Starting your cloth nappy journey can be daunting, especially if you’re already using disposable nappies. Here is an article that will help you realize that you’re not alone in your anxiety. There are also several tips on how to overcome the anxiety and begin your cloth nappy journey.
I don’t usually begin my blog posts with a “HELLO, I’m Abi” phrase, but I feel like this would be the best way to welcome you to this conversation on cloth nappies and let you know that you, and the jumble of emotions you hold, are welcome in this space!
So, Hello! I am Abi and I started using cloth nappies on my 3-month old son in February 2019. I ordered my pocket nappies around 6 months before my due date and had everything ‘ready’, except my mindset. By ‘mindset’, you may think that I had a secret ‘allegiance’ to using disposable nappies. This wasn’t the case. I knew why I wanted to use cloth nappies: better for our planet, saving money, and they can be used for more than one child. When using the term ‘mindset’, I mean that I could not get my mind around trying to use cloth nappies because I felt like I may get it all wrong.
The type of cloth nappies I chose to use
I decided on using pocket cloth nappies. I went with the cheapest online store I could find in South Africa, which at the time was Biddykins.
Biddykins’ pocket nappies have not failed me. I have thoroughly enjoyed using them and they were the best way forward for us. I have no reason to fault the efficacy of Biddykins pocket nappies and considering we didn’t have oodles to spend, they have surpassed our expectations.
If I need to purchase more nappies in the future, however, I will probably look into buying nappies from companies that are more plastic-conscious in their packaging and do not order the bulk of their products from overseas (I suspect China). These companies usually have higher price tags on their products but it will have to be something we look at when the time comes.
I tried Biddykins’ night nappies, which were not effective because my son is a very heavy wetter at night. I asked around on various online forums and finally bought some wonderful flats from Pokkelokkie. Their customer service and product quality are outstanding and when we have a second child I plan on ordering anything else I need from them if our pocket allows.
To be completely honest, I must point out that for much of my son’s toddler life we have had to use disposables at night. His output is just too large for any cloth nappy combination and he often leaks through disposables too. Someone advised me to get up during the night and change him. However, this was not an option for me because I struggle to fall asleep once woken.
*The companies linked in this blog post in no way compensate me for tagging them or providing my opinion of them. I receive no compensation for subsequent purchases after you’ve followed the links. These links are provided purely for your convenience.
Reasons for my anxiety over starting cloth nappies
Although I wanted to begin using cloth nappies with all my heart, something made me very anxious about actually putting a cloth nappy on my baby and beginning the journey. Now that I am over 2.5 years into using cloth nappies, it is easier for me to reflect and see why I was so nervous.
Seemingly too difficult to master:
Social media cloth nappy groups were FULL of trouble-shooting questions that made using cloth nappies seem like it would inevitably be an uphill battle.
Old-school opinions that are based on using terry-toweling nappies (flats). Using flats isn’t a bad or difficult thing to do and it doesn’t mean your cloth journey will be riddled with nappy rashes and leaks. However, I found that older generations groaned when I mentioned I was going the cloth nappy route. Nine times out of ten the bearers of bad news furnished me with grim stories of poo and wee spread across the house.
No one to ask face-to-face:
I had no one I knew to ask how modern-day cloth nappies worked and how to put them on my child. There were online videos and several blog posts providing instructions but all I wanted was someone face-to-face to show me and reassure me that I would succeed.
Hormones and all the emotions:
It’s not something one likes to admit at the time but there are a lot of emotions that go with the newborn phase, primarily fueled by sleep deprivation. Because we used disposables for the first 3 months and they worked a treat, I was nervous to upset the apple cart by starting with cloth nappies. In the first 3 months after our son was born, I was in survival mode. Anything that seemed like it would disrupt our routine was daunting. New mamas, this passes!
Ideas that may help you conquer your anxiety over using cloth nappies:
1. Be Like a Sieve
As soon as you let the online world know that you’re pregnant, the algorithms make darn sure you are furnished with as much child-rearing advice as your tired eyes can imagine. When I was pregnant, the volume of information that crossed my screen overwhelmed me and increased my anxiety. To combat this, I refused to open mom-advice articles on Pinterest and I swiped past anything child-related on Instagram.
You need to consciously sieve the onslaught of information and advice that you read and engage with, which means it is imperative to be selective.
