Getting Started with Cloth Nappies
Getting Started with Cloth Nappies is easy! Just start with one. You can browse our range on this website of for a quick overview of the range see our Bells Bumz Guide below. We also offer a nationwide cloth nappy incentive scheme here.
We also have a FAQ section and a Guide to caring for and washing cloth nappies. The best support for Getting started is via our amazing Bells Bumz Parenting and Nappy Chat group on Facebook! Please do come and join us! You can also contact us at any time with any questions you may have.
Bells Bumz Eco Cloth Nappies and Accessories UK have launched Bells4 Change which includes our new Bells Bumz Eco Grants alongside our affordability strategy, Nationwide Cloth Nappy Incentive Scheme, other charitable donations (both in the UK and abroad), supporting Nappy Libraries and our warranty which includes an offer to repair and repurpose old cloth nappies, regardless of brand to give or raise funds for good causes.
Getting Started with Cloth Nappies
Getting started with cloth nappies is simple, the decision to use cloth nappies doesn’t have to be all or nothing, you can replace one nappy a day, a day a week, part-time, day time only, night time only or full time! It’s completely up to you. Cloth nappies are easy to use and are not hard work, all that’s involved is an extra couple of wash loads in your week, with modern cloth nappies there is no need to soak, scrub or boil, you simply wash them in your machine and then dry them and reuse.
Quick Start Guide
1. Decide what type of cloth nappy you want to use (see below for a guide) We recommend a mixture of types to start with whilst you find what your favourite is for you and your baby. This is why we have put together a “Bells Bumz For a Day” bundle allowing you to sample all types at a discount.
2. Decide how many cloth nappies you need. As a rule of thumb allow for a newborn baby to use around 10 nappies per 24 hours which decreases over time to around 6 nappies per 24 hours by the time baby is 4 – 6 months old. You will not need to change your baby any more regularly than you would in a disposable.
3. Decide what accessories you need, we recommend:
A Nappy Pail Wetbag or an airy basket (more holes than plastic) to store dirty nappies until wash day
Wet bags for out and about to store wet nappies (for nurseries who like to use a double bag system the Bells Bumz Mini wetbags can fit a folded nappy and then you can use a medium wet bag as the second bag to collect all the individual nappies inside their mini wetbags)
A Nappy Pod for in the house or out and about to store clean nappies (these are big enough to fit clean nappies plus other essentials such as baby clothes)
Fleece Liners to line the nappy, keep baby feeling dry and to catch the poo but they are not essential
4. Decide whether you want to cloth overnight. As a rule of thumb baby will need changing overnight until they are not soiling overnight (as you need to change after every poo) and until around 4-6 months old. Until this stage you will not need dedicated night nappies and can simply use whatever you use in the day. This is accounted for in the 10 nappies per 24 hours rule above. Once baby is 4-6 months old you will need one nappy per night with one wrap and if using night nappies every night we recommend 5 nappies with 3 wraps (this allows for the nappies to take longer to dry). We recommend fitted or flat nappies as a two part system.
5. You may notice pink indentations to your babies skin around the legs and the waist, these are referred to as “sock marks” and are completely normal as long as the skin is not broken, they are not red and they go after the next nappy change.
6. Sometimes cloth nappies leak, remember disposable nappies can leak too, it can be normal and with cloth (unlike with disposables) can usually be prevented by looking at fit and absorbency. The cloth community is very supportive and will be able to help you consider if you have enough absorbency in the right place and check the fit of your nappies. The Bells Bumz Parenting and Cloth Nappy chat on facebook is a wonderful group to join.
7. Washing and caring for your Bells Bumz Nappies, we recommend a daily or every other day pre-wash at 40 or 60 degrees with a half dose detergent and then dry pail in an airy basket (more holes than plastic), mesh laundry pag or Nappy Pail Wetbag. Followed by a regular main wash usually the long cottons cycle (not eco) on your machine (maximum day 4) at 40 or 60 degrees with full dose of detergent. Newborn poo (any poo before weaning starts) is water soluble and does not need to be removed prior to washing, once weaning starts simply remove the poo (the toilet flush, shower head into the toilet/ bucket or after poo’s are more solid they “plop” off, especially if using fleece liners) before dry pailing.
