Tuesday, February 9, 2010


With a baby on the way, I have been suddenly thrust into the world of nappies, change mats, cots, booties, car seats and various other paraphernalia. Sometimes I think there should be a user manual somewhere, on what to get and how to use it and whether we really need it! It can all be a bit overwhelming. I’ve been amazed at the enormous range of useful, decorative or just plain weird things available for babies. And I’ve been horrified at how much all these things seem to cost!

At the moment, we are trying to focus on finding a unit to rent before going to town on lots of baby gear. With only our 2 rooms here, there just isn’t a great deal of room for storage. We already have a new fridge, freezer and washing machine stored in my parents garage, plus a stack of boxes reaching to the ceiling in the ‘book room’ adjacent to our bedroom – vacuum cleaner, blender, pots, and so on. We figured that as we were planning on moving soonish and didn’t really ship much more than our bed back to NZ, it would be a good idea to avail ourselves of the Boxing Day sales, particularly for our large appliances. Seeing as we needed to buy them anyway, 20% off was a good incentive!

So with needing to set up a whole household first, my baby preparation over the summer months has been limited to nappies. Having several friends who have used (and raved) about the new generation cloth nappies, I have done my research on the various types available. Using disposables was never something I wanted to do, due to the huge environmental cost of something that sits in landfills for forever (or close enough to it). On top of that, I am a little dubious about putting all that plastic and chemicals on my baby’s behind. Surely that can’t be particularly good for them?

The great news is that where previously the only options were good old fashioned cloth or the not-so-disposable disposable, now there are many options in between. This has something to do with new fabrics becoming available, both man-made microfibre and natural hemp and bamboo. After many hours surfing internet sites, a visit to a friend who showed me her stash of all the different types, and much debate and deliberation, I decided to make some pocket nappies.

The reasoning? While the new generation ‘all in ones’ are fabulously easy to use (they act just like a disposable in putting on and taking off), and easy enough to wash, they take a long time to dry (it’s all those layers). Pockets, being a soft inner combined with a waterproof, breathable PUL outer have a ‘pocket’ in the top that you slip an insert into. Because you can take the insert out, unfold and dry it separately, they dry nice and quickly.
Pocket nappies usually cost around $30 each, and the general idea is to get around 12 nappies if you will wash every day. They usually come in different sizes, so you’d get 12 of each size your baby needed as it needed them. Fairly pricey as an upfront cost, but most people estimate savings of several thousand dollars per child from not using disposables…so definitely worth it in the end, especially if you have more than one child as you can reuse your nappies for ages and ages! Apparently they have good resale value too if kept in good nick, so can always be listed on Trademe after we are done with them.

My initial estimates are that I can make us a full set of small and medium pocket nappies for under $400NZ – not all that much more than the cost of standard cloth nappies, which would have been my second choice due to cost ($200-300NZ). My friend, Casper, who both showed me her nappy stash, lent me a pattern and then actually sewed 2 nappies with me to get me going, reckons most kids don’t go past the medium for this type of nappy so I will make just the two sizes for now.

So I took the plunge and re-learnt how to use my sewing machine which had been in a box pretty much since I bought it before leaving Townsville. I am now an expert on threading the needle and winding bobbins. I commandeered the dining table upstairs, and over several weeks have completed 18 pocket nappies, 16 inserts and 6 boosters (made from the scraps that were too small for full inserts).

Some red 'day' nappies waiting to be sewn.

My mother will back me up on this – if I can sew nappies, pretty much anyone can! My very limited sewing skills have even improved!!! I’ve been wanting to learn to sew properly for ages, but never had the gumption to get myself motivated and start, so this was the ideal project to move me along. The sewing is very basic; mostly straight stitching, with the elastic being the hard part to put in (you have to pull hard while sewing). And having a friend there to answer questions and show me the best way to do it was amazing (thanks so much Cas!).

So there you go. I made nappies! They look so cool too. Sadly it is time to start study for the year, so the medium nappies will have to wait until I have some time…maybe next summer??? Munchkin should hopefully not outgrow the smalls until at least 9months old.

2 finished Pocket Nappies with an insert ready to fold and slip in the top! Blue is for nights, having slightly wider legs than the reds.

Oh, and as so many people (even retailers of cloth nappies) have recommended that we use disposables for the first 4 weeks or thereabouts (new babies sometimes being a bit small, and new Mums and Dads a bit tired!), I have found a brand of ‘disposables’ that really are! They are called Moltex, and are made without chemicals and actually break down properly. I can pick up a box from a local store to get us started then we will transfer to my cutie pockets when we are ready. Munchkin is going to be one stylie, eco-friendly bub!

http://www.thenappynetwork.org.nz/ – cloth nappy forums, etc
http://www.greenbeans.co.nz/ – nappy fabric
http://www.ohbaby.co.nz/article.aspx?ContentID=1512 – review of Moltex disposables

1 comment:

MaxineD said...

One thing about having babies 35 years or so ago there were only the standard 'clothies' and the only decision was how many - much more simple than all the research etc that you have gone through. Well done!!, especially on the sewing skills:-)