Helen, mum to William aged 8 months

Over the next five days of Real Nappy Week I’ll be writing a series of blog posts to try and give an insight about my journey with real nappies so far. I’m very happy to try and answer questions that anyone may have, but I’m learning too, so I may have to refer you to someone more expert than myself if I don’t know the answer. Myself and another mum will also be available to answer questions at the Coin Street Milk Spot on Wednesday 18th April.

Part 1: Faffing about fluff
Cloth nappies, reuseable nappies, washable nappies, real nappies, fluff. What’s it all about? And why does an apparently sane person ditch the accepted easy option and start washing nappies?

I like to think I was “green” minded when I was younger – as much as you can be when you’re not making the buying decisions in your household. After finishing school, I even volunteered in Ecuador on a conservation project in cloud forest (missing the irony of flying all that way to save the world, ahem).

Fast forward a few years and, beyond recycling everything that sits still for long enough and raging about excessive packaging on groceries, my eco credentials had slipped somewhat. When we found out that we were expecting, I started to think about nappies and became uneasy about the number of bin bags we’d be getting through (apparently it averages out at 130 black bags just of nappies).

One of my NCT class mentioned that she would be using washable nappies, and pointed me in the direction of the London nappy voucher scheme. Aha, I thought, just what I’m looking for. So I applied for my voucher and received it by email. And there it sat, in my inbox.

Having eventually got my head around the whole “I’ve got a tiny baby to look after, what on earth do I do now?” thing, I bought a trial pack of prefold nappies from eBay and when Will was about a month old I steeled myself to try them. They leaked. I chalked this up to experience and tried again. They leaked again. I gave up.

It was only when, a few weeks later, I met another mum, Sophie, at a breastfeeding support group, that the topic of washable nappies resurfaced. I noticed her daughter was wearing a cloth nappy and asked about it. Sophie was kind enough to talk me through all of the different types of nappies available before recommending a particular type that worked for her.

I also went to see a “nappy guru”, who explained the options and showed me where to buy nappy trial kits – everything you’re ever likely to need to furnish your little one with a “cloth bum”. My trial kit came through and I quickly identified which ones were (a) sufficiently robust for my heavy-wetting, very mobile small person and (b) dad/grandparent/nursery-proof.
So I took the plunge: I bought a birth-to-potty, everything-you-need kit of the chosen nappies (the only dilemmas being Velcro or poppers and what colours to get – I went for a mix of both).

Since you ask, I use mostly BumGenius V4 pocket nappies with both inserts. This is, of course, the expensive way of doing things. If I were starting now, I’d go for a mixture of new and preloved nappies and build up a stash gradually. But I was keen to get started and, besides, the website had loyalty points so I earned myself money off my next purchase…what’s not to like?

Tomorrow: What happened next? Having spent a fair amount of money on my stash I was willing them to work – and had an incentive to do so. What challenges did I encounter?