The Benefits of Cloth Nappies
Some of the benefits of Cloth nappies include that cloth nappies are generally accepted to be kinder to your baby’s skin, most parents who give cloth a go report that they have less incidences of nappy rash and that baby seems more comfortable. Cloth Nappies are suggested to help to support baby’s development through helping the hips to be in the “happy hips” position. Every cloth nappy saves a disposable nappy from going to landfill, protecting this world now and in the future. WRAP has reported that the UK adds 3 billion disposable nappies to landfill every year and it is estimated that disposable nappies take up to 500 years to decompose, chosing to switch even one cloth nappy a day can make a huge impact. It is reported that using cloth nappies full time, even when considering the washing cost and raw materials used is better for the environment and will save you money, the money saved increases each year and with each child you may have. You may also be able to recoup some of the costs as there is a great market for pre-loved nappies.
Choosing whether to use newborn / size one nappies or birth to potty nappies from birth
Birth to potty nappies are designed to fit from c 10lb – 35lb so can be used from birth. However, they do tend to look a little bulky on newborn babies and you may find that you can’t get a good leg seal until they are around a month or two old as they are unlikely to fit from birth. Some people choose to start with birth to potty nappies and accept there may be leaks for a few weeks or even use disposables at the start whilst adjusting to being parents to a newborn. Those who choose to use newborn / size one nappies will usually move on to birth to potty nappies when they are outgrown and there is a great market for pre-loved nappies. The Bells Bumz size one nappies are an affordable option and fit c4lb – 25lb+ so your baby could stay in this size until around 1 year old.
All About Absorbency
The most important element of cloth nappies are the absorbent parts. The materials can vary and should form part of your decision making process. As a general rule, the most absorbent a fabric or material, the slower it is to dry.
Microfibre – This is the quickest to dry as it doesn’t truly “absorb” liquid, instead it has lots of tiny hooks and the liquid is trapped to sit in these hooks. This means that water is very quickly caught by the hooks, making it the fastest to “absorb”. However, if the fabric is squashed such as in a car seat or baby carrier microfibre can be prone to compression leaks. Microfibre is also very bulky on the bum as it is similar to a sponge and “absorbs” significantly less gram per gram than the natural fibre alternatives. Microfibre only needs one wash before use to remove any manufacturing residue. Microfibre is extremely cheap to produce so can be a very cost effective method to try cloth nappies. However, when washed the microfibre releases microplastics into the environment. You will not find any microfibre in any of the Bells Bumz products for this reason, instead we have chosen to reduce our profit margins in order to produce high quality yet affordable options.
Cotton – This is the quickest natural fibre to dry as it does not hold as much volume of liquid gram per gram as bamboo or hemp. However, it is extremely fast to absorb making it a good option to mix with bamboo or hemp to ensure a reliable nappy. At Bells Bumz we mix Cotton with either bamboo or hemp as well as offer our BOOM range which includes a BOOM liner and BOOM boosters designed to help with those big fast wees our little ones can do. Our 100% Cotton BOOM products can be used after one wash to remove manufacturing residue. However, they can take up to 5 washes to improve how quickly they absorb liquid.
Bamboo – This is a slower drying fabric than cotton but it holds more liquid gram per gram than cotton, meaning that cloth nappies containing bamboo can be less bulky yet have higher absorbency. At Bells Bumz we offer two types of Bamboo in our nappies: 80% Bamboo 20% polyester (the polyester is the backing that the bamboo loop is attached to, this gives the fabric strength as Bamboo alone is extremely delicate) and 70% Bamboo, 30% Cotton. Our bamboo fabrics require 5 washes to build absorbency. However, can be used after the first wash to remove manufacturing residue if you are prepared to change more regularly.
