Getting started with real nappies

Our Experience with the Size One Real Nappy Lending Kit

Edinburgh Real Nappy Community (ERNC) began offering lending kits to parents in 2017. It provides a range of nappies for you to try for three weeks, so you can figure out which types of nappies work best for you and your baby. There are three different kits: newborn, size 1 and size 2. The cost to borrow each kit from us is £20 (plus a £40 deposit) for the three weeks.

New mum Rebecca shares her experience of using the ERNC size one lending kit.

The baby
Baby R is 11 weeks old, tall and quite slim. Weight probably about 11lbs. Exclusively breastfed. Mum Rebecca on maternity leave. Mum Kath working full time.

Users of reusable wipes since birth. Spent the last 11 weeks havering about which real nappies to buy. Keen to get going with the lending kit for environmental reasons and because there had been a number of poo-up-the-back incidents requiring full clothing changes and we had heard of the excellent containment offered by reusable nappies.

The first few days
Week off work for Mum Kath seems a good time to start. We’re away but in the UK. The place we are staying has a washing machine and the days of travelling light are long gone anyway so car full and away we go…

First nappy: Charlie Banana one size pocket. Easy to stuff and assemble. Baby in a very good mood – which is fortunate as I try out almost every possible combo of the poppers. Approx four hours later – longer than we’d have liked – leg leaking. But I think I needed to make the legs tighter. On reflection should probably have read the guidance *before* putting the nappy on.

Next we go for a Bambooty easydry medium (these nappy names are causing considerable mirth). Our first all in one nappy. Fewer poppers and just went for the smallest size so very quick to put on – which is good as the baby is not in such a good mood this time! Some time later… no leaks. Underneath padding very wet but the pad next to her skin felt dry. Pleased with this one. Not a birth to potty (i.e. one size fits all) nappy and I think this shows the advantage of sized nappies.

Next: Bumgenius original. Another pocket nappy and we added a fleece liner. Again seemed to work well. Not quite as quick to put on. Feels a bit more awkward and a little bulkier but I guess inevitable with a birth-to-potty nappy.

For nighttime – a bamboo Little Lamb nappy with a motherease wrap. Our first two part system. Feels very bulky on her. Next morning…longest continuous sleep ever for little R. Don’t think it is to do with the nappy but it did mean that the nappy was well tested as it was on for so long. Worked well. No leaks. Full inspection of her skin shows no red marks or rash or anything which would suggest any discomfort, despite the length of time the nappy was worn.

Another big test today. All the nappies we’ve used so far are going into the wash! We go for a rinse and spin followed by a cycle called ‘baby care’ which washes at 60. We avoid the cotton 60 degree cycle which seems to be 3 hours and 23 minutes long!

Washing done. Boosters came out of the pockets as we had been advised and all looks good. Some very slight yellow staining on some liners but sorted by a few hours on the line and a bit of sun bleaching. The bamboo nappies take a long time to dry.

The odour control properties of disposables are clear as we go through the week. Not so much of a problem now as breast milk poo is fairly inoffensive. May be more of an issue once we get onto solids. But we are using just a bag with the mesh liner here and we do have a nappy bucket at home.

The Little Lamb microfibre held up fairly well. Despite being very soft feeling, it turns out that I am initially not a fan of the microfibre. (And yet… longer term, the little lamb microfibre has found a place in our stash of nappies. Really useful because they’re so quick drying, inexpensive and pair really well with the Motherease Airflow wrap. Just not one for potentially long stints).

Next we go with a Motherease sandy sized nappy and a Motherease wrap. It’s cotton and feels slightly rough but I’ve added a fleece liner. Fit looks good and pretty easy to put on. Motherease sandy contains well.

Next we go to the Bumgenius freetime. Again no particular issues – I think we are getting better at judging fit and where to put the poppers and just quicker at putting them on.

