How to use modern cloth nappies
Living with cloth

#62: More cloth in the wild please

Have you ever seen cloth nappies compared to strollers before? If not, scroll on to read today’s interview with Melbourne mother of three, Nicky. Nicky says strollers are in use so frequently that, by the time you have kids, they’re ingrained in your consciousness and you know you’ll be using one. It’s the message we need to be giving about cloth nappies; yet, until recently, Nicky says she’d never seen a cloth nappy in the wild. She does have hopes, however, that cloth nappies are on their way to mainstream use and, soon, the thought of using them will be less daunting for everyone. Here’s hoping!
Read on to learn more about this beach-loving mumma who first started cloth almost 11 years ago only to give up three days later, then take it up again more than 8 years later when her third child was 2 months old.
Welcome, Nicky @happy.little.cloth.bums
Tell us a little about yourself and your family?

My name is Nicky and I am mum to three beautiful, hilarious, loving children who are allergic to sleep. We live in a little beachside suburb in Melbourne’s south which was an absolute haven for us during COVID lockdowns. 

What’s the best part of being a part of your family? 

Without a doubt, it’s watching the tender moments between my kids. My eldest has watched me go from attending to his every whim, to having to share me with his baby siblings and still he adores them with every fibre of his being and is the best big brother I could have hoped for.

What is the best part about living where you do? 

Without a doubt, it’s being so close to beautiful beaches. I grew up on a tiny little island in New Zealand and the ocean is integral to my feeling of connectedness within myself.

How do you like to fill your days? 

Most days begin with coffee. My two youngest and I often head out to get coffee and cake first thing and from there the day is anyone’s guess. We spend time with their YiaYia or head to the beach or playground most days as both babies are very energetic and I’d rather them not destroy the house.

What are the things you are most thankful for in life? 

My mum, who passed away almost 11 years ago, raised my sister and I to be fiercely independent. I am so thankful for this quality as it has allowed me to be self-reliant which lends to a certain amount of confidence. It has its cons too, but for the most part I feel it’s one of my most valuable traits. I am also very thankful for cheese, fresh sheets and hot showers. Oh, and gin!

What are the things you would like your children to remember about you? 

That I always valued a person for who they were on the inside, not what they could do for me. That I always tried my best to give them everything they needed. That I love them more than I thought it was humanly possible to love. How much I loved cheese.

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

To love themselves unconditionally, to trust their gut, to always be open minded.

How do you plan to speak to your children about our future in this world? 

My eldest is almost 11 and we already have discussions surrounding our choices and their effects on the planet. He knows we use cloth nappies and wipes because they’re better for environment. His school has wonderful initiatives in place for learning. It’s all about taking small steps in the right direction. I’m far from perfect but I’m always looking for ways to reduce our impact. 

If you could click your fingers right now and change one thing about the world what would it be and why?

It’s a bit selfish but I’d bring my mum back. She died from breast cancer when my eldest was 3 days old and my heart breaks when I think of precious moments she has missed. She would have been the best grandmother. Plus there’s not a time you need your mum more than when you become a mum yourself. I wish I could apologise for being such a little shit as a teenager.

How has your approach to parenthood changed over the years? 

I have become much more relaxed in my approach to parenting as the years have gone by and the children have multiplied. I used to suffer from extreme mum guilt when I was anything less than what I presumed was the perfect parent. These days, my kids might not have veges with their dinner one night or I send them to daycare with mismatched socks and I don’t worry about it. They’re happy and healthy and that’s what is important. 

You have shared the quote “She was born to be free, let her run wild in her own way and you will never lose her” by Nikki Rowe on Instagram alongside a photo of your daughter. Is this quote a reflection of your parenting philosophy? How do you believe we can parent can support their children to run wild in their own way? 

For the most part it is, I will support my kids in exploring what interests them and have no interest in pushing mine or societies agenda on them. One of the most rewarding parts of parenting is watching the kids personalities reveal themselves. All three of my babes are so different and it’s such a gift. I like to think I’m pretty non-judgmental so I hope they grow up knowing that I will support them in whatever journey they choose. I do wish that journey included sleeping though …

Your oldest baby is now 10. Can you give me 10 things you’ve learned in those 10 years?
  • The ultimate superpower is a mother’s intuition 
  • You can survive on no sleep 
  • Perfection is a myth
  • Children are our greatest mirrors
  • Set boundaries, it’s ok to say no
  • Mum is always right 
  • It’s ok to ask for a do over
  • Treat yourself
  • If you want to enjoy a treat without sharing it, carry it in a coffee mug
  • Fit your own oxygen mask first.
Another thing you have learnt is how to find success with cloth nappies. Why do you think you have seen success this time around? 

When I first tried cloth almost 11 years ago, I had no idea how to wash cloth nappies. There was no CCN that I was aware of and Google was little help. I was wet pailing and it was summer in Hawaii. I believe I lasted about 3 days before throwing that gross bucket in the bin. This time round, I was surrounded by endless knowledge, support and motivation by way of adorable prints. The benefits of cloth nappies have proven themselves time and time again in this past year and a bit. We began cloth right before COVID hit and the Alcmena community as well as the beautiful friends I made through using cloth definitely made that time much less lonely! 

How do modern cloth nappies make using reusables so much better? 

