cloth nappy baby
Living with cloth

#36: Just go for it

Adelaide mum, Candice, shared her thoughts on reusable nappies just a few short months into motherhood. She writes, as many do, about how she found using modern cloth nappies far easier than she imagined, attributing much of the early uncertainty to learning the lingo of cloth. It’s like an in joke, she says, and urges others to ‘just go for it’. “It’s so much easier than you think and actually kind of fun.”

Read on to find out why this mum, who loves nothing more than the smell of onion and garlic cooking, thinks the cheaper modern cloth nappies are worth a try and what she would love to see adorning her baby’s bottom.

Welcome, Candice @papacandy

How to use modern cloth nappies
Image credit: Jessica Clark.

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

I live with my partner, Jim, and 7-month-old baby, Harry, in Adelaide, South Australia. I am a graphic designer in my “normal” (I don’t know what that is anymore … haha) life. We are a family of collectors and that trend has followed us into the cloth nappy world too! 

How would you describe your family?

We’re very down to earth, and we all bring different things to the table and complement each other well. Harry has fit right in! 

Can you share your favourite part about living where you do?

The ease of life in Adelaide. Our house is 6km from the city centre and a nine-minute train ride to my work, a 15-minute drive from the beach and an hour drive to the Barossa or McLaren Vale wine regions. In other cities this would be totally unaffordable but not in Adelaide! Our suburb is full of creative people, is vibrant and multicultural and kind. COVID has really cemented that view for me. 

What do you do for fun?

Draw, paint, write, take photos, garden, go for walks and eat! 

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

Apart from my family … having a creative idea and seeing it through to completion. I love creating something from nothing and bringing something new into the world for people to enjoy and engage with. 

what it's like using modern cloth nappies
Image credit: Jessica Clark.

What’s your favourite time of day and why?

When Harry wakes in the morning and I get that big gummy smile! 

What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

Oooh, there’s so many! I think Greece. The islands – that crystal clear water and glistening, silver olive trees… 

What’s your favourite smell in the whole world?

Onion and garlic cooking!

As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

A fashion designer! 

What was the last non-baby related book you read?

Zadie Smith – Swing Time. I’ve started many books that I have yet to complete.

What is something you would like your children to remember about you?

Kindness and strength. 

What is the most important lesson you want your children to learn?

Kindness and strength! 

If you could fix one thing in the world what would it be?

Everything is here to teach us a lesson BUT I think it would be the extremely uneven distribution of wealth. There’s so much to go around, how much does one person really need? 

What is it like being a mum? What’s the best part?

It’s so many things! Amazing, frustrating, beautiful, gross … haha. The best part is seeing Harry’s personality develop and discovering who he is. He’s pretty cool. I like him.

What has early motherhood been like for you?

A little groundhog day at times, definitely frustrating when you want to do something and you can’t … but ultimately a lesson in patience. I’m enjoying it! I do look forward to the day I get to start and finish a task again, but ultimately it’s felt like falling in love. 

What has been the most surprising part of motherhood for you?

That I can function at all on so little sleep. How? 

How do you find your ‘me time’?

It was challenging at first, but I think I’ve found my groove. I hate the term ‘hands-on dad’ because, you know – really?! But we (Jim and I) really have cultivated a system that feels very fair and even. I try to draw something each evening when Harry goes to bed, and Jim gives Harry an expressed bottle in the mornings so I can catch a couple of extra hours sleep. 

What coping mechanisms have you found to be helpful with regard to lack of sleep and fatigue?

As above + I try to walk each day and get some fresh air and movement happening. 

What have you learnt about yourself since becoming a mum?

I can go with the flow. 

How did you find being pregnant?

I loved it! The end was uncomfortable – Harry was large and causing my pelvis to crack and my feet were balloons! But even then I liked having him along for the ride. 

Can you give us a brief version of your birth story?

Oooof – Induction > 4cm-9cm in 5 minutes > posterior > prolonged second stage > theatre > epidural (thank gawd!) > episiotomy > forceps > baby! 

What kind of parent do you hope to be?

Kind, fun and a little teeny bit tough (but fair). 

What part of motherhood are you looking forward to most?

The crafts and making things! 

What do you think is going to be the hardest part about raising children?

Letting them make their own mistakes. Seeing them hurt or upset. 

Can you tell us what a typical day looks like for you right now?

