How to wash cloth nappies

Time has revealed there is not ONE way to wash nappies.  You work it out as you go along.  But here are some general guidelines to help you start out:

Wash nappies before use to make them absorbent.  Once dry pour some water on to the nappy.  If it absorbs the nappy is ready for use.  If it runs off the surface it isn’t!

If you buy pre-loved nappies, wash before use without detergent/laundry soap.  To ensure bacteria are killed either wash at 90 degrees (check label, only nappies such as terries, muslins, cotton prefolds can be washed at this temperature) or use a sanitiser such as MioFresh or Napisan.

Use liners to catch most of the poo.  Bin them, don’t flush them. Then most of your nappies are simply damp.

Store nappies in a bucket with a lid until you have a machine drum’s worth of nappies.  Do not soak.

To get nappies clean you need:

  • Lots of water (sounds obvious but HE machines tend not to use much)
  • soap (but not too much, follow the instructions)
  • agitation (don’t over or underfill machine – look at laundry to see laundry is being agitated)
  • to kill harmful bacteria use either heat (60 degrees wash) or sanitiser such as MioFresh or Napisan
  • no fabric softener – it reduces absorbency of the nappy
  • in London we have hard water.  You may need to use a detergent that cleans well in hard water such as the Hard Core formula of Rockin’ Green
  • line dry if possible.  Sunshine is magic: it makes stains disappear.

Modern High Efficiency (HE) machines use less water.  The simple way to overcome the lack of water in your washing machine is to do a pre-rinse cycle, then a wash cycle with detergent.  This may seem like a lot of water but just remember, flushing the toilet after every pee and long showers are a waste of water.  Getting nappies clean isn’t.  Also, remember the production of disposable nappies uses a lot of water too.  Plus when disposable nappies are incinerated they are heavy with urine/water – so it’s okay to do a pre-wash.

Modern fabrics, such as microfibre and bamboo have a stem like structure.  This makes  them more absorbent than woven fabrics but with a catch: they are difficult to get clean.  Dirt can accumulate deep inside the fabric.  At Nappy Ever After we still sell terry, muslin and 100% cotton prefolds because they are easy to clean.  The benefit is also that you can wash at 90 degrees if necessary to zap bacteria.  Two part nappies, where you can wash the absorbent part and the waterproof wrap separately (if necessary) are still popular options.

When nappies come out of machine, smell them.  If they don’t smell clean they probably aren’t.  If they smell of mould your washing machine needs a clean (run wash cycle at 90 degrees with a little detergent and no laundry in it.)   If they smell of detergent, you need to do an extra rinse.  If they smell of ammonia you need to read this.

As I said at the start, you learn as you go along.  Washing nappies is great preparation for parenting.  You need to keep observing because things change, teething or weaning, for example may make pee stronger and require a slight adaptation to your normal laundry routine.  Enjoy the challenge!  Using washable nappies gives you a great feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brazelton UK: celebrating 20 years

Yesterday I attended a day to celebrate 20 years of the Brazelton Centre in the UK.  Having booked on some months ago, I found myself wondering why I had decided to attend.  What the real nappy industry knows child development expert Dr T Berry Brazelton for is endorsing the size 6 Pampers nappy with the mantra “Let the child decide when the time is right to potty train.”

What I discovered yesterday is there’s much more to Berry Brazelton than this.  He radically changed attitudes to the new born.  It was Berry who really championed the idea that babies are born individuals, that whilst babies may not speak their first word for a year, they are born ready to communicate.

Something else struck me deeply at the conference yesterday.  We also heard a talk by Professor Dieter Wolke who made the case that babies who find it difficult to ‘self-regulate’ are more challenging.  They make the life of her/his parents much harder.  The message was, be careful not to judge those parents who are having a tough time. Parenting is significantly more challenging for them.  These parents need support to understand how they can help their babies to self-soothe.  Their baby may need more regular routines.

I guess this is all common sense to to most of us now.  However, it feels important to understand that it hasn’t always been so and we have Berry Brazelton and the Brazelton Centre UK to thank for this.

With all the pressures of our busy lives perhaps it’s even more important to spread the Berry Brazelton message that we need to tune into new borns.  Suzanne Zeedyk is carrying on the work, showing just how important and enjoyable nappy changing can be when we ‘tune in.’  Watch this short film ‘Dance of the Nappy’ (on Youtube.)

 

 

 

 

 

Nappy Ever After Trial Kits explained

So you’re interested in using real nappies – you’ve heard great things about them.  But why are there so many different types?  How is it possible to make a choice?

Different nappies suit different babies AND different parents.  And you may find the nappy that works well at home during the day doesn’t work at night or when you’re out and about. You need to start using real nappies to find out for yourself what works for you and your baby.

Sounds daunting?  We can help you learn through your own experience for a minimal investment.  We sell an 8 nappy trial kit which will form the basis of your nappy stash.   Those 8 nappies will last about 24 hours.  While they are in the wash and drying you use disposables.  You will soon find out what you like best and you can work out what else you need.

