Friendly, independent advice with 20 years of real nappy experience

Main barriers to using real nappies

Are you keen to cut down on single-use disposable nappies but worried about what real nappies may entail?

Let us allay a few of your concerns.

1. I don't like the idea of a stinky wet nappy bucket

Washable nappies no longer need to be soaked. They are perfectly fine stored in a dry, lidded, nappy bucket. So no chance of knocking it over to spill all over your bathroom floor, no need to carry a heavy bucket down the stairs to the washing machine, and definitely no need for soaking in bleaches. Nappies are just stored in a dry nappy bucket - simple!

2. Don't you need boil wash?

Absolutely not. Real nappies are fine washed at 40 degrees.

3. I don't have a tumble dryer.

Most real nappies these days can be dried without a tumble dryer and will dry as quickly as a fleece jumper. Bamboo and organic cotton is slower drying - these fabrics can be dried naturally but will take a little longer. People often find heated airers and dehumidifiers to be particularly useful for this (just be careful to make sure that the fabric is not in direct contact with the heated rungs as it can damage the fabric- a thin sheet placed between the nappy and the rungs will do the job).

4. Won't baby get nappy rash?

Nappy rash is normally as a result of teething (or a change in diet, a reaction to baby wipes etc). It is very unlikely to be the result of moving to cloth nappies. As long as you change baby's bottom regularly, your baby shouldn't get more nappy rash from cloth nappies than they will from disposables.

5. None of my friends use them and they think I'm mad.

We often hear this. People who haven't looked into modern cloth nappies tend to think of terry squares, pins, plastic pants, soaking, and boiling on the hob - no wonder they think you're crazy! Things have, however, changed.

I, personally, was encouraged to use real nappies by a friend. I have to say it was really scary at first and many people did think I was crazy (and maybe secretly wanted me to fail). It's a lot of money to pay upfront when you really don't know if they'll work for you. The best thing you can do is to get some advice before you pay out for a full set of nappies. Here at Lizzie's Real Nappies we can advise you on which brands are most likely to suit you. We then recommend that you try just a few trial nappies initially to get a feel for the differences in terms of fit, absorbency, containment, drying times etc. This will put you in a far better position to let you know what real nappies are all about and give you the confidence to move forward. They won't work for everyone but many are pleasantly suprised at how easy they actually are.

 6. My friend bought some and hated them.

There are a lot of brands on the market and, as with any product, there are very good and very bad alternatives. Rather than just going out and buying a set of nappies, do your research and talk to somone who can offer you personalised advice. There are lots of things to consider: size and shape of baby, drying facilities, ease of use (especially for nurseries etc), budget etc. 
People often buy cloth nappies initially via highstreet shops and auction sites. Here, they won't be getting any advice and, if they have teething problems with their nappies, there is no-one to ask for help. A lot of these initial problems are easy to overcome but without this back-up people often give up - and the word spreads.

7. What about nursery?

Nurseries are quite used to babies in real nappies. They will have seen most nappy types but it's always worth talking to them about your nappies to make sure they know what they're doing. Just take you nappies in every morning with a wet bag. The staff will place used nappies in the bag during the course of the day to be washed at night. It's very unusual, these days, to find any reluctance from nurseries but it's worth speaking to the managers about this when choosing a nursery for your child.

8. Baby will have a huge bottom!

Real nappies will never be as wafer-thin as brand new disposable nappies but remember that the gels in disposables make them swell (we've all seen the toddler on the beach with a nappy swollen down below it's knees!) Real nappies will always be bulkier than a new disposable but they don't swell beyong their initial size and some are much slimmer than others - choose the right brand and you'll barely notice.

9. They're too much hassle

Again, this is a very common comment. It's just a case of getting into a routine. Soiled nappies are stored in a dry, lidded nappy bucket. After around 2 days your bucket will be full and you can take them to the washing machine. A mesh bag placed within the bucket will make this transfer easier - just place the bag (containing the nappies) in the machine - as long as you leave the top of the bag open, the nappies will make their own way out during the cycle. Set the machine to 40 with a small amount of non-bio washing powder, set to a good long cycle with plenty on rinses and you're done.

Some nappies (normally bamboo and organic cotton) will benefit from a tumble dryer but most will dry naturally on the line or on an airer. Getting your nappies out in the sun will work wonders on the occasional stain.

Once fully dry, put them away ready for reuse. Simple!

10. What about the poo!

Between the nappy and baby's botty, you'll place a liner. This is a thin layer which allows you deal with the poo without it being smeared across the nappy. There are disposable and washable options. Remember that newborn baby poo is really very watery so it's fine for it to soak into the nappy and get washed out in your washing machine. Once baby is weaned and things are more solid it will just plop off the nappy into the toilet. It's the in-between 'chicken korma' stage when you'll definately want to be using a liner. It's actually no different to using disposables though. Sadly there's no getting away from a pooey bum!



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