are a flat-nappy folding guru, then by all means go for it. Flats & covers are one of the most cost efficient options as well as one of the fastest drying options (see: rain for a week).
To be brutally honest, If I had known how much we’d struggle with cloth, particular in the first 2 weeks, I probably would have just bought disposables and not looked back. HOWEVER, that said, I am stubborn to a fault and proud to say that we haven’ resorted to ‘sposies.