advice Nappies

Why you should try before you buy…


The question I dread being asked when talking about cloth nappies is “What should I buy?” You’d think, being a retailer that I would love that question, an opportunity to sell, to recommend an expensive product. But I don’t enjoy it at all, because there is no right or wrong answer.

So I tend to answer like this:

I recommend you book a trial with us for after baby is born.

This is not so that I get extra money from you, the hire fee and a nice sale at the end. On the contrary, it is to stop you making an expensive mistake.

You see, every baby is a different shape, every family has a different budget and every household has different priorities and facilities for washing and drying. What suits one family perfectly might be a nightmare for others. I have heard too many horror stories of “I bought a full birth to potty kit of (insert brand name of nappy of your choice), but… they were too bulky/they kept leaking/I couldn’t get a good fit/they took too long to dry…

By trying cloth nappies before you buy them you can work whether you want to use the full time or part time, what styles and brands suit you and your lifestyle best, how easy they are to wash and dry and how that fits in with your lifestyle, with little or no commitment up front.

The Grow Up Green trial kits are available to hire in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland, and surrounding areas. One of our agents will bring the trial kit to you, talk you through all the different kinds of nappies, their pros and cons, how to care for them and wash them. There are 14 or so nappies in it, 2 different kinds of liners, a wet bag and washable wipes. It even comes in a bucket, so you don’t even need a bucket to get started! Check out our trial kit page for more details and to contact us.

If you don’t live in the North East, don’t despair! There is an amazing network of cloth nappy libraries, staffed by wonderful volunteers, throughout the UK. These are cloth nappy using parents who are very knowledgeable about cloth nappies. Check out this map to see where the nearest one is to you. Your local library should have a Grow Up Green discount code for users of their service, so ask them! But if they don’t, tell them to get in touch to get one…

If using nappies used by someone else makes you feel uncomfortable (and I hope it doesn’t – they are all washed at high temperatures with sanitiser before rehiring), then drop me a line to chat about your lifestyle and only buy one or two nappies until you’ve tried them out. With a little perseverance and patience, I am sure we can find a nappy that suits you and your lifestyle.


Why all parents should own some terry squares…

Every family should own a pack of terry squares.

Yes, I know that is controversial. As a nappy advocate, I should be convincing people that modern cloth nappies are a far cry from the “old-fashioned” terry square. I am supposed to tell you that modern cloth nappies are so much better; no pins, no rubber pants, no folding, no soaking…

And I do. I am a huge fan of modern nappies, their ease and simplicity mean that switching from disposables is really not very hard at all.


There are many good reasons why all parents, especially cloth bum families, should have a pack of terry squares in the house:

  1. 1. You never run out of nappies. So you forgot to pick up your disposables when you did the supermarket shop, or your fancy all in ones are refusing to dry and your tumbler is on the blink. Never fear, a few quick folds (youtube is your friend here), a nappy nippa and a waterproof cover and you are good to go until you sort the problem. One size fits all, birth to potty. I used them exclusively for the first 6 months with my eldest, and as a back up nappy with both the other two, And they dry on the line in about an hour!
  2. 2. They are great for nappy free time with a not-yet-mobile baby. Just fold a terry under their bum while they kick and catch any unfortunate accidents.
  3. 3. You have an emergency burp cloth, no matter where you are. Forgot the muslin, no fear, you have a terry in your bag.
  4. 4. You have an emergency bib. Weaning children whether spoon fed or self feeding make a terrible mess. If you forget to take a bib out for lunch Oh Oh! But tie and terry square around a babies neck and they are protected pretty much head to foot!
  5. 5. You can clean up any mess or spills – crawling baby knocks over someone’s drink? No problem. Slide too wet to use after a summer shower. Dry in seconds.
  6. 6. It is effectively, a towel, so if your toddler is terrified of hand dryers (mine is!) then you can at least dry their hands (and yours when you have nipped to the toilet)
  7. 7. Finally, they are quite literally a God-send when you are potty training. As a mother of 2 boys (and it is more of a problem with those who pee out an appendage) – I found a stack of terry squares, plus a bottle of anti-bacterial spray was the only way to get through the “oops I miss-aimed” “mummy I forgot to point my penis down” moments.

Have you got yours? At £25 for a pack of twelve – you can’t really go wrong!


