Our experience with reusable nappies

Before Isaac was born I decided that I was going to use reusable nappies rather than disposable ones. I’m not sure when or where this decision initially germinated from, but it became something I was very passionate about.

I want to preface this blog post with a quick note. I have zero judgement to other people for what nappies they decide to use. This is purely my own story and hopefully will give advice to anyone who wants to know a bit more about reusable nappies.

I hate the idea of creating too much waste and try to be as eco-friendly as I can where possible. I remember seeing several rubbish bags of nappies outside someone’s house and it was astonishing. When I looked into things further I found that newborn babies could be using 10 nappies a day, sometimes less, sometimes more. So in a week that’s 70 or so nappies, all heading to landfill where it would take 500 years or more for them to degrade down. It made me feel sick.

I researched into things a bit further (knowing vaguely that reusable nappies existed but only a in a very ‘hippy dippy’ land). I found a great resource from the Nappy Lady’s website.

This website is a fantastic knowledge base – lots of helpful guides, Q&A’s, videos as well as the products themselves. Well worth a look if you’re interested. I also watched several YouTube videos.

This was all while I was pregnant. Yes, it was quite overwhelming and confusing at first. There are so many different types of nappies you can buy… pocket nappies, two-parters, all in ones, etc. And then there were boosters and liners. Bamboo or synthetic materials. How do you wash them? How many do you need? What do you do when you’re out and about?

But I literally immersed myself into that world, watched real-life mums and tutorials on YouTube and got my head round it. Up front, reusable nappies are a big expense. To use the nappies every day you really need 20-30 nappies depending on the baby – so you can be washing yesterday’s nappies while your baby is wearing today’s nappies. Each nappy is £10-20 depending on the brand and style – not even considering any extra accessories you’ll need (more on that later). That’s a lot of money upfront to get you ready.

To combat this a little, we asked that if family or friends who wanted to give us a present (at the baby shower for instance) then to please give us a nappy. That way we could reduce the hit to us and people would know what to buy us if they weren’t sure (and indeed wanted to buy us anything!).

I also had a lovely friend who sent us some of her old reusables for us to use, which massively helped. Preloved reusable nappies work just as well!

Upfront costs aside though, using reusable nappies in the long run are actually cheaper than disposables. (Of course though up front costs straight away compared to incremental over time).

https://www.cheekywipes.com/blog/cloth-nappies-vs-disposable-nappies-money-saving.html

So let’s get into the nitty gritty. Because we were gifted a lot of nappies, we didn’t get to choose the exact ones. This meant we got a mixed bag of the different types.

Nappy Types

Reusable nappies generally fall into these types:

  • All in ones: the most simple and easy to use. Everything is self-contained in one nappy. No wrap required.
  • Pocket nappies: basically similar to the all in ones but the absorbency bit is tucked inside the nappy in a pocket. So it dries a bit easier because you can take the bit out of the pocket separately.
  • Two parters: these are made up of a fluffy nappy bit that is the absorbent layer, then you have a separate waterproof wrap that goes over that.

During the day we just use a mix of the above. We have boosters and liners that we add. Boosters increase the absorbency by adding another layer to keep the nappy going for longer so it doesn’t leak. We also use a liner (we use thin fleece ones rather than deposable ones). The liner catches the poo so you can flick the poo down the loo a bit easier and it helps preserve the nappy itself in terms of lifespan (reduces the stains in the nappy which unfortunately do happen over time).

They grow with the baby as they last for so long

We have what we call the “Super Nappy” for the night which is a two parter as it’s the most absorbent of all our nappies and we need it to last 12 hours. These don’t tend to leak. We love the Bamboozle brand for this.

Washing and care

In terms of washing, when we change Isaac we put the dirty nappy in a material bag and then the next morning we put those nappies in the wash. We first do a rinse (not a pre-rinse but an actual rinse cycle, which for our machine is about 30 mins). Then we put the nappies on a 40C cycle (if nappies are just wet) or a 60C cycle (if the nappies are soiled) which is usually around 2 hours or so.

Then we hang them out to dry or put them on a drying horse (or if we need to be quick, put them in a tumble dryer but this does wear them down eventually).

Nappy Accessories

Like I said, we use boosters and liners (which go through the same washing process). We also have a wet bag for the nappy bag. This is for when we’re out and about and we change him. Instead of binning the nappy as you would a disposable, we just pop it into the wet bag and take it home with us ready to be washed.

