So you’ve decided you want to give them a try but how do you choose the right cloth nappies? This is by far the hardest part. There is so much choice out there that it really is difficult to know where to start! There are a few different options when it comes to cloth nappies; firstly, two part or all-in-one.
Two part nappy
A two part nappy has the absorbent inner nappy separate from a waterproof outer wrap. The absorbent nappy can either be shaped (more like a disposable) or you can use terry squares (like my mum used on me!) or pre-folds (which fold into a pad which then sits inside the wrap). Waterproof wraps are made from either PUL (polyurethane laminate) or fabrics such as fleece or wool. Two part nappies tend to be more absorbent than all-in-one nappies, and the wraps better at containing any leaks so they tend to be a good choice for night time nappies. You also don’t need to wash the wrap after every nappy change (as long as it hasn’t got anything nasty on it!) so you need fewer wraps than nappies. A two part system can also work out cheaper than all-in-ones.
Again, there are a few different options when it comes to all-in-one (AIO) nappies. Some AIO nappies really are all in one, with no separate inserts or boosters. These nappies are good if you want something as close as possible to a disposable but can take longer to dry. There are also AIO nappies which have attached inserts which fold out to make drying quicker. The Tots Bots Easyfit and bumGenius Freetime which we use are both AIOs with attached inserts.
This is a nappy which has a pocket between the waterproof outer and attached inner liner. You can put all kinds of inserts and boosters into the pocket depending on how much absorbency your baby needs. Pocket nappies usually come with one or two inserts included and you can buy extras if you need them. Pocket nappies tend to be quick drying but require a little extra effort to stuff the inserts in again before use.
Sized or Birth-to-Potty
Once you have decided which type of nappy you are going to use you also need to decided if you want to use sized nappies or birth-to-potty (or one-size-fits-most) nappies. Sized nappies usually come in three different sizes depending on the weight of your baby. You can usually get a better fit with sized nappies but will need to replace them as your baby grows. Birth-to-potty nappies are adjustable, usually using a selection of poppers and/or velcro and they should meet all your baby’s nappy needs. However, if you baby is small at birth, or particularly big as they grow (or just an unusual shape – Toby is very long and thin for example) then you might find there are times when birth-to-potty nappies don’t always give the best fit.
If you want to try cloth and are confused by all the different information out there then I would really recommend contacting one of the retailers who can offer tailored advice or visiting your local nappy library if you have one. Before we started with cloth nappies I contacted The Nappy Lady for advice. You simply fill in a questionnaire on the website with details of your baby (if they’re already born), whether you have any other children in nappies, your access to washing and drying facilities, any childcare arrangements, and finally any preferences of the type of nappies you would like to use and your budget. The Nappy Lady will then come back to you with several different suggestions and you also get a discount code to use against any purchases. We then bought a couple of different nappies based on The Nappy Lady’s suggestions and tried them out for a few weeks before making a decision and buying the rest of the nappies we needed. There are several other retailers who also offer a similar service – Fill Your Pants also have a questionnaire to complete so they can provide personalised advice. Whatever you decide to do I really would recommend just starting off with a couple of different nappies before making a big financial commitment. Some of those bulk buy starter packs may seem like good value, but wait until you are sure of what you want before you buy.
If you’ve decided to go ahead and give cloth nappies a try then good for you! If you have any questions then do pop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to help.