Sunday, September 19, 2010
I was pretty determined to give cloth a go, since I knew that cloth nappies had come a long way from the days of terry-cloth squares. It wasn't too hard to convince Hubs, particularly after an obliging sales-girl showed us how she changed her 8-month old baby who was in cloth. (Given what I now know, I realise that Hubs dealt amazingly well with the sight of baby poo, though he wasn't the one who had to clean it up at the time).
When we started looking, we were faced with a barrage of terms which meant NOTHING to us: pre-folds, all-in-ones, pocket nappies, fitted nappies, inners, boosters, liners .. and heck, we nearly gave up then and there! Fortunately, Hubs is a research guru, and hit the forums like a pro. Also, we trawled the selection at the local shops, and again and again had 'Real Nappies' promoted as a great brand. The forums didn't agree with this, though, so we decided to try 3 different products and styles:
A sized pre-fold (Real Nappies)
A one-size pocket nappy (Happy Heinys)
A one-size all-in-one (Kissaluvs)
To help you out here, some explanation:
Sized nappies are just what they sound like - they come in different sizes from newborn through to toddlers. I believe that these give a better fit when your baby is at one extreme end of the scale or the other. One-size nappies usually have snaps at the front which you can clip together to shorten the nappy for smaller babies, or unsnap for a longer nappy for bigger kiddies. The general idea is that they should last you from birth to potty - in my experience though, they're a bit too big for a newborn. We seriously started on cloth when The Frog was about 9 weeks old.
With pre-folds, you get a rectangle of absorbent material on which to work your origami mastery - different folds for newborns, little boys and little girls. The idea is that you wrap your infant's loins in your masterpiece, hold it together with a little plastic grabby thing (no more pins!), and then you get a waterproof cover with velcro tabs as a final touch, to keep everything (especially infant ouput) in place.
With pocket nappies, there are also 2 components - the inner (the strip of material that does the work of absorbing all your baby's leaky goodness), and the outer - which is the 'pocket', the inside of which is a very soft fleecy material that sits against the baby's bum, and the outside of which is the waterproof cover. So you just stuff the inner into the outer, and hey presto, you're away!
Lastly, all-in-ones are very much like a pocket nappy except that the inner is sewn into the outer at one end - so you can pull it out like a long fluffy white tongue (eurrgh), but it stays attached. The pocket nappy and the all-in-one were also both fitted, which means that they look and work pretty much like a disposable nappy, with elasticated legs and velcro or snap tabs - no folding required!
Oh, and one more thing - flushable liners - a little papery sheet that you stick on top of the nappy (i.e. next to baby's skin) which catches the solid waste, and lets the liquid through. These are *awesome*.
So! The findings? I didn't give the Real Nappies much of a go, I admit, but I didn't really like them. They felt so bulky, and the prefold inners were so thick when folded, that I felt I was crushing the Frog's poor little man bits. It's not that he complained, I just didn't feel comfortable with it. Maybe with a few more washes, the absorbent material would have softened, but I've been using them to dry him off during changes, and they've seen a few washes and haven't softened appreciably, so I'm not convinced. That, and they were just a bit of a faff to put on - either you wrap up the baby bum twice, with the inner then the outer covering, or you build them in a little stack: outer topped with inner, topped with liner, and hope it all stays together while your bundle of joy kicks his legs about energetically. So nix to those. Though I will say that the Real Nappy flushable liners are great.
The pocket nappies and the all-in-ones were much of a muchness in terms of their ease of use, and quite frankly, I'm impressed at how easy these thing are to use - scarcely more work than disposables. BUT, I found the Kissaluvs to be much more absorbent and less prone to leaking than the Happy Heinys. Additionally, you can order factory seconds from the Kissaluv site which are almost a third the price of a new Happy Heiny. So, I'm guessing that with Happy Heinys you pay a premium for their range of exotic prints. But come on, folks - this is an item that is regularly pissed and crapped on, so I reckon The Frog looks just fine in his choc-and-pink Kissas. The absolute clincher is that so far, I've also been able to have the Frog in cloth overnight. So many people have said "cloth during the day, disposable at night", but I put a booster (another absorbent inner) in his Kissaluv, and I haven't had a leakage problem yet, despite the very heavy nappies I change him out of in the morning.
Just to add a non-nappy-spruik, I surprised myself at how un-icked I was by the whole effluent thing. One of the few benefits of formula feeding is predictable, not-too-frequent, not-too-runny poos. The Frog is a once-every-two-days man, and I'm getting pretty good at picking the nappy that needs a liner in it. Despite this, I've had a couple of sneaky poos from the Frog where I've neglected to line his nappy. In these cases, I like to get rid of most of the solid gack and rinse it before I chuck it in the wash, but it's really not that big of a deal (no matter how much retching and gagging Hubs does when he's confronted with a pooey nappy), it really isn't.
And best yet, even though we haven't gone the cheapest nappies on the market, this system has cost me far less than 2 years worth of disposables. I have nappies that should last the Frog all the way to the potty, and I can sell them on to recoup a little of the cost, should I want to (yup, internet trading sites are rife with second-hand nappies, as these things are so pricey!). So even if you don't give a rats about benefits to the environment (which should be apparent), think of your hip pocket and check out just how far cloth has come!