Going on holiday with Cloth Nappies? Here’s how…..

Whether it’s a vacay or staycation many of us are committed to the cloth nappy life and don’t wan’t a little thing like a holiday to disrupt that.  Shear determination, medical or ethical reasons, whatever the motivation, it CAN be done!

This is not to say that anyone who does want to use disposables while away shouldn’t, it is pretty much what they were designed for anyway. In fact, 31 years ago my Mum saved up to be able to afford disposables on holiday so she didn’t have to take the terry towels with her!

Tickle Tots Prints
Tickle Tots Prints

It all depends on the nature of your holiday…….. One of the first things I look for is whether the place I’m staying has a washing machine, it’s just habit now!

Let’s see what the right option for you is………

Cloth Nappies on Holiday Flowchart
Cloth Nappies on Holiday Flowchart
Option 1

Carry on exactly as you would at home. Store wet and dirty (poo removed as much as you can) in an extra large wet bag or two. When you get home wash the nappies across two loads with plenty of detergent at 60 degrees after a rinse cycle or short cold wash.

option 2

Invest in Prefolds and Muslins to bulk out your stash and use inside wraps a few times before you need to change the wrap . If you have already used the wrap on your travels you can hand wash to allow you to use a second time with a different insert.

option 3
Grovia Biosoakers
Grovia Biosoakers

Buy some biodegradable soakers, for example Grovia Biosoakers. These will bulk out your stash and allow you to use wraps before changing.  If you have already used the wrap on your travels you can hand wash to allow you to use a second time with a different insert. Dispose of the soakers responsibly.

option 4

Use the facilities to wash your nappies. If you see signs to say that washing nappies is prohibited (unlikely) ask staff if it acceptable to wash wet only nappies. Many campsites and similar accommodation would much rather you used and washed your cloth nappies than fill their bins with disposables!Remember the machine is going to be different to yours so check dosage and keep an eye on them.

Some things to keep in mind….

  • If you will be spending time in water each swim nappy us one less nappy option
    Bambino Mio Swim Nappy and Rash Top
    Bambino Mio Swim Nappy and Rash Top

    you need to factor in. Reuseable swim nappies can be hand washed/rinsed, dried and reused incredibly quickly and easily. Remember they are not absorbent!

 

  • Your choice of nappy will make a huge difference, packing lots of All In Ones for example will not only take up lots of luggage space but will be a lot harder to hand wash if you need to. Two Part nappies with an insert and wrap take up much less space, are easy to hand wash and dry really quickly.
Close Pop-in Nappy Liners
Close Pop-in Nappy Liner
  • Even if you don’t use them usually, disposable liners might be handy to deal with solids more easily when you are not changing baby near a toilet.

 

  • Wet Bags are your friend! When you are packing store all clean nappies in an extra large wet bag, take another empty extra large wet bag with you. As you change nappies put the used ones in the empty bag and as one gets full the other empties. Take as many smaller wet bags with you as you can for changing out and about.

 

 

 

 

  • Leave a couple of clean nappies at home to use on your return!

How to hand wash your wraps and pocket shells…..

Remember we are not trying to wash anything absorbent so we don’t need to worry about detergent build up or any unseen yuckiness. We just want to remove any urine or faeces if you are unlucky from the surface to get another use out of them before you get home.

Handwashing nappies in a bucket
Handwashing nappies in a bucket

If you have access to a bath, that is perfect. A sink or bucket will do the job but you might need to do a few batches at a time.

Step 1. Rinse. Use a shower head, a jug or sluice in the bath or sink.

Step 2. Scrub. Use soap, shower gel, shampoo it doesn’t matter too much. You don’t need to use a lot at a time.

Step 3. Rinse. Get rid of all the suds. If sluicing you might need to change the water a few times.

Step 4. Wash. Fill whatever vessel you are using with water as hot as you can manage to have your hands in. Add some detergent, they usually give hand washing dosages. Give the wraps a really good sloshy wash. Rub things together and agitate as much as possible.

Step 5. Rinse. Last rinse to remove suds.