We also use reusable wipes. We keep these in a plastic tub with a lid and we just add water to it and then they’re ready to go whenever we need them throughout the day. We take dry ones with us when we’re out and about so we can dampen them with the tap and use them when changing him.

When Isaac goes to the Nana’s we give them several nappies and then they send back the dirty ones (or sometimes if they get a chance they wash them for us, which is lovely). At nursery they use reusable nappies too so we just send him there in one and they have everything they need there.

Our experience

I love using reusable nappies. It’s just part of our life and feels completely normal. We used disposables for a short period when Isaac was born as we only had two newborn nappies, but as soon as he was big enough (which wasn’t long) we went full reusable.

I have such a system now of washing and getting them sorted that it’s just part of the day really. The nappies are perfect for Isaac as well. We’ve never had any serious nappy rash and we rarely have any poo explosions or leakages. And the patterns and designs are just adorable. And because the costs are all done, it’s absolutely free. We don’t need to buy anything else.

I would heartily recommend using reusables. Even if it’s just one or two a day or week. That’s one or two disposable nappies you’re stopping ending up on landfill. You don’t have to go the full hog to make a difference!

Have you ever considered reusable nappies?

What things do you do to be eco-friendly?

A year of Isaac

I cannot believe that over a year ago I gave birth to Isaac.

It has been the fastest but longest year of my life. Nothing has remained the same. Every month is different. Every day we’re learning something new, or Isaac is showing us something new that he can do or understand. It’s such a steep learning curve for us all!

I won’t lie, it has been a hard year. Though I will stress we’ve definitely had it easier than a lot of people because we have such a solid support network around us. Both our parents are so willing and eager to look after Isaac for us and give us a break or just come round and give advice.

We’re very lucky that Kyle’s mum and my mum can look after Isaac one day a week so that he only goes to nursery twice a week as I only work four days. The cost savings alone are so helpful to us, obviously. And as we’re working from home still, it means things are a lot less stressful.

Anyway, a whole year has gone by and Isaac is no longer a baby but almost a toddler now! He’s crawling, he’s pulling himself to standing and managing to hold himself independently for about 15-20 seconds. So we assume it won’t be long before he’s walking.

He’s eating so much food as well. Using his hands to feed himself and generally eating everything we give him. Though he wasn’t fussed when we tried him on a Mr Whippy ice cream! We haven’t given him lots of sweet or processed things to be honest. We’ve kept to plain yogurt, no chocolate and trying to make most of his meals rather than buy baby food. Not that I judge anyone who does, but for now while he’s so young I just want him to get to grips with more nutritious and “real” food before he fully understands the wonder of cake and chocolate 😉

In terms of breastfeeding, I’m still going. When he’s at nursery or with the Nanas he doesn’t really have any milk unless he’s upset or struggling to nap. But when he’s with me we tend to feed throughout the day. He will always feed before bed and in the morning though. I’m still enjoying it and will be led by him for when to stop. Though I imagine at two years that’ll probably be my max if he hasn’t stopped before.

I have to say, I am loving this stage in general. Obviously I’ve loved Isaac his entire life but I’m much more enjoying this period of time compared to when he was a helpless baby. Of course he was adorable as a baby and so squishy but I love that I can fully interact with him and play with him. Watching how his mind works and his personality so strong coming through.

I definitely find playing with him easier now that he can move himself about. Hanging things above his head while he was immobile on the floor wasn’t the most exciting time I must say. But now passing him toys or showing him different things and watching him try to replicate is just lovely.

Sleep is still tough though. We had one week where he was sleeping through until 4am, I would then feed him and he’d fall back asleep to 6-7am. It was glorious. I felt like a new woman. But now he’s waking at 5am and not going back to sleep. It could well be that we’ve been going through a heatwave and the brighter mornings (though we do use blackout blinds). It’s tough and I desperately want more sleep but I go to bed early enough to not be too much of a zombie.

Sleep aside, it’s such a lovely period for us and Kyle and I are so in love with this little whirlwind of a boy. He’s full of beans and makes us laugh so much. I can’t wait for the coming months as he starts to speak (he’s not quite there yet). So much to look forward to!

Back at work but with no sleep

So I’ve been back at work for around three weeks.

I’m still enjoying being back and I’m getting used to the balance of being a mum and being an employee. I do feel immense amount of guilt when I say this, but I’m really enjoying being back at work and getting that breather from Isaac.