Hemp – This is the slowest drying fabric but hemp is extremely absorbent once it has been washed at least 10 times and holds the highest volume of liquid gram per gram. This means that hemp nappies are less bulky on the bum providing more absorbency. Hemp is also a very environmentally friendly fabric with the least environmental impact. You can use nappies containing hemp after the first wash if you are prepared to change more regularly. As hemp is an extremely rough fabric, all hemp nappies contain a mixture of hemp and cotton, the cotton also allows the fabric to absorb liquid faster than it would alone as hemp is very slow to absorb. Despite being blended with cotton the hemp fabrics are slower to absorb than the bamboo and cotton alternatives. The Bells Bumz hemp fabric is 55% hemp, 45% cotton which is a superior ratio to other affordable brands.
Different Types of Cloth Nappy
Flat Nappies are square sheets of fabric that are very absorbent. The terms Flat nappy and terry nappy are interchangable, a terry nappy is usually cotton which makes it more bulky than the Bells Bumz Bamboo Flat nappy as you can have less thickness with bamboo as it can absorb a greater volume of liquid per gram of fabric. Bells Bumz Bamboo cotton tri-fold can be used as a flat nappy for newborn babies (similar to how you would use a muslin) and is a slightly more modern version, often also referred to as a prefold. The benefit of flat nappies are they are very absorbent and relatively cheap whilst being easy to wash and quick to dry.
There are a number of folds you can use with flat nappies, and you fasten them with a nappy pin or nappy nippa. We find nappy pins are easiest to use. When using the tri-fold as a flat nappy for your newborn we recommend the angel fold and we find the nappy nippas work best.
The great thing about using the trifold as a newborn flat is that once baby is big enough for birth to potty size pocket nappies or wraps you can then pad fold the trifold and use in these for absorbency, saving yourself money.
As Flat nappies are made entirely out of absorbent material, they can feel extremely wet when removed, especially if used overnight, this is entirely normal. As long as you are not having leaks and/or the leg elastics on the water resistant cover are not wet (you will know if this is the case as you will notice red marks to the legs which unlike “sock marks” will not go after a few hours) you do not need to boost and the nappy is doing its job well.
Fitted Nappies are a two part system as you need to use the fitted nappy (absorbent nappy) underneath a water resistent cover. Bells Bumz have a range of fitted nappies including the birth to potty hemp fitted, junior hemp fitted and the Reusabelles premium fitted nappy. All of these work in the same way in that they have popper in inserts included allowing you to customise aborbency depending on your baby and also whether you wish to use them in the day or at night.
Bells Bumz have a range of water resistent covers, known as wraps, available including the Z wrap, junior size Z wrap+ and the Reusabelles BreeZe. The Z wraps (+) are best suited to daytime or night time use as they are slim fitting and tuck neatly into the knicker line. They can also be used with a variety of snap in inserts or with a trifold or flat folded in a “pad fold” which basically means into a rectangle. The Reusabelles BreeZe is designed for overnight use as it fits loose on the thigh with space for air to circulate between the fitted nappy and the wrap.
When using a two part system during the day you can simply wipe down the wrap unless soiled and reuse, we recommend have two wraps to alternate during the day to allow for the leg elastics to dry.
Like the flat nappies above, Fitted Nappies are made entirely out of absorbent material, they can feel extremely wet when removed, especially if used overnight, this is entirely normal. In particular with the Bells Bumz Hemp Fitted Nappies as the outer layer is hemp this draws the moisture away from baby to the outside which can make the outside of the nappy feel particularly soggy. As long as you are not having leaks and/or the leg elastics on the water resistant cover are not wet (you will know if this is the case as you will notice red marks to the legs which unlike “sock marks” will not go after a few hours) you do not need to boost and the nappy is doing its job well.
