This is the bit where we try and explain everything in an easy to understand way. We're assuming no knowledge, so bear with us if you know the basics already!
Real nappies are not rocket science: They're made to absorb and contain. That's it! The only hard part is choosing which style to go for. Don't feel that you have to stick with one style of nappy, you can mix and match.
There are a few different styles of nappies and here we explain the main differences:
Which type of nappy?
Flat nappy (also known as a 'prefold') - A flat piece of fabric which requires a quick fold to create maximum absorbency. A separate waterproof cover is required. As the nappy and the waterproof cover are two separate pieces, the cover will not need to be changed at every nappy change time. Slim fitting, quick drying and good value.
Shaped nappy - Doesn't require any folding. Velcro or popper fastenings close this style of nappy and you then place it inside the waterproof cover. The wrap does not need to be changed every time you change the nappy. Very easy to use & lots of fabrics to choose from. Some shaped nappies can be used from birth to potty training, making them very economical too.
Pocket nappy - The waterproof outercover has a fleece layer on the inside with a gap left at the top between the fleece and the waterproof. Into this gap you place the absorbent pad, also known as an insert. As the pad is inside the cover, you will need to change the cover at every nappy change time. A very simple to use nappy and the fleece layer helps keep your baby's skin drier.
One size nappy - Many nappies are available in one size which will fit most babies from birth to potty training (approx 8 - 35lbs). A good option if you have more than one child in nappies, as both children can use the same nappy. Very economical.
All in one nappy - The waterproof cover and absorbent inner part of the nappy are sewn together, meaning that you just have 1 piece to put on. Foolproof!
What is a 'cover'?
This is the term given to the waterproof part which goes around the outside of your nappy & prevents your baby's clothes from getting wet. You will sometimes see it refered to as a 'wrap'.
How many will I need to buy?
Although every baby is different, on average, the following guidelines apply:
If you want to use the nappies full time from birth, you'll need between 15-20 nappies.
If you've started using the nappies when your baby is a little older, usually 10 nappies is sufficient.
The above guidelines allow for washing every other day.
How do I get rid of soiling?
If you use a sheet of bioldegradable liner (available in rolls of 100), simply lift the liner off the nappy and flush it away with the soiling at nappy change time - miles better than with a disposable where you have to keep it in the dustbin for a week or two until the bin men take it away.
Reusable fleece liners are an alternative to biodegradable liners as they allow urine to pass through the fleece to the nappy, but stop it from passing back again, meaning your baby's skin will feel a lot drier. Place a sheet of fleece onto the nappy, and at nappy change time shake off any soiling into the toilet and then place in the nappy bucket and wash with your nappies.
If you don't use a liner, hold the nappy over the toilet and shake off any solids. Holding the nappy in the toilet and flushing allows stubborn soiling to be flushed away (don't forget to hold onto the nappy!)
How do I wash them?
You will need a bucket, with a lid and ideally a handle too, to store your used nappies and covers in. Laundry mesh bags are a good idea as they line the inside of your nappy bucket and at washing time you simply take the bag out of the bucket and transfer it with all the contents, directly into your washing machine - so no handling the nappies!
It isn't necessary to soak your nappies, simply store them 'dry' in the nappy bucket. Soaking used to be necessary when washing machines & detergents weren't as effective as they are now. However, even mild, plant based, detergents are highly effective and mean that you don't need to soak your nappies. If you wish, you can add a few drops of tea tree or lavender oil onto the bottom of the bucket or onto a tissue (don't add directly onto the nappies).
Wash the nappies at 60° - unless you are using a nappy cleanser such as MioFresh, or a washing detergent & nappy cleanser in one such as Tots Bots Potion, in which case you can wash at 30°. It's not necessary, or economical, to wash the nappies on their own - wash them with your household laundry. A big no-no is fabric softener as this creates a film on the nappies which affects absorbency.
Dry your reusable nappies and covers as you would the rest of your laundry - airing cupbord, washing line, clothes horse... Most nappies can be tumble dried, however please check the manufacturers label. Waterproof covers should not be tumble-dried as it will damage the waterproof material over time.
Booster pads help to increase absorbency in the nappy by creating extra layers of absorbent fabric. Simply place one or two booster pads onto the top of your nappy, or into the pocket, to gain increased absorbency. If your baby is a particuarly heavy wetter overnight, you may want to consider getting a couple of super-absorbent nappies such as Ellas House Bum Hugger or Slinki Minki for night-time use. Tots Bots red fleece covers are particularly good for night-time use and are great for babies with sensitive skin.
Keeping your baby dry
Fleece liners are very popular as they allow wee to pass through the fleece, to the nappy where it is absorbed, but the fleece fabric prevents wetness from seeping back again and the fleece stays almost completely dry, keeping your baby's skin dry.
Out and about
You can use your reusable nappies when out and about, simply take a spare nappy, cover & liner with you, plus a bag to hold your wet nappy. At nappy change time remove soiling as you would normally and put the nappy in your nappy sack to take home.
Sems like a lot of information but it's all common sense really. We've simply listed everything for those of you who have yet to actually change a nappy! If we've left anything out, or if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be more than happy to help.