Getting started with cloth (and why you shouldn’t be nervous about reuseable nappies)

When I first started looking into cloth nappies I was a little overwhelmed. There are so many options and combinations it can be a little be daunting. While I don’t pretend to know all there is about cloth I’ve picked up a few things along the way which I thought it might be helpful to share.

Start small

My number one tip for starting out with cloth is to start small – buy (or trial) a few nappies from different brands to work out what works for you and your little one. I was really lucky to have a huge stash of pop-in nappies that my friend gave me which I could rely on while we tried other brands and worked out what worked for us. But even switching to one or two reusables makes a huge difference.

Many brands sell starter kits with 10-15 nappies which can be tempting if you are excited about being in cloth full time when little one arrives – I spent a lot of time while I was pregnant looking at these and debating whether to buy. In the end I resisted and I’m glad I did. Not only are these expensive but you might find that that particular brand doesn’t suit you. By testing out nappies before you make a big investment you will save money in the long run.

Keep with it

We quickly discovered that R was too small for a lot of birth-to-potty nappies when she was born and ended up getting a newborn pack from Tots Bots which combined with the free packs of disposables we had from Bounty and Emma’s Diary saw us through those first few weeks. We had leaks. We had the dreaded poonamis but we stuck with it. And gradually as we got better at understanding fit and R got bigger there were less leaks and things started to click.

Babies change so much in those first few weeks. I remember having a conversation with a friend who had bought lots of one type of nappy and found they weren’t working for her little boy so she had gone back to disposables (see tip one). I suggested she tried again now that her son was a little bigger and guess what, they worked great and she’s been using them ever since.

Not all nappies are equal

So I’m not going to go into detail about the merits of different materials and types of nappies here – I’ve linked a few of the resources I found helpful when I first started with cloth at the end of this post. But different nappies work for different purposes. Once you move past the newborn days (ie when you no longer have to change dirty nappies at night) you will likely need some night nappies that can handle going for a longer period.

We have night time nappies made of super absorbant bamboo which are bulky and take a long time to dry. We have pocket nappies that are fab for during the day, especially if we are going out as I know they can contain pretty much anything. We have microfiber nappies that are great for when I’m home all day and can do more frequent changes, which dry super quickly after a wash.

As you build your stash and get to know your nappies and your baby you will find yourself reaching for certain nappies at certain times – another reason why buying lots of one type of nappy may not be ideal.

Questionnaires are only helpful to a point

Lots of nappy retailers do a service where you can fill in a questionnaire and get a personalised recommendation of what nappies to buy. Whilst this is a brilliant service it is limited by the information you put in. When I was pregnant and looking at nappies I was convinced that 2 part nappies would be the way to go (not having to change the wrap each change + quicker drying times sounded great). As a result the recommendations I got were for the 2-part nappies that that particular website sold.

Once R arrived we discovered that newborns poop a lot and that we were having to change the wrap at every change anyway. I discovered that actually pocket nappies worked well for us and were less hassle. If I filled in a questionnaire now I’d get very different recommendations. So while these are great as a guide don’t be surprised if your requirements change once you get started and start to know what works for you.

Finally, don’t be afraid of cloth!

Cloth nappies are so easy to use (in fact I would argue they are easier than disposables). Cloth nappies don’t need to sit in a bucket soaking and they definitely don’t smell!

Once you get into a rhythm of washing every day or so you’ll start to find joy in seeing your beautiful cloth nappies drying on the line – with the added bonus that sunshine gets rid of any occasional stains (this works for mess on clothes and bibs from weaning as well).

Cloth is super easy to use when you’re out and about as well – just put your dirty and wet nappies in a wetbag and pop it in the wash unzipped when you get home. No need to worry about searching for a nappy bin.


Here’s some resources I found useful when starting out with cloth:

  • The Nappy Lady YouTube – I spent a lot of time watching videos of different nappies to understand how they work.

So there you have it, my top tips for getting started with cloth. Are you thinking of using cloth and still have questions? Let me know in the comments

Published by Rebecca

Photographer, explorer, travel and lifestyle blogger

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