When I was pregnant with Dylan I dismissed cloth nappies as vaguely gross and definitely something I didn't want to do.
Nine months on I changed my mind after watching several 'internet friends' successfully use cloth and love it. I was also growing ever more conscious of how many baby products were completely destroying my attempts to lead a more Eco friendly, natural life.
The switch to cloth wasn't as clean and simple as I imagined it would be. I had no idea about different brands or fits or types of nappy. And I was clueless about things such as liners, double stuffing, wash bags and prefolds. So blindly into the fray we went ordering a few Gnappies and Itti Bitti's.
Maybe it was because we started later on when Dylan was already eating and drinking as well as breastfeeding but our successful no-leak days were few and far between. A change of clothes suddenly became a changing bag staple again because I just couldn't figure out how often Dylan needed changing. Night times also repeatedly resulted in a middle of the night change which given that Dylan didn't sleep through the night anyway wasn't disruptive, but I didn't enjoy our 3am nappy changes at all.
I hated having to rinse dirty nappies before putting them in the wash (touching poo has never been a strong point of mine) and it took months to find a detergent that removed any stains.
It took a month or so for us to get I to the swing of things. Morning nappies were always an Itti Bitti, during the day we'd use a gNappy and for nighttime a double stuffed gNappy. Rinsing nappies stopped being a big deal after I discovered flushable liners and unless he was at crèche he was happily in cloth.
But as with everything in life things change and you have to adapt.
All too soon cloth nappies were gone. By his second birthday no cloth nappy could stand up and fight against Dylan's liquid consumption. Prefolds and double stuffing no longer worked and so back into disposables it was.
I was sad but it was ok, Isla was about to arrive and I felt ready to tackle the world of newborn cloth and armed with a whole load of new birth to potty nappies I was in a dream world of cute cloth patterns.
It transpired that for a good eight weeks or so Isla was too small for her cloth so they stayed folded away in the cupboard.
But all in good time they came out and we haven't looked back.
These days we use a mixture of itti bitti's, Gnappies, random prefolds and yellow bloom nappies. We also have a whole stash of *another brand that I can't remember right now but will go and check later and insert here* that I'm not a fab of at all and wish I hadn't wasted my money on. Mostly because of how bulky they are so despite being fine for night use, which is actually quite helpful so maybe I should be more forgiving about them, they're mostly redundant.
With Isla it's a lot easier. Maybe because the trial and error period happened with Dylan or maybe because we started when she was younger so have transitioned through different prefold folds and times between changes as she's grown.
While I still love my Gnappies I have newfound love for prefolds. They last longer than any other nappy we've tried and are so much cheaper than anything else.
And also the hugely affordable yellow bloom nappies. They come in a huge range if colours and patterns and as long as you change them regularly they hold up really well with no need (as of yet) to double stuff them.
The thing about cloth is the washing. You have different choices when it comes to washing cloth. You can either store them in a pail to soak till you build up enough to do a cloth only wash. Then wash on high (not so environmentally friendly) with some natural stain remover or you can just throw them in your usual wash and accept the fact that until you do an annual cloth wash with a stain remover your inserts will be vaguely stained for a while.
We tend to opt for the latter in our house. I don't like letting my nappies build up, I like to have them in a constant loop which means putting up with the stains for a few weeks, then once every six weeks I do a hot, stain removing cloth wash.
The other thing about cloth is how frequently you have to change them, a lot. As absorbent as cloth is it's no match for disposable nappies and if you don't change them you'll notice a soggy bottom or two (I watch way too much Great British Bake Off). While if you're transitioning from disposable to cloth this can be off putting I generally feel that disposable or not nappies should be changed every three hours anyway. A baby should go through at least five nappies a day just to make sure they aren't left sitting in a dirty nappy which is horrid for their skin for too long. Because it's less absorbent cloth demands this which can be difficult if you're out and about. We've had a few times where we've been stuck out and had some leaks but those are few and far between if you remember to change nappies before you get on a train/in a car/leave the restaurant.
Cloth, in my opinion is the best option for us. It's saved us an insane amount of money and removed so many chemicals from our lives. I mean, have you ever split open a disposable nappy and seen what's inside?
Using cloth shouldn't be any harder than using disposable nappies, that's the beauty of it. You don't need to wash them differently, you don't need to store them in any special way or buy anything special to carry them in.
They're simple. And simplicity is always handy when you're juggling life and parenthood.