Your baby will need nappies until the age of about two, unless you use elimination communication; I’d recommend second hand pocket nappies.
What is it?
Babies are – arguably, see ‘What’s the alternative?’ – born without bladder and bowel control, so you need to mop up/catch that stuff.
Cloth nappies come in a range of different kinds, and it can be overwhelming. I’m going to recommend that, as with all lazy parenting, you go for an option that’s fairly cheap and easy, and if that’s not quite right for you (in this case, not absorbent enough, or not comfortable for your baby) you can do further research (again, there are some Facebook groups where people seem to do nothing but talk about kinds of nappies all day. For some, it’s a hobby. For me, it’s a way of keeping wee off my carpet.)
Pocket nappies are cheap and straightforward. They can be used from birth to potty – you just adjust the size and how much padding you put inside.
Disposable nappies come in set sizes, from 1 to 6+ depending on how big your baby is. There are lots of brands available, all advertising various different absorbencies (being the big varying factor.) We liked Beaming Baby for the times we used disposeys – kinder on the planet and on the bum.
Mixing and matching – We, like many other parents, started off mixing and matching – using mainly cloth, with a packet of disposables on hand for:
- long days out
- overnight (disposables tend to absorb more so don’t bother your baby as much when they’re asleep, so can be useful at first for getting that all-necessary sleep)
- emergencies (I had to go into hospital a couple of times at short notice and having some disposables to grab was very useful)
- A hospital stay after the birth – I’d planned a home birth but ended up with a caesarean, so had to stay in, and using disposables for that part.
Essentially, if you want to use cloth nappies, don’t beat yourself up for occasionally going disposable. In fact, don’t beat yourself up.
Do I need one?
More than one! At the beginning, my baby went through up to 12 a day. Now she might only go through four. I’d recommend 24 reusables if you don’t want to be constantly washing – especially if you don’t have a quick way to dry them.
What about multiple children?
Multiple multiple nappies.
How do I get one?
If you need to buy new, they’re plentiful on eBay. Otherwise, it’s the same routes: Freegle/Freecycle and similar groups, specialist Facebook groups, and second hand markets.
You can buy terry towelling, and get old towels etc, to improvise a nappy, but to be honest this is extra effort for little to no benefit.
How much are they?
You can pay a lot of money for a single cloth nappy in some kind of fancy print. But buy cheap in bulk and you can get them for £2-3 each including the booster. Beaming Baby disposables work out at 25p-35p each, again working out at less for bulk buys.
What makes some more expensive?
You can pay a lot for a single cloth nappy. Some of them are limited edition prints, and charge more for that; otherwise you’re paying for quality of fabric, which can affect the sustainability of the source, its absorbency, and how it reacts to your baby’s skin.
The same applies to disposables really – ones that are more sustainable and kinder on the bum will be more expensive (I liked the Beaming Baby ones for the times we used disposables).
Either way, buying bulk will be cheaper.
What are the safety considerations?
No safety concerns as such, but you need to keep an eye out for leaks, and whether they’re causing your baby nappy rash. Different folk will tell you different things, but personally I found my baby reacted far worse to disposable nappies (and baby wipes) than cloth.
What’s the alternative?
Elimination communication (EC) is common in many cultures – learn from your babies cues about when you expect them to ‘go’ and hold them over something. What I liked about EC was what it teaches you about knowing your baby – but it does rely on a certain lifestyle.
We went for a hybrid, starting to put the baby on the potty from the time she could comfortably sit on one, which again sums up the ethos behind lazy parenting – mix and match from the bits that suit you best.
Some kind of nappy bucket, for cloth nappies. We got a special one with a bundle from Freegle, but really any bucket or large bowl will do. A lid is handy, smell-wise, but not essential. We dry pail most of the time (meaning we just put the old nappies straight in a dry bucket), though adding water, laundry powder and/or essential oils to the bucket improves the smell of your bathroom and, long term, the nappies themselves.
Swim nappies if you’re planning on taking your baby swimming. Every pool I’ve ever gone to sells them singly, but that won’t be the cheapest way. I got a bunch of disposables from Freegle, but you can get reusable swim nappies, too.