Feedback on cloth nappies
Putting yourself on the bike-scaled
- 2 November 2022

Our nappy adventure

After 2 years of unsuccessful attempts, I am 7 months pregnant. The choice of name is not yet fixed. The choice of zero waste is not yet an obvious one at home.

WhatsApp chat between girlfriends on morning off: a friend explains that she has just bought nappies "in bulk" on a website to save money, then shows me a picture of the pile of boxes full of disposable nappies.
What a horrible sight that is! We hadn't thought about it before. My intimate protection products are washable for allergy reasons. My make-up removal pads are washable for ecological reasons. But, although the pregnancy is now well underway, my husband and I have not yet fully realised that we will have to change nappies several times a day very soon.

But this vision of nappies piling up is impossible for me. I CANNOT produce so much waste, while my baby, still warm in my belly, will soon be living on this planet. I refuse to be the one to pollute his planet. I want to be the one to save it, for him (or her).
All hell broke loose, I asked about cloth nappies: types of nappies, ease of use, price, number to buy for daily use, etc. There was one major problem: convincing the future father. It's easy, he has no choice because I'm having an anxiety attack. Because of the pregnancy, he thinks. Because of the eco-anxiety he will realise later, he will pay for it himself. He follows me in the adventure because he understands that he has no choice and cannot leave his wife in tears. 

Le choix des couches lavables

My baby is going to start his life, looked after by his granny, because, due to our temporary separation, I'm going to leave our old flat and live with my parents for a few months. So we'll have to convince the future granny, which is no easy task! (Spoil: afterwards, she doesn't even understand how she could have said no in the first place...and convinces new parents herself!)

So I look for the easiest type of nappy for her to use to make her agree with our choice. This article helped me a lot in my research.

They will be called "all-in-one" or TE1 pocket nappies. Why do I want them? Because the website tells me that "drying is much faster. It's an ideal nappy for use at the childminder's or nursery." Sold!

Well, not quite, we need to clarify a few things: scalable or not? (Yes, we can't afford to buy everything again in 6 months.) And scratch or pressure? (Pressure so that it lasts and doesn't come off by mistake.)

And then not yet, because I now have to do some clever calculations: how many nappies will I need? I don't want to take too many (for the price at the time, as we're equipping ourselves on all sides) and I want to take enough so that I don't have to put disposable nappies on while waiting for them to dry (the tumble dryer is forbidden in our house for ecological reasons after all). So we buy 25 nappies to start with. Much too late, I realize that the nappies we have chosen come from China...

For the only time in my life, I'll be buying on Black Friday, because let's face it, it's an investment to begin with. My husband having accepted cloth nappies, the condition was that they had to be new for hygiene reasons (second hand was not yet a way of life). A few days later, we would receive these colourful, crunchy little things that made us realise a little more that life change was imminent. ♥

Preparation of the layers

and (pre-)washing of nappies

First of all, we need to wash them twice before use. No detergent with enzymes, no spinning too hard for the nappies. But stronger for the inserts. You have to spin them again at the end of each cycle. So my big belly and I started the machine, twice. My lover will have stretched it, twice. With love. The first of a loooong series. Which will take place with less love and sometimes swear words, let's be honest, since that's what this article is about.

Especially the next few times, there will be a pre-wash with antibacterial powder and tea tree oil to prevent bacteria or fungi.

To put between the nappy and baby's bottom, we have provided washable covers. They will last for a while, be replaced by compostable covers, eventually come back, go back, etc., depending on our moods. Or rather our fatigue.

The nappies are ready. We are not yet ready. Neither is baby, he's finally making himself wait.

Les premiers pas avec les couches lavables

That's it, our little ball of love is here. He's a beautiful little boy, a lovely surprise at almost 3kg500. Why am I telling you about the weight? Because it is very important.

Nos couches lavables sont adaptées dès la naissance. Enfin, dès 4kg. Ici, les 4 kg arriveront très vite, heureusement, car déjà, jeter ces premières couches utilisées quelques heures seulement me rend malade. (Sans compter sur Bébé qui fait pipi sur la couche toute neuve qu’on essaie de lui mettre… Le bonheur d’avoir un p’tit gars !)

So we started our life with cloth nappies just 10 days after the birth. Positive points observed right away:

  • in the event of a pee during the change - one time out of three, therefore - you "only" have to wash the nappy!
  • no overflow of the nappy in the lower back in case of a big commission (unlike my girlfriends' babies): the elastic keeps everything in the nappy!

