Our journey with cloth nappies started back in 2012 when we first found out I was expecting a baby; a couple who live a fairly frugal lifestyle and with both of us being self-employed we soon worked out the huge cost implication of disposable nappies. This along with our desire to cut down landfill where possible, there was a huge environmental factor to our decision making process in what we would purchase.
I still remember sitting with my mum at her house discussing nappies she used on my sisters and myself and wondering what, if anything, was on the market to cater for those choosing the reusable nappies. When I was a baby, it was cloth squares which would be folded to fit and that was pretty much the norm back in the 80s.
We were soon online researching cloth nappies and discovered a variety of companies, but soon were down a website video rabbit hole watching ‘how to’ videos on the TotsBots website; an enthusiastic woman talking through the nappy system and within a few days I had ordered a reusable cloth nappy kit.
Despite having the kit when our baby first arrived, my antenatal teacher recommended using disposables for the first few months until we had got to grips with a new baby and each new experience it would throw at us. We did this, but after 3 months we were using reusable cloth nappies until we reached potty training.
I remember people would often grimace when they discovered we used reusable cloth nappies and ask countless questions such as, “What do you do with the poo?”, “How can you be sure they’re actually clean?”…
Ok, so no poo is nice to deal with, ever. None of us like it, but what horrifies me more, is the thought of poo just being rolled up, put into a plastic nappy bag, which is then put into a nappy bin (lined with plastic), for a sausage like monstrosity to then be dropped in a bin and then taken off to sit in landfill for years and years… and years and years.
I am pretty sure most have felt disgusted by the smell just emptying a nappy bin, I can’t begin to imagine what landfill sites smell like with the mountains and mountains of soiled nappies.
For me, it’s simple, even when using ‘disposables’ in the early days, get as much of the poo out of the nappy and into the loo where it can be flushed away.
There is absolutely no denying that cloth nappies are far better for the environment than the disposable nappies; even when you take laundry into consideration. According to TotsBots 2 kilos of washable nappies does the job of 2 tonnes of disposables, preventing 500 years of biodegrading in landfills.
I do understand that it isn’t just the messy issue of what to do with poo that puts a lot of people off. There are those who do the, “oh wow, you use reusable cloth nappies, I’d love to do that, but….” and reel off countless reasons as to why they simply can’t use them.
Some see it as a “faff” washing and drying reusable nappies, but with a baby and as an outdoor family I am doing laundry most days, so last night’s nappies go in first thing and nappies used during the day go in last thing at night. The nappy cycle is ongoing and it’s just added to the beginning or end of my usual laundry cycle.
Another ‘issue’ raised is “the amount of extra stuff to lug about”; the way cloth nappies are produced nowadays it really is no different to taking disposable nappies out with you.
There are so many different products available that there is something for most scenarios. We’re not talking cloth squares and nappy pins anymore; it’s cloth, Velcro and poppers. TotsBots nappies have all-in-one EastFit nappies, or pop the wrap and tPeeNut together so it’s all set to use before you go out, so there is no difference, other than taking the dirty nappies home with you (in a specific ‘dirties’ bag), which again is no huge difference to taking a soiled disposable nappy home with you, but instead of bunging them in the bin, you wash them instead!
Then there’s the cost implication… “The kits are so expensive” as an initial outlay, yes, it’s a chunk of money, but it didn’t take us long to realise that buying nappies wasn’t sustainable for us, the expense was colossal. For the first three months alone we spent approximately £180 per month* on nappies.
TotsBots cloth nappies for us were the obvious choice as they came in a range of designs, however now in 2019 there are not only a huge amount more designs available making the nappies look attractive and fun, but there are also lots of different types of nappies in the range to cater for just about every person, every situation… and cover most excuses too!
The TotsBots Range
This post is to share my experience with cloth nappies, and having only used TotsBots this is why I am sharing such an extensive insight as it’s all I know when it comes to cloth!
Bamboozle night-time cloth nappies were all we used first time and they were excellent. From 3 months to potty training, these can actually be used for newborns too. These have a very absorbent cloth nappy, which you place a liner onto and finish off with an outer waterproof wrap layer.