Our trial kit consists of

Six small pre-fold nappies: these work from new born through to potty training.  They form the backbone of any real nappy wardrobe.  A pre-fold is a flat nappy with a central extra absorbent section – you do still have to fold it!   This short video shows how.  Pre-folds tends to be the preferred option for when you’re at home.  They are simple and durable and cheap meaning you can bulk up your stash for a very low cost.  They also make great cloths on the changing mat when your baby is having bare bottom/nappy-free time.

One birth-to-potty all-in-one nappy (most of these have a pocket which you stuff with the absorbent nappy insert, so also called pocket or stuffable nappy.)  This tends to be the preferred option for out and about.

One birth-to-potty shaped nappy – which tends to be the preferred option for nights.

Two waterproof wraps: one sized with Velcro and one birth-to-potty with snaps (both go over prefold nappies and your shaped nappy)

A roll of liners to catch the poo so minimal poo gets on the nappy and thus into your washing machine.

There are 2 sizes, one from new born, the other from 6 months. You can buy the pack here.

NB You may have heard about high and low-rise nappies (not unlike high and low-rise jeans.  Some fit round the waist others below the tummy.)  This pack allows you to try out both so again, you find out which suits your baby better – if it makes any difference at all.

The main thing is to see changing time as enjoyable contact time with your baby.  Watch this short film on YouTube by baby brain guru Suzanne Zeedyk.  It shows that a nappy change can be very important stimulation to the development of your baby’s brain.

What can we do to make London air cleaner for our children?

As a London cyclist I am very aware of air quality.  So when I set up Nappy Ever After’s nappy laundry service in 2003 I was very keen to find out whether we could do our collections and deliveries without tailpipe emissions.  I attached a trailer to the back of my road bike to do the first delivery and collection.

Since then we’ve acquired a bike with a motor.  We’ve tried an electric van and a vehicle with a diesel engine.  We’re back doing our deliveries by cargo bike with batteries charged on Good Energy – because it’s far more efficient.

It’s great to know our nappy laundry service deliveries are not contributing to air pollution.  However London’s air is bad and it’s getting worse.  Yes, we now have a mayor who understands the urgency (unlike Boris) and is going to do something immediately – replacing diesel taxis with cleaner taxis and putting less polluting buses on routes with the worst air quality.

But what can we do?  Afterall,  we are the traffic.

1   When you buy on the internet choose companies that don’t deliver to your door but drop off at collection points within a mile of your home.  This reduces diesel emissions in your street and is being considerate to others. (To be honest this is something we have not organised yet – although where possible we deliver by bike.)

2  Support more space for cycling.  Segregated cycling lanes are important to increase the number of people cycling.  They encourage people who are nervous of cycling in traffic to have a go.  This is especially important if you want to carry children on your bike or have your children cycling,  with you or independently.

3  Cycle with your kids.  Tomorrow, Sunday 5 March sees the launch of the Family Cycling Library.  This is a great initiative to help parents experiment and find out which bike is right for them and their children.

4  Ditch your car – if you are one of the few Londoners who still own one.  You are wasting money.  You will save money and stress by not owning one.  Take taxis and join a car club so you can hire the right vehicle for your journey when you need it.  If you think that’s more expensive than owning one, do the maths!

Most importantly have fun!  Being on two (or three) wheels is one of life’s pleasures!  We need to work to make it safer so more parents feel confident to ride with their babies (and kids) on bikes as is the norm in Amsterdam.

 

 

 

When the Going Gets Tough …

Today a report was publishsed by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health saying child health in the UK has improved over the last 30 years.  ‘But seven years after the Marmot Review, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives”, it is tragic that the future health and happiness of a significant and growing number is in jeopardy because of an alarming gap between rich and poor.’

What I’m going to say is probably not going to be popular but it comes from experience of bringing up children in London over the last 20 years and retaining a high level of contact with expectant and new parents and child health professionals through my work at Nappy Ever After.

The truth, I’m afraid, is that if we leave child health in the hands of government, local authority and health professionals and just keep measuring how bad things are getting and saying more money will solve the problem, we, as families, as communities indeed as a country  will be the losers.  The money isn’t there.  The last Labour government invested in early years.  It worked to an extent.  But the trouble was that those in least need were the main beneficiaries – yes, including me and my family.

My view is that those who are capable of providing services for each other must do so.  Local authorities are closing children’s centres.  There’s no reason why local parents can’t get together and create facilities like shared childcare for themselves.  We may need some relaxation of regulations that prevent us from doing it but we need to recognise that the majority of us can look after ourselves.  State and local authority resources need to be targeted at those in dire need, who are extremely vulnerable and need help.

Life changes dramatically when you have a baby.  In many cases you find you don’t want to return immediately to the career you’ve left but move into a new space that opens up for you when you have a baby.   What’s missing is the knowledge and tools and confidence to empower new parents to get on and look after themselves.   This is what is lacking and it harms us all.  There are parents who set up their own nurseries and creches in the 1980s when childcare facilties had experienced a period of long and harsh cuts under Thatcher.  Find them and ask them how to do it.

Beating new mothers with sticks, really?

