Here I share my experience of using reusable nappies from birth. Contrary to what you might think it actually feels completely natural and easy to do this, I speak as someone who used disposable from birth first time around but obviously became a convert and now run a nappy shop – if you are a first time parent it may seem more alien but honestly, it is completely manageable.
My newborn reusable nappy stash was made up of a few bits bought new from the shop and a lot of random leftover bits and pieces! Plus a few things I was gifted to test out – all in all a right mash up of odds and ends and definitely not a neat and tidy or well thought out stash! Edith was born just as we went into lockdown and I am disorganised at the best of times so it was very much just get on with what you have – some of the below was added a few weeks in so we didn’t have all this starting out. You definitely have time to grow your supplies once baby has arrived so don’t feel the pressure to buy absolutely everything at once when you find out you are pregnant.
- 5 x Disana tie nappies and brushed cotton liners
- 5 x Disana muslins
- 2 x 0-3 month Disana wool covers
- 8 x Baba + Boo newborn pockets
- 1 x size one PeeNut wrap
- 2 x Bare & Boho newborn nappies
- 1 x Little Lamb size one bamboo
- 1 x Little Lamb size one organic cotton
- 2 x Tots Bots Bamboozle size 1
- 1 x Little Lamb size one cover
- 4 x Close Pop in covers and a few extra inserts
- 1 x Charlie Banana one size
- Plus lots of extra 60cm Terries and muslins and other odd bits left over from number 1!
Day 1 – 4
I didn’t realise this, but in the early days, newborns generally have one wet nappy for every day of life (https://kellymom.com/hot-topics/newborn-nursing/) so one on day one, two on day two, until day four (or when the mothers’ milk comes in) when things really crank up a notch. What this does mean though is that you do have a little grace when starting out with cloth nappies. I imagined a juggernaut of nappy changes from the first minute but I was pleasantly surprised that actually we spent a lot of time just without a nappy at all in those early days – yes there was wee and poo but there was also lots of skin to skin and cuddles just wrapped in a muslin or a Terry towel.
The very first nappy we put on was a Disana tie nappy, on its own with no boosting. It felt like the most gentle option for a fresh out of the womb baby and although a little tricky for a first nappy with shaky hands we managed to put it on, albeit loosely. We didn’t bother with a cover for that first nappy.
We stuck to the tie nappies exclusively for the first 24 hours, they sat really well on top of the cord – the cord is something that often worries new parents when fitting nappies – I spoke to my midwife who said that the nappy is fine as long as it is either on top of (fully covering) or below the cord. What you don’t want is for it to be rubbing or banging up against it. This was another reason why I particularly liked the tie nappies at this stage when everything feels very fresh. We used them with a wool cover over (or nothing at all).
After the first 24 hours we then started to branch out into other nappies in our stash. We started with the Charlie Banana one size nappy which I was sampling for the shop – I set it to its smallest size setting and although it looked large it worked perfectly well – I was impressed that a one size nappy would realistically fit on only day two of life. Of course we only used one insert inside. The ‘bra strap’ adjustment method that is exclusive to Charlie Banana nappies is pretty effective although a tiny bit fiddly so I wouldn’t leave it until just before changing to figure it out!
Next up was our first Baba + Boo newborn nappy. Baby was 6lb 13oz at birth (3102kg) so on the slightly smaller side, but despite some small leg gaps on the smallest rise this nappy worked well. It was super easy to use – you really don’t get much easier than Baba + Boo pockets so a great one to have for easy nappy changes when you need them.
Little Lamb was next up and a bamboo fitted nappy I had left over from my firstborn. Fitted fine, they work well although they’re a bit overkill for a daytime with a newborn as they really need changing before they’ve managed to fill them so to speak! They are a super soft and cosy option for those early days. We popped the Disana 0-3 month wrap over the top and it worked beautifully like that.
Tie nappies were a pretty prominent choice early on, but we also had around three Tots Bots Teenyfits. These are by far the easiest newborn nappy to use, literally nothing to do but put it on. However, they don’t last too long – they aren’t very absorbent (unlike their older sibling the Easyfit). They tend to leak around the leg gusset if left on much longer than an hour – but honestly a small price to pay for the ease of use if you ask me. They just need changing a bit more frequently – if you make sure you’ve got the leg elastics tucked into the knicker line this will help with those gusset leaks too.
Next up – folded muslin under a Bare & Boho wrap. I’m surprised it took us this long to start using the folded muslins to be honest but the Nappi Nippa just felt quite huge and hard when she was really tiny so tie nappies and easy fasten nappies took precedence. Although I am a massive fan of flat nappies I am also super lazy so the most convenient option sometimes wins out! However folded muslins have been great and easy to use, wash and fast drying so I cannot complain. The Bare & Boho or Close wraps worked well over the top and contained everything perfectly. The double leg gusset on both the Bare & Boho and Close nappies work well over tiny baby legs too! This set up works for a few changes until poo leaks out onto the wrap or the wrap gets too saturated so a single nappy at £11.99 each or a box of six Close wraps at £47.99 does prove to be quite good value as a wrap alone.
We did use the full Bare & Boho nappies too but their inserts to take a long time to dry so definitely used the wraps on their own more often than as a full Bare & Boho set up. Close inserts are much faster to dry so an easy one to pick up as a whole nappy and great for the change bag too.
