How to use cloth with newborns

Lots of people when first looking into using cloth nappies don’t realise that “birth to potty” nappies are a bit of a misnomer. Most birth to potty nappies fit from around 8-9lbs (4-4.5kg). This means they don’t fit the average newborn that is in the UK is about 7lbs.

So how do you cloth nappy a newborn?

A newborn needs a lot of nappy changes – approximately every 2 hours for the first few weeks as their digestive system gets used to receiving nourishment from milk and not straight from the placenta. With this in mind you need up to 30 nappies to keep on top of the washing. You have a number of options as to what to use to cloth your baby.

Newborn all in ones or pockets

Newborn all in one

These are nappies where the absorbent bit is either sewn to the waterproof bit, or the absorbent goes in a pocket so it is a complete nappy. They tend to fit from 5lbs to 12lbs. These are easy to use, change much like a disposable and are super cute looking. However, they are quite expensive, at around £10 per nappy and will only fit for a couple of months.

Newborn all in one on baby

Size one fitteds (or 2 part nappies)

Diddy Diaper size 1

These nappies are a nappy shaped absorbent layer, that you then put a waterproof cover. Size one nappies tend to fit from 5lbs to 16lbs, which means they can fit a baby for up to 6 months. They still retail at around the £10 mark, but are more absorbent and reliable than all in ones.

Flat nappies

Muslin in newborn pad fold

Flat nappies such as terry squares, prefolds and muslins are by far the cheapest way of using cloth nappies from birth. Standard sized terry squares (60cm x 60cm) can be a little bulky on a small newborn, but can be folded to fit. Muslins are great as can be folded really small, and then used as burp cloths when they no longer work as nappies. Teamed with a small wrap they make great nappies.

Baby in a muslin

Hiring nappies

Many nappy libraries hire newborn kits to help you use cloth from birth. Our newborn kits contain 10 all in one or pocket nappies, 15 size one fitteds, 6 wraps, 5 newborn prefolds, liners, wipes and wet bag. Contact us for more information

You can find your local library here

environment Nappies reuse

Are cloth nappies cheaper?

I originally wrote a blog post on this a few years ago, but the disposable and the cloth nappy markets have changed so much recently, that it’s worth visiting again.

When I first started running a nappy library and retailing cloth nappies, it was as clear that using cloth nappies would definitely be cheaper. However, disposables have gotten a lot cheaper, especially since Lidl and Aldi have entered the market, meaning it’s not as clear cut as it used to be.

We’ll start with the assumption that the average baby will go through 6,000 disposable nappies a between birth and potty training as that is what research suggests. We will also use the assumption that you only buy 25 cloth nappies.

In Aldi disposable nappies retail at 85p for 24 or £4.39 for 98. Pampers were on at £12 for 52 or £18 for 104 or £8 for 39 for their “Eco” brand. That makes 3.5p per disposable for Aldi newborn 4.4p per bigger size disposable. Pampers are 23p to 17.3p for their normal brand, or 20.5p for their eco brand.

So, the cheapest disposables would cost £240 over 2.5 years, Pampers £1,038 and Eco £1,230.

Cloth nappies

Cheapest option – £100 for a birth to potty terry square kit – 24 terry squares, 6 wraps, bucket, liners.

Midpriced option – Ecobebe from Ecopipo all in two system – 5 complete nappies @ £10.99, 15 Ecobebe inserts @£5, 5 Ecopipo night nappies @£10.49. 3 wraps @ £10.49 = £213.87

Expensive option – 20 Tots Bots Easyfit – £360, 5 bamboozles @ £12 and 3 wraps @£12 = £456.

Accessories – Grow Up Green accessories kit (bucket, 2 x bucket mesh, wet bag, 20 fleece or 200 disposable liners) = £35

Washing – £1.00 for A or A+ machine and detergent = £125

Comparison of costs

So, from the table you can see, if budget brands suit your baby, then disposable nappies are fractionally cheaper. However, as you can use cloth nappies on more than one child and/or sell them on when you are done, then actually cloth would still work out cheaper. You could further save money by buying second-hand, bulk sets and kits and taking advantage of offers and sales. If you were planning on using Pampers or an eco-brand of disposables, you would definitely be saving money using cloth nappies.

Of course, the cost isn’t everything when it comes to using cloth nappies – there’s the environment and the cuteness to consider too. But knowing you aren’t breaking the bank while switching to cloth is always good to know!

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?