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 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 are Reuseable Pull Ups and Training Pants?

Towards the end of the time in which your child wears a nappy it may be appropriate to use reuseable Pull Up or Training Pants. This may be because your child will not lay down to be changed any longer or you wish to involve them in the change, encouraging independence before they are using the potty or toilet completely independently

Reuseable Pull Ups and Training Pants tend to have a fully elasticated waist band and/or side closure. The absorbent component may lay inside or be put into a pocket. In most cases the amount of absorbency in a pull up is less than a conventional nappy due to the nature of the design. It is also assumed that that there will be a level of potty or toilet training happening and the insert will be changed regularly. Most are designed so that the shell can be used again immediately and the insert changed. It is not impossible to use Pull Up styles for longer periods if required absorbency can be achieved within the design.

Pull Ups may have a higher weight range than most nappies and the size can be increased further using  removeable extenders for the sides.

Reuseable Training Pants usually have a very small amount of inbuilt absorbency and little to no waterproofing. These are designed to be used as a safety net for small accidents. They should be treated as underwear and fully changed immediately.

To browse various options click here

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.

Hook and Loop or Snap Fastening on your Cloth Nappy?

The majority of nappies fasten using with either Hook and Loop (the proper term for the generic use of ‘velcro’) or Snaps. Exceptions are some fitted nappies that use a ‘nappy nippa’ (a stretchy Y shape with hooks on 3 points) and Pull Up styles, either as a whole nappy or in cover form.

                   Some brands offer a choice in the same style but most stick with one type of fastening or other. It may be a factor in deciding if a nappy is for you or it may not matter at all.

Hook and Loop closure often allow for more precision fit, as the options are not restricted to the position and spacing of the snaps. It’s common for child care providers and the less experienced user to prefer these for ease of use. It’s also worth mentioning that hook and loop can be preferable for anyone changing nappies that has hand mobility issues as snaps can sometimes be tricky and there are a few of them to do at each change.

Hook and Loop fastening needs protecting during washing and drying to prevent ripping and attracting fluff. Cloth Nappy users often find that older babies and toddlers can often undo a hook and loop fastening themselves which understandably can cause problems. A Snap fastening can present as a ‘tidier’ nappy and requires less care, possibly extending the life of a nappy. They are also easier to replace.

Nappy Materials… What Do They All Mean?

Just when you think you have your head around the different types of nappies you start hearing words like Microfibre, Bamboo, Hemp and PUL and it feels like you are back to square one.

The different types of materials used have various properties which determine how the nappy behaves. This may mean they absorb quickly, dry fast, hold a lot of liquid etc and these are the factors that determine whether the nappy is suited to your needs. Once you understand the different materials it is so much easier to work out what to use on your baby.

We will go through the main materials and then look at some case studies which exemplify how they can be used to their, and your, best advantage. Let’s start from the outside:

PUL (Poly Urethane Laminate)

This material is used as the waterproof element of most cloth nappies. On the outer of an All In One, All In Two and Pocket nappy and the entirety of a waterproof wrap or cover. PUL is an extremely useful fabric being breathable, stretchy, quick to dry, creaseproof, stainproof and crucially for nappies, waterproof.

It is made by laminating, using heat, pressure and adhesive, a thin polyester fabric to a very thin film of polyurethane. If not cared for a a reverse process happens called ‘delamination’, the fabric and polyurethane become separate and therefore no longer waterproof.

One side of the PUL is brighter and softer (being the polyester side) and the other duller and a little sticky to the touch. For this reason in most nappy systems it doesn’t touch the baby, although is harmless if it does. The common material used to line nappies and be closest to the baby’s skin is….

Fleece

Fleece is a synthetic, man-made fabric and can be derived from either virgin or recycled plastic. The fibres of polyester are woven together in such a way to create a light, breathable fabric, perfect for contact with delicate skin. This weave is the reason why fleece is also commonly found as a separate liner.

