Caroline, and her husband Rob, have been using reusable nappies on their little boy, Frank since he was born last March (2020). Like most parents new to reusable nappies, they started small, experimenting with a few each day. In this guest blog post, Caroline talks about her experiences and the part she is playing to make reusable nappies more mainstream.

Why did you choose to use reusable nappies?

For us, it was primarily environmental reasons. The mind-boggling amount of waste that disposables create never sat well with us and so we were open to exploring an alternative.

We didn’t know anything about the world of modern reusable nappies until our NCT (antenatal class) facilitator mentioned them to us. She gave us a Real Nappies for London leaflet which had information about council voucher schemes as well as some advice on how to get started. My interest was sparked and we never looked back!

Tell us about your experience so far

We used the Hackney council scheme voucher (£54.15) to purchase a starter kit which contained a variety of different types of nappies. Our little boy, Frank, was born into lockdown last March so being at home all the time was the perfect setting to give reusable nappies a go. We started by using one or two each day and slowly built it up, ordering bits and pieces until eventually we had enough to be full time (on average 20 reusable nappies). We never really intended to use them full time but I guess you are changing nappies so much in those early days and getting so much practice that we soon felt quite confident. We have a very mixed selection of nappies – pockets, all-in-ones, terries, prefolds, shaped. We love and use them all.

We had our ups and downs and made plenty of mistakes along the way. The most memorable mishap was the day we used a shaped nappy for the first time not realising that shaped nappies are a “two part” system and therefore need a waterproof wrap on top, the moses basket was quickly soaked! Our experience with disposables wasn’t any smoother though – these brought their own issues, namely leaking poo explosions and smelly bins.

I am still learning all the time and thanks to my sister, Rebecca, I recently discovered the awesome pre loved market. Rebecca is using reusable nappies for the first time on her third baby and as this will be her last, financially, buying pre loved makes a lot more sense. It is also much better for the environment to keep second hand nappies in circulation.

What was the most surprising thing about reusable nappies?

How much better the reusable nappy system is at dealing with poo. For us, the idea of putting a dirty nappy in the bin and leaving it to sit there until bin collection seems rather unsanitary and smelly. With reusable nappies, you are advised to put poo in the toilet, where it belongs. Reusable nappies are also so much better at containing those messy newborn poos. There is lots of advice on how to deal with poo for all stages (pre weaned, weaning, older baby) and once you get in to a routine, it becomes second nature.

What do you love most about reusable nappies?

Not having our bins full of dirty nappies and knowing we are doing the best we can to protect the planet. Frank’s cute fluffy bum in a shaped nappy and the beautiful prints are an added bonus.

What would you like to see happen with the reusable nappy movement?

I would love for parents to feel that they have a real choice between reusable nappies and disposables. At the moment, it can seem like disposables are the only option. With more information and support, parents can be guided to make the right choice for their family. I would love for us to get to a place where doing a reusable nappy workshop is as standard as attending an antenatal class.

What message do you have for parents who are thinking about trying reusable nappies?

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing – every reusable nappy used is one less disposable in landfill/ incineration. Reading about reusable nappies or following the many cloth nappy related Instagram accounts can leave you feeling like it is too much work and too complicated. Believe me, it is not rocket science! You learn very quickly, give it a few weeks and you will be an expert too. Everyone has their own way of doing things so while there is excellent advice out there, the best thing you can do is get some reusable nappies and give it a go. Remember to check your council’s website or Real Nappies for London to see if there is a voucher scheme for your area as this is a fantastic way to get started.

What next for you and reusable nappies?

I am passionate about helping parents get started with reusable nappies and so far I have been helping some friends and family. The best support you can get is someone in the room (and in the current pandemic situation, on a call, on a zoom or at the end of a WhatsApp message) demonstrating what to do. I am excited to be helping Real Nappies for London with their regular zoom demonstrations and I look forward to when these can be in person again. I post a lot on my Instagram page (@caroandcloth) so I’m hoping I can reach any interested parents there too. Even if I help just a handful of parents make the switch, it will be worth it.