When Camilla fell pregnant and spoke of her intended cloth journey, she faced a lot of opposition. But that just made me more determined to do it, she says. Starting part time, Camilla found cloth nappies much less effort and far more beneficial than disposables, and was soon a full time day and night cloth parent. Now, her biggest challenge is how to stop buying more nappies even though she has enough. Sometimes, a new pattern just has to join the family, she says.
But it wasn’t just cloth nappies that became second nature for Camilla in the early stages of parenting, it was also elimination communication (EC). Her choice was three-fold – she considers EC to be much better for the environment, a more respectful approach to toileting and the clean-up far easier. She now advocates for EC to be part of every new parent’s educational journey.
Read on for Camilla’s advice to parents considering EC, but also her open-hearted account of motherhood, tips on travelling with cloth and much more.
Welcome, Camilla @4healthsake
Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live.
My partner and I are originally from Sweden; we met on a flight to Karratha 5 years ago. We now live in Edgewater, Western Australia (WA), with our little girl, Zelda, and my partner is working FIFO to Karratha, WA.
Can you share what you love about life where you live?
The lifestyle and the beaches and also all the great hiking tracks.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory, because the gorges are next level and so cool to swim in.
What is your definition of self-care and how do you make time for it?
Working out and going to Crossfit to keep my body the best it can be. Also, having a good diet. When my partner is home, he stays home with Zelda so I can go to a class and, when he’s away, I’ll take her to class.
Can you describe what brings you the most happiness in life and why?
My partner and my little girl, but also nature, especially the ocean and the beach and, of course, cloth nappies.
Can you tell us about your motherhood journey? What has been the most challenging, and the most rewarding stage?
One of the most challenging things I found was all the negative comments when I was pregnant – being told you’ll never sleep again, you’re going to get depressed, your nipples will hurt, you will fight with your partner and so on. So, I guess I was surprised in a good way when she arrived feeling so much love, having hormones that would make me sleep like I never have before in my life; it wouldn’t take me ages to fall asleep anymore, which was a nice change for me.
My motherhood journey started a bit different then what I had planned. I was supposed to have a home birth, but Zelda surprised us being footling breeched, so I ended up at the hospital (that’s a whole different story in itself). So the first few days at the hospital with Zelda in intensive care and not with me was definitely the most challenging part but, as soon as we got home, we found our rhythm as a family. Both my partner and I felt like we were made for parenthood straight away. The first weeks of Zelda’s life we just enjoyed her mostly out on the day bed in the warm weather. When she was 4 months old, Zelda and I went solo to Sweden to see family for a month. It was hard to be away from my partner for that time but so nice to spend time with family in Sweden.
I find every day so rewarding, just seeing Zelda grow and develop; her personality is so amazing. She definitely is a little character with a strong personality.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Can you describe your village and how it has impacted on your motherhood journey to date?
I been so lucky to find an amazing village with like-minded mamas; they are my rocks and my go-to for everything. It’s made my motherhood journey filled with so much love. Our catch ups brighten my days.
What would you say is your parenting philosophy?
Gentle conscious aware parenting.
Which of your own traits do you see in your daughter? How does this make you feel?
She’s as strong minded as me and knows what she wants just like her mama. It makes me feel good that she knows what she wants.
What is something your babe has said or done to make you smile this week?
She makes me smile all the time, but I loved it this week as she just started walking and dragging this little wooden toy on wheels around everywhere.
What does a typical day in your life look like right now?
As I’m a FIFO ‘wife’, my weeks look very different from week to week. Most days we start with a walk around the lake. If I’m by myself, I’ll most likely be going out for a play date with my village. If my partner is at home, we play together with Zelda, then most likely we’ll be going to the beach.
You are an advocate for co-sleeping. Explain what co-sleeping means to you.
YES YES YES, co-sleeping means EVERYTHING to me. The bond it creates for us as a family, knowing that my baby feels safe next to me and doesn’t get left alone in a big room all by herself (even thinking about leaving my little girl in a room on her own breaks my heart).
The convenience for me as well – not having to get up to feed her or to soothe when she’s upset. We have built a big wall-to-wall co-sleeping bed.
Can you talk us through what led you to using cloth with your daughter? Did you always know you wanted to cloth?
I’m not really sure to be honest; I just knew when I fell pregnant that I wanted to do cloth. A lot of people tried to tell me, ‘You say that now but it’s not going to happen when bub is here.’ That just made me even more determined to do it! I started part time. I found it crazy putting the disposable nappies in the bin, going to the shops to buy more disposables, and that doing that was taking more effort than my cloth routine, so I decided to not buy any more disposables and go full time cloth.
Can you share what brings you the greatest joy with using cloth?
So many things, but I think the most joy is that babies are so damn cute with a cloth bum! Add a t-shirt and, especially in summer, you have a good outfit right there. It’s also a big plus that my bin has almost no rubbish in it every week.
What has been your biggest challenge as a cloth family and how have you overcome it?
How to stop buying cloth nappies; it’s addictive! I just had to tell myself, we have enough nappies, but sometimes a new pattern will join the family.
Many parents express feelings of overwhelm when considering cloth – what advice do you have for them?
It’s really not that hard. I find it harder to almost run out of nappies and having to go to the shops to buy some.
What’s the one piece of advice you would pass on to all cloth families/ mothers?
Get a good system going, follow Clean Cloth Nappies procedures and do dry pailing and pre wash. Have at least 20 nappies so you can allow yourself to do pre wash every 1-2 days and main wash every 2-3 days.