We use pocket nappies during the day and they’re so easy. I stuff as I go as I have found this to be the most time efficient as I can tailor the absorbency for each child and situation with each nappy. We have never tried flats, so MCNs are all I know. We were introduced to CCN (Clean Cloth Nappies) before we even owned a cloth nappy and having a solid wash routine was key in our success I feel. Our laundry is attached to the kitchen so it would never have worked if the nappies were smelly. 

What do you look for most in a cloth nappy?

When first starting out, we tried a few different brands, but ultimately settled on Alcmena. It was a no brainer for us as we needed a no fuss nappy that was easy to use, super absorbent and would fit both babies at all stages. Not to mention, the prints were a huge draw card in getting dad involved. We never looked back! 

What would your ideal stack of cloth nappies look like? 

My ideal nappy stack would have half Alcmena, half Monarch. We have fallen in love with the artwork by Shanna Trees Creations, so any Monarch or Alcmena nappy she has drawn, we own. 

What similarities or differences have you found between the cloth needs of your children? 

Both have been quite heavy wetters since the beginning. My youngest is a super flooder, so I have dedicated many nights to finding a set up that matches his output while also catching those floods! It’s not unusual for his output to be upwards of 800mls overnight lately and the guy is only 9kgs! It’s wild! My girl has always been quite consistent.

Can you share what your experience has been with night nappies? 

We dove right in and never looked back! We were getting leaks with disposables so moving to cloth overnight was the plan all along. I waited a few weeks after starting cloth during the day, so I was confident in my fit and I’m very glad I did. We started using Alcmena at night and more than a year later we still do. They’ve never let us down. Over time, I have played around with insert set up especially for my youngest who is very lean and a super heavy wetter, as mentioned above. 

How do you manage cloth while out and about? Any tips? 

Wetbags. Lots and lots of wetbags. Haha. I love wetbags so much I wrote a blog about them. We’ve never had any issues with using cloth out of the house. I do pre stuff our nappies when packing to go out, so the nappies and clean wipes go in a wetbag along with an extra for dirties. It’s really just as easy as disposables if not easier because there’s no need to look for a waste bin. 

How do you stay on top of the washing and nappy preparation, especially with two in cloth? 

I run a prewash with all the previous days nappies plus the night nappies that just came off. Most of the time, there’s enough to run a main wash right after but if not I’ll add socks, singlets and wipes to boost. It’s so easy when there’s routine!

You have now been using cloth nappies for more than a year. What are the top 3 things you’ve learned since making the switch?
  1. It’s so much easier that you think.
  2. The cloth community is amazing!
  3. Nappies are addictive.
You are a wealth of ideas for using cloth nappies and accessories in ways other than they were designed, for example, using regular nappies as swim nappies and, my favourite, using a large play mat as a mini pool at the beach. Is versatility a feature you look for when making purchases? What would you argue is your best cloth hack?

Aww, thank you for saying that! Good old Kiwi ingenuity, haha! Most of my ideas are born from attempts to simplify my life. Using our pocket nappies at the beach stemmed from honest laziness. Whatever nappies we arrived in, I’d just pull out the inserts and voila! Instant swim nappy. The mini pool idea came about after trips to the beach on my own with two babies were becoming stressful. The youngest was now mobile and took every chance to bolt for the water. I knew I needed a safer option. 

My favourite cloth hack would have to be the Alcmena change mats as an emergency stroller blanket. Definitely not my idea, but I always keep a changemat in the bottom of the stroller for random downpours or sudden cool changes. 

You have said that wetbags are your favourite cloth nappy accessory. Why? Give us all the uses!

I just love how versatile they are. That and I know I can keep collecting wetbags in my favourite prints long after the babies are out of nappies! Justifying a large collection meant I needed lots of different ways to use a wetbag so I just started thinking about how wetbags could replace single use plastics. At the end of the day that’s why we’re all here right! Probably my favourite wetbag hack would be the emergency car rubbish bin. I now no longer spend an entire car ride holding one of the kids apple cores! It really is the little things when you become a mum!

What would be your response to someone who argues cloth nappies are too much hard work?

I’d remind them that most things seem like hard work when you first begin, and the benefits of using cloth will far outweigh the extra few minutes spent each day washing your babe’s nappies. 

What can we do to make cloth seem easier for those overwhelmed by the thought? 

Just go at a pace you feel comfortable with! Research, join cloth nappy groups and try a few different styles out. You can start, stop, start again but slower … there’s no rules! One cloth nappy on the bum is one disposable saved from landfill.

And don’t give up if you get leaks! I know parenting is hard enough without having to change more outfits due to leaks, but troubleshooting leaks is easy! Reach out to the brand you’re using and request fit or boosting advice, they will be happy to help!

Until recently, I’d never met another cloth family in the wild. I feel like the more mainstream reusable nappies become, the more we see cloth use in the real world and in the media, the more it will become ingrained in our cultural imagination and be less daunting. If you think about strollers for example, by the time you have kids, you’ve seen strollers in use so frequently that it’s become cemented in our subconscious. That’s not often the case with cloth and contributes to the feeling of overwhelm for many parents who may be seeing cloth nappies for the first time once pregnant. If there was one positive to COVID, it would absolutely be the rise in parents choosing reusable nappies over disposables.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. 

Life-changing.

What is something I should know about you but I haven’t thought to ask? 

My favourite food of all time is a tamale. I have been known to go to great lengths to obtain authentic hand-made tamale.

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