Reusable Nappies & Swimming

Baby swimming is a great way to bond with your baby, and can be done from birth. Both of our children were enrolled in swimming lessons from just a couple of weeks old, and they have both developed in confidence and skill over the years they have been swimming

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You need very little to take your baby swimming, but the most vital piece of clothing is the swim nappy. Most swim schools and swimming pool require a double nappy system, which consists of a swim nappy (disposable or reusable) with a neoprene ‘happy nappy’ over the top. The double layer is important, as you don’t want your child to be the one that causes the pool to be closed if the nappy leaks!

The first thing to note is that no swim nappy is designed to be absorbent; its sole purpose is to contain any solids. Anything absorbent in a swim nappy would just absorb water from the swimming pool in seconds, and will weigh down your baby

Reusable swim nappies are simple to use and can be used on multiple children. They are generally sized (small/medium/large or size 1/size 2) so they provide a snug fit for your child; a swim nappy that is too small will dig into the skin and may cause discomfort, and a swim nappy that is too big will gape and leak

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One thing to be aware of, especially if you are not familiar with reusable nappies in general is that they are designed to fit more snugly than disposable nappies, so will sit more like a pair of traditional pants, so don’t be alarmed if it looks like the swim nappy is too small, it isn’t!

There are two main styles of reusable swim nappies, and it is personal preference which you go for. Pull-up style are easier for older children to put on independently, but swim nappies with poppers or Velcro are easier to remove without making lots of mess if your little one does have an accident. Our personal preference is poppers as we find that Velcro can get brittle over time with repeated exposure to chlorine

Neoprene happy nappies are used over the top of a swim nappy and provide extra security in the event of an accident. The legs and waist are designed to form a seal in case any solids do escape the swim nappy underneath, and they must completely cover the underneath layer. Again, these are sized, and they must fit snugly to perform their job effectively

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If you are already using reusable nappies, you can use an empty pocket nappy (make sure you remove the inserts first!) or wrap instead of a ‘proper’ swim nappy; an AIO can also be used if you cut out the absorbent tongue first. This is a great way to utilise nappies where the PUL has gone so they cannot be used in the traditional sense. make sure you pop a neoprene happy nappy over the top still!

Taking care of swim nappies is really simple; we just pop ours into the washing machine with the rest of the swimwear. They dry very quickly, so if you are going on holiday, you should only need two or three to use in rotation; if not soiled, they can be hand-washed and dried in a couple of hours

So, what are you waiting for?! Ditch the disposables and try reusables today!

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REVIEW: Nimble Laundry Lover

When Nimble contacted me and said that they had a liquid detergent that was suitable for use on reusable nappies, I’ll admit I was sceptical. The general rule is to use powdered detergent as that doesn’t leave residue on your nappies or washing machine. But I’ll give most things a go, so they sent me some to trial…

Firstly, I was impressed with the packaging; although the cardboard box was larger than it needed to be, I can reuse that (or it is suitable for recycling) and the packaging inside is also recyclable, although I will reuse that too

Packaging

The liquid is brown in colour, which could be a little off-putting to some users, but I prefer that to having extra colours added just to make it look more appealing

Colour

The packaging of the product itself is simple and clear, and the instructions are easy to follow. I would prefer some guidance on whether to add extra liquid if washing reusable nappies, or at the very least what constitutes a ‘normal’ load, as I struggled to work out how much to use initially; several washes down the line though, and I use one full capful plus an extra half a cap for my usual nappy load

Product

Nimble Laundry Liquid produces plenty of bubbles, and my nappies are clean and fresh out of the wash. It does take a little getting used to the scent of the nappies, as I am so used to my nappies not having any scent at all out of the wash; the perfume is intense, but NOT overwhelming and unpleasant

Washing

My nappies are clean, and the absorbency has not been affected by using this liquid rather than powder. I measured the absorbency of the same nappies before and after using Nimble Laundry Liquid five times, and there is no measurable difference in absorbency. The PUL is also unaffected by the product so far

If you would like to try this product, you can get a 10% discount on Nimble Laundry Lover over at Nimble Babies using the code WHNAS10

Cloth Nappies & Childcare

One of the most common reasons I hear for people not trying reusable nappies is that nurseries and childminders won’t use them. In fact, there is no reason why childcare providers CANNOT use reusable nappies, and it actually is a good way for them to demonstrate that they are working in partnership with parents, something that Ofsted is hot on

I’m an Ofsted registered childminder whose own children were (eldest) and are (youngest) in reusable nappies; in fact, the youngest has never worn a disposable nappy. The nursery my youngest attends is more than happy for her to stay in reusables, despite this being their first experience of them

I have cared for children in both disposable and reusable nappies, and MUCH prefer reusable, as there is no risk of poo leaks up the back of the nappy! However, I understand that it is parent choice, and I would never expect my parents who use disposable nappies to switch to reusable, so why should the reverse be acceptable?