Drying nappies while camping
Drying nappies while camping

Step 6. Wring out and hang to dry. On a nice day this won’t take more than a few hours maximum.

For peace of mind you’ll naturally want to give everything a really good ‘strip’ wash in your washing machine when you get home but this method will definitely give you a clean wrap or shell to use again.

Et voila! You have successfully achieved a great holiday and used cloth nappies on your little one throughout! You’ve continued to achieve all the environmental and lifestyle benefits you were at home! Give your self a BIG pat on the back and here’s 100 golden cloth nappy points for normalising cloth nappies!

Grovia Hybrid Hook and Loop Shell
Grovia Hybrid Hook and Loop Shell

 

How to use and care for a Wool Cover

Using wool over a cloth nappy may seem a little strange as we tend to waterproof our nappies with PUL. However, we know that sheep stay dry because of the natural lanolin in their fleece and we can use the same principal to keep babies dry and leak free over night.

Used alone a wool cover is breathable but not waterproof so we need to treat it with lanolin. It coats each fibre allowing air to still move between and crucuially also the liquid, but very slowly. Once the liquid hits the air on the out side of the cover it evaporates essentially making the nappy underneath able to absorb more. This makes wool covers a great option for heavier wetters and over night.

As the liquid does not actually penetrate the fibres there is no need to wash in between uses either. In fact the alkali of the lanolin also neutralises the acidic urine so they do not smell either! All you need to do between uses is air dry. Eventually the lanolin will break down and you will notice the beginnings of smells and it not being quite as waterproof.

So, you have your wool cover…..now what?

The first thing you will need to do is wash it, by hand. NEVER put your wool cover in the washing machine, there is far too much agitation. Soak your cover in some warm water with a little wool wash or if you do not have it another gentle wash liquid detergent, perhaps one suitable for babies. Leave for 30 minutes. NEVER RUB the cover.

You can then drain the water and gently squeeze NOT WRING some of the excess water out. Now you can begin to lanolise your cover.

Melt a half a teaspoon of lanolin in a hot cup of water and add a little of the liquid detergent you used earlier, you should end up with a cloudy mixture. Fill a bucket or sink with enough warm water so that the cover will be submerged and add your cloudy lanolin emulsion. Next put your cover under the water completely and soak for 4 hours or even over night.

Now you can dry your cover. Repeat the squeeze you did earlier but now lay the cover on a dry towel, roll the towel up and stand on it, this will help to get more water out. Allow the cover to air dry.

You will probably need to repeat this process a couple of times to ensure your cover is fully lanolised the first time.

You can now revel in the amazingness that is a wool cover, air drying in between uses. Every few weeks you can give your cover a gentle wash, just as you did the first time before you lanolised it. When you notice the lanolin wearing out you can reapply.

Keep an eye on the sizing of your wool cover as your baby grows, it’s important they do not get too tight as if they stretch they aren’t as effective, neither are they if they are too tight. It is possible to wear clothes over wool covers, again just make sure they are nice and loose, perhaps size up.

What is an Insert an How does it differ from a Booster?

An integral part of a cloth nappy is it’s absorbency. In some styles this is removeable and this piece of absorbent fabric is known as an Insert.

Inserts can be made from a variety of materials and blends. You will most commonly find Microfibre, Bamboo, Cotton and Hemp inserts. They all have various properties which determine what should be used when and how.

They can be all manner of shapes and sizes from rectangles and hourglass shapes to larger squares and long strips that need to be folded.

When we talk of ‘boosting’ a nappy we mean adding absorbency. A booster is an extra piece that we include in a nappy to meet our needs other than the components it originally came with. There is no physical difference between an insert and a booster but there is in how it is used.

We tend to boost All in One and Two Part nappies, so adding to their absorbency and use inserts in Pocket nappies. Practically speaking the two are interchangeable.

To browse Inserts and Boosters click here

What is a Wet Bag?

What is commonly referred to as a Wet Bag is a bag made from PUL (a waterproof material) that is usually sealed with a zip and designed to store used or wet items before they are washed. They can be used for swimming and gym wear but in this context are for cloth nappies.

