Switching to cloth nappies is always rewarding. They’re beneficial to your baby, your wallet, and the environment. We’re always encouraging parents to try them out!
However, there are a lot of mistakes to be made when you embark on your own cloth nappy journey. These mistakes are possible whether you’re a brand-new parent or you’ve been nappying kids for years. In fact, many parents who are used to disposables don’t realize the amount of care required to preserve the functionality and durability of cloth nappies.
The best way to avoid making common rookie mistakes is to do your research! Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of 12 common mistakes made by cloth nappy users, so you can avoid them!
1. Not Changing Nappies Often Enough
Try to change a cloth nappy as soon as possible after your baby wets it. As you may know, poop nappies should be changed immediately while pee nappies may be able to go a little longer. However, we advise changing any nappy as soon as you notice it is soiled. Disposable nappies can absorb a lot of liquid and still feel dry due to the absorbent chemicals used in them. However, since cloth nappies don’t have these chemicals they will feel damp when they are wet.
Changing nappies quickly will keep your baby’s skin from developing nappy rash as a result sitting against damp cloth. Most people recommend changing nappies every 2-3 hours.
2. Not Buying Enough Nappies
If your nappy stash is too small, you’ll be forced to do laundry more often to keep up with demand for clean nappies. Remember, you’ll go through at least 10-12 nappies a day with a newborn and 6-8 per day after that.
Most moms have enough cloth nappies that they only need to do 2 or 3 loads of nappy laundry per week. We recommend getting a stash of 20-24 cloth nappies for full-time use. Unless of course, you like doing laundry every day!
3. Not Washing Nappies Often Enough
On the other side of this problem is having too many nappies. Why would this be an issue? Well, with a huge stash you may wait more than 3 days between washes because you don’t have an immediate need for clean nappies. This is also a common issue with people who use both disposables and cloth nappies.
Even if your nappy pail or wet bag isn’t full to the brim, you shouldn’t let your dirty nappies sit any longer than 3 days. This is because urine quickly starts to break down into ammonia which can stain nappies and cause them to deteriorate. Regular washing will keep your nappies in the best shape and ensure they’re as sanitary as possible.
4. Not Rinsing Nappies Before Throwing Them in the Nappy Pail
Nappies with poop in them need to be rinsed before washing. This isn’t a super common mistake since most people don’t want to put a nappy full of poop straight into a washing machine anyway. Even so, we feel we should mention this to save people some wash-time horror.
Additionally, you should rinse those poop nappies as soon as they come off your baby. Don’t put off rinsing them or leave it for laundry day. If you put your nappy in the pail or wet bag without removing poop and rinsing it first, your nappy pail will quickly smell horrendous. Plus, this will create a breeding ground for bacteria. Make poop removal a breeze with nappy liners and nappy sprayers.
5. Not Washing Nappies Properly
Washing cloth nappies with the wrong detergent or in temperatures that are too hot may seem okay for a little while. But eventually, your nappies will lose absorbency. They will also suffer from deterioration of the materials and elastics.
Most nappy manufactures recommend a very strict washing routine. Following these recommendations will ensure your cloth nappies remain in good shape, stay super absorbent, and are always sanitary.
Now, we realize this sounds a bit intimidating. However, the washing instructions for cloth nappies are actually fairly simple. Check out Little Piglet’s laundry instructions to learn how to properly care for your precious nappies.
6. Using Damaging Laundry Products
Many people aren’t aware how easy it is to damage cloth nappy fabric. Many common laundry detergents contain optic whiteners, scents, bleach, or fabric softeners that actually remain in the nappy fabric. This contributes to nappy rash and also decreases nappy absorbency. Instead, use nappy-safe detergents like Rockin’ Green.
Additionally, avoid using dryer sheets on cloth nappies. Dryer sheets work by coating fabric with chemicals that repel liquids. Obviously, you don’t want this happening to cloth nappies designed to absorb liquid! Be careful even if you’re using dryer sheets in your regular laundry as they can leave a residue on the dryer drum. This reside can rub off onto your cloth nappies later on.
If your nappies have lost absorbency due to a build-up of products, strip washing may be necessary. Avoid this unless it’s required because it can be damaging to the nappies.
7. Using Damaging Nappy Creams
What if I told you that nappy creams may actually cause your baby’s nappy rash to get worse? Creams coat the inside of nappies and form a water-resistant barrier on them. This prevents nappies from absorbing moisture and causes it to sit against your baby’s bottom instead. This cream build-up is also a common cause of nappy leaks.
You can still use nappy creams with cloth nappies. Just make sure you use a liner to protect your precious nappies from them. Little Piglet has nappy creams and lotions that are safer to use with cloth nappies. Though you should still use liners for extra protection.
8. Using Nappies That You Aren’t Comfortable With
We always advise people to choose types of nappies that they feel confident about using on their baby. Some people find pocket nappies a bit cumbersome since they need to be stuffed with inserts. Others love the ability to customize the absorbency of pocket nappies.
Don’t get traditional prefold nappies unless you’re comfortable with the folding process. Prefolds are much cheaper than modern cloth nappies, however, they require a bit more work to put on and remove. On the other hand, some mothers swear by prefolds, so it’s really up to you!
9. Using Nappies with The Wrong Materials
The type of fabric used in nappies is more important than you think. Don’t just assume that synthetic materials mean low-quality nappies. Typically, a combination of both synthetic and natural fabrics makes up the best nappy. Some materials, like cotton and bamboo, work best in the absorbency layer while other materials, like microfleece and suedecloth are best used for liners because they wick moisture easily.
One common mistake is using microfiber in nappy liners. People often think this is a great idea since microfiber is extremely moisture-wicking. In fact, microfiber is so good at absorbing moisture that it can be extremely drying against your baby’s skin, causing irritation and rash. Instead, microfiber makes a great absorbency layer inside of nappies.
10. Not Adjusting Nappy Absorbency
Some cloth nappies users run into leaking issues, especially during the night when their babies go longer than a couple of hours between changes. When used properly, cloth nappy inserts can increase absorbency and help your baby make it longer through the night before requiring a change. Your baby may even need extra absorbency layers added during the day if they’re a heavy wetter.
Some parents wrongly overstuff pocket nappies in an attempt to stop leaks. However, this can be counterintuitive. When nappies are overstuffed, the nappy elastic no longer fits snuggly around the baby’s legs. This causes gapping at the legs and gives liquids an easy exit out of the nappy.
11. Fitting Nappies Wrong
Buying properly sized nappies is crucial to prevent leaks and keep your baby comfortable. You may think it’s a good idea to buy nappies slightly on the bigger side, so your newborn can grow into them. However, a loose-fitting nappy won’t seal properly around the legs which will quickly lead to leaking. Additionally, this extra material will be cumbersome to babies who are trying to move around.
To avoid this, check the sizing of nappies before purchasing them. Even one-size-fits-most (OSFM) nappies are made for a specific range of sizes as can only be adjusted so much. Nappies are usually sized based on weight and age of the baby.
12. Thinking Cloth Nappies Are All or Nothing
Choosing to go reusable doesn’t mean you have to ditch disposables completely. Some people continue to use disposables on their babies during the night or while they’re on vacation.
People who feel intimidated by cloth nappies will benefit from easing into it. Get a cloth nappy trial pack to introduce you and your partner to the process. Going 100% reusable right out of the gate can be too overwhelming for some people, prompting them to abandon cloth nappies all-together!
Did you make any of these simple mistakes when you started out? If you’re still a cloth nappy newbie you can avoid running into these common problems by doing your research. Check out the Little Piglet blog where you’ll find a ton of great information for new and seasoned cloth nappy users alike!