There are many misconceptions floating around about reusable nappies, and most of them stem from ignorance of what modern reusable nappies are actually like, so I’d like to share a few tips to help get your childcare provider on board with reusable nappies

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1. Education

Using reusable nappies is still a relatively rare practice in our modern throw-away society, so a lot of childcare providers won’t have come across reusable nappies in their setting before. Ask your childcare provider if they have seen or used modern reusable nappies previously and be prepared to show them what they are like

If you ask the majority of people in the UK what reusable nappies are, they will usually describe terry squares, plastic pants, soaking in a bucket until wash day… The reality of modern reusable nappies is very different, and by showing providers that no nappy pins or soaking is involved, then they will usually be more open to the suggestion
Find out if your childcare provider has any preconceptions about reusable nappies, for example, that they leak, and be prepared to address those

2. Communication

Have a conversation with your childcare provider about how both you and they could manage reusable nappies in the setting
Things to consider might include:

  • Preparation of nappies: could you send nappies already prepared, with all inserts, boosters and liners in place, ready to put straight onto the child?
  • Storage of dirty nappies: if the childcare provider has a double bagging policy could you provide small wet bags for individual nappies then another, larger, wet bag for these to go into afterwards?
  • Dealing with solids: I always suggest asking the childcare provider to leave any solids for parents to dispose of at homeThis communication shouldn’t happen just when your child starts childcare either; make sure you communicate regularly with your childcare provider, encouraging them to share any issues they may have

3. Stick to what you know

Don’t send in nappies you don’t normally use. Stick to nappies you know suit your child; nappies that you can demonstrate how to fit correctly because you use them every day, where you know how long those nappies should last between changes
There’s absolutely no point in buying loads of nappies especially for nursery because they’re ‘easier’ when actually your child wees through them in half an hour and they aren’t a good fit on your child
If it ain’t broke…

4. Expect leaks

Remember when you first started using reusable nappies on your little one and didn’t fit them properly into the knickerline? And that time you left the fleece liner sticking out and liquid wicked onto trousers? Oh, and when you did the poppers up too tight and got compression leaks?

Your childcare provider will need to go through that learning process, and you will need to be patient…
Pack several pairs of bottoms. Be prepared to demonstrate how to fit a reusable nappy several times to several different people. Send in a picture to show how tight the Velcro at the waist should be. Write a brief set of instructions to leave in the change bag to remind the key worker. Send them a link to a fit video (fab one here!) Use Sharpie to mark the poppers that need to be done up… Do whatever needs to be done to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone involved

You learnt to do this once, and you didn’t have 20 other children to look after at the same time! I suppose the main lesson to take away from this consists of two words…

Be patient!

Anyone else got any more top tips to share when it comes to cloth nappies and childcare?

REVIEW: Reusable Nappies – EcoBebe All-in-Two Nappy

The EcoBebe nappy (right hand side in the photo below) is designed to fit from 7lb 7oz on the smallest setting up to 33lb on the largest, although if you do have a larger toddler I would be wary that it might not last up until that maximum weight, especially in comparison to the EcoPipo (left hand side in the photo below) which is definitely more generous in size.

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I was a tad sceptical when I saw the EcoBebe nappy; it looked a LOT smaller than the EcoPipo pockets I was already using on my youngest, and I wasn’t convinced it wasn’t going to fit her… But it did! She is on the largest setting at just over two years of age, and 50th centile for weight (I can’t remember what she actually weighs though, classic second child problem!)

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The fit is very trim, and a lot less bulky than EcoPipo pockets, partially aided by the insert. EcoPipo pockets come with one long trifold (bamboo and microfibre) which folds into three, whereas the EcoBebe insert only folds into two; it comprises of one long microfibre insert with a cotton velour outer on one side and a microfleece outer on the other for a choice of material to put next to the skin. As the insert folds over to fit into the wrap, it also unfolds for faster drying, which is a definite bonus in the torrential rain we are currently experiencing

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The insert fits comfortably into the cover, and I have also added an extra EcoPipo bamboo insert for extra peace of mind on occasion; I was unsure if this would compromise the fit of the nappy, but the double gusset at the leg means that there is no gapping once the nappy is fitted correctly

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One slight issue I do have is the proximity of the snaps to the edge of the tab; this can make it tricky to undo the nappy when changing, as there isn’t any material to grab onto, but I am unsure if this is just my particular nappy, or true for all products

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Overall, we are very happy with our EcoBebe nappy; the trim fit is great for an active toddler, and absorbency can easily be customised to suit without gaps and leaks occurring

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***ALL VIEWS EXPRESSED IN THIS BLOG POST ARE MY OWN***

Reusable Wipes: The Bottom Line

We started using reusable wipes when my eldest was around three months old; they have served us well for over 3.5 years, and two children. As a mum of two, and childminder of more than two, they have become an invaluable part of our household. Here are a few reasons why…

1. Fewer wipes used each nappy change

Because reusable wipes are made from materials such as cotton and bamboo, they are grippier than disposable wipes, which have a tendency to slide and smear.