The design means that they keep moisture and any smells contained within the bag so that they are a practical storage for soiled and wet nappies.

Wet Bags are available in a range of sizes, from small which may store 1 or 2 nappies or your reuseable wipes to the largest in which you can fit 15-20 nappies and large enough to use as your at home, before wash storage. The advantage of using a wet bag like this is that you simply unzip the bag, allowing the nappies to fall out during the wash cycle, and put the whole thing inside the drum. No need to touch or even look at the nappies.

For use out and about most people opt for a medium size bag, enough to hold a days worth. Again, unzip and place this bag inside your largest storage bag and wash the whole lot together.

Some wet bags have two sections with protection between so that when you are out of the home you can keep your dry unused nappies in one half and your used, wet nappies in the other. They tend to have some kind of handle, either one that snaps together to form a loop or else permanent strong handles.

They are a crucial part of making the use of cloth nappies and wipes easy and practical.

To browse Wet Bags click here

What is a Two Part Cloth Nappy and How do I use one?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components:

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

As the name may suggest in a Two Part  cloth nappy these components are separate entities. They are not attached to each other in any way.

The absorbent part can be either a ‘flat’ nappy such as a Terry square, Prefold or a simple long absorbent soaker . Or it can be a ‘fitted’ nappy which is shaped to fit the baby and fastens together, coming in various sizes.  Another possibility is a disposable soaker.

Over the top, in order to contain the absorbent part and stop clothes getting wet you need a ‘wrap’ or ‘cover’. These are usually made from PUL (a waterproof material), shaped, size adjustable and fastened by hook and loop or snaps. There are also fleece and wool covers available, again in a shaped style or as a pull-up.

Depending on the combination you use you will either put your absorbent part on first followed by the cover or you will lay your absorbent part on top of the gusset part of the cover and put on baby together.

The Two Part cloth nappy combination is usually regarded as best for containment and maximum absorbency. You can boost the absorbency without compromising on the fit  by adding more layers beneath the wrap.

The wrap or cover will dry faster than the absorbent part meaning that you can use again sooner and therefore need less. They are often the cheapest system to buy.

They do require a little more time to use which can be a negative. A Two Part system is very popular for night time use or for children with a larger output.

To browse Two Part cloth nappies click here

What is a Pocket Cloth Nappy and How do I use one?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components:

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

In a pocket cloth nappy those components are separate items. The waterproof part is a shell with an inner layer usually made of fleece sewn inside leaving one or both ends open to create a pocket. Inside the pocket you put your absorbent inserts.

Each pocket will be bought with one or more inserts. You can use one, two or more inserts in the pocket in a variety of materials to create the required absorbency for your child.

The pocket shell and inserts are dried separately, with the shell drying much faster. You can therefore use it again sooner if you have spare inserts. There is a small amount of preparation needed for each use in putting the inserts into the pocket, for some this is an annoyance. However, once prepared, when you put them on they are very simple.

You will find pocket nappies in hook and loop or snap closure and in all sizes.

To browse Pocket Nappies click here

What is an All In Two Cloth Nappy?

All cloth nappies are made up of two components.

  • An absorbent part
  • A waterproof or water resistant part

An All in Two cloth nappy is one in which these two parts are attached but can be removed. This is usually done by a snap connecting the back of the absorbent soaker to the inner part of the waterproof shell. The absorbent soaker can come in a variety of shapes, from a long straight piece that folds over to create layers to a shaped piece that mirrors the shape of the shell.

You can see in this image an outer shell and two absorbent soakers which all snap together to create the All in Two nappy.

The parts can be separated to speed up drying or added to in order to increase absorbency. The flexibility with this type of nappy makes it popular. Another appealing quality is the high potential for containment. Once any urine or faeces has been absorbed by the absorbent material it then has to broach the elastics of the shell making leaks rare.

During washing the parts to tend to come apart so there is a small amount of preparation to put the nappy together again before use.

To browse click here

What is a Nappy Liner?