Clues in the name, these EasyFit cloth nappies are about as “easy” as they come; they look like your ‘conventional’ disposable nappy except they are made of out of the absorbent cloth with the wrap pre-attached. These are great if you’re out and about as you don’t need to take the separate elements with you. Only downside with these is that the wrap is non-removable and if the wrap actually isn’t dirty you can’t reuse it until it’s been washed.
The TeenyFit cloth nappies are so adorable and utterly perfect for tiny newborns, basically a tiny EasyFit all-in-one nappy.
PeeNut Nappy System
I used to think it couldn’t get much better than the EasyFit cloth nappy, but since having a child out of nappies and going back to TotsBots they now have the PeeNut Nappy System. This is the best of both in my opinion, a waterproof outer wrap which you attach the absorbent nappy layer using the poppers, meaning that if it’s just a pee the baby has had, you simply whip out the core nappy and reuse the wrap! I pretty much use PeeNut most of the time as they are also less bulky too.
The look and feel of cloth nappies
Cloth nappies ARE in my opinion a bulkier item on a baby, there is no denying it, but what I often notice is that some disposable nappies also look bulky because they are so full due to limiting the moisture resulting in a baby who can’t feel the wetness of the soiled nappy. So actually, whilst they might look bulkier, so too do the disposables that mask the feeling of being wet.
I would say that my baby is quick to grumble if she’s in a wet cloth nappy, mainly because it feels wet; some may see that as a bad thing, but actually I find when using disposable nappies, a baby is more than likely to sit in a wet nappy for longer because they feel dry, and ultimately they end up sitting in urine soaked nappy which isn’t terribly nice.
I found that because my first was feeling wet and would want to be changed soon after a pee, we actually found ourselves potty training a lot earlier and really successfully, so there really is a benefit to little bots feeling wet.
Unlike disposables there is no dioxins, sodium polycacrylate, perfumes, as well as volatile organic compounds and phthalates to irritate, so we have never used creams of lotions when using cloth nappies. Each nappy is made from beautiful supersoft fabrics so they really are better for babies skin.
I actually know how nice using reusable cloth is myself as I used TotsBots own reusable cloth sanitary pads Bloom and Nora immediately after having my second baby. I used the Nora Kit which contains x2 Midi, x6 Maxi and x2 Mighty reusable pads and they were all I needed. They stayed in place with poppers and were so soft and felt like wearing underwear rather than horrible disposable pads.
In terms of how the nappies look and feel when on, both my babies have been happy in cloth. With the release of so many TotsBots wrap designs too, I couldn’t help but keep adding to my cloth collection just as I would change an outfit, in the warmer months the cloth nappy looks like a romper or a pair of pants with the fabulous designs.
TotsBots TeenyFit on my newborn.
TotsBots EasyFit on my 4 month old.
Sizing cloth nappies
The wonderful thing about TotsBots nappies is that there are the TeenyFit nappies for the tiny babies, then all the other nappy options are sized from birth to potty – how is this possible? Well they have poppers on the front so you can simply size to fit your baby in a small, medium or large.
The cost of cloth nappies
To a family like us with limited means, disposable nappies cost a fortune for the first 3 months; second time around we have also done a combination in the early days and it has cost a lot of money.
We did so much research on the brands out there and what was available to us and I honestly found TotsBots to be not only the most foolproof, but also in terms of cost efficiency. I found their ‘birth to potty’ kit all we needed for first time around, and once we got the hang of things, we added to our cloth collection with fun wraps and of course EasyFit because again they had some fabulous designs and I just couldn’t resist!
Back in 2013 I bought TotsBots ‘Birth to Potty Kit’ which had everything you needed, the nappies, wraps and bucket, I think it cost me approximately £250**, however now they have a wider range of TotsBots Reusable Cloth Nappy kits available which are well worth looking into.
It is also worth checking with your local council to see if they have any cash-back incentives for parents who choose to use cloth. Sadly our council don’t, but some offer incentives to help towards the upfront cost of buying cloth nappies. Personally I think it is so short sighted for councils not to offer more for parents who choose to use cloth as I feel it would help drive the market more that way again.