As a childminder, I use both reusable and disposable wipes regularly, and while the maximum number of reusable wipes I have used in any single nappy change stands at three, I have needed over double that amount of disposable wipes on more than one occasion!

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2. Easy to use at home

Everyone has their nappy changing station set up slightly differently, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this. Personally, we have them all stored in a tub already wet, so we can just grab and use; other parents store dry and wet under the tap at each change.

Once used, you can throw into the nappy bag or bucket if using reusable nappies too, or the Cheeky Wipes system includes a Mucky Box to store dirty wipes until wash day. Depending on whether your washing machine eats small items, a mesh bag can be useful to stop your wipes going AWOL during washing…

3. Easy to use when out and about

Again, everyone has their own system for this. We have a small wet bag into which we put a few damp reusable wipes; once used they go into the larger wet bag with dirty nappies.

If you prefer to keep your wipes dry until use, a small bottle of water can be carried with them and used to dampen them before use.

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4. Cheaper in the long run

Thirty reusable wipes can cost up to £30 if bought new, depending on where you buy; buying preloved brings the cost down further, and making your own out of items in your home will reduce the cost even more, perhaps even costing you nothing but the time to make them.

Compare this to even the cheapest disposable wipes. On a conservative estimate of a pack per week for 2.5 years, which is the average age of toilet training, Aldi wipes (0.49p per pack) will cost you £63.70 [I use Aldi as a comparison as they were the cheapest I could find online!]

5. Reducing landfill and fatbergs

Disposable wipes are made of a mixture of materials, including plastics; this means they will never break down fully. Disposable wipes should NEVER be flushed (even if labelled as such) though too many sadly are, becoming a massive contributor to fatbergs (read more here on these)

Reusable wipes are made of biodegradable materials which will break down over time. You can re-purpose your reusable wipes once your children no longer need them for general cleaning or even family cloth, or sell on to recoup some of your costs.

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6. No chemicals (other than water, water is a chemical after all!)

Since reusable wipes are soaked in whatever you choose, water being the cheapest and easiest option. Some soak in chamomile tea, or melt coconut oil in hot water, but plain old-fashioned H2O is good enough for us!

Disposable wipes contain a lot more chemicals, including preservatives, alcohols and fragrances, some of which have been linked to eczema and allergies. You can read more in a Which report here.

Do you use reusable wipes already? What extra uses do you have for them?!
Or, perhaps you haven’t taken the plunge yet… Hopefully now you can see how easy it can be!
Share your experiences with me…

Reusable Nappies: Cloth Bumming on a Budget

‘I can’t afford to fork out hundreds of pounds all at once to buy reusable nappies’

I agree, not many people can. But reusable nappies don’t have to be expensive; not when starting out, and definitely not in the long run. There are several things you can do to make reusable nappies affordable and accessible to your family…

  1. Use your local nappy library

Nappy libraries are run by volunteers and allow you to trial a selection of reusable nappies before buying anything. You can save money by finding out which nappies work best for your child, so you can then go and buy exactly what you need, rather than wasting money through trial and error. Find your local nappy library here to get started on your cloth bum journey.

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  1. Buy preloved

Once you know the type of nappies you are looking for, there are dozens of selling pages specifically for buying and selling preloved nappies. You can pick up bargain bundles for a few pounds, as well as selling on your own nappies once you have finished with them to recoup some of your costs.

  1. Don’t discount the simple options!

Sometimes the simple options can be the best; prefolds are often overlooked in the era of modern cloth nappies, but they are cheap to buy (usually 50p each preloved), can be folded to fit any body shape, are extremely hardwearing and can be used around the house once their lifespan as nappies has ended. Similarly wraps can be picked up for a couple of quid, so you can cloth from birth to toilet training for £20 through this method (assuming 20 prefolds and 5 wraps)

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  1. Build up your stash gradually

Cloth bumming doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Building up your stash gradually can be a great way to reduce your landfill without splurging all your hard-earned cash at once. A couple of nappies per month, and in a year you will have enough to cloth full time.

  1. Use on multiple children

If you are planning on having more than one child, then using the same nappies on them means no outlay for additional children. Even with two in cloth for a year we didn’t need double the amount of nappies, as we washed more frequently.

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Do you have any more tips to help save money when cloth bumming? Share them below!

