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Green baby bottoms – using cloth nappies

Using cloth nappies has been a big learning curve for us in our adventure in urban sustainability over the last eleven months with our little bub. Reusable nappies have come a long way since the terry towelling nappies with plastic covers our parents used on us. These days there’s a mind boggling range of modern cloth nappy options out there. Kristin from Cloth My Bot has a good summary of the different options here.

From talking to other parents, it certainly does seem that different nappy styles suit different babies and the only way to find out what suits you and your bub best is to try different kinds. We’ve picked up different nappies that have been new and unused, or only used a couple of times, from the local second hand Baby and Kids markets and Baby Bazzar markets, and also from Ebay. Hiring a nappy pack with different styles is also a great option, like from Ecopatooties, an Illawarra business. A friend of mine has been really happy with her newborn nappy kit from Ecopatooties, and we wish we had hired newborn nappies for when our little one was just born. We’ve always used the adjustable ‘one-size fits from birth to toilet training nappies’, but really they were too big for our tiny girl when she was born, so there was lots of changing clothes as she frequently sprung a leak! 

We’ve been using mostly pocket nappies such as Bum Genius and Bum Cheeks. They have a waterproof cover and a cotton or bamboo insert that slips inside. They fit well, are easy to put on, and do look very cute! For night-time I find the Pea Pod nappies are really absorbent. We even have a reusable Charlie Banana swimmer nappy for trips to the pool.

Though we haven’t tried them, amongst the greenest of green nappies would probably be something like these gorgeous organic flat cotton Disana nappies with wool covers from Woollykins. Well even greener than that would be embracing Elimination Communication where you become so in tune with your baby you can take them to the toilet or put something under them when you know they are going to do something – but we haven’t tried that one either.  

We have about 25 nappies, and use about 6 or 7 a day. Dirty nappies are stored in a big bucket without any water (this is known as dry pailing) and then chucked in the washing machine on heavy duty cycle with ½ a cap of Ecostore washing liquid. We wash a load of nappies every second day. The bamboo inserts take much longer to dry than cotton inserts. Facing the inside of the nappies directly into the sun helps fade any stains. The way nappies are washed and dried has a lot to do with their overall eco footprint. Apart from three occasions, we’ve always line dried our nappies. Our washing machine is also powered by our own solar power system.   

We also use liners on the inside of our nappies. They draw the moisture away from bubs bottom quickly making them more comfortable, and they help protect the nappies from stains. Before our little one started on solid food at 6 months, we used homemade washable polar fleece liners by cutting rectangles of fleece to fit the nappies. Her poos were so little at that stage we just chucked the dirty liners straight in the dirty nappy bucket to be washed.


Once our gorgeous girl started on solid foods and her poos became more solid and volumous (and chunkily colourful with bits of food!), we started using biodegradable bamboo liners. They can be flushed down the loo, but as it’s best not to flush too many as they can clog the pipes, we only flush liners that have poo on them. The ones that only have wee, we wash with the nappies once, as we find they can be used twice before the start to fall apart. After they’ve been used twice only for wee, we pop them in the compost. 

We now use the polar fleece liners as reusable wipes, wetting them with water, or a gentle liquid soap if lots of cleaning up is required! 

It’s also handy to have a couple ‘wet-bags’ like this one featured on ‘Nappiness’, another Illawarra based cloth nappy business. They’re quite handy for storing wet nappies in when out and about. 

There’s no doubting that reusable nappies are more work than disposables. They’re also much cheaper than using disposables in the long run. But what motivates us is the thought of leaving between more than 5,000 dirty nappies sitting in landfill for our distant great great great great grandchildren’s world. No one really even knows how long it takes for nappies to break down in landfill. Even nappies made from biodegrable materials can’t break down in landfill as they’re deprived of moisture and oxygen and essentially mummified, so you’d have to compost them all at home to allow them to biodegrade. However, we’re totally non-judgemental about people’s nappy choices. We live in a very hectic world that is not easy for parents, you do what you have to do to survive! We also can’t imagine what it would be like to have two (or more!) little ones in nappies! 

Anyone else got any thoughts or tips on using reusable nappies? There’s some great comments on a different range of nappies at

Reader Comments (10)

Additional comments? Just that they rock and it was almost sad when my daughter toilet trained (almost). One of my favourite jobs while working at Wollongong Council was doing eco-baby workshops and posting out giant bags containing modern cloth nappy packs! They should really do that again...
January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMeryl
I am 34. We did terry squares with babies #1 and #2 (two in nappies at one stage) and mostly home made MCN with #3 (then I bought some) which cost a grand total of $70 for three dozen + covers and then MCN with #5 as well. I grew up babysitting kids in terry sqares so it was completely normal that that's the path I took. As a kid, disposable nappies were for 'other people' (who I never knew lol) or ones I saw on the side of the road. That's about as much as I had to do with them.

