Baby on mat
Living with cloth

#5: Not one disposable

When Tanya became a mother, she set herself the goal to never buy a packet of disposables. Fifteen months on, she has not faltered from that goal. Perseverance, she says, has been key to her success. “Once you get the hang of using the nappies and sorting out your wash routine, it becomes so easy.”

Tanya came to cloth with no experience whatsoever; just a desire to protect the environment for future generations. She had no friends using cloth, and no cloth nappy shop or library in the small town where she lived. Instead, she spent months of her pregnancy researching nappy options online, ultimately buying several trial packs to find the right fit for her child.

Fast forward to today, and Tanya has shown the many who suggested she was crazy for wanting to use cloth that it is not “difficult” nor “dirty”. Rather, Tanya and her family regular travel with cloth and have easily incorporated it into their adventurous lifestyle. “Just give it a go,” she says.

Welcome, Tanya @tanyas.adventures

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

My name is Tanya and I live in the Whitsundays with my husband Rob and son, Theo, who is now 15 months.

What are some of your favourite things to do together as a family?

We all love being outdoors and living an active lifestyle. As a stay-at-home mum, I always make sure I make time to do something I enjoy in the day and something my son enjoys. In the afternoons or weekends, we try to have family outings together – whether it be going for walks, swimming or to the playground. Trying to go on little trips together, seeing our relatives, getting outdoors – those are the times we really remember.

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

Definitely my family, but I also love the outdoors and going on new adventures. I love travelling, whether it be a new hike in Australia or snowboarding in Japan. I love exploring the world and enjoying the beauty around us.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

Oh, I’m so bad at answering these questions … I’m great at head stands?

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Dark chocolate.

What is your approach to health and wellness for mothers and families?

It’s so important to take care of yourself. I make sure I do a workout every day which helps keep me physically and mentally fit. It’s also important to eat well and do activities you enjoy where you can, such as reading or yoga. Also get sleep where you can.

Can you tell us about your motherhood journey?

I love being a Mum. I feel so lucky to be able to spend my days with my son and it is amazing watching him continuously learn, grow and explore the world around him. Each stage is so unique and has its own positives and challenges. I’d say the most challenging part has been the lack of sleep and, now that he is a toddler, he is trying to test boundaries. However, I wouldn’t change anything as I love our journey and he is such a happy, inquisitive little boy who makes me smile each and every day. His giggles are definitely the most rewarding part; they’re my favourite noise.

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

Probably our breastfeeding and sleep journey – I suppose I didn’t know what to expect and I’ve learnt that society has very rigid opinions on what is normal. There’s are a lot of things people don’t talk about and everyone has an opinion on everything. I also thought they stayed babies for longer!

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

Just go with the flow, take each day as it comes, focus on the positives and soak up every moment.

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?

My husband is definitely my village as I’m very lucky to have such a helpful, involved and supportive husband and I love how he makes our son giggle. However, I’m also lucky to have a great group of friends around me who are very supportive and accepting of our family as we’re one of the first in our group to have children. I’ve also got some older friends who are great at reassuring me everything is normal and have found some very supportive Facebook groups.

How do you handle the more stressful parts of motherhood?

I’m still practising this as people want to offer you ‘advice’ and opinions on everything. I need to just learn to brush off the negatives, not let them get to me and trust myself that I’m making the best choice for my son.

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

To be kind, do what makes you happy and to love yourself for who you are.

Can you describe how you came to be a cloth family?

I’ve always been an avid ambassador for the environment and living as sustainability as possible, which probably started when I was studying science at university. When we decided to have a child, I always knew I wanted to use cloth as soon as possible and full time. My goal was always to never buy a packet of disposable and I’m still going strong on this stance. We’ve used cloth full time pretty much from the start. I think perseverance is key as, once you get the hang of using the nappies and sorting out your wash routine, it becomes so easy.

Can you talk us through your cloth research journey?

I found researching and learning about cloth probably the toughest part about going cloth. I spent a lot of my pregnancy researching cloth, as living in a smaller town I didn’t know anyone who had used modern cloth nappies and a lot of people thought I was crazy for wanting to give it a go. Getting my head around the acronyms, brands, types and styles of nappies and inserts definitely took a while.

I started by Googling modern cloth nappies then looking at websites of different Australian brands, blogs and videos. Once I found a bit more information, I somehow came across cloth nappy Facebook groups and that was definitely the most helpful source. I posted a lot of questions about the types of nappies, brands and read through old posts to read reviews. There were so many different opinions about brands, so I ended up trying trial packs of quite a few different ones, slowly building up my stash during pregnancy, keeping an eye out for sales and buying different trial packs of the brands which seemed to have the best reviews in the Facebook groups. I’ve actually ended up selling some of these trial packs of the brands I didn’t like as much and narrowed my stash down to three brands which I like the most for the day and another brand for at night.

There are so many great Facebook pages I found so helpful when learning about cloth as I didn’t know anyone using it. Clean Cloth Nappies, Cloth Nappy Reviews and Support, and MCN Tips and Tricks were such helpful groups to be a member of.

What’s the one thing you wish you knew when you started out in cloth?