Plastic Free July 2018

Since the introduction of the 5p charge for single use plastic bags in October 2015, plastic litter has been drastically reduced in my neighbourhood. Pretty much every shopper at my local supermarket takes their own bags and doesn’t even complain anymore! However, plastic litter is still prevalent in our environment, and there is more that we can do as a society to reduce our plastic consumption. As today marks the start of Plastic Free July, I want to share with you six ways that our family have reduced our plastic usage with very little effort at all; hopefully it can encourage some of my readers to make a small change this month too.

  1. Nappies and wipes

25-30% of a disposable nappy is plastic (mainly polypropylene and polyethylene) and can take between 200 and 500 years to decompose in landfill. They account for approximately 3% of household waste, and approximately 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away each day in the UK alone. Disposable wipes are generally made of polyester and propropylene, and the packaging is made of non-recyclable plastics.

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Reusable nappies do have some plastics components, mainly the waterproof PUL (polyurethane laminate) layer, and some of the absorbent materials such as microfibre (polyester, polyamide, and polypropylene), but consider that these are a multiple use item and that the plastic component will be reused hundreds of times. You can also choose plastic-free alternatives such as a wool wrap instead of a PUL one, and bamboo, hemp or cotton instead of microfibre. Reusable wipes are usually made from cotton or bamboo, and are dampened with water to use.

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There is a network of nappy libraries across the country to help, support and advise parents who want to trial reusable nappies. Why not get in touch with your local volunteer to find the reusable nappies that work for you
http://www.uknappynetwork.org/map.html

  1. Deodorant

Roll-on and stick deodorants are packaged in plastic, usually polyethylene and polypropylene, which can generally be recycled.

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There are alternatives which use compostable cardboard packaging; once the product has been used, simply add to your compost bin or in to your garden waste bin. The additional benefit of natural deodorants is that they do not contain aluminium, which is absorbed into the skin and has a potential link to certain cancers and Alzheimers.

  1. Shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

In a similar fashion to deodorants, shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are packaged in plastic, most of which can be widely recycled (although not usually the lids)

Shampoo

Shampoo and conditioner bars are a simple plastic-free alternative that can be found on the high street or online; simply lather up and then rinse. Some users report that the bars can leave hair slightly waxy, but a rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar (easy to find in your local supermarket, and you can opt for a glass bottle) helps to remove any residues. Similarly, with shower gel, you can buy shower gel bars, or even use old-fashioned soap!

  1. Straws

It is estimated that 8.5 BILLION plastic straws are used in the UK every year; many are not disposed of correctly and end up as litter. They will degrade over time (approximately 200 years) but will never fully break down (biodegrade); this means that tiny particles remain in the environment and are toxic to wildlife. Even before they break down, plastics are ingested by wildlife, causing suffocation and death.

Straw

There are several alternatives to disposable plastic straws; many fast food chains are now committed to paper straws (some are even using pasta straws!) which is a massive improvement, even though they are still disposable. Reusable options include stainless steel and bamboo straws. These can be carried with you for use on the go; they are easy to clean (they usually come with a small brush to clean the inside) and take up very little room in your bag

  1. Menstrual products

On average, a woman will use 11,000 disposable tampons or pads in her lifetime; these obviously can’t be recycled, and therefore end up in landfill (or worse, flushed down the toilet, helping to create fatbergs) They contain polypropylene and polyethylene, as do disposable pads. Menstrual products aren’t a ‘luxury’ (despite what the UK government would have us believe, but this isn’t a political post!) and your period can be comfortable and plastic-free.

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Cloth sanitary pads are comfortable and the absorbency and length can be tailored to your specific requirements; in addition, the toppers can be made in a variety of fabrics and designs, so your period can even be pretty! Menstrual cups are the internal option; these are made of silicon and can be boiled in between uses to ensure cleanliness.

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  1. Takeaway coffee

Most people would argue that the disposable cups that you get in coffee shops for your takeaway coffee are made of paper; that is true, but they need a waterproof coating to prevent the liquid leaking through, which is actually polyethylene, a plastic. Add to that that the lids are generally made of hard polystyrene which is not widely recycled, plus the fact that 7 million disposable cups are used in the UK every day, and that adds up to a lot of landfill…

Coffee

A simple switch to a reusable travel mug and not only will you be helping the environment, but you can also save yourself some money! Most coffee shops offer money off to customers who choose to reuse, and the insulated cups will also keep your drink hotter for longer!

So what’s next?

This month we are going to try and reduce our plastic use further; buying loose from the supermarket, making a beeswax cover for food so we don’t use clingfilm and I’m also looking into getting milk from a local dairy in glass bottles rather than plastic.

What will you try this month to reduce the amount of plastic you use?