I say “breather” but this doesn’t mean I don’t miss him or constantly wonder what he’s doing, hoping he’s OK and not distressed or unhappy. Of course he’s in good hands and probably hasn’t given me a second thought after he leaves me! But I still worry.

That said, I’m enjoying eating my lunch without rushing or while trying to juggle watching him at the same time. I’m enjoying going for lunchtime walks with Kyle without the pram or carrier and not worry if Isaac isn’t napping or if he’s too hot or too cold.

We’ve been getting into a good routine of what our mornings and week in general look like. I’m enjoying running to nursery on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pick him up. It does feel weird though not running in the morning in the week anymore, but I like that I’m killing two birds with one stone. And the time difference with driving to pick him up is minimal. So it makes a lot of sense.

What’s hard at the moment is sleep. We were doing quite well with “just” two wake ups a night (pre-baby Anna would laugh at such a statement as that still doesn’t sound the dream but compared to previously it is). However, for whatever reason, Isaac is now waking up 3+ times a night. It usually goes something like 11.30pm wake up, then 2-3am wake up, then the hellish time of 3-6am when multiple wakeups seem to be happening.

We think it could be because Isaac has picked up a rather persistent cold which has made him very snotty (lovely I know) and then blocks his nose. He’s never had a cold (or even ever been ill) but after going to nursery for the first time he’s picked one up straight away. Standard.

Or potentially it could be his 8th tooth coming (the 7th was a nightmare as well and it’s in the mirror image position). BUT WHO KNOWS. Babies are enigmas and trying to solve them is a headache.

We’ve tried Calpol, baby Nurofen, a nasal spray, cough syrup, Anbesol, raising his mattress higher where his head is… and even tried disposable night nappies in case it was something about the reusable ones that wasn’t working in the night.

But nothing seems to have worked. This leads me to believe it could be a regression (or a “progression”) where Isaac has learnt some new skills and his brain is just processing so much at night.

It’s hard because during maternity leave I had no rush to get up in the morning – of course I was guided by Isaac. I couldn’t lie in if Isaac was awake but equally if we’d had a bad night he would probably sleep a bit later and that wouldn’t be an issue. But now we have childcare for him to get to and of course work. And work itself is so much harder if you haven’t had a good night sleep, obviously.

So this is our problem at the moment. Isaac is almost 10 months and I honestly (stupidly? Naively?) believed we’d have sleep kind of sorted by now. But noooope. Of course though I’m not alone. Kyle is always there to help. Yes I’m still breastfeeding so there are limits to what Kyle can do during the night, but just having someone there to chat to, or someone to help me the next day is so crucially. We’re a team and we’re in this together. That hugely helps. Even just someone to moan with!

Maternity leave is over

And just like that my maternity leave is over. Just over 9 months of being away from work and looking after the little man – it’s gone so quickly!

We’re very fortunate that I’m only going back four days a week and Isaac is only going to nursery for two days. The other two days he’ll be with the Nanas (Wednesdays with my mum and Fridays with Kyle’s). Having help from our family is obviously massively beneficial to us financially because it literally has halved our childcare costs.

Childcare in the UK is quite an expensive thing and I know a lot of mothers can’t afford to even go back to work because the cost of childcare is more than their salary. So yes, we are very very lucky.

It also means Isaac gets to spend time with two people he really loves and feels safe with. I can also easily check in throughout the day to find out how he is and what he’s up to, which is lovely. Both Nanas adore spending time with him and I know they’ve really been looking forward to this time.

Nursery will also be good for him because it will challenge him in a new environment with new faces. The nursery staff will help develop him in ways I wouldn’t have had a clue about. He’ll become more confident and learn what it’s like to be around other babies.

First day at nursery

I have mixed feelings about going back to work and childcare, as I’m sure all parents do. I’m going to miss seeing him so much. I’ve literally gone from 24/7 to four days only seeing him in the morning and the evening. It’s a hard adjustment.

At the same time, it’s good for me too. I get some mental and physical space and can focus on things I haven’t been able to while looking after the little man. Working will be a lovely time for me to use my brain and no longer be Anna the Mum. My days with Isaac were solely focused on him and housework so now I get a bit of a breather.

I can eat lunch without rushing or multi-tasking. I can go for a walk without the pram. I can write my blog. It feels very odd. Like something is missing or I keep forgetting something.