Then into the ones we’ve specifically set aside for nighttime: Little lamb bamboo plus little lamb wrap. Best fit of the two part nappies so far. All Velcro but seems less bulky. And best laid plans aside, a second one tonight: Bambino mio. No problems with this one. Seems fairly bulky for a sized nappy but that’s fine for nighttime and we have added a booster in to the pocket.

Next day we start with the Bumgenius elemental. It is an all-in-one nappy with the inbuilt boosters fixed at both ends but there is just too much material for her frame. No leakage though.

Nighttime comes but we’re out of made up nappies so, in the middle of the night we change her into a disposable nappy. Very strange.

Reflections on using the real nappy kit
Thanks so much to the ERNC – the lending kit has been just great.

Having the kit has really helped us work out what we want to get for Baby R and, although we got on with some nappies better than others, I suspect much of it is about the shape of your baby, poo patterns and wriggliness. And it has really made us think about the quantity we need vs the washing (and drying) we want to do.

Some time later… We’ve slowly established our nappy stash, which includes a mix of sized and birth-to-potty nappies and a swimming nappy. We kept our eyes peeled for special offers and sales, and managed to get some real bargains. We’re really glad that we didn’t go for a single ‘system’, having learnt via the lending kit that different nappies come into their own in different situations. And while we’d never say never, we haven’t used a disposable nappy since that night on holiday.

Get more details about what’s in our lending kits and, for those in the Edinburgh area, how to get hold of one:

ERNC newborn lending kit

ERNC Size 1 & 2 lending kits


Our Real Nappy Week interview

Edinburgh Dad, Ismael Martinez, lives in Roseburn. He talked to us about his experience of using real nappies:

How old is your baby and when did you start using cloth nappies?
We have a daughter, she’s 18 months old. We started using cloth nappies from around 6 weeks old, before that everything was just a bit too crazy!

Why did you choose to use cloth nappies?
I had done some reading about disposable and cloth nappies before Ada was born. Probably the part that convinced me was reading that disposables take a hundred years or more to decompose. Thinking that those nappies would take longer to decompose than the rest of my life made me want to give reusable cloth nappies a try.

What did you think about them before you started using them?
I thought they were outdated and that there would just be the square towel-type nappies we had as kids. But there are so many different choices and plenty of information out there. I am glad that we made the decision to use cloth. It’s worked well for us.

Pros and cons?
For me, the main pros are that it’s cheaper and better for the environment, the main con is having to do a nappy wash every few days.

Do you ever use disposables?
Occasionally. If we’re away on holiday and there’s no washing machine, disposables are a handy alternative.

Any notable differences between cloth and disposables?
I find the cloth ones gentler on her skin, probably because they’re made of more natural products rather than disposables which include chemicals and plastic.

What sort of cloth nappies do you use? Any particular favourite?
We actually use a variety but I’d go for All-in-One, as they are slightly easier to use.



My Cloth Journey

Louise Day is a member of the Edinburgh Real Nappy Community. Here she shares her experience of choosing and using cloth nappies:

I first discovered cloth nappies at a breastfeeding support group I was working at. One of the mums used them with her baby and I was really intrigued. They looked really attractive and I got talking to her about the benefits. She said she found them softer on her baby’s skin, cheaper as some can last your child from birth to potty and also environmentally friendly.

From then on I knew if I ever had children I’d use cloth! I’ve always been interested in the environment, recycling, reusing and reducing waste so, this was a big factor for me.

I bought a trial pack from Changeworks when I was pregnant and once I began telling people I was intending on using cloth lots of people started giving me cloth nappies. I was a bit worried initially as some of the people who I’d received the nappies from said they ended up not using them while some people I spoke to said things like “Why are you bothering? Disposables are more convenient!” This made me even more determined to go for it!

