Washable nappies, organic clothing for children, baby carriers and slings

Doubts about washable nappies (FAQ)

Yeah, but then I have to wash them

Of course, but compared to our mothers or grandmothers we have a washing machine (and maybe even the dryer) and the task is not so heavy. The washing machine is fully loaded with the rest of the laundry. Once you get into the rhythm it becomes a matter like so many others to which we are more used to, like to empty the dishwasher, to prepare the broth for baby food, to do your shopping…

But how do you do it with liquid baby poop? I don’t want to spend time scratching dirty nappies…

The liner that you put on the nappy collects a part of the liquid stool and you can throw it in the toilet. Then, while the baby is on the changing table letting the skin breathe in the air, you can rinse quickly the nappy under water and put it in the bin waiting for washing. If you want you can use some Marseille soap (with the care of rinsing it well), but I do not use it to make it sooner and the nappies are cleaned anyway. If the idea of handling a dirty nappies bothers you, you can always use gloves, but this is a personal matter (maybe I’m used to it, but it bothers me more the idea of having to collect the excrement of dogs on the street, and I admire who does it…) and by the way, the baby’s bottom is to be cleaned whatever nappy you use… If you are breastfeeding, you could also have a newborn that discharges regularly every 3-4 days, like my third child. If you’re hesitant, you might consider starting to use the washables with weaning, when the feces become solid and you can throw the liner with all its contents in the toilet: the nappy usually remains wet with pee, but pretty clean. The most convenient way to use washables is to make the baby poop out of the nappy, but for this I refer to the section on early potty training.

I don’t think they hold like the others.

But yes, and this will be a pleasant discovery! Quality washable nappies are made to absorb well, not to wash even bodysuits and overalls. Of course it can happen occasionally some leakage, either because you didn’t put it right or because you kept it for too long, or the child has discharged and you did not notice, but these problems also happen with disposable nappies. If the child only pees you can change him every 3-4 hours, usually you follow the rhythm of the meals; for the night or when the child grows you can adjust the absorbency by adding a cotton liner (in one size nappies it is already included in the package).

It takes longer to change them.

Considering to put two things, namely the cotton nappy and the waterproof underwear, it takes double time compared to a disposable, but your baby of a few months will thank you for being able to stay an extra minute on the changing table, his favorite place after mom’s arms. When you change a newborn it’s more time than it takes to dress him (open and close all the buttons of the overall, open the bodysuit, put his arms in the T-shirt, remove and put his socks, change him again because while it was “free” he peed on the just weared clean clothes …) that the one dedicated to the nappy!

I have a small house and I don’t want to have nappies hanging everywhere.

The writer does not have balconies to hang out and at home in the months of October or March, when the heaters are not in full operation, they take a little longer to dry, but in case of “emergency” or particularly humid periods nothing prevents you from using a disposable nappy if you have run out of stock. Let’s do the math: if you have 24 clean nappies and you use 6 a day for the first three days, in the morning of the fourth day you make a washing machine with 18 nappies and the rest of the laundry: so there are 6 to use while you dry the others. Since you don’t need to dry them all at the same time, you ca quickly dry two or three just by putting them on the radiator. On the other hand, exposed to the summer sun they are ready in two or three hours . Liners: not to occupy space on the drying rack I lay them horizontally on the rest of the laundry, so they are light and dry in a moment.

Can you put the washable diapers in the dryer?

If they are made of cotton they can go in the dryer, while waterproof panties and pockets should not be worn (the waterproof PUL is ruined); in any case it is always necessary to check the information on the nappy label. From an ecological point of view it would be better to limit the use of the dryer in the humid months or in case of real need: lying in the sun is always the best solution, even to send away any halos. The nappy come out of the dryer very soft, but they are damaged a little more because the fibers of the fabric are consumed, those that are then found in the filter.

They are too bulky, they will annoy the baby.

The size of the washable nappy is actually greater than the disposable, but this is not a problem: newborns have very few movements to do and also keep the legs a little more apart is beneficial to grow their even in the correct position. Washable nappies do not prevent babies from learning to crawl and walk (see video below…). Personally I have never bought larger clothes to use with washable, but the Iobio and Piccalilly clothing lines – proposed in my shop – take into account the size of the nappies regarding the trousers and bodysuits have two possibilities of adjusting the size to the crotch to adapt to the growth of the child. I also did an experiment to compare the size of washable and disposable nappies, you can find it described here.

