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Early years

11th Aug 2018

Here is your ultimate guide to choosing your baby’s cloth nappies

Anna Daly

Cloth nappies

These days, everyone is turning against plastic.

With reusable and compostable coffee cups on the way in and straws on the way out, the people of Ireland are jumping on the anti-plastic train.

Not that that’s a bad thing. Not at all.

On the contrary, we’re all for those environmentally-friendly options. Which is why we love cloth nappies.

Disposable nappies are one of the biggest contributors to landfill waste. In Ireland alone, around 75 million nappies go to landfills every year and each nappy will take around 500 years to break down.

Cloth nappies are also great for babies who have sensitive skin because they contain no added chemicals. And overall, switching to cloth will save you a lot of money in the long run.

We know switching to (or starting with) cloth nappies can be a bit daunting so we’re here to help.

Whether you’re making the change for environmental, financial, or health reasons, here is your ultimate guide to picking the right cloth nappies for your baby.

The different types

The reusable nappy has moved on leaps and bounds from when your grandparents or great-grandparents were wrapping up baby’s bottoms. There are loads more options to choose from, all of differing expense and convenience.

1. Prefolds and flats.

These nappies would be most similar to the old-style nappies your grandparents would have used. They are by far the cheapest option.

They are a large piece of cloth that you fold yourself and wrap around the baby, securing it with pins or a snappi. The downside is that they are a bit awkward to use until you get used to them and the material is not waterproof.

Prefolds are similar except they are already layered and folded. They can be made very small and so work well for newborns.

Many people use prefolds along with a waterproof shell. The idea behind this is that the prefold can be thrown into the wash when your baby has dirtied it but you can continue to use the outer part. Of course, if the baby does a number two, it’s likely that the whole thing will have to be thrown in the wash.

2. All-in-two nappy.

These go by the same idea as the prefold inside the waterproof shell but just make it that bit easier for you. Their nappy is already padded and has a detachable soaker inside that you can clip on and off.

3. Pocket nappy.

This nappy has a pocket inside to your own soaker. Unlike the all-in-two, the outer part of this nappy is not meant to be used again. The real benefit of this nappy is that you have control over how much padding the nappy has.

For example, at night you could stuff the nappy with a normal soaker as well as a prefold to maximise absorbency.

Another great benefit of the pocket nappy is the material against your baby’s skin is not the material that the pee will be soaking into so if your baby is sensitive to wetness this is a good one to go for.

4. All-in-one nappy.

This is the most similar to disposable nappies and is the easiest to use. There are no separate parts to put together with this nappy. It has the padded centre and the waterproof outside and is easy to put on and take off.

The main downsides are that it takes a while to dry after a wash and it is the most expensive nappy on the list.

This is a good one to use if you have people minding your baby that aren’t used to cloth nappies.

5. Fitted nappy.

This nappy is like the all-in-one without the waterproof outside. The benefit of it is that it allows your baby’s bottom to breathe.

This is a good one to let your baby wander around indoors for an hour or two but after that it will start to get damp. You could put a waterproof shell around the nappy if you want to leave it on a bit longer.

For a beginner’s introduction to cloth nappies, check out YouTuber Ellen Fisher’s video which she made when her second son was a baby.

Ellen is a big advocate for minimal waste and has now used cloth nappies for all three of her children. Not without difficulties, though – she had to move between cloth and disposable for her first child before she learnt which cloth nappies worked best. Now she swears by them.

And just look how cute they are.