What has the response to using cloth been like from your family and friends?
I’ve had great responses mostly. When I been travelling to Sweden to stay with family and when we’ve had family over, they have been a great help with hanging up nappies on the line and also using them on Zelda. My dad even managed to put one on back to front on her which is very impressive.
How would you describe to non-cloth families all the benefits of reusable nappies?
So many benefits – you don’t have toxic-filled material on your little one’s bum, which then gives you less or no nappy rash. Your bin won’t fill so fast; you don’t have to run to the shops to get nappies, you always have them at home. You will save so much money using cloth nappies. It might be an initial cost, but then you don’t need to spend $ on nappies every week. Your little one will have a cute bum with cool patterns on the nappy.
One of the commonly stated reasons for not using cloth relates to the cost. How would you describe the economic benefits of using cloth, and allay the fears of any parents new to cloth?
You will have to spend an initial cost to start cloth nappies but then that’s it. Add up how much you spend on disposable over the time your babies are in nappies.
What are your thoughts on sustainability and how parents as a whole can make a difference?
That you can make a difference! It’s just one straw, said 3 billion people. If you can use reusable items and less plastic – reusable straws, reusable wipes, reusable nappies, reusable coffee cups, soda streamer – it will make a difference.
I also buy almost everything second hand for myself and Zelda. It’s incredible the toys you can find secondhand from the op shops. Zelda’s favourite toy at the moment cost me $1 from the op shop. I also make most of Zelda’s clothes from second hand materials and love up cycling toys and other things for Zelda. We recently built her a mud kitchen from up cycled limestone blocks, an old sink and items from the op shop.
What is your favourite nappy print style and why?
Wow, what a hard question – probably the animal prints from Cushie Tushie or bumblebees from Buddha nappies.
What are some practical tips you can share around organising your cloth supplies?
Have a set up in the laundry for dry pailing and pre washed nappies, and have a set up in the nursery (or the area where you change nappies). I have boxes from Ikea where I set up nappies in one, liners in one and inserts in one.
How do you manage cloth while out and about?
I just always have a wetbag to put dirty nappies in, then put them straight in my dry pail tray when I get home. Not hard at all really.
Have you made cloth work for you while travelling?
Yes and I’ve been travelling a LOT and by myself with bub. If I’m staying with friends and family, I always just make sure to ask if they are okay with me using their washing machine for nappies BEFORE I come to stay. If I’m staying at a hotel, I’ve been booking a room with a washing machine. For the long haul flights, I used a disposable for the flights only, then back in cloth as soon as we arrived at destination.
Do you have any other cloth tips to share?
Yes, join the Facebook group, Clean Cloth Nappies and follow the washing instructions (I do but use a natural eco friendly detergent and no bleach), and get some second hand nappies or Buddha nappies that are very affordable if you feel like it’s too much money to start out.
Anything else at all you would like to add?
Watch out, cloth nappies are a trap and you’ll get addicted.
Can you describe EC for any readers who are unaware of the term?
ELIMINATION COMMUNICATION, or EC as it’s also referred to, is something that I started with Zelda when she was just a few weeks old.
EC is when you help your infant/baby go to the potty or toilet to eliminate “waste”.
Zelda has now gone from the potty to the toilet to do her poops and most wees. I use a cloth nappy or training undies on her when out and sometimes at home. I do EC part time, so when we’re out and about I use a cloth nappy and it still works great; you don’t have to do it full time.
You might think EC sounds hard but it’s so NOT! It doesn’t take long to just put her on the toilet when she wakes up and when you change a nappy; knowing she just done a wee when you put on a new nappy is great.
I wish EC was something they talked about with every new mum at the hospital, as it’s not only fantastic not having to clean up poo nappies but so much better for the environment in combination with cloth nappies, and I think it’s nice for Zelda not having to poo in a nappy. With my next baby, I will definitely start straight from birth.
What do you think are the greatest benefits of EC?
It definitely helps to prevent nappy rash, I believe, as they stay dry for longer and don’t poo in the nappy (except for the occasional miss).
It gets them used to the potty/toilet from the start so they are used to it when the time comes for potty training.
What motivated you to start EC?
I never liked the thought that babies have to soil themselves, so if I can help my little girl not having to soil herself I will.
How have you found the experience of EC up to now?
Great. Because I started so early, it’s second nature to me now and just something that I do.
How would you respond to any parent who suggests EC is ‘too hard’?
Do you think it’s hard to clean up a nappy poo explosion? With EC you don’t have to do that. It’s not hard to squat your baby on the potty for a minute when they wake up and when you change the nappy. The nappy will stay dry for longer as they will just done a wee when you put on the new nappy.
Can you share some tips for getting started with EC?
Don’t make it complicated; start with the easy catches – when baby wakes up from naps and in the morning, as you will almost always get a wee and, a lot of the time, a poo. If you see your baby doing poo faces, put them on the potty.
Anything else you would like to share about EC?
I think EC is very respectful towards your bub, as they don’t have to soil themselves. It’s so much easier to clean a bub who hasn’t been sitting in their poo as well. It’s not too late to start, you can start from birth up to 18 months.
Number of bums in cloth. One girl who is 12 months old.
Time in cloth. Since Zelda was just a few weeks old.
How many nappies do you own? About 30.
Full or part time. I started out part time, but by the time Zelda was 4 months old I did full time during the day, then by 9 months full time day and night.
Pre-stuff or lay as you go. I lay as I go.
Line or tumble dry. I line dry.
Favourite cloth related product. Cloth wipes and wetbags.
Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Satisfying.