“The terry nappy brigade (or washable nappy brigade) like the breast feeding brigade is  just another stick to beat new mums with,” said actress and mum of triplets, Jackie Clune on Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime BBC2 radio show, last Thursday (20 Oct 2016.)  I’m really sorry that Jackie* (who is currently playing Julius Caesar in an all female cast at the King’s Cross Theatre) feels like this.

For the last 20 years I have been watching parents spend far too much money on disposables and struggle with getting their 3 and 4 year olds out of them.  In 2003 I set up a business, Nappy Ever After to help people use washable nappies and find out if they worked for them.

It hasn’t been easy to get the message out there:  there has been a virtual media blackout on talking about washable nappies and potty training in an informed way because the disposable nappy companies spend big money on advertising space.  Even the BBC doesn’t like to say anything that does not reflect public opinion, even if that ‘public opinion’ has been bought by huge multi-national corporations.

But this nappy news item, despite what Jackie Clune said above, turned out to be different.  What was supposed to be a story celebrating the life of Valerie Hunter Gordon, the ‘inventor’ of the “disposable” nappy, became an item about the benefits of the modern washable nappy and the problem of nappy waste in landfill.  Hunter Gordon’s daughter even called the programme to correct the view that her mother was the inventor of the modern “disposable” and thus responsible for the nappy waste nightmare.  Hunter Gordon’s invention, the Paddi was a bio-degradable pad that sat inside a washable nappy cover – a very different product to the single-use nappy that contains super-absorbent material from polymers known as sodium polyacrylate.

You can hear the Jeremy Vine show nappy item here, fast-forward to 1 hour 9 mins.

For the record, the real nappy industry is  a small percentage of parents who have enjoyed reusable nappies and who want to share their knowledge.  We give information  and sell washable nappies because we have found them better for us, our wallets and most importantly for our children.

*Jackie, you asked on the show, what’s the point of giving up the convenience of disposables when wars are being waged around the world.  That thought has occured to me, but sadly, there is nothing I can do to stop the wars.  However I can help reduce nappy waste.    I can understand that real nappies may not work for you, but please don’t disrespect us with ill-informed cliches:  the other London nappy laundry company, Number One for Nappies was started and is still run by a father of twins (black and not middle-class.)

As people who are privileged to live in a land of peace it’s our responsibility to act in ways that work for us.  We can also try to increase the demand for single-use nappies that do not contain SAPs and could be composted locally.  I talk about this here.  That could be the best solution we know about for now, along with better knowledge about potty training as publicised by Kandi Burruss.  Humanity is at stake as shown by another theatre company, Complicite in its ground-breaking show, Encounter.

And Jackie Clune, if your triplets are still in nappies I’d be happy to give you a set of gNappies to try out on one of them.  Even if you only use washables some of the time you’d be reducing waste and you may even discover that you love them.  Actually they can be used with disposable inserts and are not unlike the product invented, so long ago, by Valerie Hunter Gordon.

Engel and Disana pre-order service

Every Autumn, Nappy Ever After puts in orders for organic woollen clothing to Engel Natur and Disana. This year our ‘Wool Event’ at the shop is on Saturday 15 October from 4 to 5pm. Preorders are due by Tuesday 18 October.

At our instore event, you can see and touch samples of  Engel Natur and Disana clothing.

Disana's new 'Melange' range of knitwear – jumper and hat

We keep down the price by taking pre-orders and pre-payment. This way you get high-quality organic merino wool and silk clothing (for babies, children and adults) at about 50% of the cost you would pay normally in a shop. Looked after properly these clothes are an investment; they last for ages, and baby and children’s clothes can be passed on.

For those of you who have a fear of washing wool there’s one simple rule: wool must be washed and rinsed at a similar temperature or you shock it.   If you do this they remain as good as new. We will have samples to show you.

Disana's new 'Melange' knitwear range

We do this event because we want to give business to the companies that continue to make these truly magnificent products but also we want your babies to have the experience of wearing them. We can also order for children and adults.

In the past, customers have ordered natural wool/silk vests for babies, sleepsuits with feet (for babies who kick off the blankets), colourful sleeveless and long sleeve vests and leggings for kids as well as adults . From Disana, we have ordered many boiled wool baby jackets and overalls.  The knitted jumpers (311), leggings (332) and trousers (331) are just so gorgeous and practical too.

If you know what you want send us an email and we’ll let you know the prices (No price list as we can never predict what you want to order and there are sometimes differences in prices according to size).  If you decide to order pre-payment is required.

After the event, you have until 21 October to choose, make orders and pre-pay. Engel products usually arrive within 10 days.  Some Disana boiled wool items may not arrive until December as they are made to order.

Please let us know if you’re coming so we know how many people to expect. info@nappyeverafter.co.uk or call 020-7014 3006

PLEASE NOTE: Discounted prices are only available on pre-ordered items, not our usual stock lines. Prepayment is required. All orders are taken at the customer’s risk however we can advise on sizing. There are no returns or refunds on pre-ordered goods.

Soft merino wool bonnets by Engel

Soft merino wool bonnets by Engel