|Picture found at Cloth Diapering Green Momma|
I started using cloth nappies with my first child, who is now 10 years old. I started out with the cheapest type of cloth on the market -- terry squares. You can fold them all oragami-like, in a ton of different permutations, which made them very economical and useful as my daughter got bigger.
They aren't waterproof, of course, so I tried out a few different covers (known as wraps) before settling on a brand called Motherease Airflow. They come in different sizes, but what I liked about them was that the leg openings and waistband had several different poppers so it would fit snugly around the slimmest or chunkiest of babies within the weight range described. As my daughter started crawling, she didn't lose weight but she seemed to slim down and her thighs got smaller as she continued to grow. The wraps still fit her nicely during these changes, which was convenient.
Of course, the terry cloth squares needed to be kept in place somehow, because the wraps were literally just a cover and not snug enough to stop them from slipping; hence the Nappy Nippa! I really love those little gadgets. They have hooks that grip onto the loops of fabric, and they are in a T-shape, so the nappy stays put side-to-side and up-and-down. Awesome. I was always losing them, but luckily they are cheap, so buying more than one pack at a time wasn't a problem.
I did enjoy the feeling of not spending hundreds of pounds over the course of my daughter's babyhood on disposables, although there were several drawbacks to my lack of experience and preferred "nappy system":
1. Terry squares have to be folded before use. This is difficult with a wriggly baby wanting to break free, and is extremely frustrating when said wriggle monster kicks into your folded square, forcing you to refold it (possibly more than one time).
2. I never knew about "boosters", which are essentially strips of multi-layered absorbent fabric that you add to your normal nappy. The single terry cloth was fine when she was small, but toddlers have bigger bladders and there were lots of leaks as she got older.
3. Going out and at night: I basically gave up using cloth at night because it felt like such a hassle and it never seemed possible to get her nappy leak-proof enough to even risk it. Toting around a nappy bag filled with wet/dirty nappies felt like an insurmountable task, especially when I had another baby by the time my eldest was 18 months old.
I tried to use cloth on my son for a little while, but it all just seemed too much when I was recovering from a c-section and had a toddler on the loose! As a result, he was in disposables for most of his life.
By the time I had my third child, the older ones were 3 and 2, and the idea of purposely adding to my laundry pile seemed like a crazy talk. The bag of unused cloth nappies was constantly tsk-tsking me whenever I walked into my bedroom, so I sorted through it all and got rid of the lot. I'm pretty sure I gave it away on Freecycle or something. I know whoever received the nappies really wanted them, so that was a good thing.
With my fourth, I obviously didn't have any cloth nappies to use on her at all. We moved to a different town when she was six months old, and the council only collects household waste every two weeks. (they collect recycling weekly, though)
I was talking to a new friend about how I could reduce our rubbish, and mentioned that I was thinking of using cloth again. She gave me a huge stash of nappies that she was given and never bothered using. It was amazing!
These nappies were very similar to the flat terries, in that they were made out of the same kind of fabric, but they were shaped. I don't remember the brand name, but they were essentially the same shape as a disposable, with tabs that go around the front, but no fasteners. Nappy Nippas to the rescue again! I used Motherease Airflow wraps over these nappies as well.
It was fantastic; by this point I had a huge washing machine and a matching dryer to go with it. Although I now had four kids and plenty of laundry piling up, I felt like I could cope with adding another load in the mix every couple of days. One main advantage in my mind was that we now have a laundry room. I kept all the nappies in the laundry room, and mostly changed her in there, too. Everything was pretty much self contained, and it was so much easier to get a nappy on her without having to fold it first!
Several months after this wonderful boon of free cloth nappies, a different friend offered to give me her stash of nappies, too! The caveat was that I was required to give away any nappies I didn't want/need, so that other people could benefit. No problem! I love being given free stuff, especially something so inherently useful to me. (broken crockery need not apply)
It was then that I was introduced to the amazing, the fantastic, the pocket nappy. (see picture above)
Essentially, this is a waterproof wrap with a pocket down the middle that you "stuff" with as much absorbent padding that you need. During the day, I would use a terry prefold (they are smaller than the terry squares and have a strip down the middle with extra padding) that I would fold into thirds, along with an extra booster pad as a just-in-case measure.
The beauty of these nappies is that once they were washed and dried, I could spend an extra 10 minutes or so and stuff them all at once, ready for the next change. There was no folding, no double or triple layering; it was literally as easy and simple as using a disposable. And even better, was the fact that many of the pocket nappies out there have the multi-snap system that I so appreciated on my Motherease Airflow wraps! Fantastic, or what?
However, even after all that, night-times nappies eluded me. Oh, I tried. I really did. Sometimes my poor little girl had such a hugely padded bum that there was hardly any difference between sitting and standing. (It never bothered her, and she always looked hilarious!)
In the end, I resorted to disposables at night and cloth in the day. I think part of the problem was that she still breastfed quite frequently in the night up until 2+ years old. I wasn't prepared to change her nappy several times a night, so disposables it was.
And now, on to this baby! I pulled out my nappies from the attic last week and another friend gave me some of her own leftover nappy stash (I seriously found some amazing friends in this town!), so I had fun going through everything and deciding what to keep or give away. I now have a few pocket nappies that are specifically in newborn sizes, instead of one-size-fits-all, so they are super tiny and CUTE.
I don't know how a poo-catcher can qualify as cute, but it totally does.
So I'm only 24-ish weeks, but I already have the nappies sorted out. I'm planning on using cloth from the beginning, and probably through the night, too. At least at first - newborns need changing every few hours regardless of the receptacle, so I doubt cloth will make a huge difference at that point. There comes a time when they stop pooping at every feed and I try to get away with not changing them during the night, but that isn't for a couple of months.
In the meantime, I plan on using all the cloth nappy knowledge I've accumulated over the years and put it to the test. Could I actually NEVER use disposables on this child? Time will tell!