Confessions of a Cloth Convert

Gayna Sandeman
Photo by Justine Fox

Reusable nappies??? Are you crazy?? All that poop in my washing machine, hanging drying for days in winter, massive terry towelling affairs with jabby safety pins…. I think not! Is what I said before the birth of baby number one. I’m not some hippy dippy earth mamma! Is what I said before the birth of baby number one.

Fast forward 4 years later and I’m pregnant for baby number two. In the intervening years I had become self employed teaching TinyTalk baby signing classes. I had met so many fabulous mammas who had been singing the praises of some things I may have (hang my head in shame) previously thought were a bit ‘out there’. So during my pregnancy I started to research cloth nappies and baby wearing.

Now I use the term ‘researching’ very loosely. A quick search on line for cloth nappies left me completely overwhelmed with all the varieties and not to mention the associated lingo and abbreviations; WAHM, AIO, DS, AI2!!! I mean OMG, WTF? So plan b was to check out The Nappy Laundry Company. I knew Nicole who runs it but even so I was suspicious she’d jump on my naivety and give me the hard sell. So I employed my friend as a decoy! She distracted Nicole with some nappy questions whilst I perused the stall. It only took two minutes to realise Nicole is not your hard sell kind of woman and is very knowledgeable and dedicated to finding a product that works for you! Phew!

So why did I want to try cloth? There are a number of reasons people use reusable nappies they’re good for your bank account, good for the environment, good for your baby, convenient, easy and stylish. So what tempted me? Bank account all the way! I am reasonably environmentally friendly but my motivation is always to spend as little money as possible so I can afford to work less and spend more time with my children. As the parent of a new baby you will change about 5,500 nappies in the two to three years before your child toilet trains! In their first six weeks, your baby will churn through about 500 nappies alone! That’s a whole lot of wonga, being covered in pee and poo and being sent to landfill to break down some four hundred years later!

Of course cloth nappies are very different to the bulky terry napkins first around in the 1920’s. They are lightweight, adjustable, easy to wash and dry, with various fastenings that are not a big jabby safety pin! So where to start? I wanted one that was most user friendly. This being my second child I know how exhausted I can be at night so didn’t want anything too fiddly. I therefore opted to try the all in one. All in Ones- the name says it all-  are a one piece system shaped like a disposable with a built in waterproofing layer, absorbent inner and a stay dry liner that does not require separate fasteners. It is the most user friendly reusable nappy on the market but also the most expensive style.

I decided to try the all in one from Tots Bots. Having spoken to Nicole and looked on some of the online forums I felt it was a dependable brand. The hunt then began for the best deals. I bought 6 from Tesco’s when they were on offer, then I bought a job lot of 15 from an online retailer (who were offering them for less than Tots Bots themselves – it always pays to shop around!) 18 of them were plain white and 3 coloured ones. I see the appeal of all these beautiful character or themed nappies but having a boy I don’t really see the point of beautiful nappies that will only be seen by me especially as we live in Scotland so even in summer I’ll probably have the nappy covered up for fear of hypothermia!

I must confess to panicking a bit when they arrived but a quick look at the video clips on Tots Bots website soon taught me how to use them.

When my baby arrived I decided to use disposable for the first couple of weeks, I know economically it made sense to use cloth but who needs all that washing when you’re adjusting to life as a new mum, especially when your baby is oozing the equivalent of the grossest melted chocolate in the world!

It took a wee bit of practise to get the nappies on well. The nappies I bought had poppers to adjust depth of nappy (as they grow with baby until toddler) and width. The ones from Tesco have Velcro fastening at the waist which I find much easier than the poppers but if you don’t fold the Velcro back on itself when washing they can attach to the nappies and make them prematurely bobbly. The next decision was disposable or washable liner. The liner is an extra piece of material to lay inside the nappy to catch the poop so you can shake it straight into the toilet. This decision was solved immediately for me as the disposable liners seem to bunch up in the nappy so aren’t as efficient.

My son is 3 months old now. I wash the nappies every other day so must have washed them already 30 times at least. Comparing the price of disposables on special offer from the supermarket tells me that by the time my son is 6 months old I will be saving money up until my son is potty trained (at least £475) and of course I won’t have added 5500 nappies to landfill.

And I have, of course, busted all the myths I believed before I used cloth! There is no residual poop in my washing machine, they dry on the radiators super quick, they don’t leak. But even better than saving money and helping the environment, for the first time ever my Mother In Law was impressed at one of my parenting decisions and that is priceless! Truly priceless!

Toddler class Monday 1-2pm The Venue, Laurencekirk. Baby classes. Tuesday at,The Venue,  Laurencekirk,  Thursday Borrowfield Community Centre Montrose both 10.30 -11.30 am. Call 07946328267, email website