With washable nappy, children’s skin is more irritated, always in contact with the wet.

The cellulose liners to put between the nappy and the skin also have a draining function that makes the pee pass but keeps the bottom drier. The cotton of the washable nappies is very absorbent, do not think that the bottom is “soaking” all the time as if it were in the water; at the time of the change (every 3-4 hours of day, or waking up in the morning) the skin is just wet but usually not reddened. What irritates the most are the feces when they stay in contact with the skin for a long time, but this also applies to disposable nappies. In addition, children with particularly sensitive skin can have redness and dermatitis because of the synthetic substances used for disposable nappy, in this case the use of cotton nappies can be a solution. For the night, if the baby makes a lot of pee you can use in contact with the skin the washable Stay-dry towels, which are in a certified synthetic material designed to drain the pee and leave the skin drier; two of these sheets (which are not absorbent) are already included in the Popolini set of 10 nappies. Other nappy models, such as the Dragonfly Naturalmamma, allow you to choose as contact fabric the cotton or a draining technical fabric, while the Charlie Banana are in draining microfleece or hemp and cotton.

They seem impractical when you’re out of the home.

At first I thought so too, but you only have to organize: just remember to take with you, in addition to the clean nappies, a plastic bag to put inside the wet one to take home, or use the Wet Bag, a nappy bag in washable, waterproof and breathable fabric made especially for this purpose, also useful to bring to the nursery.

I also use disposables and would not have space for two separate bins.

In this case you can put the washable nappies in the small Wet bag (but also in a larger one) or in a laundry net to hang in the bathroom waiting for washing, or directly in the washing machine. If the used nappies are rinsed they do not have an unpleasant smell, from this point of view dirty disposables are absolutely much more smelly!

I started with disposables, now it’s not worth it any more.

It is (almost) never too late to “convert” to washable nappies. From 7-8 months you usually make five changes a day, so you can buy a little less, 15 or 16, or have 20-24 and make washing machines more spaced. With the first daughter I started at 14 months with Prefold nappies in size L and it was a great purchase also from the economic point of view. Trainers can be useful for a child of 18-20 months: they are underpants with an absorbent layer of cotton inside and waterproof on the outside that help in the phase of abandoning of the nappy (read the post about Trainer and reinforced panties).

It is true that they do not pollute and waste is not produced, but energy and water are spent on washing them.

In this regard, I would like to point out the article written on the Nonsolociripà Association website: “Disposable and washable nappies: their environmental impact”.

Are there any useful solutions for a 4-5 year old child who still uses the diaper at night?

Sometimes it happens that the older children still pee during the night almost without realizing it, even if they are totally autonomous during the day. I can suggest to use a Prefold washable nappy in cotton size L (very absorbent) inserted in a waterproof panty size XL if the baby weighs more than 15 kg. There are trainer panty-nappies in big size: they can be useful when the child realizes he is peeing and calls in time to make them again in the toilet. The Trainers absorb the pee without getting the bed wet and take off quickly: being then similar to a panty with elastic waistband (there are also colored ones) they can be more easily accepted by a child particularly sensitive about this difficulty.

My nappies no longer absorb as they used to and they smell of pee even when dry.

It is probably a washing problem: the nappy could contain some detergent residue. Try to do a “stripping”: wash the clean diapers alone once at 60°C with a little ecological detergent, and then at 40°C without detergent. If you still see foam in the washing machine drum proceed with an extra rinse. To dampen the smell of pee from nappies stored waiting for washing, sprinkle a little baking soda on the bottom of the bin (see also Care of washable nappies).

My nappies have hardened.

If they are 100% cotton nappies it is possible that after several months of use they lose some of the initial softness, especially in the middle of summer or if you dry them on the radiator. One tip is to rub them a little bit on themselves when you take them off the clothesline. If you have a lot of them you can also make them take a ride in the washing machine selecting only the spin cycle, after you have removed them dry from the clothesline. Sometimes you can regenerate them by ironing them (it is especially convenient with rectangular prefolds). Or you can take them to a laundromat to give the nappies a dry-cleaner pass, or ask grandparents if they have it… Remember not to use fabric softener or vinegar, but – if needed – add 10-15% diluted citric acid in the softener compartment.

Other questions? Leave a comment below, I’ll try to answer!

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