When used as a liner it picks up liquid and moves it away from the source, spreading it out and passing it through to the other side to be absorbed or evaporated. If you want to be fancy this process is called ‘Capillarity’. Due to this it obviously dries very quickly, not increasing drying time as the lining of an All In One nappy and combining with PUL in a Pocket nappy to make a very quick drying item. You will also find fleece wraps or covers used over an absorbent nappy.

Moving on to the most common absorbent materials, starting with

Microfibre

This is another synthetic material made from polyester. We learn a lot about the nature of this material from the name, the fibres of this material are tiny and there are lots of them. Larger fibres are split into tiny ones and it is the combination of the surface area created and the the space between them that causes microfibre to absorb liquid very quickly. You can feel the texture of the material when you touch it as the fibres grab at any imperfections on your skin. This and the way microfibre draws moisture into itself is the reason it is not recommended to have microfibre in direct contact with skin for prolonged periods.

Because microfibre holds liquid between it’s fibres that liquid can easily be forced back out again, like squeezing a sponge. It does, however, mean  that the liquid can begin to be squeezed out of a nappy while it is still on the baby. This is what people mean when they talk about ‘compression leaks’. the plus point to this is that microfibre dries very quickly.

Cotton

Cotton is a natural fibre and can therefore absorb liquid INSIDE it’s cells. To simplify the science, cotton has naturally occuring cellulose which has a negative charge. It attracts slightly positive water molecules, bonds together and stores the liquid inside the ‘lumen’ or empty space in the middle of each cotton fibre. This makes cotton a highly absorbent material. Because liquid is stored inside the fibres it does take longer to dry than synthetic materials.

Cotton has the same capillarity action as fleece, spreading the liquid throughout the material meaning that it can continue to absorb in the same area. The use of cotton in cloth nappies is extremely useful in preventing ‘flooding’ and consequent leaks where another material cannot absorb fast enough.

This is probably a good point to mention that with each material there are various environmental and/or ethical factors present at various points of their growth and manufacture, cotton is well known for this. While these factors may influence our choice of nappy, the conversation is complex and far reaching. A topic to return to in the future. However, it is one of the reasons that in recent times where cotton would be used it is being replaced by

Hemp

Similar to cotton in its structure and natural cellulose but with coarser, longer fibres resulting in a stronger, more absorbent and more durable fabric. Adding a hemp booster to a nappy, in particular a night nappy, can be a simple way to increase absorption speed and volume.

Although, like cotton, it gets softer the more it is used it can be rough, for this reason when we find hemp in cloth nappies it is usually a blend with cotton. The wear, wash and dry of natural material makes them less dense, increasing the spaces where liquid can be stored inside and in between the fibres. This is why we prewash and why you find excellent ‘work horse’ nappies that are years old and extremely absorbent.

Bamboo

The fabric we refer to as bamboo is properly called viscose rayon. It used to be called ‘artificial silk’ and when it comes to softness bamboo really appeals to be worn next to the skin of babies and is easily identifiable by it’s sheen. The cellulose in the bamboo is extracted and reformed into the fabric we love to use in cloth nappies. The fibres themselves, while having the same gaps and holes inside the fibres and cracks and grooves on the surface as cotton and hemp, are fine and sleeker. This is why bamboo absorbs the slowest of the commonly used materials in cloth nappies. 

As liquid is stored inside the fibres it takes longer to dry a bamboo nappy than for example a microfibre one. Bamboo rayon fibres are fine and short, it is common to find bamboo blends because the addition of cotton for example makes for a stronger fabric.

A Case Study:

An 18 month old baby who has always worn an all in one nappy with a bamboo absorbent core with no problems suddenly starts experiencing leaks within half an hour of a nappy change. 

