When our friends and family heard that we were using cloth nappies, while not entirely surprised, I think they thought we were crazy. Why would you go to all that extra trouble when you can use disposables? They had images in their minds of big squares of cloth, difficult folds and safety pins. I remember when we told AJ’s dad we were going to do cloth, he and his wife grabbed a couple of napkins and showed us which folds work best for boys.

And then everyone saw the modern cloth nappies that are normal now, and they said ‘Oh wow, those are so cool! Look at the patterns. Ooooh I love that colour. You don’t even need pants, that nappy is so funky’. They could not believe how far from the old cloths things had come. The first time my chiropractor saw Ziggy in a MCN (modern cloth nappy) she thought it was a pair of rompers, and was blown away by the fact it was a nappy. Nappies have come a long way since we were children.

Smart Bottoms nappy by Nappy Heaven

Who needs pants? A nappy and leg warmers work perfectly.

I always knew I would ‘do’ cloth nappies. Not because of the financial impact, although that is a big bonus, but because of the environmental impact. My favourite book is The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. I’ve read it so many times I can recite the first few pages by heart. I love that book, and as a small child, the message it gave was one I took to heart. We must protect the environment we live in. We must care for the trees, and care for the animals, because ‘unless someone like me cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it’s not.’

The Sleep Store snap in one napppy Lorax

I feel it’s only fitting that we have a Lorax nappy in our collection.

The problem was, I had no idea where to start. The options were a bit mind boggling.  I knew no one else who used cloth nappies, and when we bought this teeny tiny baby home – cloth nappies were the last thing I was thinking of. And so we bought a pack of disposables.

We had been given some nappies from AJ’s sister in law – and I did give them a go, but they were massive! He was just too small, and they were ineffective. I didn’t know it at the time, but there are actual ‘newborn’ cloth nappies that are a lot smaller than the ‘One Size Fits Most’ options out there. So, for the first couple of month, we used disposables.

First modern cloth nappy

Ziggys first cloth nappy was a bit of a fail. It was much too big and unable to be adjusted small enough. I had no idea what I was doing.

The day Ziggy wore his first ‘proper’ cloth nappy – (when I say ‘proper’ I mean one that fitted him properly and actually held in the poo) – I was so proud. It was a big moment for me as I could now start to cut down on the amount of ‘plastics’ that we had to buy. We started off just using them at home, cloth during the day and a disposable at night. Then, as I got more confident, I started taking his cloth nappies with me when we went out and about.

What really surprised me was how easy everything was. I put the nappy on (simple) a couple of hours later I’d take it off and biff it in the washing machine – and that was it. It stayed there until I put the washing on. If I wasn’t at home, I rolled it up and put it in a bag (at the time I was using plastic bags, but now I have a reusable, zip-up ‘wetbag’) and then I biffed it in the washing machine when we got home.

It did take me a while to get used to the time-frame. A cloth nappy (or at least the ones I used then) does not have the same absorbency as a disposable. But I would rather change him more frequently than have him sit in a pee filled nappy anyway, regardless of how well it claims to wick away moisture.

Then we were given some that had domes on the front to adjust the sizing . . . the fit was SO much better.

There is a common misconception that cloth nappies equate to lots and lots of washing. But in the grand scheme of things, they really don’t. You know what causes lots and lots of washing? Babies. Babies and toddlers and children in general.  Seriously, the amount of drool and sick and food and gunk small humans manage to get all over themselves in the course of a day is astounding. Adding half a dozen nappies to the wash makes little difference to the amount of washing you do. It really doesn’t.

And the wash routine is nowhere near as laborious as people expect either. There are no buckets of nappy-san, no big stick to pound nappies with, no soaking and rinsing and soaking again. My ‘wash routine’ is as easy as throwing them in the wash, adding the rest of our washing, a scoop of washing powder (we use Persil, as I have found that works best with a cold wash) and hitting the ‘auto – start’ button. Then, when the machine ‘beeeeep’s, I hang them on the line. Easy. In fact – the most time consuming part of the whole process is stuffing the inserts into the shell once they are dry (if you have that type of nappy). That is a job to do on the couch while watching TV. (I won’t go too much into all the different nappy options in this blog – that’s still to come).

Ooooh top tip – leave the lid of your washing machine open until you do the wash – the air circulating keeps the smell to a minimum. It’s when you close the lid that things get stinky.

Pikapu, smart bottom, Eco bubs, Bumpkins modern cloth nappy

This is a normal washing line – nappies, inners bibs and clothes.

Okay, I know what some of you are thinking – ewwww, do you mean you add the nappies to your washing? To your clothes and to your towels? You don’t do a separate wash for them? Yep, that’s exactly what I mean. We biff the nappies in with everything else. Waiting until I have enough nappies to do a full wash would take much too much time and require owning more nappies than we actually need. It’s worked fine for us these past 12 or so months. And I know what else you’re thinking, you’re thinking what everyone else thinks when they hear ‘cloth nappies’. But what about the poo!?!?