What happens at a Great Cloth Diaper Change

2014 Great Cloth Diaper Change event in Newcastle upon Tyne Photo copyright Mandy Charlton



For the last five years, the Real Diaper Association in the USA have coordinated a Great Cloth Diaper Change, an international record breaking attempt for the most cloth nappies changed at the one time. This year will see the 4th time that I have co-ordinated an attempt in Newcastle.

Basically, a Great Cloth Diaper Change is an event where parents come together and change a cloth nappy, en masse, all at the same time. To qualify towards the overall international total, there must be at least 25 adults over 18 at the event, changing a child each. The child must be under 39 inches tall and be changed into a commercially available cloth nappy. The change must take place at 11am on the dot.

The aim of the event is to raise awareness of cloth nappies, and media coverage is desirable. Last year we even had a parent turn up who wasn’t yet using cloth nappies – she was loaned a nappy for the event and had a great time.

The Newcastle event will be taking place at Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle, NE1 6HQ on 18th April between 10am and 12pm.

To make it a more fun event, there will be entertainment for the babies provided by Sing and Sign and Karma Babies, stalls to browse including Calmer Parenting Newcastle, Rebecca Embleton Usborne Books, Grow Up Green cloth nappies, Clarabugs Creations, Rock Solid Slings, Geeky Sweetheart and Parenting North East, there will be refreshments available to buy, a goody bag for each participant and a raffle for cloth nappies and other baby goodies.  To book your tickets visit our eventbrite page (tickets are free) or visit our Facebook page for all the details.

If you are not local to us in Newcastle, check out the Great Cloth Diaper Change international page to find out if there is an event near you – or consider hosting one!

advice Nappies

How do I use cloth nappies out and about?

Limited edition Clarabugs@Grow Up Green wetbags
Limited edition Clarabugs@Grow Up Green wetbags

When talking about cloth nappies with new parents, I often get the question “but how do you go out and use cloth nappies, do you have to carry a dirty nappy around all day?”

The short answer is “Yes, you need to bring your cloth nappy home with you,” but it isn’t as terrible as it sounds. The reason? Some genius invented wetbags! Wetbags are a waterproof bag, in which you can safely stash your wet and dirty nappies, any wet/dirty clothes and soggy burp cloths, to bring home and wash.

Not all wet bags are created equal, and you do need to think about what you will be using them for before you buy. Small wetbags typically will only hold one or two nappies, mediums will hold a couple plus clothes, a large will hold a day’s worth etc.. Some wetbags have drawstrings, which are easy to use, but zips will hold the smell and dampness in better. Some are single layer PUL, some are beautiful cottons and lined in PUL. The choice is yours.

The main things to bear in mind when taking cloth nappies out and about is – make sure you tip all solids into the toilet before bagging them, or you will have to take them out of the wetbag to deal with when you get home. The zip can deal with dampness, but not wringing wet, so probably not a good idea to sluice your nappy or overwet wipes before putting them in your wetbag.

If you are interested in some lovely handmade, British made lined wetbags, check out our very own Clarabugs Wet Bags –  they really are beautiful, affordable and ethically produced!

advice Nappies

Why are my nappies leaking?

Why do my nappies leak? Is a question I hear often, either people contacting me directly, or in facebook groups or forums. The answer is never straight forward, as there are many reasons your nappies might be leaking, and the reason will change depending on whether your nappies are new and are leaking from the start, or if they have suddenly started leaking after a period of working for you.

Whilst it always pays to check your nappies over to make sure the waterpoofing or elastic isn’t damaged in some way, there is usually a fixable solution to your problem.

The other question you need to ask yourself is “am I changing often enough?” – this depends on the age of your baby – newborns need changing very regularly, every couple of hours or so. However, I believe, after 9 years of using cloth nappies, that once you have your system working for you, a cloth nappy should last around 4 hours.

The first thing to make sure is that your nappies are fitting right. If you are new to cloth and used to disposables, then fitting cloth nappies can take a bit of practice. Firstly, make sure the leg elastic is sitting in the crease at the top of the babies leg, and not round the thigh. Check the elastic is tight enough at the leg and the waist. It should be loose enough that you can slide a finger under the elastic, but not loose there are any gaps.  If your nappies have suddenly started leaking, it might be time to move up a size or rise setting.

If your nappies are brand new, have you prepped them? Cotton and bamboo in particular, needing washing a few times before first use, to make them properly absorbent. Absorbency will improve the more you wash your nappies for.