I’ve had fun discovering the different types of nappies – all in ones, two part nappies, pockets, terries and prefolds. It’s been a lot of trial and error. I had to get used to putting on cloth nappies making sure they fitted my baby well around the legs and working out that they sit lower than disposables. I’ve found as my baby has grown I’ve used different types of nappies. For example, as he’s filled out, some haven’t fitted as well as others so, it pays to have a range of nappies.

I also use cloth wipes which I find a lot more effective for cleaning and nicer on baby’s bottom than disposable wipes. It has definitely saved me money and also the stress of having to remember to buy nappies and wipes while doing the shopping.

I’ve used some disposables and have actually had more leaks with them. I’ve found cloth excellent at containing breastfed poo. I like the fact there are no chemicals in them also and no plastics unlike disposables.

I would thoroughly recommend anyone with children or expecting a child to try cloth nappies. Even using one cloth nappy a day can make a difference to the environment.


We need your skills!

As you probably already know, Edinburgh Real Nappy Community (ERNC) is a not for profit volunteer run project. We rely on people with a passion for cloth nappies lending us their time to promote reusables and to make it as easy and cost effective for families as we can.

What can I do?

There’s so much (or little) you could do for us! If you’re a cloth nappy novice, an experienced user, or perhaps your wee ones are potty trained but you want to spread the word – we want your help if you’d like to give it! The are so many ways you can be a part of the team behind ERNC and your level of commitment can suit you.

So, here’s a wee list of ways you could be involved – it’s by no means exhaustive and we’re always looking for fresh ideas!

Come along to our Nappuccinos – we’re always looking for people to come along and chat to families who haven’t used cloth nappies yet. You might want to learn how we do our cloth nappy demos or you might want to come along and chat to others about your own experiences with cloth. You could help with sales, or welcome people and make the tea & coffee. Your commitment to this can be totally flexible. We put a shout out on our volunteer group before each Nappuccino so extra volunteers can attend if they wish.

Run a Nappuccino – we currently run a monthly Nappuccino at the Pregnancy and Parents Centre, Tollcross and one on a smaller scale at The Wishing Tree Play Cafe in Musselburgh. We have spoken to other venues so we can spread our work to other locations throughout the city but at present, we don’t have the time to do any more than we are. If you’re keen to commit to running a Nappuccino, we can train you up and provide the paperwork and nappies (of course) that you’d need. We can even come along to the first couple of sessions to help you get things off the ground.

Write a blog post – our blog is our platform for chatting about things that need a bit more discussion than is suitable for Facebook or twitter. We’d love your input whether it be about using cloth nappies on holiday, in hospital, at nursery, or about your experience starting out, using our lending kits, potty training or perhaps you’d like to explore the cost savings or environmental issues surrounding real nappies. You may also have ideas of your own – we’d love to hear from you! We want ERNC to really have Community input and that means hearing your voice!!

Distributing leaflets – we have A5 posters for putting up in cafes, community centres, GP practices, sports centres, in fact anywhere people go, in order to spread the word about what we do. Part of promoting real nappies is to spread the word to those whose radar it isn’t on already.

Social Media – we try to use social media as much as possible to stay in touch with our existing community but also to reach those that have never thought about cloth nappies. We use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WordPress to keep in touch. So as well as looking for people to write blog posts for us we also need people to help with looking for interesting and relevant posts to share, writing discussion posts for the community group on Facebook, taking photos for us to use on Instagram and looking at ways we can make our voice heard on twitter. One of the easiest things you could do is like, comment and share our posts. Doing this on our Facebook page (not group), twitter and Instagram are most important for spreading the word.

Admin – if your skills lie here, we’re always on the look out for those who can help us compile data on how many families we’re seeing, how much landfill we’re helping to divert, the benefits of our lending kits etc. Helping ERNC needn’t mean turning up to all our events, work done in the background collecting data or just doing general admin, designing leaflets, or a website (please!!) is such a valuable contribution.

Maybe you can think of some other way you’d like to contribute. We’re all ears and we’d love to hear from you!