Green goddess or green eyed monster?

My baby’s skin is like silk. His rosy cheeks and chubby thighs display the very picture of health, and I’m particularly proud of his bottom.

Yes, that’s right. His wee bum is as smooth as… A baby’s bottom. He has no trace of nappy rash, no irritation and wears his nappy all night up to 12 hrs with no ill effects. At 14 weeks old the only thing we have ever used on his skin is coconut oil, and my homemade baby wipes are soaked in a mixture of boiled water, baby oil and lavender oil.

But I believe the real reason for his peachy wee buns to be his delightful set of cloth nappies. And when you have this as an excuse, not to mention the financial and environmental benefits it’s easy to get carried away.

Carried away? With what?

My name is Ruth and I’m a cute cloth addict.

I recently joined a Facebook group to try and sell on my newborn size ‘stash’ and made a tidy £90 back from my original spend of £120. Result. But in doing so I found myself scanning the ‘for sale’ posts in the group, day and night while waiting for mine to sell.

I have to confess there is now only £23 left in my paypal account. I’ve been unable to resist buying some of the cute designs I’ve seen. And I’ve been telling myself that this is a perfect example of a low carbon cycle – all these nappies are ‘pre-loved’ (let’s not think about all the Carbon Royal Mail are expending pinging these things to and fro across the country from one mad mum to the next).

Like a real addict, I’ve been rooting through my other nappies to see which old tatty ones I can sell on to fund my new habit. I was given a bunch of tired but functional nappies by friends and colleagues and *ping* they just sold tonight so I’m like a gambler – trying not to be tempted by more cute cloth.

My poor, poor husband. He is becoming increasingly bewildered by my new habit. Lots of new nappies arriving means new systems to work out and new methods, remembering which boosters go with which nappy and so on.

My favourite type of nappy is a pocket style – you have an outer ‘shell’ with Velcro or poppers to fasten and more poppers to adjust height (so they can fit a baby for a long time). These have an opening at one end so you can insert a booster pad, which is the bit that absorbs all the wee. The leg/waist elastic is what contains any solids and the great thing about pocket nappies is that you can add more boosters for more absorbency. Here’s a picture (copyright Little Lambs Ltd):

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My favorite booster material is bamboo – not only is it a natural material but it’s super absorbent. It takes a while to dry compared with cotton or microfibre but it’s by far the most effective of the three. You can also get boosters made of hemp and even charcoal… A whole new world eh?

In the beginning I was tempted by ‘all in one’ nappies – the bigger versions of the first patterned nappies I bought. They’re so convenient but not always as leak-proof.

At night time we, like many cloth nappy users, switch to a traditional two – part system. The inner nappy is shaped to fit like a disposable – and then covered with a waterproof wrap. There are loads of types to choose from, and again we use bamboo as it NEVER leaks and the wrap we use is totally bomb-proof:

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The more I grow to love my cloth nappies the more interest I get from friends – most are curious because I post photos of my cute wee man in his cute wee nappies. Some are actually planning to use them or at least try them and in some cases I like to think I’ve influenced or inspired them.

The question I get most (or with most curiosity) is about washing them. Contrary to popular old fashioned belief there is no soaking or hand rinsing or boiling; I use a bucket with a snap-on lid (similar to most disposable nappy bins) with a mesh bag stretched over the rim. All wet and dirty nappies and wipes go straight into the bin and when it’s full I just lift out the mesh bag and stick the whole thing in the wash. Pic:

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A few drops of tea tree oil in the bucket keep it smelling fresh (it’s also a natural disinfectant). Here are some other factoids:

Cloth nappies should be washed with just a small amount of washing powder; fabric softener affects their absorbency so avoid it at all costs.

To keep nappies soft dry them outdoors or use a tumble drier and those Eco ball things – because we are in a flat and use ages-to-dry bamboo our washer-drier comes in very handy. Not so green but still greener than pampers. 🙂

To keep nappies smelling fresh add a few drops of essential oil like lavender or tea tree to the prewash tray of your washing machine.

Most of the time you can get away with a 30 degree wash (with a cold pre wash to rinse away the poop) but to keep smells and bacteria away do an occasional 60 wash with an extra rinse and no washing powder – called a strip wash – to thoroughly clean them and reduce the build up of powder.

For small babies poo is water soluble so you don’t need to do anything before washing – post-weaning this is another matter.

While out and about I keep a couple of wet-bags in the changing bag to pop used nappies in. These are also handy for occasional damp babygros due to pee/puke/rivers of drool. Just remember to transfer to the bucket – not nice to discover a two day old shitty nappy in your wet-bag while you’re changing your baby in front of the health visitor, which definitely didn’t happen to me today.

Vest extenders help prolong your baby vests – say what you like about disposables, your baby will never get a complex about having a big ass. Cloth-bummed babies are bootylicious, but that does make for awkward between-size dilemmas.

See? I’ve not just been blindly impulse-buying pretty nappies (although I mostly have) I also know my stuff and am ready to educate and encourage other parents too! One of these months I might even drag myself out of bed and head to a Changeworks Nappuccino, the funky wee coffee morning for fellow cloth-addicts.

I’ll post a pic of my new stash when they’re all out of the wash. A new one arrived this morning but before I could put it on I had to use it as a shield against a pee fountain! Here it is after a wash – it’s a Charlie Bananas ‘BlackBeary’ (geddit?)

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If you’re reading this and you’re interested in finding out more I’d recommend the nappy lady site for a pee fountain of information, as well as Changeworks for local information if you’re in South East Scotland.