Have you got detergent build up? Some detergents can coat the fibres of your nappies and make them less absorbent. If your nappy is not overly wet when it leaks, this may be your problem. To remove the residue, wash your nappies with only a small amount of washing powder (liquid is more likely to cause build up) and a cup of soda crystals (check your nappy’s warranty before doing this). Wash on a long wash, with extra rinses. Watch the machine drum as the machine rinses. If you still see soap bubbles, rinse again and keep rinsing until you don’t see any more bubbles.

Have you got compression leaks? A cloth nappy can make vests, clothes and even baby carriers too tight, and this tightness squeezes wee out of the nappy and out of the leg holes. This is usually seen with the wetness being more prevalent around the leg holes. Try going up a vest or clothing size and see if that helps.

Have you got enough absorbency? Particularly with pocket nappies, it might just be a case of adding more absorbency. If your inserts/fitteds are sodden and heavy when you change your baby, this may be your problem. Some fabrics are more absorbent than others, bamboo and hemp are a lot more absorbent than microfibre, so try adding more of these. For a really cheap, but effective way of boosting pockets, trying using a newborn prefold nappy – you can usually pick these up cheaply new, and often for free second hand.

Have you got a gusher? This is often a problem after 18 months of age, when babies are moving towards being physically ready for potty training. They store their wee up for ages, then let it go in one go. A clear sign that this is your problem is that you changing the frequency of your change makes no difference, you can change an almost dry nappy an hour or 2 after the last change, and then half an hour later they have wet through. Add more absorbency, microfibre absorbs quickly, but doesn’t hold as much – so use layers, with a microfibre insert on the top to absorb quickly and channel it into bamboo underneath,   and consider using too parts (even putting a wrap over an AIO).

I hope this helps, if you need further advice on making the most of your cloth nappies, do get in touch!  [contact-form subject=’Question from your blog’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Website’ type=’url’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

Nappies recycle reduce reuse

Are cloth nappies really greener?


Grow Up Green (24 of 43)


I am frequently asked “are cloth nappies really better for the environment when you take into consideration all the energy you waste washing them?”

The short answer is “Yes, they are.”

A 2008 report by the Environment Agency found that if sensible approaches were taken to washing nappies, using reusable over disposable would reduce your carbon footprint by between 16 and 40%. You can read that report here

To obtain the 40% figure you need to wash at no higher than 60 degrees C, wash a full load (not necessarily of nappies, other items can be washed too) and pass nappies down to subsequent children or sell them on.

This figure only takes into consideration the manufacture and transportation of the nappies, it does not address the landfill issue. It is estimated that 400,000 tonnes of disposable nappies head to landfill each year (source: This obviously causes carbon emmission issues as the nappies breakdown, uses up valuable land to fill with rubbish, causes transportation issues of carrying that amount of nappies to landfill and finally the problem of human excreta ending up in landfill where it might pollute aquifers (I address this final issue here). Most cloth nappy users will use their nappies for multiple children and/or pass or sell them on to others when they no longer need them, meaning one set of 24 cloth nappies may have diapered 3 or more children before ending up in landfill (or textile recycling!)

Finally, it does not take into consideration all the chemicals and raw materials used in the manufacture of disposable nappies. For example, one cup of crude oil goes into each disposable nappy, and at a time when we are rapidly approaching (or some might say have passed) the point of Peak Oil, where we are running out of this resource that has many other more useful purposes than to be peed and pooed on, it is a serious consideration.

So in summary, yes cloth nappies really are greener than most disposables – they have a smaller carbon footprint, less waste ending up in landfill and uses fewer of the earth precious resources. So go on, give them a try!

Nappies reduce reuse

What do you do about poo?

I once asked a Grandma at a baby event if she ever pooed in her bin. The look of shock on her face was a sight to behold and to be honest I did think I’d over-stepped the mark. My question, however, came on the back of her trying to persuade her pregnant daughter not to consider using washable nappies as “she just liked the idea of wrapping it all up and throwing it away.” It hadn’t occurred to her that what that actually meant was putting poo in the bin.

One of the many reasons I like cloth nappies is that the poo is dealt with by the sewerage system. The sewerage system is designed to deal with human faeces and treat it appropriately. Putting poo in the bin, means it ends up in landfill, where any bacteria or viruses can potentially leach into soil and water systems and can cause a health hazard for refuse workers.