Ah yes, the poo. Fascinating stuff isn’t it, baby poo. Bet you never thought you’d ever talk about shit so much in your life as you do now that you’re a parent . . . unless you’re a male. It seems to be the main reason people think cloth nappies are ‘yuk’, ‘gross’ or ‘too much hard work’. Baby poo seems give some people the heebie-jeebies.

This is our set up - scrubbing brush, laundry tub and washing machine.

This is our set up – scrubbing brush, laundry tub and washing machine.

It’s really not that bad. I promise. Well actually I lie – now that he’s on solids there is the occasional ‘holy shit how do we deal with this’ nappy, but in general, it’s not bad at all. Even for dads. AJ is awesome, he changes poo nappies without hesitation. Often he will take the nappy to ‘deal with it’ while I finish up, getting the new nappy on Ziggy and dressing him.

For the first 6 months while babies are breastfed only, the poo is water soluble. It’s this runny stuff that comes out easily in the wash. We would use a scrubbing brush to get the most of it out, then throw the nappy in the wash. And any residual staining was taken care of by the sun. As he started on solids his poo changed. The best poos to get are the ‘logs’ or ‘vege patties’ – which are not really vege patties, it’s just what we call them because it’s what they look like. These poos are the gold of the cloth nappy world. They just roll off the nappy into the toilet.Then you flush them away, and throw the nappy in the washing machine.

Ecobubs - Nature Calls from Nappy Heaven.

Ecobubs – Nature Calls from Nappy Heaven.

Then there are the chunky poos. The sticky poos.  The stuff that is way too big to scrub into the laundry tub, and there’s no way it’s rolling off the nappy. Chunky. Abundant. Impressive. The poo you look at and think – seriously kid how did you even . . . ? You are amazing.

People tackle these suckers in different ways. Some have a sprayer attached to the toilet cistern (please babe can we get one of these . . . please), some hold the nappy in the toilet and flush, we use toilet paper to scrape off as much as possible, then use the brush in the tub to scrub off the last of it. Yep – just scrub the last of it down the drain.  I figure that once I put the washing on, two rinses of water will go down that same laundry tub and wash away any residual poo that may be clinging to the pipes.

Pikapu All In One Blue Modern Cloth Nappy

Pikapu All In One Blue Modern Cloth Nappy

When we travel, if we are staying somewhere with a washing machine – we take our cloth. We use disposables for the long drive (we often travel between the Waikato and Northland) and we use disposables at night. During the day, as often as we can, we use cloth. My Nana is sold!  Ziggy and I have stayed with her a few times and she is now a MCN expert. She puts on the washing, hangs them out, brings them in and pops them in the hot water cupboard. ‘Emi’ she says to me ‘I wish we had these back in my day, they are great’. You’re great too Nana, for doing my washing while Ziggy and I cat nap!

For AJ, I think when he realised that cloth nappies are no longer the big squares of white cloth with a pink line running down, he was more open to the idea. The cloth nappy of 2016 is funky, easy to use and works a lot like a ‘normal’ nappy. No folding, no pins, and no bulkiness. Some parents still love and use the ‘old school’ cloth nappies, but for those that find them daunting, there are much easier options out there.

Napppy Fantastic shells and liners.

Some of the options for stuffing nappies.

There’s also the financial savings. Using disposables sets you back around $4000 per child. This all adds up, especially if you plan to have more than one child. Whereas a stash of cloth nappies sets you back around $500 – $700 depending on the amount you buy and brands you use. Plus, you can use them again for baby number 2, and for baby number 3. Think of all that cash you can spend on things you are really going to need as a parent. Like beer, and chocolate.

Superman nppy from The Sleep Stoore

Even Superman wears cloth.

AJ and I have found Modern Cloth Nappies to be a lot easier than we were expecting. We have about 20 now (more than enough) and we use them every day and we love them. So if you’re pregnant, or have a young baby, or even an older baby and you’ve been thinking about trying cloth. Just do it. Give it a go and see how you get on. You might be surprised.

For parents unsure where the hell to start – there is a lot of online support and Facebook groups dedicated to helping parents understand cloth nappies.


Use  the code ‘raisingziggy’ for 10% off the entire range at Bear & Moo and Tuti and Fluffy Ducks and 5% off orders $50 and over at Chirpy Cheeks.

New Zealand Modern Cloth Nappy Discussion page.
Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under Facebook group.
And buy and sell pages where you can get some good deals also. The discussion groups can be a bit overwhelming at first, so just lurk, read and observe to start with. Then jump in and start asking questions.

Rainbow nappy, leg warmers and jersey.

Wearing a Pikapu Rainbow.

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