Two children in cloth nappies
Living with cloth

#7: No more allergies

New pyjamas for Easter and Christmas. Pancakes with fruit and cream on Sundays. Endless cuddles. It is an idyllic childhood for the Bass children from Canberra. Even more so since their mum, Morgan, switched to cloth nappies when she couldn’t find a disposable option that didn’t cause severe allergies for her first child.

More than a year later, Morgan has two children in cloth, and she implores any parent to use soft fabric, rather than rough plastic, against their children’s sensitive areas. Morgan has morphed from a mum who couldn’t get past the idea of “nappy buckets and horrid smells” to an advocate for cloth nappies and preventing the amount of waste that goes into landfill every year.

She says that everyday her daughter doesn’t have a reaction to a nappy is a good day, and shares an array of tips for other parents thinking about making the switch to cloth.

Welcome, Morgan @morganaveril

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live.

My name is Morgan Bass. We are a family of four from Canberra, Australia. My two children are 2 and 9.5 months old.

Can you describe what brings you the most happiness in life and why?

Seeing my children learn something new. Just watching them figure out how a puzzle works on their own, stuff like that.

What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

Tasmania for sure; it helps that our family is there, but it’s a beautiful state too.

What are your vices?

Sugar. When I get stressed I crave sugar.

How do you like to relax and unwind?

Netflix is a big part of my self-care routine; just one episode after the kids are asleep and I feel more like me.

What has been the best and most surprising part of motherhood so far?

When your child stops playing to ask for a cuddle, and how protective I am of my children around other children. My daughter is very big for her age and other children often think she’s older and they might play a little rougher than if she were smaller.

What is your parenting motto and how do you try to live by it or incorporate it into your life?

‘Get through today’. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t find time to do the dishes, or fold the towels. If all you managed to do that day was feed your kids and yourself, that’s okay.

What is your greatest hope for your children?

That they’re kind. I don’t care if they’re a straight ‘A’ student or the best athlete, I just want them to be kind humans.

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 am very lucky to have a close-knit group of four women who all rely on each other for support. Living away from family due to my husband’s employment means I’m very grateful for the friends I have.

How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?

If I’m not coping in a moment, I separate myself. I think about ‘the whats’ and the ‘whys’ and how I should react from there. If I’ve snapped at the children, I apologise. I have a cuddle and we move on.

What does a typical day in your life look like right now?

I wake up with the baby; we lay in bed until my toddler gets up and asks to come out of her room; we go downstairs and eat breakfast together. I get some housework done, I make the kids lunch. I do more housework. I make afternoon tea, and then we play until Dad comes home from work.

What family traditions do you follow? Which do you cherish the most?

We are making our own traditions – we do Christmas and Easter pyjamas; each birthday you get a book as a present in addition to something you wanted. Sunday pancakes with fruit and cream are my favourite though.

Can you explain what made you want to start using cloth and a little about your journey so far?

From birth, my daughter suffered from severe allergies. By the time she was 8 months old, I had tried all of the commercial disposable nappies available and, every single time, she would have a horrible reaction. I thought there had to be a better option for us as a family. Our first ever cloth nappy was a night nappy. Most people work up to nights, but I thought, if I was going to do this, I needed to jump in head first. 

Can you describe your experiences with cloth and allergies?

Cloth and allergies – well it’s a double edged sword. On one hand, nappy rash and wounds on bottoms are a thing of the past. On the other, trigger foods make for an interesting time. For any allergy mums, I recommend you learn from me and purchase nappies with double gussets – you really need them.

Describe what you love most about cloth?

The softness. I know I’m putting soft fabric next to my children’s most sensitive areas, as opposed to rough plastic.

Can you compare how using cloth differs to what you thought it would be like?

Before I had my children in cloth, all I could think about was nappy buckets and horrid smells. I’m very pleased to know that is not the case.

What do you consider to be the key to success with cloth?

Support, and having a place where you can ask for tips on working with that particular nappy. VIP groups on Facebook have been a life saver. Sometimes things take practice. It might not work out straight away.

Best advice you’ve ever been given about cloth.

Follow a Clean Cloth Nappies (CCN) routine, not the manufacturer’s routine.

What has been your biggest challenge as a cloth family and how have you overcome it?

Working out which detergent works for our area. We started cloth in a completely different state to where we are now, so since moving I’ve needed to trial different things to get it right for our new house.

You’re at a parents group catch up and you’ve only got one minute to give another parent your best cloth tip, what would it be?

Natural fibres are your best friend. Use a good dose of detergent; look it up CCN on Facebook.

Have others supported your decision to do cloth?

My husband and most of my extended family have really supported using cloth. Some others, however, think I’m bonkers and that I should just use disposables. The power of marketing; it does wonders.

Can you explain what you believe to be the greatest benefit of using cloth nappies?

My children’s happiness. Every day that my daughter doesn’t have a reaction to her nappy is a good day. I also hope that by reducing the amount of waste my family makes, I can prevent the amount of land wasted by landfill.

How has cloth changed the way you approach life?

I’m more conscious of packaging and try to reduce the amount of waste we make as a family.

What style of nappy do you use & why do you like it?

Alcmena V3/V3.5 – they’re a snap and wipe system and perfect for night nappies. I use them during the day too; the double gussets are great. So, too, are the geeky prints.

Can you share your wash routine?

I often have an issue of needing more hours in the day, so I do my prewash as soon as the night nappy comes off. This also helps keep flies away as the nappies sitting around have already been washed once so they’re not interested. Main wash is put on right before the family heads to bed. Sometimes if I can’t sleep, I’ll hang them out, but I usually do that while the kids are watching ABC Kids after breakfast.

How would you describe to a grandparent how to fit cloth?

Just like a disposable. To fit it, snap it in around the waist with the horizontal snaps, pull out the thigh chub so the elastics are in the underwear line. If there’s a gap in the leg seal, snap the vertical snaps together until there isn’t a gap.

What are some practical tips you can share around organising your cloth supplies?

Get a storage unit. We don’t use a change table, so we went to Kmart and bought some units. That way my stash is on display and they’re easily accessible.

How do you manage cloth while out and about?

Get a dual-pocket wetbag. Front for clean, back for used.

Do you have any other tips to share?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help; sometimes you need an extra pair of eyes to figure out an issue.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. I have both of my children in MCN.

Time in cloth. We started when my eldest was 9 months old, that was in November 2018.

Number of nappies. Now that’s a good question. I own around 50 nappies that I have in a regular rotation, 10 of those are dedicated night nappies though.

Full or part time. We are in cloth full time.

Nappy style. Snap and wipe for both day and night time.

Stuff or snap. Snap in definitely.

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. When I’m organised I prefer to pre-stuff my nappies.

Line or tumble dry. I use a clothes horse in a warm room, but if my hemp inserts are taking too long I will put them on a low heat.

Favourite cloth related product. Wetbags – I love a good dual handle wetbag. Also my Strucket – I use it everyday.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Dedication.

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