Travelling with cloth nappies – what we’ve done and what we’d do next time

Eli on holiday in the UK.

When you’re using cloth nappies full-time going on holiday – or any extended stay away from home – means a decision is to be made, do the nappies stay or do they go? I’ve been away twice with Eli, once on a 5 day family holiday in the UK and soon after to South Africa for two weeks when my father passed away suddenly whilst on holiday there with my Mum.

Obviously these were two completely different types of trips but whether or not to take my cloth nappies with me was definitely a consideration both times.

For our holiday in the UK the choice wasn’t too hard: we were only going for 5 days and I knew I had enough nappies even though we didn’t have access to a washing machine. As we were travelling by car we had enough space to pack our full complement of nappies. The only issue was where to store the dirty nappies – a nappy bucket wasn’t an option so we needed a good-sized wet bag (or two) which would zip shut to keep any smells contained. After a bit of research I found a set of Bum Deal wet bags which did the job brilliantly. It was great, no need to buy disposables and all I had to do was to put the nappy wash on as soon as we got home.

Eli at my Mum’s house in South Africa.

Travelling to South Africa was a bit different. It was an unplanned trip (obviously) and organising an emergency passport for Eli and sorting last minute plane tickets were immediate considerations. Whether or not to pack cloth nappies was a consideration though once everything else was sorted. I didn’t do it though, I bought two weeks worth of eco-disposables (not something easily available in SA) and it was okay. If I had to do it again though I would do it differently. Firstly as I stayed at my brother’s flat and my Mum’s house washing wouldn’t have been an issue. Secondly the weather in SA would have meant nice and easy nappy drying as well.

So, if you’re flying and packing space is at a premium and weight is an issue, what nappies could you take? I probably wouldn’t bother taking night nappies – a few disposables would be a lot easier to pack than a bulky two-part nappy. I wouldn’t take many (if any) of my all-in-one nappies as they’re fairly bulky too. That leaves my gNappies, which, thinking about it now – now I’m not stressing about supporting Mum and finding appropriate clothes for Eli to wear to a funeral – would have been the perfect choice. I’ve never used gRefills (the disposable inserts for the nappies) but the hybrid nature of the nappies would have been really useful. Taking all my gCloth (cloth inserts) along with a few packs of gRefills would have been possible (I managed to take a few packs of disposable nappies after all) and I could have used a mix of both depending which was more appropriate at the time. Disposable inserts for the plane and long car journeys and cloth whenever possible.

So, on reflection, whilst travelling abroad with cloth nappies seemed really difficult at the time, a hybrid system would have been perfect. Most of the benefits of full-time cloth but also the steady freeing up of space (for presents and suchlike) that using up disposables resulted in. Plus, using the cloth would have meant not as much money needing to be spent on the disposables – pleasing the skinflint in me – or too much heading to landfill – keeping the eco side of me happy.

Why is a developmental milestone so often followed by a parenting fail?

Yesterday Eli figured out how to climb stairs for the first time. He has been trying to figure out how to climb – mainly into the shower cubicle to access toys he’s thrown in there – for a little while but yesterday it clicked and off he went.

It probably helped that one of Tilly’s toys was sitting there, tantalisingly out of reach, providing a great target for an almost one year old to try to reach.

Of course, no good developmental leap is finished without a bit of parenting fail attached. I didn’t move the toy. I just left it there, sat on the stairs, and then we fast forward to today. Today Eli had the most epically awful pooey nappy – it was one of the reasons why cloth nappies are both perfect and horrible. It was in his night nappy and thankfully contained by the wrap so not many of his day nappies would have coped and a disposable, no chance. I mention this not in the way that parents feel they need to talk about the contents of their baby’s nappies but to explain why I might have been a little distracted.

Eli was playing with Tilly in the lounge (or so I thought), I was finishing sorting out the dirty nappy and then I heard the – in hindsight inevitable – bump, BUMP, WAAAH! I gathered up Eli from the foot of the stairs, cursed my shoddy parenting, despatched Tilly to her bedroom with the offending toy and was thankful that said toy was only a few steps up. The boy had given himself a fright but had no injuries. We now have a policy that nothing is to be left on the stairs and I’ve had a reminder that new skills will be practised, preferably supervised and regardless of pootastrophies.