I posted a few nappying posts on my blog, including a comparison of Bumgenius/Rumparooz vs fitted+cover.
this is all the posts under 'Nappying Journey' if it's any help to you or anyone else. Click on the titles of each post or 'read more' to see the whole post if it interests you.

Cornflour powder (plain, no wheat - either Gaia or refill that container or another shaker with White Wings cornflour powder from the baking aisle -very economical) is great in nappies to help keep bums dry and make tipping poo into the loo easier (poo doesn't stick so well to powder much like paint doesn't stick so well to dust lol). Beware kiwi fruit - no matter what nappy it arrives in, too much is nostril burning for the nappy changer and not nice either on the nappy wearer's skin.

Knitted covers in winter/cold or even summer sound like they make no sense but are brilliant - they evap pee via baby's body heat, and are very breathable but yet keep the pee in. Camping is very doable (bush camping, bring your own water etc) with cloth, and it's very satisfying in terms of being in a pristine place and doing your bit.

there's a HEAP of stuff out there on nappies and nappying so you prob don't need any more from me but that's just a couple of bits to throw in the middle and share.
Happy nappying!
January 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristy
my baby girl is 14 months now and still wearing cloth. we use bamboo terry snap-on diapers with a woolen cover. but let me tell you, i had no idea that she would be peeing 12-18 times during daytime hours(!!) since her first week of life. it's crazy! i see how disposables are so attractive because the baby can feel dry even after 3 pees, but with cloth, she is wet after the first pee. so, i'm often feeling like i do nothing but change her all day long. the wool liners means that she doesn't leak outside her pants, but she is still wet inside. so now i understand why some eco evaluations place cloth on par with disposables in the energy used sense. because you have to change and wash way more with cloth whereas i could maybe use 6 disposable in 24 hours compared to 22 cloth diapers. i am doing alot of laundry.

however, she has never had a bum rash. and the eco value of these will increase with every child that uses them. but man alive it's a lot of work, especially at 14months when i'm chasing her around and she does NOT want a diaper on her any more. ps. I did elimination communication for poops - she has only ever pooped on the toilet since about 4 months. it is so much nicer than pre-rinsing poopy cloth diapers!
January 21, 2013 | Unregistered Commentershan
So refreshing to come here and see all of this. Such a lovely space..xx
January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and words of wisdom from your experiences fellow mummas, especially Kristy with your insights from using nappies on many bubs!

Shan, I'm sorry to hear you are having to do so much laundry - going through 22 cloth nappies in a day is epic! Perhaps it is the kind of nappy you are using? I find with the pocket nappies, the side of the pocket that is again bubs bottom draws the moisture into the absorbent liner really well, so it doesn't feel that wet and can stay on bub for a number of wees. This way we use about 6 to 7 nappies a day. But all bubs are different and have different needs, so what works for me will be very different to what works for you and your bub!
February 2, 2013 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth
I love these cute nappies you have! I speak to mums all the time - many are new mums or pregnant and not sure whether to go disposable or MCN - I think that nowadays, the designs are so much easier to use - it's so much healthier for baby - they usually get out of nappies earlier if they are in cloth - and it certainly helps the budget and the environment! The Bamboo Nappy Liners are a great addition as well !
kind regards
February 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren
Just as another option out there a friend of mine runs an eco MCN nappy wash service out of the Blue Mountains. They use eco cleaning techniques, modern cloth nappies and are pretty much eco right across the board including no chlorine bleach. I hope you don't mind me dropping their business page here (and please let me know if it is a problem as I've only just found your page through another search and was having a quick read) but Lavenderia are pretty great. I only wish we lived closer but I don't think she wuld be willing to do the 7 hour drive just for dirty nappies. ;)
Must be a new concept for me most probably mothers are loves to use baby diapers and nappies made with synthetic rubber or papers or plastic covers; but still people are using cloth nappies for their kids which promote the green concept and helps to protect the environmental issues. From here I must sure we should get some perfect steps to prepare a nappy for our children which looks very protective as well as environmental friendly.
April 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBaby pod
As we all know that babies are most important person in the world so therefore they are highly delicate and there are many people are quite careful about the baby. For this we should be very careful regarding they are highly essential we should take care of the baby and especially about their cloth, their food, and cloth diapers. These are highly essential that we should always try to use a cloth diaper as these are most genuine and safe form of diapers. These are the most helpful and hygienic.
October 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Clarke
we got ours from a web site in the USA. I think it was 300 or just under all up and we got a full kit of babmboo inserts and shells to cover newborn and eventually training pants.

we did use disposables for newborn weeks but quickly converted over to cloth.

best part is we have not even used half the materials shipped to us so we can easily do a second baby with no issues if we are new material only freaks but we wash and reuse

you can get an attachment for your toilet water tap that insets in between the toilet and your plumbing that has a hose and spray nozzle. now you simply spray the soilds into the toilet and flush. the inserts then go into the nappysan bucket waiting to be washwd
March 3, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPoo Freak

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