I recently had the honour of writing a guide to reusables for JUNO magazine. Here is an extract. For the full article please purchase a copy of the magazine here.
The rise of reusable nappies
Charlotte Loving on how to get started
As the world wakes up to the damage we are doing to the planet, we are reaching a turning point when it comes to single-use culture. The last two years have seen a huge rise in the number of people from all backgrounds taking more responsibility for the amount of waste we produce, and the choices we make in our daily lives.
There has been a massive backlash against plastic straws, cotton buds and takeaway cups, but whilst popularity has soared, it seems the final frontier is reusable nappies and wipes. We still throw away three billion nappies a year in the UK alone – a staggering figure. What is fantastic though, is that the more parents start to discover reusable nappies, the more the love for them spreads. I would like to share with you all you need to know to take the plunge, and hopefully you too will become a fan.
How to get started
A quick search online and you can become lost in forums, websites and reviews; it can all become a bit bamboozling. But, believe it or not, it really is simple! It is important to remember that there is not really much that can go wrong. The absolute worst thing you may have to deal with is a few leaks while you find your feet, which in the grand scheme of life with a baby, isn’t the worst thing in the world. I’m not going to promise anything too wild, but most people discover, once they have found their perfect match, that reusables are actually morereliable than disposables.
You may be able to find a local nappy library. Here you will meet experienced and enthusiastic cloth nappy users and you may also be able to borrow some nappies to trial for a short time with very little cost. Alternatively, you could seek out some second-hand bargains on Facebook or pick up some new nappies online or in a local shop.
It is true that reusable nappies are not one-size-fits-all – well they kind of are– but what works for one person may not work for another. The best way to test one out is to get it on your baby and see how well it holds up. If you are feeling nervous, try the first one at home and see how you go – it won’t be long before you are an expert! You’ll need about twenty nappies to go full time, but it only takes one to get started, and every one counts. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A great idea if you are planning a baby shower or if people want to buy you gifts, is for everyone to buy you a single nappy. This way you get to try lots of different styles and you get almost a full kit for nothing – much more useful than fifteen newborn babygrows in my opinion!
What if your baby hasn’t been born yet but you want to start straight away? Whilst I rarely advise parents to go out and buy one particular brand or a whole stash before their baby is born, it most certainly is not just possible, but can be satisfying and enjoyable to cloth straight from birth. For some it works to have a full kit sorted before baby arrives, but bear in mind that making a big investment upfront can put you under pressure to make it work. If you have spent a lot of money on a particular brand or style that doesn’t end up working for you, you may end up giving up entirely. My advice is to have a good selection of different types of nappy to try, as you may find you love different things at different stages. It is possible to grow your collection steadily, so you don’t need to part with a ton of cash in one go to make reusable nappies work for you.
Types of nappy
Reusable nappies fall into two broad categories: all-in-ones and two-parters. What you need to make up a nappy is simple: an absorbent inner and a waterproof outer. In an all-in-one (often abbreviated to AIO), the absorbent part and the waterproof part are sewn together, and the whole thing has to go in the wash at every nappy change.
With a two-parter (sometimes referred to as an all-in-two or AI2), the absorbent part and the waterproof part are separate. This means you can mix and match the different parts, and you can use the waterproof wrap repeatedly before having to wash it, although the absorbent part will need washing at every change.
Each brand will have its own take on these basic set-ups, but all you need to worry about is that there is enough absorbency and reliable waterproofing; everything else is just extra!
The two-part category is the broadest and covers everything from old-school flats like terry squares and muslins, to covers with snap-in pads or fitted nappies, which need a waterproof cover. Just to confuse matters further, you also get nappies that come apart but are treated like an all-in-one – like pocket nappies for example. These are the most popular style of nappy because they offer the convenience of an all-in-one with the economics of a two-part nappy. The inner pads, which are tucked inside a pocket at the back of the wrap during use, come away fully when not in use, which allows the outers to dry quickly, like a two-parter, whilst the whole thing has to be changed at every nappy change, like an all-in-one.
FULL ARTICLE including newborn nappies, what you need and more, in JUNO MAGAZINE SPRING ISSUE