Our nappies – Tots Bots Flexiwraps and Motherease Airflow wraps

As we use two part nappies for night times (this reduces the chances of a leak) we need to use a wrap along with the nappy itself. Our night nappies are Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretches and our night wraps are Tots Bots Flexiwraps and Motherease Airflow wraps. I’m happy to use either wrap but am currently preferring the airflows as they seem to provide a slightly better fit as Eli heads towards the top of the size range for both.

Since I can’t think of cons for either wrap (for night time use the only real criteria is that they don’t leak) a brief list of the pros for each:

Pros

  • Tots Bots Flexitots
    • very soft flexible fabric;
    • good choice of colours and patterns;
    • trim fitting – not so much a consideration for a night nappy but useful if they are needed for days.
  • Motherease Airflow
    • poppers on waist and legs to get the best fit;
    • choice of plain white or a handful of other prints (recently updated);
    • make his bum look massive which I find really cute.

The airflows are a bit bulky when used with a day nappy but it doesn’t matter for me at night.

The vital statistics for our wraps:

How many do we have?

Currently in use I have 5 – two flexiwraps and three airflows. When Eli outgrows these I have the same again plus a few more for him to use.

Which sizes do we have?

We have size 1 and 2 flexiwraps and medium and large airflows. Eli is currently using size 1 and medium (both go up to 20lb).

How long would we be able to use just this part of our stash?

I have enough for our night nappies in our current sizes but will have a few spare when he moves up.

How often do these wraps need to be changed?

They last for 12+ hours overnight and I don’t tend to get any wicking unless I leave the night nappy on too long in the morning.

How easy are these wraps to wash?

We wash all our nappies and wraps together and don’t need to do anything special for these. I just need to make sure that the aplix is done up on the flexiwraps.

How long do they take to dry?

Both types of wraps air dry very quickly either indoors or out.

Our nappies – Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch

When we first started using cloth nappies at night we used a combination of Tots Bots Cotton Tots and Easy Peasy Bumbles. This worked for a while and then the leaks started. Eli was wetting heavily at night and we were regularly getting big leaks that soaked his clothes, sleeping bag and our bed. I doubted that we would have much more luck with a disposable overnight as we moved to cloth at night because of leaks using disposables! I wanted a more absorbent nappy and I knew that bamboo tended to be better than terry so bought a bamboozle stretch as a trial. It worked brilliantly and so I bought 4 more and ditched the other night nappies (except for emergencies).

We don’t use the bamboozle stretch as a day nappy (although I think it would work really well as one I’ve got too many other nappies to need to use it that way!) and so this review is wholly based on its use as a night nappy.

Pros

  • bamboo is softer and less scratchy than terry cotton;
  • trim fitting, which is a bit more comfy for Eli at night I think;
  • one-size so will last until he’s dry at night;
  • available in natural (which is what we have) or a variety of other colours to match other Tots Bots nappies and wraps.

Cons

  • none that I can think of.

As with most night nappies these do need to be boosted to give extra absorbency – we use a Tots Bots bamboo booster as it’s quite slim and doesn’t add too much more bulk to the nappy. These are two part nappies and need a waterproof wrap over them – we use Tots Bots Flexiwraps and Motherease Airflow wraps.

The vital statistics for our Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretches:

How many do we have?

5

Velcro/Aplix or Poppers?

Aplix

Which sizes do we have?

They are one-size nappies so will fit from newborn to toddler – there are two levels of poppers on the front to make the nappy smaller.

How long would we be able to use just this part of our stash?

5 days assuming no need for an overnight nappy change (which is a very rare occurrence).

How often do these nappies need to be changed?

These last 12+ hours overnight.

How easy are these nappies to wash?

We wash all our nappies together and don’t need to do anything special for these. I do unpopper the inserts before washing.

How long do they take to dry?

They are bamboo so not the quickest at drying but dry in the tumble drier on my usual cycle or on the line after 4-5 hours.