For nights at this stage we were in tie nappies, muslins and a wool wrap as this was the most comfy thing to sleep in and fairly easy to change in the night. Wool also has some absorbency so can take on some of the extra wetness in the night if needed. However I was starting to want something easy to change over night so soon moved on to Baba + Boo pockets for nighttimes.
By five days old the PeeNut wrap was out for night times over the size one Bamboozle and this was great. A real gamechanger for nights. I still had to change overnight for poos but the absorbency was brilliant and although big, it worked well fit wise too with the Bamboozle underneath. Newborns produce a surprising amount of wee with their liquid diet so you do need a lot of absorbency. This coupled with how tiny they are is why I think its so tricky getting nappies right at this stage but as long as you’re not afraid of a bit of trial and error, it really doesn’t have to be difficult.
Another useful bit of kit was the tiny prefolds, (Muslinz size one or two – I cant remember which!) – pad folded these went perfectly in either a Close or Bare & Boho wrap – a great cheap way to bulk out your stash. We also used a few of the Disana 70x70 muslin nappies – I would say more absorbent than your average muslin – some of my muslins are bog standard Tesco or Mothercare and they definitely don’t have the quality that Disana or Muslinz do – so whilst anything muslin-wise will work as a nappy, they aren’t all created equal if that makes sense.
Six days into our cloth nappy life with baby number two and one of our Disana wraps slipped into a normal nappy wash. Needless to say it was a goner, so when I got a chance I replaced it but this time with a 3-6 month wrap. The 0-3 has plenty of room left in it even now at eight weeks but it really doesn’t need to be tight so as I am always a fan of sizing up this was what I went for. Two wraps is definitely enough when using wool part time – I would say three or even four might be handy if going down that route fully – they are useful as an outer layer of clothing as well as a nappy cover so worth having a few about.
In terms of washing the wool – aside from the accidental felting – I have only “washed” one of the covers once in the last eight weeks, and that was a gentle soak in lukewarm water to remove baby sick a few weeks in. Honestly, they just don’t need washing that often. There are times when you may feel some dampness on the outside of the cover when you come to change them, this just means a). its time to change them, and b). maybe add some more absorbency next time. If they are really failing to contain the wetness then you can think about relanolising but a little damp is OK (you will be able to judge this yourself) – hang the cover up and use a fresh one and when you return it will be fresh as a daisy again. See my blog on Wool 101 for more on this.
Week two and muslins with wraps, pockets, the Teenyfits, all are getting good use now. We are getting through a lot of changes a day so we are washing at the end of each day and hanging everything to dry in the morning. This isn’t just nappy related though – we are chucking in all the other washing you get with a newborn and it feels much more manageable to do it like this than waiting for massive loads to build up. We are lucky its summer so we have outdoor drying but I would feel the same in winter – having had babies at both times of year – we weren’t using cloth last time but still put a load of washing on at the end of each day most days so this doesn’t feel like a load of extra work at all.
We also tried out a Bambino Mio one size prefold in week two which fitted well – quite bulky between the legs but perfectly wearable. I only had a size two Bambino Mio cover but this went over the top with no trouble and if it was all you had I can’t see a problem although its not ideal. So much with cloth nappies is just give it a go – some things may not be perfect but they are only on for such a short time it’s fine to experiment! The real key is to just try it when you are feeling happy and relaxed, don’t place unnecessary pressure on yourself especially if there are other things in life weighing you down.
Little Lamb size one covers were given a go in week two and although again massive, they work just fine, a big leap from the teeny tiny Close and Bare & Boho wraps but good – you may find them less discreet under clothing though!
And so our ‘journey’ continues much like that until today. Trying lots of different things but settling on those we like the most (and what’s clean and dry!) on any given day. As baby grows and we are out and about more (although still not a lot given the circumstances – mainly a walk around the block), the more convenient options do become your ‘go to’ – but tie nappies are still up there as some of my favourites, Terries are used at least once a day usually, and I would say we started raiding the birth to potty stash more regularly from week six. A note on that too – whilst birth to potty will only fit reliably from weeks six to eight (sometimes sooner, sometimes later), all that means is that they will be big and gappy on a smaller baby – it doesn’t mean that you can’t use them at all! We bunged on a birth to potty Easyfit from around week two that made it into circulation and the Bumgenius Elementals also worked their way in pretty early on – and now at week eight I would say we are transitioning away from newborn sizes and into BTP.
Not to say that our newborn nappies have stopped fitting – the Little Lambs, Bamboozles and PeeNut wrap all have lots of life left, the Baba + Boo pockets probably a couple more weeks – we could push them longer but don’t need to. The newborn nappies that we grew out of first were the Pop ins and the Bare & Boho – but the trade off for those is that they were reliable and trim fitting in those early weeks. Our tie nappies, Terries and muslins will have a useful life all the way through – so definitely worth every penny for those.
I hope that helps to demystify cloth nappies from birth! I am always here if you have any questions – please do get in touch and you can always try out one of my hire kits if you want to give cloth a go from day one with little commitment.
If you would like to see more pictures of how we got on then check my story highlights on instagram.
Thanks for reading and congratulations if you are expecting a tiny one!