It’s so hard to know what will work best for you and bub. I wish we had access to a nappy library, shop or I had friends with stashes so I could have seen the nappies in real life and been shown the different options. It would have been great to have had someone show and explain the different options to make my decision easier for which type to buy.

Also making sure I had joined Clean Cloth Nappies (Facebook group) and read their wash routine and detergent guidelines probably would have helped.

Describe what you love most about cloth?

There is so much to love! I love that we are doing our bit to reduce waste and help the environment, plus we are saving money. The cute prints are just a nice bonus.

Finish this sentence … The thing people wrongly assume about cloth is …

That using cloth is difficult or dirty. It’s neither!

Best advice you’ve ever been given about cloth.

Just give it a go!

Was your partner on board with using cloth?

He was supportive of me wanting to use cloth but wasn’t as enthusiastic about giving it a go, especially as a lot of friends were negative towards our choice. However, after he saw how easy cloth was to use, he got on board and now tells our friends to give it a go.

Have others supported your decision to do cloth?

Some people were supportive but a lot were not. All my friends who had babies thought we were crazy but older people like our parents who had used cloth were more supportive. However, a few of my mothers group started using cloth part time after seeing us using cloth and educating them about it which is great.

What is the most encouraging comment you have received from someone supporting your cloth journey?

A lot of people comment on how cute Theo’s nappies are which is nice and leads to a conversation about cloth. Most people think it’s good we are helping the environment.

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

Definitely reducing our environmental impact. Our children are too young to have a say in what world they are being brought into, so it is so important that we do as much as possible to be more sustainable and reduce our environmental impact. I don’t want my children to miss out on seeing the Great Barrier Reef or a glacier, because we have destroyed the world to a point of no return.

How has cloth changed the way you approach life?

I’ve always tried to be as eco conscious as possible but bringing a child into the world definitely makes you look at what further changes you can make. We use reusable produce bags; don’t eat much meat; moved away from plastic containers and replaced them with glass or stainless steel; always have a reusable cup and water bottle with us; try to cut back on buying items with plastic where possible, like buying a safety razor, soap bars, second-hand clothes and toys.

No one and no family is perfect. What is your advice to families concerned about the growing environmental crisis?

Just do you bit where you can! Any changes are better than none, so make one change at a time. If everyone does their part that’s how we can all make a difference.

How do you manage cloth while out and about?

I always pack enough nappies to get through the outing, plus an extra just in case. I also pack a water bottle, change mat, wetbag and have a mini wetbag filled with cloth wipes – that way I can change my son anywhere. If I’m on a longer outing, I will take two wetbags, so I can leave dirty nappies in the car, or another bag if I don’t want to have to carry around all the dirty nappies all day.

Can you share your experiences travelling with cloth?

We’ve been on quite a few trips with cloth, including interstate trips, flying, driving and a three-week trip overseas. I like to take most of my stash with me and lots of wetbags and cloth wipes. I pack the nappy bag as usual, plus have another bag that’s got spares to get through the day travelling. Also taking your cleaning brush with you helps so you can clean the nappies easily. We try to stay in places with a washing machine, but sometimes this isn’t possible as you might have a layover overnight in a hotel or you might be travelling for the day. If this is the case, either I will just leave the nappies in a wetbag or make do with washing in a sink, bath or shower to rinse, then store in a large wetbag and clean properly once somewhere with a machine.

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

Having a good wash routine is really important and makes cloth so much easier. I like to do a prewash in the morning after breakfast so that if I’m doing a main wash that day they have time to dry on the line.

Also make sure you have a good hamper with holes in it for dry pailing. I also love our Kmart rubber brush for scrubbing dirty nappies as it doesn’t ruin the fabric like a normal brush. A spatula can also work well for scraping nappies.

If you are using cloth full time, I think it’s good to have enough nappies, wet bags and cloth wipes that you don’t have to worry if your nappies haven’t dried or you don’t get around to your main wash that day. I find it easy storing them either under or next to our change table and having our cloth wipes in reach.

What style of nappy do you use?

I use OSFM front snapping and side snapping nappies. I found it hard to pick a favourite as both have their benefits, and I have a few favourite brands. OSFM is great as it reduces the number of nappies you have to buy.

Figuring out the fit was a bit of a learning curve and, because our son was so small, he didn’t fit the OSFM straight away. We just bought some cheap newborn nappy covers and pad folded mini terry towels from Super Cheap Auto, which made for such a cheap and easy option until he fit OSFM.

What is your favourite nappy print style?

I have a mixture of nice coloured designs and animal prints. It’s hard to pick a favourite as they all are so pretty.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. 1.

Time in cloth. We started using cloth as soon as our son’s umbilical cord fell off and he is now 15 months.

Number of nappies. Good question – maybe 30? I should probably count them at some stage.

Full or part time. Full time.

Nappy style. All OSFM, with a mixture of front snapping and side snapping.

Stuff or snap. Snap.

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

Line or tumble dry. Line dry, we don’t have a dryer.

Favourite cloth related product. The nappies – can’t go past their cute prints.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Fantastic.

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