When using cloth nappies some people prefer to use a nappy liner. This is a thin, non-absorbent piece of material that lays inside the nappy closest to the bottom. It has several purposes:

  • Catching poo
  • Protecting the nappy from stains
  • Keeping moisture away from the skin (fleece liners only)

There are two main types of nappy liner: Disposable and Reuseable. Disposable liners come on a roll and are commonly made from either bamboo or cornstarch. They are torn off the roll, placed inside the nappy and then removed and disposed off after a nappy change. They must be disposed of either in the general waste bin or composted, never flushed.

Reuseable liners are usually made from microfleece although other kinds do exist (silk for example). They have the additional function that when placed next to skin they quickly ‘wick’ moisture away and into the absorbent fabric beneath. They are soft to the touch which can be appealing.

After a wet change they should be left inside the nappy and washed all together. They air dry incredibly quickly. When dealing with a dirty change, post weaning, an effort should be made to deposit as much faeces as possible into the toilet. Various methods exist including holding under the flush and scraping off. Then the liner can be stored and washed with the nappy.

Reuseable liners are available in various sizes to suit the size of child and nappy and vary in texture across brands.

To browse the options click here

What is a Night Nappy and How is it different?

A Night Nappy is a cloth nappy that is worn over night, for most it must last from bedtime until morning. It is recommended to change newborns throughout the night as they still poo after feeds and their skin is particularly delicate.

This means that, in general, they must be more absorbent that a nappy used during the day time. The amount of absorbency needed varies hugely depending on a few factors:

  • overnight fluids
  • amount of awake time
  • age of child
  • natural variations e.g. bladder size

A nappy described as a ‘night nappy’ will be designed with many layers to maximise absorbency and can be any type. Many nappies are suitable for use over night but are not described as such, most commonly these are Two Part nappies (absorbent nappy + wrap/cover) which are often boosted as required. However, many people have success over night with all kinds of nappy.

Night nappies are available in all sizes and both hook and loop and snap closure. 

Due to the extra layers they can be bigger than expected which can be a surprise and extra consideration should be taken to provide maximum comfort. You might consider the softness of elastics, fleece integral lining or adding a fleece liner yourself. If you reach the morning without leaks it’s a success. A fully saturated, wet nappy is one that is doing it’s job.

How does Cloth Nappy Sizing work?

When buying a cloth nappy it’s important to check the  guidelines to make sure it will fit your child. However,  Cloth Nappy Sizing can be confusing when various brands use different terminology.

You will most commonly come across the phrase ‘Birth to Potty’ this may also be referred to as ‘One Size’. These nappies will be size adjustable most often using snaps on the front of the nappy to make it smaller and bigger. It covers the widest range of sizes from around 4.5kg to 16kg or 10lbs to 35lbs.

The majority of babies are born smaller than this and while ‘Birth to Potty’ is called this,  for most a smaller size is needed for the first few weeks. This is called ‘Newborn’ and tends to fit babies from 2kg to 5.5kgs or 4.5lbs to 12lbs.

Some manufacturers believe that a better fit and therefore greater comfort and less possibility of leaks and other problems can be achieved if the  cloth nappy sizing is broken down into more, smaller ranges. You may find these described as Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large or 1, 2 and 3. Unfortunately these two methods aren’t exactly equatable.

  • Small is usually interchangeable with Newborn: Up to 5 or 6kg/11 or 12lbs
  • Medium: Up to 10kg/22lbs
  • Large: Up to 13kg/28lbs
  • Extra Large: 12kg/26.5lbs and above.

 

  • Size 1 is usually a rough bridge between Newborn and Birth to Potty: 3-9ks/7-20lbs
  • Size 2: 9-16kgs/20-35lbs (A size 2 is often appropriate for a large portion of the ‘Birth to Potty’ size range.
  • Size 3: 16kgs/35lbs and above.

Extra Large and Size 3 are found in nappies that are appropriate for night time or maximum absorbency use as most children will be out of nappies or needing considerable absorbency before they hit this weight range.

Certain brands manufacture nappies that are larger than this to suit older children, teens and adults.