So what happened next? Strangely, the world did not end. I used the nappies on my baby. I washed the nappies. I dried the nappies. This was in autumn/winter when drying outside was not really possible so we were restricted to clothes horses in front of a radiator. The house did not smell of stale pee and there weren’t buckets of noxious substances soaking all over the place.
Actually, to my great surprise and delight, my little one was dry all night for the first time ever. I was lucky (don’t hate me, it’s all changed now) that he slept for 8-10 hours a night from quite early on. No matter how many different disposable “night” nappies I had tried – even to the extent of a size four over a size three – there were always leaks come morning time.
Interestingly it was not the shaped bamboo nappies (bamboo is super absorbent and often recommended for night use) that kept him dry, but the pocket nappies with both the newborn and regular inserts. I’ve since learned how to boost nappies, and how the different materials work. A prefold cotton nappy inside a bamboo shaped nappy and he’ll go for hours. But every baby is different.
I gradually developed a system for how to wash and dry my stash and how often this needed doing. I estimate that it only takes me about 15-20 minutes every couple of days to wash, hang out and reassemble my nappies. It’s a learning experience – like everything baby-related there is no right answer, you have to find out what works for you. Which is great because you can adapt it all to your needs and preferences.
There were a few disasters to start with – mainly caused by not having prewashed enough – bamboo particularly requires 8-10 washes before it reaches full absorbency. Luckily by then I knew a few people I could ask for help and there are some great information-packed websites: Real Nappies for London, Go Real, Nappy Ever After, manufacturers’ sites, Facebook and Babycentre Community Cloth Nappy group.
The latter has been a fantastic source of information – other cloth-wielding mums have a wealth of knowledge about real nappies and are always happy to help, even if someone asked the same question yesterday (although I’d recommend having a look through the board before asking in case someone has already posted a similar query).
By then I was truly bitten by the bug. Someone told me about a website where you could get really cheap pocket nappies. With penguins on. And fluffy ones with safari animals. And then someone launched a new birth-to-potty pocket nappy. So I thought I’d better try one out. I’m currently saving my pennies for a purple bamboo shaped nappy. And waiting for a delivery of washable wipes and washable liners. I could, of course, have just cut up a towel and used that. And I probably will at some point. I may still use disposable wipes for particularly awkward nappy moments, or when out and about. A word of warning: it gets addictive.
Tomorrow: How did people react? What were the challenges I had to deal with in terms of attitudes?