All-in-two nappies are different to a fitted nappy and wrap but with a similar ethos. The nappy is still in two parts with an outer shell which is water resitant and a snap in insert that provides absorbency. As the insert snaps into the shell they differ from a two part system as they are placed onto baby in one piece rather than first putting on the fitted nappy and then placing the wrap over the top. This makes them easier to use but allow them to dry quicker and where the shell is not lined they can again be wiped clean unless soiled and reused.
Bells Bumz offers two types of all in two nappy, the first is the true all in two which is our Z Swap system where the Z Wrap (+) can be used as a wipe clean wrap along with our Z soakers (both junior and birth to potty size). Our innovative Z system means that for day time use you would need 2 wraps along with around 5 Z soakers making it an affordable option use cloth nappies on your baby.
The second is our All in Two pocket hybrid, this shell is lined with soft stay dry microfleece to keep baby dry as it can also be used as a pocket nappy (see below) with additional inserts. The All in Two pocket hybrid comes with an included Z soaker and Z booster+ which snaps underneath the Z soaker, this means that once put together it can be placed on baby in one piece. However, it differes to the Z Swap system as the shell can not be wiped clean and reused and so the entire nappy will then need to be washed. Some people prefer the All in Two pocket hybrid as a quicker drying version of an all in one nappy (see below).
Pocket Nappies are a waterproof outer with a layer of stay dry material sewn on top, there is then a pocket between the waterproof layer and the stay dry material for you to insert (also referred to as “stuff”) absorbency. This is why they are often referred to as pockets and inserts. We often get asked what the difference is between an insert and a booster, generally the terms are interchangable. However, at Bells Bumz our boosters are usually smaller or slimmer in size compared to our inserts.
Pocket nappies are an affordable way to use cloth nappies during the day, they are also versatile as they can be used with various options for absorbency to customise it for your babies needs. For example, our Bells Bumz Versatility pocket nappies can be used with our full range of inserts and popper in absorbency such as the heavy wetter, the tri-fold and the Z soakers, effectively allowing them to be used as an all in two (see above). As the pocket nappies have a stay dry layer, the entire nappy will need to be washed after each use.
Pocket nappies are simple to use as they are placed on baby in one piece with the absorbency already stuffed inside the pocket (or poppered over the top) and they dry very quickly as the absorbency is seperated from the water resistant layer for the wash.
All in One Nappies are exactly what they sound like, they are where the absorbency is sewn into the water resistant layer either at both ends or at one end meaning that they require very little to no preperation before they are placed on your baby.
The Bells Bumz all in one nappy has absorbency sewn into the gusset underneath a stay dry microfleece layer plus a Z soaker sewn in one end, with a popper at the back to secure in place. This means that the insert can be unpoppered and laid out to dry to speed up drying time. Comparably, the Bells Bumz premium Reusabelles All in One is sewn in both ends and as such takes longer to dry but its extremely simple to use with no preperation required!
Traditionally people have found that all in one nappies are not as absorbent as the absorbency is less customisable than with other options. Here at Bells Bumz we have ensured that our All in One nappies are extremely absorbent with also space to boost if needed (the majority will not need to boost our nappies as we believe this undermines the point of an all in one nappy!).
UK Cloth Nappy Libraries
Bells Bumz supports UK Nappy Libraries by offering a special discount. Please contact us to enquire.
Cloth nappy libraries, which are usually run by volunteers of parents with babies of their own in cloth, are a great way to find out more about real nappies before committing to buying a set of your own. Some cloth nappy libraries run demo events to answer all your questions. Find the list of Cloth Nappy Libraries here.
Cloth Nappy Council Incentive Schemes
Some local councils offer a Real Nappy Incentive voucher scheme to encourage the use of real nappies over disposables. Contact your local council for details of any reusable nappy council incentive schemes in your local area or see the Nationwide Real Nappy Incentive scheme by Bells Bumz here.