Questions about reusable cloth nappies
There are so many questions I am faced with when people find out we use cloth nappies, some I hope to have covered above, however there are quite a few I received when I asked over on my Instagram stories the other day which are the same that crop up with friends.
Do you use cloth nappies all the time?
We started in disposables both times, I had every intention of using cloth from birth with our second baby, however with my health not being great, it was something I had to put on the backburner. From three months onwards, we have used reusable cloth nappies, however there are occasions when I would use disposables, such as staying over at someone else’s house when I have no machine to use, or perhaps if I am out all day far from home then I will take a day off the reusable nappies.
Do you use cloth nappies at night as well as day?
We use cloth during the day and night, the Bamboozle night nappies are very absorbent and work well throughout the night. We only had the Bamboozle first time around so used them during the day too, this time we use the Bamboozle nappy at night for maximum absorbency and the PeeNut and EasyFit during the day.
How many cloth nappies do you need?
We have quite a collection of cloth nappies now, due to the years we have been using them, but starting out all you really need is 15-20 cloth day nappies and 5 cloth night nappies. On top of that, you would need the cloth nappy bucket and some rolls of liner.
How many washes do you do per week?
As mentioned above, I have a wash going most days for our regular laundry, but I am also doing an additional nappy wash each day. I do this at night when the nappy bucket is full.
Have you used any other cloth nappy brands?
I haven’t used any other cloth nappy brands, no. I did so much research when I was pregnant and really felt like TotsBots was the brand and product that would best suit us. This review is based on my experience with TotsBots only as I really do think a lot of them. It is testament to their product that I haven’t used any other brand actually as I simply haven’t felt the need to look around.
Did you try before you invested in cloth nappies?
I didn’t no, I just took a leap of faith as I knew I wanted to make it work so thought if I made the investment I would make a good go of it. Thankfully it all worked out! You can however try by purchasing Trial Kits. TotsBots Trial Cloth Nappy Kits contain an EasyFit nappy, a PeeNut and a Bamboozle night nappy, as well as a handful of liners which is just enough to give you a try.
Do you use cloth nappies for newborn babies?
Yes absolutely! TotsBots fit from birth to potty, but they also have their TeenyFit which are perfect for tiny bottoms.
What is the drying time for cloth nappies?
Cloth nappies take approximately 18 hours to dry on an airer in a warm environment, but they can also be tumble dried on a low/cool setting.
What temperature do you wash your cloth nappies?
TotsBots cloth nappies can be washed at 60 degrees or lower using any non-bio washing powder. I wash at 60 degrees for soiled nappies, 40 degrees if just wet using their anti-bacterial washing powder Potion which gets the nappies hygienically clean at 30 degrees.
Do cloth nappies stain?
Just like babies clothing when you get poo on it, sometimes it can stain if you don’t rinse it soon enough. I have had my cloth nappies for years now and I can honestly say that when I got them out again for our second baby they were like new cloth nappies. Still clean, no stains and still lovely and soft.
Does your house smell of poo if you use cloth nappies?
I love this question, I got it on Instagram, but I get it all the time! Our house does not smell of poo, in fact I find that it smells far less using cloth than disposables because the nappies smell so clean! My babies bottom even with a pooey nappy smells slightly fragrant! The nappy bucket is in regular use and when opened, yes there is a bit of a ‘pong’, but certainly no awful lingering smell hanging over our house.
How easy is it using cloth nappies?
From the moment people heard we were planning on using cloth nappies, I would be told it would be hard work, but it really isn’t. I am dealing with poo on a daily basis, nothing particularly pleasant about that, cloth doesn’t make it any harder or worse to deal with. As I mentioned above, I actually find it far easier dealing with nappies this way and flushing the mess down the loo, than dealing with a full nappy bin with disposables.
*we were using Biodegradeable nappies.
**price and kit purchased in 2013.
For more information or to buy, visit TotsBots.
Please Note: Some of the items featured in this post have been gifted by TotsBots in exchange for writing an honest and authentic review. However, majority of items mentioned were purchased with my own money back in 2013. All thoughts and opinions are my own.