Trouble Shooting

Reusable nappies are a joy to use in most cases (if using any nappy can involve joy??!!) but sometimes there are a few things that people encounter that they may need a little extra help with.

Here are some tips on the most common teething problems.

1. Leaking nappies

Any nappy will leak if left on for long enough (and that definitely includes disposables).There are obviously two types of leak - wee or poo and I think we all know which is worse to deal with so I'll get that over with first!

If breastfeeding, baby's poo will be very runny (which is perfectly normal but a bit of a shock to start with!). Being totally honest, the only poo leaks we have had have been when we've resorted to using a disposable as they are not good at containing explosions!

2 part reusable nappies are particularly good at containment (due to the 2 layers of elastic around the legs) as are those with leg gussets, but any reusable we sell has been tried and tested and found to contain really well unless under very extreme circumstances where nothing is going to contain!

For wet leaks, there are a few things that may be the cause:

  • Cloth nappies need pre-washing before use in order to reach their full absorbency - at least 2-3 times and more for bamboo nappies (TotsBots recommend 10 times before their Bamboozle nappies reach full absorbency)
  • The nappy is the wrong size - if too small or too big, the leg fit will be affected and may lead to leaks. Check the manufacturer's recommendations for size vs. weight of the baby. If your baby has chunky legs and a small waist (or vice versa), popper fastenings can help reduce leaks as they can be adjusted at the leg and waist separately.
  • It may just be as simple as needing more absorbency - try adding boosters (bamboo boosters are particularly absorbent) to your normal nappies. This is useful especially as your baby gets older and does bigger wees!
  • Any tear in the waterproof cover will lead to leaks
  • Nappies should be changed every 3-4 hours (obviously sooner if soiled)
  • If softener is used in the wash cycle, this will really reduce the absorbency of the nappies
  • It's really important to use a simple, non-biological detergent that doesn't contain enzymes or optical brighteners - these can affect absorbency
  • Sometimes a build-up of detergent can occur, reducing the absorbency of the nappy. It is really important to use a good rinse cycle in your washing machine and only use half the recommended amount of detergent. If your nappies smell even after they've been washed and as soon as wee hits them, this is a good indicator of build-up
  • Use nappy creams very sparingly and always use a paper liner so the cream doesn't get on the nappy - this can clog up the fibres causing reduced absorbency

2. Staining

This may not be a problem to you but if it does bother you, here are some top tips:

  • If you use liners in your nappies, this should catch most of the poo so will really reduce the likelihood of staining
  • Remember that staining is only ever pigment - there is no bacteria left on the nappy if you've used the sanitiser to clean the nappy
  • So its just an appearance thing and it will be hidden from view when the nappy is on so shouldn't be too much of a problem (your baby certainly doesn't care!)
  • SUNLIGHT is by far the best solution (I know, you've got to see it to believe it but it really does work!!) It doesn't even need to be a particularly sunny day - just daylight will work well. Hang your nappies out as much as you can to dry - they will also smell lovely with all that fresh air.
  • Some people say that lemon juice or white vinegar can help but this shouldn't be used very often as they can damage some fibres (particularly bamboo)
  • If it is a regular problem, you could always try soaking the soiled nappies so that the poo doesn't dry on

3. Nappies going 'hard' to the touch

Nappies do not stay as soft as new when they have been washed a few times - this can happen particularly if you live in a hard water area.

  • If you are using a liner (either paper or fleece) this will not affect the baby's comfort as the nappy is not really against their skin.
  • The nappy will also soften as soon as the baby wees.
  • If you live in a hard water area, it may be best to choose nappies made from synthetic materials which tend to stay softer than natural fabrics such as bamboo and cotton. -The Lollipop Softee is a really soft nappy which stays nice and soft no matter how often it is washed - in fact, any micro fibre nappy would be a good choice, as would fleece.
  • Do not be tempted to use softeners in the wash as these will clog up the nappy fibres and affect absorbency
  • Some people recommend the use of white vinegar in the wash to soften nappies but this can cause damage to the fabric so we would not recommend it. If you want to give it a go, only use it very occasionally as it will shorten the life-span of the nappies

4. Does my bum look big in this? Finding clothes to fit over cloth nappies

Most baby clothes these days are made to be very slim-fitting with disposable nappies in mind. Some reusable nappies do give your baby an enviable J-Lo bum and it can sometimes be hard to find clothes to fit. Luckily there are some solutions out there!

  • You could buy clothes made specifically 'cut for cloth' such as Frugi - which make gorgeous organic children's clothes - warning - they are seriously addictive!
  • Other companies include Tinker Togs -
  • Vest extenders can really help - they are a strip of fabric that poppers into the bottom of the vest so that it fits over a bigger nappy without having to go into the next size up
  • Choose styles that allow for extra room such as stretchy leggings and dresses with tights (for girls obviously!). Sweatshirt material is a really good choice for trousers as it allows for a lot of stretch and is also really comfy
  • Avoid 'jeans' - I do have a (hunny)bee in my bonnet about dressing babies in adult style clothes - they look so uncomfortable and are usually very slim-fitting
  • Some cloth nappies are slimmer than others - the sized nappies will be slimmer than the birth to potty one size so chose those if this is a big issue for you
  • Become a true 'earth mother' and make your own clothes - I wish I was this clever but there are lots of patterns out there! (and lots of much cleverer people than me!)

5. Nappy Rash

See 'Nappy Rash' information sheet.