I’m also happy to answer questions about my experience and give any advice I can. It’s so cute, fun, green and good for your baby – no nappy rash here, just peachy wee cheeks!

The mothership

I’ve developed my own gravitational pull now. I’m kidding of course but it’s no joke – I am officially massive. I have hit the 31 week mark and the bump measures 30 cm, which is pretty much bang on what it should be (thankyouverymuch) – but it feels like it really can’t get any bigger. Can it?

Despite me slowing down physically, the world still appears to be turning. Jamie has really driven forward our to-do list and has decorated, built furniture, replaced door handles, sorted through boxes and boxes of stuff, organised and reorganised cupboards, found space for things, hoovered, washed and tidied like a total champion.

Men at workI have feebly washed a few plates and done the odd trip to the supermarket, and written a lot of lists. I’ve also been in charge of Online Shopping. I was busy reclining yesterday and leaving Jamie to his own devices when he called me in to check out the nursery…

It’s been painted for a few weeks; the carpet arrived a couple of weeks ago and the last of our IKEA order got delivered yesterday. It’s also been home to some ‘misc’ items that were waiting to be rehomed or gumtree’d. I wasn’t prepared for the sight that met me when I walked in. Not only had he built the cot, he’d cleared everything out, lit the lamp and put up a few little things to start making it a real person’s room: NurseryI sat in my red chair to take the pic above (which is why you can see my slippers!). You can also see the freaky Cliff Richard calendar hanging on the back of the door. Cliff won’t be watching over Baby Gray, that’s for sure. What a beautiful room.

Its amazing making this sort of progress – it brings us closer to meeting our baby one step at a time; finishing up at work will also be a milestone – I’ve now got less than four weeks to go! Far from feeling guilty or sheepish about stopping work at 35 weeks, I am delighted to be gifting myself some ‘me time’ and some time to rest and prepare for motherhood at my own pace. I will be far from idle – there are loads of baby clothes to wash and sort, bits and bobs to purchase, and lists to make 🙂 I’ll also be practicing my hypnobirthing techniques (laugh if you want – but if you’re pregnant I strongly suggest you buy the book!) and attending late-pregnancy yoga classes just off Broughton Street. I’m expecting a visit from my Mum too.

I’ll also be busy filling our freezer with batch-cooked meals to help feed us when we’re busy/exhausted/bewildered in the first few weeks. As someone who tries hard to eat well and avoid food waste I love the thought of having good nutritional (and tasty) meals in our freezer as a result of forward planning. So far I’ve made extra and bagged some bolognese, two curries, some chilli and some vegetable soup, not to mention some sliced bagels – great for popping straight into the toaster. This will save us a lot of money and energy at a time when cooking and eating are just about fueling your body rather than gastronomy.

On the ‘green’ front, things are going well (despite August’s surrendering to IKEA) and our thrifty low carbon leanings have been well served by the generosity of friends who’ve happily passed on all sorts of things. We’ve hardly bought any baby clothes, having received loads from other parents. We’ve also inherited a baby monitor, bath seat, bumbo chair (wtf is that?), car seat, bike seat, baby sling/carrier and giant bundle of cloth nappies. All without spending a penny! Most other stuff has been bought on eBay or Gumtree, including our beautiful pram (AKA travel system) and cute ‘buggy snuggle‘ – we are saving ourselves plenty of money, and in the process we are keeping our carbon footprint down too. I’m particularly pleased that we’ve got some adorable cloth nappies – the cash saving (between £500 and £1000 per baby!) is one thing, but knowing we’ll be diverting an unbelieveable 120 black bin bags full of dirty nappies away from landfill is a great thought. Working at Changeworks I know that it’s not something to be scared of – we run a real nappy project! I’m lucky to have a fantastic source of support, and intend to use one of their trial packs or lending kits so we can try out various types and see what works best for us. We’ve been given a range by friends – some Bambino Mio, a few Tots Bots, Little Lambs and a load of plain terry squares. I’m also looking forward to going along to the Changeworks ‘Nappuccino‘ coffee mornings once we’re ready.

I’m really looking forward to:

  • Bending at the waist again
  • Being able to put socks and shoes on while breathing at the same time
  • Not caring where I park as I know I’ll be able to get back in the car
  • Getting comfortable in bed, on the sofa, at work, anywhere
  • Going back in the sauna
  • Eating runny cheese and pate
  • Having a few G&Ts
  • Seeing myself in the mirror and recognising my body
  • Wearing REAL CLOTHES and having more than 6 outfits
  • Going for a long walk without a sense of dread

Until that time comes, I am stranded in the body of a giant flump. Here is me at 30 weeks:30 weeksOh, I went to the amazing Lush Spa recently for a treatment called The Spell; it was beyond my wildest dreams! I am usually skeptical and critical of this sort of thing, because I happen to know the best masseur in the business who doesn’t need a spa or any hocus pocus to make you feel good (Hi Yossi). The Spell was incredible though – just enough theatre to make it really interesting, but not too much to overshadow the good solid skill that went into the treatment itself. It’s primarly a foot massage/spa but includes hot stones and a head massage in the frankly stunning surroundings of Edinburgh’s Lush Spa. The spa is set in the basement of the Princes Street store and is like a witch’s kitchen – that’s the best way I can describe it. They gave me a beautiful little affirmation as a keepsake – and I think it’s very apt for my journey at the moment:

Lush Spa