I found an excellent Facebook support group where parents can post a question about using cloth nappies and group members provide answers. The group is called SACNU and they also have a brilliant website with excellent advice here. However, pre-baby, I found everyone’s questions and answers overwhelming. It seemed like everyone had problems with using modern cloth nappies! Their water was too soft, stains wouldn’t come out, stink issues, bla bla bla. All of these issues can arise; however, the group displayed a plethora of problems daily and it felt like the use of cloth nappies was not worth the effort.
I overcame the overwhelm by hiding the group until I was ready to use cloth. Then, I unhid the group and started to browse through the advice. I still felt a bit overwhelmed but I was able to sift through the posts and select the advice that applied to where I was on my cloth nappy journey.
Youtube is a fantastic place to find great cloth nappy information and tutorials on how to use them. The problem here? Everyone has different ways of explaining their methods so, if you watch too many videos, you’re sure to find yourself confused. This is what happened to me. At the same time as reintroducing the SACNU Facebook group into my newsfeed, I decided to find ONE Youtube video and watch only that one. Granted, I chose a video that wasn’t informative and ended up having to find another one. But that is where I stopped.
Tip: Make sure the video details using the type of cloth nappy you’re going to use. Don’t fill your head with information about all the other types unless you’re actively trying to decide which type is best for you.
Being selective also applies to the conversations you have and the type of information you choose to digest. Early on in my pregnancy, I realized that I would encounter many negative-nancys. For the most part, I ignored them but for those who were intent on convincing me otherwise, I kept a few facts up my sleeve:
Key Facts of why cloth nappies are superior
- a) It saves money. Here is the proof.
- b) It’s better for the environment. Disposable nappy waste generated per day in South Africa is approximately 2,408 tonnes. This is equal to the weight of 16.5 houses. I repeat, PER DAY.
Disposable nappy waste generated per child is 952kg. As opposed to 2.2kg if you only use cloth nappies.
(Information from the SACNU website linked below).
- c) You can use your stash on more than one child or sell/donate to other parents-to-be.
2. Be Clear with What you Need and Want
When asking a question on a public forum, be specific. Do not ask generalized questions that open you up to thousands of answers. State the issue/question, explain your situation/ the washing machine you own/ the age of your child / the type of nappies you use. Even provide a note that stipulates what kind of feedback you are not looking for. E.g., “Please don’t suggest coconut oil as a bum balm because I am looking for something with a stronger scent”.
(FYI, coconut oil is amazing as a bum balm and one tub lasts forever)
As you read earlier in this post, I needed someone to help me face-to-face. If you also want a more personal approach to help with cloth nappies, I suggest you specifically ask for someone who is willing to meet up with you, or chat over messenger, or even video call you. I did not ask for someone but a kind soul on Facebook offered to chat to me and she sent me videos of the nappies she uses and answered all my questions. Her help convinced me that using cloth nappies was doable and that I would succeed.
3. Try it Once, With Grace
In the end, I just took a big gulp and put a cloth nappy on my son.
I decided that if it leaked, who cares? If poo squirted out the sides, oh well, who cares? If I stuffed up the wash cycle, I’d wash it again. If he squirmed and found it uncomfortable? I’d take the nappy off and try again the next day until he got used to it.
And you know what? None of the above happened with the first nappy, nor the second. Yes, we’ve had leaks, poo escapes, and some red lines because I’ve fastened them too tight. But all of it has been surmountable and once I got the show on the road, so to speak, the problems that have cropped up have been solved easily because I had taken the plunge and just got on with it.
I offered myself some grace and in the end, it turned out okay.
Everyone experiences anxiety or nerves differently. I have used my experiences to write this article and if I’ve missed the point for you, then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or pop into my Instagram DMs so we can chat about what may help you.
Indeed, some people have trouble with using cloth nappies. Your water and detergent play a role in your success; however, your mindset is the most key player. Nine times out of ten, your problems with cloth nappies can be remedied if your mindset is right.
I’m in the process of putting together a Cloth Nappy Company Directory –Ordered By Country
Please send me the details of any companies you know of so I can add them to the list!
I am also busy with a list of support groups or websites that provide useful information about using modern cloth nappies.
Please send me any links and details of groups or website that are useful!