Having checked the PUL of the nappy for any signs of delamination or holes an initial response might be to add more bamboo to increase the absorbency level. However, given the time frame of the leak it is unlikely that the child’s output has increased in volume over time but more likely that the volume of each wee is more. Toddlers can start to hold their urine for a little while increasing the pressure and volume of a single wee. A bamboo based nappy will hold a lot and wouldn’t struggle with this volume, but we know that it absorbs slowly so the liquid will run to any escape points such as the seams of the nappy before the bamboo has had time to absorb all the liquid. The best solution here would be to add a cotton or hemp booster inside the nappy. Microfibre may work on a younger baby that is less mobile and likely to compress the nappy. By adding it inside the nappy the faster absorbing material can quickly manage the liquid giving time for it to  to spread throughout the absorbent parts of the nappy and be stored. This means that there is still capacity for more output so an immediate change isn’t needed.

A Case Study

A 3 month old baby has been wearing a 2 part, microfibre based nappy system which until now has been excellent at containing liquid poo and the frequent small wees she has been having. They have been changing regularly day and night. Now the little one is sleeping longer at night they require something more absorbent to last longer.

Two Part nappies are excellent and quite often the best solution over night. There is twice the protection at the leg and waist against leaks. These parents will want to consider a bamboo nappy for maximum over night capacity. They may want to line it with a fleece liner to help keep the bottom feeling dry by wicking the moisture away. Over the nappy they can continue to use their PUL wrap. Over time depending on the child they may want to add additional boosting of more bamboo or hemp either inside the nappy or between nappy and wrap.

Cloth Nappies should be simple to use, by understanding the components of them we have more chance of selecting an appropriate nappy and much more chance of successful  and sustainable use. Whether it’s one a day or full time use you are aiming for it all makes a difference to you, to baby and to the environment.

For advice on cloth nappies please email: nappies@yesbebe.co.uk

Sources: www.sciencedirect.com, www.madehow.com, www.theartofcleanliness.com, www.sciencing.com, www.oecotexfiles-wordpress.com, www.researchgate.net, www.textileinsight.blogspot.com, www.towelswell.com

 

Bee’s Needs Week July 2018

Last week, 9th July to 15th July, was Bee’s Needs Week! All sorts of activities happened all over the United Kingdom! The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed a famous street in London renamed Carnabee Street for the week.

Bees are a vital part of our landscape, economy and food industry. Over the last week, you will hopefully have been seen how important it is to respect and appreciate the bees that live with us.

Did you know not all bees make honey? Some you see buzzing around might make the yummy syrup you have on toast, but lots don’t. The other bees do the exciting job of pollinating the flowers so they grow and produce fruit, vegetables and more flowers and plants. The amount of honeybees is slowly decreasing as the amount of flowers decreases too.

If you want to help at home, there is a lot of things you can do, and encourage your children to do:

Grow wildflowers in a portion of your garden. The pollen will attract lots of bees. If you are living in a smaller space, could you fit a window box? Or have a pot with wildflowers in? Children will love seeing all the varieties of flowers they grow and counting how many bees they can see!

Install a bee box. Give your local bees somewhere to rest and install a bee box. If you’re handy with wood and nails you could even try making your own. There are lots of instructions online. How many cylinders can you fit in the frame of your bee box?

Buy local honey. Not only will you be supporting local beekeepers, it can help to alleviate symptoms of hay-fever. Bonus!

Put a small basin of water outside for the bees to have a drink. It’s a common misconception that it needs to be sweetened with sugar. They will more than appreciate fresh tap water.

How have you tried to help the bees this week? Could you dedicate a patch of your garden to planting some lovely flowers these summer holidays? Can you visit any local green spaces to see if you can spot what they are doing to help the bees? On a walk yesterday, we saw a bee bank of flowers, bee boxes and much more!

Let us know what you have been doing to help the bees!

 

Why Should I Make Lunch To Go?

Lunch time. Whether we’re at home, shopping or at work, we find ourselves having a lunch break wherever we are. Home cooking or a restaurant? Or how about popping to the local supermarket or work’s canteen for a quick meal deal to go?

Food is so ready for our convenience, with packaging and cutlery we can use once and throw away without a second thought. After all, what difference will one more sandwich wrapper and crisp packet make to the environment? The answer? A huge difference.
Continue reading Why Should I Make Lunch To Go?