Even when using disposable nappies, I still tip the poo into loo before folding it up and putting it in the bin. To me it is just the hygienic thing to do. I have heard it argued that poo is biodegradable and therefore its OK to send it to landfill, it will just biodegrade. However, it is generally wrapped inside a plastic nappy and put inside at least one plastic bag (often more as the nappy is inside a nappy sack, inside a bin bag). The plastic prevents air and light and bacteria necessary for the bio-degradation to take place from reaching the poo. So it fossilizes inside the nappy. In a hundred years time, archaeologists of the future will find bags of preserved dirty nappies in our landfill sites. Delightful!

It doesn’t take much to put the poo down the loo. Whether you choose to reuse or are disposable all the way.

What about you? Do you bin it or flush it?


Nap Nap Voucher Competition

we accept logo (3)

So, who would like £10 to spend on a nappy of your choice? Well, read ahead and you could win one!

Grow Up Green has just started accepting the Nap Nap voucher, which, if you haven’t heard, is a fantastic gift voucher scheme for cloth nappies. It can be exchanged a variety of retailers, but only for cloth nappies or wraps. More details can found here

To redeem a Nap Nap Voucher on Grow Up Green, click on “add note to seller” at check out and enter your voucher number. You will then receive a refund for the amount of your voucher, once the voucher number has been verified. Alternatively, you can email your order and voucher number to and you will be sent an invoice for the cost of your order less the value of your voucher. Simples!

To celebrate this new partnership, I have a £10 Nap Nap voucher to give away!

To enter, just comment below, saying what you love about cloth nappies. You can also gain extra entries by tweeting “I want to win a @napnaphq cloth nappy voucher with @growupgreen #win #clothnappies”

Entries must be earned by Monday 8th July at 8pm.

Good luck!


How do you get them dry?

There are many questions a parent, new to cloth, asks when I present cloth nappies for the first time. One of them is almost always “how do you get them dry?”

A discredited Environment Agency report written in 2005, claimed that washable nappies were worse for the environment than disposables due to the laundering costs. The report was discredited as the calculations assumed real nappy users were washing half-loads at 90 degrees and tumble drying every wash, which of course we don’t do.

Sensible laundering of your nappies is not only better for the environment (reducing your carbon footprint compared to disposables by 45%), but also prolongs the life of your nappies.

So, how do you get them dry? Well obviously line drying is by far the best! Not only does it use no additional energy, but sunlight is a wonder-cure for any staining, bringing your nappies back to a bright white! Not only that, but they smell great too!

However, we live in the UK and days we can get a load of nappies dry on an outdoor line are few and far between it feels.

Obviously using airers is the next best way to get your nappies dry, but in seasons where your heating isn’t on, it can take a while. I have to admit that I partially cheat. I hang the washing up in the morning, and anything that isn’t dry when the next load comes out the following day goes in the tumble drier to finish off. Not great, but better than tumbling a full load.

If getting things dry is an issue for you, for example if you don’t have a tumble drier or space to dry indoors or out, then carefully choosing your nappies can help.

Bamboo, whilst absolutely fabulous for nappies in many ways, can take forever to dry. Cotton has a tendancy to go crispy if dried on the radiator. The best solution for fast drying is micro-fibre.

There are many microfibre nappies on the market, all with their respective merits. I personally love Bumgenius for a quick change out and about, but you can’t beat a Bambinex teddy for quick drying. I kid you not that they dry in an hour or so inside! I’ve recently added them to the trial kits for those for whom speed of drying is of most importance!

So what about you? Any tips for getting nappies dry?teddy_nappies_colourssmall



Another Real Nappy Week over…

Phew, what a week! Real Nappy Week is a blast, but it’s everything about my “job” condensed into one week of manic activity. Here’s just an overview of what went on:

3 Nappuccinos around the region, 1 stall at a baby event,  1 dropping off of a trial kit and explaining everything there is to know about cloth nappies to a new dad, 1 Great Cloth Diaper Change event (didn’t quite make the 25 needed to count towards the total, but a really good fun had by all who attended!!), lots of dealing with enquiries by email, social media, and phone, processing orders, taking trial kit bookings and going to the post office.

My Northumberland agent also had 4 visits to baby groups around her region, making sales, taking trial kit bookings and delivering trial kits (and helping me with the Great Cloth Diaper Change events.

A selection of goodies from the website went to Billy to be included in the Great Cloth Nappy Hunt.

What about you? Get up to anything fun during Real Nappy Week?