Everything you need to get started on your cloth nappy journey
When I found out I was pregnant, I knew straight away that I wanted to use cloth nappies. After chatting with a few people about it, I was lucky enough to be given a full stash preloved from a friend, she explained everything to me, and I knew I had everything I would need. But for those of you starting out without any donations or a friend to ask, the amount of stuff available to buy can be a bit daunting.
Before I launch into a long list of the things you might want to buy to make using cloth 24/7 as easy as possible, let me just say – you do not need all of this stuff to start! Most of the people I’ve helped get into cloth, especially those making the swap rather than starting from newborn, have all started small and built up gradually. Either by hiring a kit from a Nappy Library (a great way to try before you buy) or by starting with a couple of nappies to use at home and building up to using them when out and about. Any time you use a reusable nappy that’s one less disposable one going to landfill, so you don’t need to be perfect to make a difference.
Having said this, people starting out often want to get an idea for what they might need in the future if they do make the switch. Hence this quick guide to what you need to get started on your cloth journey.
Starter or ‘birth to potty’ kits
It can be very tempting, if you think you know which brand you like, to buy a starter or ‘birth to potty’ kit. These kits do tend to include everything you need to go fully cloth. However, in reality, it’s very hard to know which type of nappy will best meet your needs until you have tried some of them. And even then, most people find a mix of brands and types of nappies for different occasions/ages work best e.g. 2 part at night or an All-in-One for on-the-go changes
So here’s a quick guide of what you need to get started using cloth.
Cloth Nappy Checklist:
• 20x Nappies – A basic full time nappy kit needs around 20 nappies (although in reality most people will have around 30). Usually consisting of around 15 day time nappies and 5 night time nappies.
On average 6 during the day (a change every 3 hours for 12 hours of awake time) plus one for overnight – and you need to allow for washing every 2-3 days plus drying times (which can be as long as 48 hours for some of the slower drying nappies on a clothes horse indoors).
I know this can seem like a large initial outlay, but you can start small and build up your “stash”. I’ve written a separate post about demystifying the different types of cloth nappies where you can find more information on the types of nappies available.
• 1 x Nappy bucket/Dry Pail – For at home, a nappy bucket is the best way to store dirty nappies, this is often called ‘dry pailing’. Simply get rid of any solids, and store the dirty nappies in the nappy bucket, lined with a mesh laundry bag.
Your mum, Grandma, Auntie etc. may all be full of advice on soaking your nappies, but please note that this is not recommended. Washing machines nowadays are easily good enough to do the hard work for you. Please see my post for more information on wash routines.
If you are tight on space, or just if you so wish, you can always use a large waterproof bag instead of a bucket.
• 2 x Mesh laundry bags – You will need two mesh bags so you can have one in the nappy bucket while one is in the wash. No need to empty the nappies out of the bag, the washing machine will do this for you. Just make sure that as you dry pail the nappies, all the velcro tabs are fastened and inserts removed. These are not needed if you decide to store your nappies in a wet bag.
• 2 x Wetbags – When you’re out and about you’ll need a way of storing dirty nappies until you can add them to your nappy bucket at home. This is what a wetbag is for. You can get them in all different sizes depending on how many nappies you need to be able to fit in. Some even have 2 pouches, one for clean wipes and one for dirties (nappies and wipes). You can get away with just the one of these, but I would recommend two, so you always have one to hand if the other is in the wash.
• Cloth wipes – You will need 30-40 reusable wipes for full time cloth nappy use. These can be stored wet in a container, like Tupperware (no need to buy a specific cloth wipe container), or you can store them dry and wet as needed. For out and about, a small wet bag can store dry or pre wetted wipes (if you would rather store them dry, just make sure you take a bottle of water out with you for wetting on the go). Dirty cloth wipes can go straight in the dirty nappy wet bag with the used nappies.
• Liners – Liners aren’t necessarily needed, especially pre weaning, but there are generally two types of liners – fleece and “flushable”* or disposable.
A reusable fleece liner helps to keep baby’s bum feel dry, as well as catching any solids. These can be handy to use from birth to help prevent any staining of the nappies – newborn poo can be all manner of weird and wonderful colours!
Disposable liners are helpful for dirty nappies, as they help contain everything in the liner, which can then be thrown away. Meaning no scraping the nappy out before it goes in the wash. I’ve written a whole post about washing dirty nappies if you want to know more about that.*Note: many disposable liners claim to be flushable, however I strongly recommend that you do not flush these. Just like “flushable” wipes, these disposable liners don’t sufficiently break down and therefore can cause sewer blockages, and even worse, end up in our rivers if they fail to be caught by the sewage filters.
• Boosters/extra inserts – Boosters are not necessarily essential, but are very useful for heavy wetters or as an additional absorbency layer for night time use. Extra inserts are very handy so that you can use the quick drying waterproof part of the nappy again, without waiting for your wet inserts to dry. Please see my post on Demystifying cloth nappies, for more information.
• Nappy cleanser – Nappy cleanser has antibacterial properties, designed to aid in the cleaning of heavily soiled items such as nappies. It is not essential, but many people (myself included) use it as a part of their wash routine.
• Vest extenders – Cloth nappies are bulkier than disposables, and as disposables are so widely used, most clothes aren’t cut for cloth. Vest extenders do just that, extend the length of the vest, so it can be used with cloth. These are handy if you are swapping to cloth nappies and don’t want to buy new clothes in the next size up.
I hope you found this helpful, feel free to ask away if you have any questions and comment below any items that you find useful in your cloth nappy experience.