Lots of breastfeeding, a walk in the sun, cuddles, sitting by the fire and making up songs for Harry. Then he goes to bed and it’s wine time! 

What are your top tips for taking care of your mental health as a new mum?

Talk to other mums! 

What’s the most useful baby product you have?

The Haakaa breast pump – I have a stash in the freezer just from catching my morning letdown.

Best advice you’ve ever been given about motherhood.

Whatever comes your way, you’ll find a way to get through it. 

What concerns you more about the future than before you had a child?

Technology and what will become of real world interactions – and how that will affect his mental health. 

What does being a cloth parent mean to you?

Convenience! I never have to dash to the shop for nappies. 

Can you share what compelled you to become a cloth family?

The thought of contributing to landfill with thousands of nappies seemed a bit yuck, especially when we have an alternative. Also, I have sensitive skin so wanted to avoid rashes with Harry. 

Can you share the research process you undertook in choosing to use cloth nappies?

My sister and other friends of mine had used cloth – so they were a great source of information. I Googled and Googled and searched Gumtree for second hand options – but ultimately it’s hard to know what you’ll like until you start using them. 

How have the early days of cloth been for you?

It’s been good! Surprising in that it’s all been easier than I thought. And more enjoyable! At first we had a few leaks until we worked out our best combos (our mistake was over stuffing the nappies). We’ve never had a poo explosion – only wees. The hardest part is not buying more.

What has been the biggest learning on your cloth journey so far?

Don’t overstuff the nappy! And price doesn’t equal effectiveness … some of the ones that work the best for us are the cheapest. 

Was your partner on board with using cloth?

He was! For the same reasons I was. 

Have others supported your decision to do cloth?

Everyone has been supportive. You get the odd ‘oh yeah, we’ll see how long that lasts …’ but what’s that thing they say about opinions? Mostly people are curious. 

Best advice you’ve ever been given about cloth?

Try the cheapies. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. And use liners! 

Best modern cloth nappy accessories?

  • Cheeky wipes – they leave Harry approximately one million times cleaner than disposable wipes. 
  • Wetbags x 2 – so you can have one on the go when one’s in the wash.
  • Physic Garden Baby Balm – safe with MCNs, only need a tiny bit and any irritation clears up in a day. Only need to use as needed, not all the time.

If a newly pregnant mum asked you if she should use cloth nappies, what would you say?

100% absolutely. 

Many parents express feelings of overwhelm when considering cloth – what advice do you have for them?

Once you start using them, it will all start to make sense. It is confusing hearing everyone in the cloth community use the lingo – like it’s an in joke – but it’s easier than it seems and you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Buy a few different types and pick your fave before committing to more of that type. 

What do you think is the most common reason people give up on using cloth?

I would imagine it would be very hard if you didn’t have supportive people around you who were also dedicated to using cloth. 

What does your cloth nappy stash look like?

It’s a mismatch! I’ve bought a majority of our nappies second hand – so they might not necessarily be what I would have chosen style wise, but it has made them even more affordable. I struggle to find patterns that I like – so I have mostly solid colours. 

If you could have any pattern on a cloth nappy what would it be?

I like really clean, simple patterns in quirky colour combos. I’d love some gingham ones! Lightning strikes would be cute. Daisies! I have a million ideas.

modern cloth nappy change station

What does your cloth nappy change station look like?

A mid-century chest of drawers with a change mat on top, and plenty of plants. 

What do you think needs to happen to encourage more families to use cloth nappies?

They are an investment initially – I think that would make it hard for many. As they become more mainstream, I think more and more will start using them. COVID must have been great for nappies! 

If you could ask the maker of your favourite nappy brand any question, what would it be?

Do you support independent designers? (There’s a lot of plagiarism in the MCN world which I find really disappointing – the only negative).

Besides cloth, in what other ways do you support a better planet?

We recycle, have a compost heap, use reusable wherever possible, share a car, walk when possible.

What is the best thing you think parents can do to ensure a better future for everyone?

Encourage kindness.

Do you have any other words of advice or tips to share?

Just go for it! It’s so much easier than you think and actually kind of fun!

Image credit: Jessica Clark.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. 1.

Time in cloth. 5 months.

Number of nappies. Approx 25 – but I’ve lost count!

Full or part time. Full time.

Nappy style. Pocket all in two.

Stuff or snap. Stuff.

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Pre-stuff.

Line or tumble dry. Line dry.

Favourite cloth related product. Cheeky wipes! 

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Surprising.

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