Negative points observed right away: putting on a nappy is not innate. Putting on a cloth nappy even less, because we don't think enough about our little rascal's tiny thighs which let the humidity through... We persevere! Well...not at night, because we can't manage our lack of sleep and our baby's incessant need to eat.

So it will be one disposable nappy per night. But the nights get longer very quickly. We feel less guilty...

Life with Grandma

Great, we have finally mastered the application of nappies and are able to avoid leaks almost all the time!
But, all too soon, it's back to work. Super Granny has seen a documentary on disposable nappies and is finally convinced. Phew! She is also persevering, and fortunately, because she also has difficulty in mastering how to put the nappy around these little thighs of love. Eventually it all comes together. She puts the nappies in the bucket and leaves the washing to me, that's the deal.

Choosing a nanny

Ca y est, ma mutation a été acceptée ! Il est donc temps de trouver une nounou pour ce petit bout d’homme qui prend déjà tant de place dans notre cœur.

In our city, the mission seems impossible. And then, by chance, a new one comes along. I call her and immediately tell her about cloth nappies: no worries for her. A few months later, when we arrive at her house, I show her how to put the nappy on, she finds it easy, normal, logical in the end. Like my mother, she will put the nappies in a waterproof bag for all of us at the beginning, there are leaks : I quickly reassure her !

The arrival of baby number 2

A few months later, Babychou 2 finally showed up in my belly. On the negative side, I was bedridden much more quickly. So it's my amazing husband who manages everything: the house, the shopping, the cooking, Baby 1... and the nappies! He didn't let go and I am so proud of him! ♥

A slight digestive problem with Baby 1 will mean that we will still be using disposable nappies for a month.

And then, Little Kitten shows up: she's a beautiful little girl. (It doesn't look like it, but it's important, because she's NOT peeing at the same time as we're changing her: phew!) 3kg500 too...but with weight loss. So cloth nappies are too big. We will wait two long months!

Deux bébés donc car le grand n’est pas encore propre, à 18 mois. Nous avons pris des couches qui suivent l’enfant de la naissance à la propreté donc pas de problème en soit. Enfin, il faut quand même adapter la couche grâce aux pressions. Ca faisait bien longtemps qu’elles n’avaient pas été aussi petites. Heureusement, le grand est capable de me dire quand il a fait pipi et m’aide à le changer. La petite par contre n’aide en rien. MAIS ! Nous avons déjà l’expérience, et les fuites sont quasiment inexistante avec nous, avec la nounou et avec mes parents. Trop chouette !

We're asking for a few extra nappies on the birth list to keep us going, as 25 nappies is really light for two. We will have 7 more. 32 nappies for 2 children. We'll have to be efficient!

So we live at the rhythm of the machines. If before the nappies were washed in the middle of the other clothes, we are now doing nappy machines... Still without a tumble dryer. We can't wait for the big one to be clean because with two of them, even if the first one needs less nappies, it's still a big mental burden, but one that we share, fortunately...

Finally, he is quickly housebroken as school is approaching. For the second one, we will need "only" 13 months more (thanks to the big brother for having shown the example!)

A little before the end of cloth nappies, we got a tumble dryer. It will have been used for a while... Just for cloth nappies. We have to admit that 4 years of cloth nappies almost non-stop is a long time. We are getting tired of it, but we persevere. We are reaching the goal : cleanliness !

The new life of nappies

That's it, Babychou 2 is clean. We proceeded to a last cleaning (bath in bicarbonate, then wash the inserts at 60 degrees), then put the nappies away in a box. Two of them soon had a manufacturing defect, so we kept them for our children's babies, who are delighted to be able to change their babies. And anyway, could they do it with something else than cloth nappies?

I take photos before the insert, find a small price, post the ad and forget about it for a while, as Covid takes over.

Finally, a few weeks before Babychou2 started nursery school, a mother who had just given birth to her second child contacted me.

It's both really great to FINALLY leave it all behind! But at the same time, I'm sad because it's finally 4 years of our life that are going away. Fortunately, I have lots of pictures of my Petits Choux in their so-crunchy nappies that allow me to be nostalgic...without the smell! ♥

In any case, it is an adventure that I do not regret for anything in the world and for which I am proud to have persevered despite the fatigue, the overflowing laundry baskets and other joys.
Everything I do on a daily basis, I do for my two little monsters of love.

This article was written by Chloe, maman apprentie-écolo pour ses amours
et « maitresse au crayon de bois » (comme m’appellent les petits CP) pour former les futurs éco-citoyens !


The next themes

zero waste