The practicalities of reusable nappies part two: absorbency

…so far.

I've now had 8 weeks of trying out various reusable nappies with mixed results. Out of all the different types that I bought (seven) there are really only two that cut it and the rest I only use out of desperation or if I really don't mind urine and poo leaks all over clothes, bedding, furniture, car seat or myself. For my baby (female and now chubby leggged) the ones that have offered the most in terms of poo containment and non leakability are the type of nappy which comes in 2 parts: The absorbent part and the waterproof part. The all in ones: Do. Not. Work. (not for my baby anyway)

 

For day wear we prefer the tots bots bamboozle nappies* but use Bummi's wraps for the top layer as the tots bots own ones are crap.

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Bamboozle bamboo nappy

 

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Bummis waterproof wrap

For nightime I have found Motherease cotton nappies to contain an evenings wee and the Motherease wraps fit tight over the top. My only issue is that the wraps only work with that specific nappy and use them with any other type and it's wee Niagra. (I should also note that I bought and use the optional extra boosters for super absorbency).

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Motherease wrap

In all honesty the first few weeks of using reusables was tough in terms of working out the best ones to use, the best way to use them and how often to change them and it did mean many, many leaks. Now we have no problems (as long as we are using those two types) and I'm glad we stuck with it. When I see how many she gets through in a day I'm relieved I am not contributing disposables to a landfill and I am happier seeing natural fibres wrapped around her skin especially considering how long she spends in them.

(One other thing… cloth nappies get more absorbent the more they are washed so if at first they dont seem great they improve over a period of time)

 

*I have noticed that the bamboo nappies I am using are nothing like the ones they now sell so they must be discontinued. It's a shame as the one's with elasticated legs and velcro fastening just do not seem to work on my daughter.

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The practicalities of reusable nappies part one: The washing

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Lets face it. I'm a slovenly mother. I mean that in the kindest way towards myself as if there is a choice between spending time with my baby or housework then baby takes priority. Still, what this means is that no way am I going to do something which massively increases my workload so why on earth did I choose to use reusable nappies?

I believe there is a misconception that cloth nappies are hard work and really, they're not. They take the same length of time to change as a disposable and then rather than putting them in the bin I put them in a lidded bucket which is lined with a mesh bag. The only extra work is washing them but come on, I'm hardly doing that by hand. i grab the mesh bag and throw the lot in the washing machine where the wonders of technology do my work and then I hang them out or hang them up. As I have to do the same thing with clothes it's not an issue for me.

I wash the nappies and their wraps separate from other laundry and usually do them at 40 degrees (with occasional 60 degree wash for the nappies only) using non bio liquid and a good glug of bog standard malt vinegar (prevents the nappies from smelling a bit odd due to combination of wee, poo and product build up from laundry liquid). Hanging them out in even a weak sun bleaches them and even the most horrific poo stains disappear. Who needs enzymes and chemical whiteners!?

Easy, easy and the best thing is I don't have dirty nappies fermenting in the heat of my rubbish bin for a fortnight. Bonus!

 

Preparing the nest Part 2

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Now that my desire to sew baby clothes has passed my new obsession is nappies. Who knew there were so many kinds?! Rather naively I thought that the world of the reusable nappy would offer me a couple of choices but there are flats (terries or prefolds), all in ones, shaped, pocket and birth to potty. Within each of those categories are sub categories. What kind of fasteners do you want? poppers, velcro, tied or perhaps use a nappi nipper? What material do you want? Cotton (bleached, unbleached, organic), bamboo, microfibre, plain, coloured, patterned? All this without considering whether you need waterproof wraps (velcro, popper, sized, one size?), boosters or liners. 

There are also the indisputable facts that I don't know what size or weight my baby will be when it's born and that I have no previous experience of reusable nappies (I don't feel that safety pinning terry towelling nappies onto dolls as a child really counts). So you will agree it's a confusing new world I have entered.

Finally add to that mix the mystery surrounding how they go on. Some are obviously straight forward but when faced with a large expanse of cloth with no instructions I mean really…how does it all go together?!! No wonder people are put off using reusables, it's bewildering.

Thankfully I came across The Nappy Lady just this morning and all is well now as she explains how to put on every type of nappy imaginable. Hurrah!

Now, if you don't mind, I'm off to obsess about such things as the storing of used nappies so the dog can't get at them (nom nom nom).

 

Preparing the nest Part 1

Nest building is hitting fever pitch now I have entered the third trimester. Suddenly birth does not seem that far away and what with christmas and new year to contend with it will fly by. Best to get slightly prepared. It's worth noting at this point that I am not someone who sews. Really and truly. I don't think I have sewn since I was desperately earning Brownie badges back in the early eighties. Even then my mum, a home ecenomics teacher, had to help me with even the most basic projects much to her shame I'm sure. She concealed it well. My point is that what you see here is the result of an over-abundance of hormones coursing through my veins as it's the only explanation I have for this sudden sewing fervour. The most surprising thing about it all is that it turns out I'm not too awful at it and for that I have no explanation.

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Ah, baby shoes. I got the free pattern from Maked (via Omiyage). I had scraps of fabric left over from various other endeavours and thought I'd give them a whirl one evening while seriously sleep deprived. This naturally resulted in much cursing and seam ripping as I sewed bits on upside down and the first shoe took about half an hour to put together after cutting it out. The remaining shoes took about 5 minutes. So now I have small shoes which may or may not fit on a child's foot. It's hard to tell. Perhaps they will cut off all circulation within 5 minutes. We'll see. Also, not really a beginners project but then I wasn't aware of that and went for it anyway. Best approach I always feel. I mentioned that I had made shoes to the in-laws and the response was that they would be suitable if it was a girl. Really? I  think my choice of fabric is fairly unisex and, well, all babies need shoes surely.  

 

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A bib. One of many I have been making but mainly because they are so easy and therefore satisfying to complete. I think this was the 2nd one I ever made and these bibs were my first attempt at any real sewing since the aforementioned eighties. This is a roundabout way of saying excuse the stitching round the edges which has improved since this attempt. I love this fabric and OK, it's not the most neutral of colours what with the very obvious pink but hey ho it's for a baby and really it won't know. The pattern for this comes from Bend the Rules Sewing by Amy Karol although there are bib patterns and tutorials all over the web. 

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Now these I am very proud of. The pattern is a purchasable download from Made by Rae called Big Butt Baby Pants. The big butt is to accommodate the slightly more bulky reusable nappies which I intend to use. I made these reversible as I just felt that the material was too thin on its own for a winter baby and that the exposed seams would irritate the skin. I'm not sure how I made them reversible really. I just made another pair of trousers and inserted them inside the other and then sewed them up all neat and pretty. I suspect I'll never be able to do it again.

So that's part one of preparing the nest but the question is…how many baby bibs, shoes and trousers does a baby need?