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Cloth Nappy FAQs

6 babies sitting in a row with their backs to the camara, all wearing different pattern cloth nappies

Friday 16 June 2017

Are cloth nappies easy to use?

They are! Cloth nappies aren’t really any harder to use than disposable nappies - they’re just different! Cloth nappies have come a really long way in the past 30 years. There’s no soaking involved and no more sharp nappy pins to use. Modern cloth nappies have easy to use poppers or Velcro fasteners and there are so many different designs and colours available.

Using either a washable or disposable liner in the nappy will mean that any solids will be contained and can be flushed down the toilet. Used cloth nappies can then be stored in a lidded bucket and added to your normal wash at a frequency that suits you. Cloth nappies can be washed at 40 degrees although many people prefer to wash them at 60 degrees. If your baby is less than three months old or unwell then nappies should be washed at 60 degrees.

How many cloth nappies will I need?

This will depend on the type of cloth nappy you use and how often you want to wash them. For a newborn, that needs changing more frequently, you will probably need 18-24 nappies.  This will mean you have enough nappies so that you’ll only need to do a wash every other day.  With a weaned baby (6+ months) you won’t have so many nappy changes a day and so 15-20 nappies should be sufficient and will allow you to wash them every other day.

How do I choose which type of nappy to use?

It can be difficult to know where to start when choosing the right cloth nappy! The different types of cloth nappies include.

Two part nappies: these have an absorbent inner nappy and a separate waterproof outer wrap. The nappy can either be shaped like a disposable nappy or you can use a nappy that you fold. You then use a separate wrap to cover the nappy. Two part nappies are often praised for being really absorbent and the wraps help to prevent leaks. Unless they are soiled, the wraps don’t need to be changed at every nappy change and so you won’t need as many wraps as you do nappies.

All in one nappies: these nappies have an absorbent inner nappy and an attached waterproof outer layer. They are really simple to use.

Pocket nappies: these nappies have a fleece inner liner and a waterproof outer layer. They have a pocket like opening along the back of the nappy where you can insert liners to increase the absorbency of the nappy. These nappies are also very simple to use and are usually very quick drying.

Some factors that may help with your decision are the age of your baby and how they are fed. For newborns, two part nappies with a wrap are often preferred by parents as they deal well with ‘containment issues’!  For the same reason, these nappies are particularly favoured for babies that are breastfed. For older babies that are not so inclined to stay still during change time, some parents prefer the all in one or pocket nappies as they can be quicker to put on!

‘Birth to potty’ nappies are available or you may prefer the variable size nappies, which depend on the weight of your baby, and come in small, medium and large.

 Are cloth nappies affordable?

 osts will depend on the type of nappy you choose. All in one and pocket nappies are generally more expensive than two part nappies.  Sized nappies are also more expensive overall than buying birth to potty nappies.  Some of the high street chains sell reusable nappies now as do some supermarkets.  These are often cheaper than buying them online although there are good bargains to be had from online retailers.  To reduce costs further you could consider buying second hand cloth nappies online or from local nearly new sale events.

The savings you’ll make using cloth nappies compared with using disposable nappies does make them overall a more affordable option. If you’ll planning to have more children and are able to reuse the cloth nappies then the savings will be even greater.

How do I deal with soiled nappies?

This is one of the most common concerns for parents when contemplating using cloth nappies but dirty cloth nappies are very easy to deal with!

With all the different types of cloth nappies you can use a washable or disposable liner. The liner acts as a barrier and will catch the poo. This can then be disposed of in the bin. If the baby is breastfeeding then sometimes the liner won’t be an effective barrier and the nappy will get rather messy! The best way to rinse it is to hold it in the toilet bowl and to flush the toilet. The clean water should do a pretty good job of cleaning up the worst of it! If possible, it’s then best to wash the nappy as soon as you can. If that’s not possible then pop it in your lidded nappy bucket.

Do cloth nappies leak?

 A cloth nappy shouldn’t leak if you choose the right type of nappy for your baby and make sure it is fitted correctly. Most cloth nappies are fitted round the waist and so many parents find that there are less leaks and ‘explosions’ in cloth nappies than in disposables.

Do cloth nappies smell? 

If you use a lidded bucket to store the used nappies in and wash them every two to three days then you shouldn’t have any issues with smells. Many parents much prefer this to having one or two weeks’ worth of used disposable nappies in an outside bin before they are collected.

How often should I change a cloth nappy?

Just as you would change a disposable nappy, you should change a cloth nappy about 8-10 times a day for a newborn baby and then around five times a day once the baby is around 8 weeks old. Obviously, as with a baby in a disposable nappy, you should change the cloth nappy if the baby has soiled itself.

Do cloth nappies cause nappy rash?

The main causes of nappy rash are to do with infrequent nappy changes and ill health of the child. The type of nappy used isn’t a significant factor.  Diet and teething can also affect nappy rash.  To reduce the likelihood of nappy rash it’s best to follow a good nappy change routine and to make sure that the entire nappy area is cleaned really well at each change.

I’m already using disposables, is it worth switching to cloth nappies?

Switching to cloth nappies at any time can mean that you can save money and do your bit for the environment. Even using one cloth nappy a day will mean 365 fewer nappies a year being disposed of.  Converting to cloth might even help to potty train your child quicker as it can help them to form the connection between doing a wee and the sensation of a damp nappy.

Can I use cloth nappies at night?

Yes! You can either get cloth nappies that are specially designed for night time use or you can use booster pads in the regular cloth nappies.

Will my baby need special clothes to fit over the nappies?

Cloth nappies tend to be a bit bulkier than disposable nappies and some parents find that they need to get the next size up for vests and trousers, but you won’t need to buy special clothes to fit unless you want to. Some online baby clothing brands are marketed as being made to fit perfectly over a cloth nappy.

Find out more about cloth nappies:

Claim £30 refund on cloth nappies! 

Tip for using cloth nappies in winter

Why should I try cloth nappies?

What type of cloth nappies should I buy?

How should I clean cloth nappies?

Where can I purchase cloth nappies?

Why I use cloth nappies by Louisa (mum of three).

Who should I contact for more information on cloth nappies?