5 Steps to using cloth with confidence
Hey, I get it! Switching to cloth nappies can be daunting. If cloth nappies are new to you, then it's very easy to become overwhelmed by all of the different brands, styles, materials, fits, prints, terminology - the list goes on!
But, with a little guidance and by following these five steps, I promise that you'll find your feet and can begin your cloth journey with confidence!
Step 1 - Find a community
If you don't know anyone already using cloth nappies, then this step is particularly important. Having a community that can provide knowledge and support is so vital when it comes to using cloth.
You might already have friends or family members that you can lean on for advice, but if not then finding a safe online space is the way to go. Facebook has dozens of MCN (modern cloth nappy) groups, many with areas of specific expertise such as buy/swap/selling mcn, specific brand groups, cloth nappy cleaning groups etc.
Now navigating these groups can almost be just as daunting as getting started with cloth, so before joining any old group (and certainly before posting in a group) ask yourself a few questions.
- Do I agree with the group's rules? (For example: do they have a policy against bullying?)
- Is this group biased to a particular brand/type of nappy?
- Is this an Australian group?
- Does this group welcome questions and provide assistance in a timely, unbiased manner?
- Do I like the culture within this group/how the admins and other group members treat each other?
If you're really not sure where to start, then I invite you to come and join us at Cloth & Crown VIP group. (We encourage lots of questions, have a kindness policy and zero-tolerance bully policy and love to have a bit of fun!)
Step 2 - Ask questions
This step is why the first step is so important - because you need a safe space to ask all the questions and not feel like you're silly or a burden.
The fact of the matter is that until cloth nappies have become mainstream and are readily available on the supermarket shelves alongside disposable nappies, you can't just go ask someone at your local store for help and advice. So until that happens, we find our online communities and get as much information from other parents who have been there.
Here are some example questions you might like to ask:
- What style nappy is the easiest to use/best for small babies/best for bigger babies/best for heavy wetters?
- How often should I change the baby using cloth?
- What's the difference between the different insert materials?
- Which materials dry the fastest?
- Which materials absorb the most liquid?
- How should I set up my laundry?
- how do I deal with poo?
- How many cloth nappies do I need?
Step 3 - Perfect the fit
Now that you've found your community and you have a safe space to ask questions, hopefully you've got your head around the basics. So now is the time to purchase a nappy and start having a play with it. I'm not asking you to go out and invest in an entire stash just yet, just buy one single nappy.
I know it can be tempting to go and blow your entire budget on a bulk set of nappies from one brand, but don't do it just yet! Let's get you confident with how they work first and start experimenting before you make any big decisions.
Once you've got your nappy, see if you can find some nappy fitting instructions either on the brand's website or on YouTube. Have a go at following the fit instructions and fitting the nappy to your baby.
If you run into some problems along the way, take a couple of pictures of bub's waist and where the nappy clings around the legs and post them to your group asking for a 'fit check' and you can troubleshoot problems with the help of your community.
Step 4 - Plan your wash routine
Probably the biggest learning curve to parents new to cloth nappies is getting your wash routine down pat. Unlike disposables that you just toss into the garbage and don't have to think about it, cloth nappies have an entire washing process that you need to get your head around.
The first thing you should do is crack open the instruction manual for your particular machine and have a good read. Pay particular instructions to how much washing powder/liquid they suggest for heavily soiled clothes. Also check what the run time of each wash setting is and what temperatures they go up to. Also check to see if your machine has a 'Drum Clean' (self-cleaning) setting.
It's best to refer to the washing instructions of the cloth nappy brand/s you plan on using and also see if they have any handy resources you can use such as printable washing instructions that can be hung in the laundry.
Again, your cloth nappy group is a great place to go to for washing tips and advice.
Step 5 - Master using just one nappy
Now that you've perfected your fit and have organised your wash routine, spend the next week or so just mastering using that one single nappy. I know that might seem a little strange, but the longer you test it and the more problems that come up and you can get help from your community, the more confident you will get.
This is also the time to ask yourself - is there something I don't love about the nappy or is there a feature you don't like/wish you had? Do you need more absorbency? Perhaps you would prefer velcro over snaps or maybe you find it's a bit of a tight fit on your chunkier bub. Either way, the more you use your nappy, the more confident you're going to be in recognising your own personal preferences and what works best for your baby.