Mondays will still be the same as before, which will be nice. I’ll be spending the day with Isaac looking after him. I’m glad I still get this day as just having the weekends feels so hard.

In terms of running, the plan is that Kyle will drop Isaac off to nursery in the morning and then I’ll pick him up later. As the nursery is only 3 miles away we’re planning on using the running buggy to commute him there and back.

Kyle will run him down, leave the buggy there, then run back. Then in the afternoon I’ll run down, pop Isaac in the buggy then run him back. That’s the plan! Who knows how well this will work, we shall see. Also, I’m hoping Isaac will get a cheeky nap in the running buggy on the way back as it’ll be about 25 minutes. That’ll be ideal!

So that’s that’s the current state of play. I’m sure they’ll be lots more change and shifting things about but so far this is the plan. I really hope Isaac thrives going forward and that he’s happy. It’ll be a big change for us all, but mostly for him. So fingers crossed…

Have you sent any of your children to nursery?

What does childcare look like for you?

7 months postpartum

Hello! So I thought I’d dust off the old laptop and write a few things down.

Things have got a bit less crazy and I feel like I have a bit more time to write. I love writing my blog – regardless if people read it or not. It’s very cathartic and I love that I have a space somewhere where I’ve jotted thoughts and memories down. I mean, obviously a lot of it’s about running but I want to share some aspects of motherhood and life lately too. Significant stuff basically.

Isaac is now almost 7 months old. Like a broken record I’m going to say how incredible it seems that he’s that old, and yet it also feels a lifetime ago that he was born. So much has happened, so much has changed – with him, with us, with life in general. Of course it would… but yeah it’s just a bit mental.

I won’t lie though. It has been incredibly hard. I’ve struggled a lot with being a mum. So much anxiety, so much second guessing and wondering if I’m doing a good enough job. Constantly wondering if Isaac loves me and is happy I’m his mum. Hoping every day I’m doing a good job and doing the best for him. I know I’m not alone in these feelings and it’s kind of par for the course, but god it’s a lot. Throw in lack of sleep and it’s quite overwhelming at times.

Crucially I’ve learnt that it’s important to not compare yourself or your child to anyone else. I mean, I knew this before about running, but applying it to being a mum and seeing other babies and how they’re doing and what they’re doing, it’s another level. Everyone wants to do the best for their child and I’m sure everyone is doing the best in whatever shape that takes, and every child is different so comparisons are really pointless.

But anyway, Isaac is doing marvellously. His personality is coming alive. He’s more aware of the world and just wants to be fully involved at all times. It’s lovely and exhausting! I just love that we can play a bit more – rather than just dangle things in front of him.

I’m also thoroughly enjoying weaning him. He’s still being breastfed so coupling that with “real” food now is another fun challenge but I love seeing his reactions to different foods and seeing what he likes and what he doesn’t. Obviously it all changes and things he hates one day he adores the next so that’s a fun puzzle to play each day!

Loving porridge, like his mum!

Running is going really well. I can’t believe how my fitness has improved. I’m running around 30 miles a week currently, four times. Usually a 6 miler, a 7 miler then 3 miles (possibly parkrun) and then a longer run. I’m currently training for the Goodwood Marathon on 13th February so that’s been taking my focus.

What’s hugely helped has been running with Isaac in the running buggy. We use the Out N About Nipper Sport running buggy and it’s brilliant. Super light, lots of suspension (great getting up curbs). But the only thing is the fixed wheel at the front is tough when you’re turning corners but you just get used to it.

It’s hard though. It’s a lot more effort, obviously, than just running on your own. But I think this has helped my fitness. I run slower with the bugger, of course, but the effort level is a lot harder and it’s almost like strength training. So doing that for my 6 and 7 milers each week has ramped my strength and endurance up nicely. Long time readers and anyone who knows me knows I hate and rarely do speed training!

I also do two strength sessions a week as well. One is just a home workout I do with lighter weights for about 30-45mins. And the other sessions is with my personal trainer at the gym. We focus on lifting quite heavy weights rather than volume. I’m really proud that my squats have worked up to 8 reps of 82.5kg! This is more than I was lifting before I was pregnant (just!). So my legs feel nice and strong. It definitely helps keep injuries away.

So that’s a little update from me. I hope to get more into the swing of things again with blogging. Fingers crossed 🙂