Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cloth nappies: our recommendations

So I've talked about the pros and cons, and gone through the different options in the bewildering world of cloth nappies. This week I thought I'd let you know our all-time favourite nappies and why we like them so much.

I reckon the key to making cloth nappies an easy and painless part of your life is choosing the right ones. Different people have different preferences, so you might not go for the same choices we have, but at least this should give you some in-depth info on some really good options.

Just so you know: links in this post are affiliate links. I only recommend products I personally love, and if you choose to buy them by clicking through from my link I get a small commission. If you want to support me in this way that's awesome - if not, no sweat. :-)   

Newborn nappies

Before the Little Monkey was born my sister recommended fitted nappies and covers to me. Because you have two snugly fitting layers it's twice as hard for anything to leak out. If you've had kids you'll know how sneaky newborn poo can be, so I reckon that double layer is new-parent gold.

Thirsties Duo Wrap nappy cover
It does mean two layers to take off and put back on at change time, but it's pretty minimal effort, and the prevention of poosplosions means fewer outfit and bedding changes. You only need to wash the cover if it gets dirty, so you only need a handful of them as that won't happen every change.

The only trick with a two-part system is making sure all the absorbent fabric is contained within the waterproof layer - the only time we had leaks was when a bit of the fitted nappy was peeking out of the cover.

To get us set up I trawled Trademe and picked up around 20 secondhand fitted nappies, and also bought six new Thirsties Duo Wraps to provide the waterproof layer. In total this cost about $200, and served us well for the first six months.

This nappy has earned its retirement!
We still have most of the stash, but some of the secondhand nappies (mostly Snazzipants) were worn to death, and though they did the job, they're an older style with less advanced fabric technology, which means they take aaaaaages to dry - so I'm picking up a few Thirsties Duo Fitteds to replace the deceased ones for this time around.

It can be worth looking at secondhand for the absorbent layer - you can save heaps, and they last ages. The waterproof covers I reckon are better bought new, since they can degrade over time and that's the important bit (and you only need a few anyway).

My newborn nappy picks: 

Infant / toddler nappies

We knew the fitteds and covers, as both were sized, would only last until 9 months at the most. That gave us loads of time to work out what we liked, and I pretty quickly worked out that All in Ones (hereafter referred to as AIOs) were my favourite to use. 

We wanted something simple, so that daycare, grandparents and babysitters could deal with nappy changes without any drama. And pocket nappies, though simple to put on, come with a requirement to stuff the pockets after each wash. That doesn't suit my chore-minimising outlook on life so they were vetoed. 

AIOs on the other hand are one piece, no need to spend ages finding the right bits and putting the nappies together. Most of the recent ones have a snake insert that you have to fold over, but that's pretty straightforward - usually it's not really possible to do it wrong. 

Thirsties One Size AIO
After a bunch of trialling (I even did some pseudo-scientific absorbency testing with water and a set of kitchen scales; yes, I am a dork), I decided on a favourite: Thirsties One Size AIOs. These won me over because of the great velcro and the very quick drying time. They're cheaper than most other good quality AIOs - but they're not as absorbent. The inserts are microfibre, which doesn't hold liquid in as well as natural fibres, so we found after a couple of months that we needed to boost them. 

I tried a few different inserts too, and settled on BabyKicks Joey-Bunz hemp inserts, because they were absorbent but still trim and reasonably quick to dry. I borrowed a snap press and added snaps to all our nappies and the inserts so that they would ideally stay together in the wash (they don't always, but if they do come apart I just snap the inserts back on when hanging them on the line). 

If you'd prefer something that comes all in one piece and with plenty of absorbency built in, TotsBots Easyfit V4 (the V4 part is important - earlier versions are still available but much less absorbent) nappies are also pretty great. They came second in my evaluation, and these and the Thirsties AIOs are the only nappies we use during the day now.  

The TotsBots velcro isn't quite as good as the stuff Thirsties use, and the nappies are a bit bulkier, but they are a bamboo mix, so much more absorbent than just microfibre. They come with a snap-in booster, so you can remove some of the absorbency for a trimmer fit on wee babies who aren't yet heavy wetters. 

Both these nappies could also be used on young babies (both claim to fit from 8lbs / 3.6kg) but neither will provide the snug fit around the leg that the Thirsties Duo covers do. The covers have a gusset on the leg which helps prevent gaping - which I really wish they had added to to the AIO! But if you do want to use the AIOs on a little baby and you don't want to play poonami roulette, using a cover over the top is another option for newborns. 

My infant/toddler nappy picks: 

Night nappies

Night nappies have their own category in a lot of nappy stores, but it's not necessary to distinguish until your baby is sleeping for a decently long stint, which might take a wee while (unless you get really lucky). Even once you are getting a long stretch at night, a little extra absorbency added to whatever day nappies you're using will probably get you through for a while (those Joey Bunz inserts would be perfect for this). 

Our rule of thumb in the early days was that for normal feeds we'd change the nappy; once night feeds had reduced if there was an unexpected wake-up I'd give a quick feed and not change, but if it was more than one wake-up/feed then the nappy would get changed. No great science but if we were having a rough night and ignored changing nappies through more than one feed there would inevitably be leaks. I point this out only because there are probably no nappies that will withstand frequent night feedings without being changed - sounds logical but easy to overlook in the haze of sleeplessness. 

We used our fitted nappies with random boosters (these were free with one of my batches of secondhand nappies, no idea of fabric composition or anything but not super absorbent) for nights for about six months. 

Close Pop-in nappy - too complicated! 
Then we got some Close Pop-ins with night boosters, which came highly recommended and look very engineered... But actually, I'm not such a fan. 

We've used them for over a year now, and they worked fine for a while, but they're fiddly to put together (cover + insert + booster + night booster), they aren't that absorbent - by the time the Little Monkey turned one we were adding another booster - and they are quite small fitting in the rise, so it's a constant battle between enough absorbent coverage at the front and builder's crack in the back. 

They're not bad nappies - just not good enough (in my opinion) to justify the price and the assembly effort. 

The inside of the BBH night nappy
We've tried a couple of other options, and the best at absorbency (that we've tried) is a Baby Beehinds night nappy, which is a behemoth of a thing. It does a great job, but takes an age to dry, easily twice as long on the line as any of our other nappies. And it is gigantic on the bum, so you'll have to size up your child's PJs for this nappy! But it definitely does the job, and is simple to use. 

The Baby Beehinds nappies are sized, so I'd recommend using your normal nappies and boosters for as long as you can so you can avoid buying the smaller sizes. We jumped straight to the large when the Little Monkey was about 10kg (it's supposed to fit 10.5-15kg kids), and we use it with a Thirsties Duo Wrap. 

My night nappy picks: 
  • Boost day nappies for as long as you can get away with - don't buy anything special until you have to! 
  • BBH night nappy (once you need a separate nappy) - three nappies to cover wash and dry time if washing every second day
  • Thirsties Duo Wrap (size 2) - you'll only need one of these

So there you have it - those are the nappies we love. We've found using cloth nappies very simple as a result of having good quality, easy-to-use nappies. I'd love to hear what you think - do you have favourites? Have you tried any of these nappies? Any awesome options you think I've overlooked? 

And next week, for the grand finale in the cloth nappy series I'll walk through our changing and laundry systems. I know, sounds exciting right? ;-) 

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