This time for our mini-episode we have a special guest, Jenna, joining Vicki and Vashti. They all discuss their top 3 reasons for getting into cloth nappies.
Vicki Simpson is the current President of the Australian Nappy Association and has been advocating for and selling cloth nappies in Australia for over a decade. She is the owner, creator and Chief Nappy Nerd here at Bubblebubs. Vashti Wadwell is the outgoing Member Secretary of the Australian Nappy Association and is the owner of Australia’s first bricks and mortar nappy store, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane, Australia. Both Vicki and Vashti have used cloth nappies for more than a decade each over three children and turned their passion into a business.
Jenna is the resident social media guru here at Bubblebubs. She has been using and advocating for cloth nappies in Australia since her son was born two years ago.
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Transcript: Top 3 reasons to use cloth nappies.
Andrew: How are you doing, Vicki?
Vicki: I’m good, Andrew, how are you?
Andrew: Woo hoo, we’re even \[laughter]
Vicki: You’ve got to check the goodbyes.
Vashti: Just when you think you’re ahead.
Andrew: Just when you think you’re ahead, that’s right. How are you doing, Vashti?
Vashti: I’m good, Andrew.
Andrew: And how are you going, Jenna?
Jenna: Hungry, so I have a muesli bar in my mouth.
Andrew: You knew you would be talking though, didn’t you?
Jenna: I was starving.
Vicki: Jenna always talks.
Vashti: Jenna, in fact always too…
Vicki: I think you need to ask Jenna the questions first, just in case we run out of ten minutes with Jenna’s answer. It may just be the Jenna show today.
Jenna: I’m still chewing.
Andrew: OK, so we will do the top three reasons each of you started with cloth nappies. So we’ll go with Vicki first.
Vicki: No, I think Jenna first.
Andrew: You think Jenna first?
Jenna: Stop it.
Vicki: OK, me first. I’ll do it, it’s fine. My top reason was money. So financially, hence why I started making cloth nappies was definitely a financial thing, because I did give up quite a salary. Second reason…
Andrew: I think you were earning more than me.
Vicki: I was, I was, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Shh, nobody else knows that.
Vashti: Andrew was unsure, and Vicki was very sure.
Andrew: That’s true.
Vicki: No, actually I pay you more than me. That’s right, you’re the primary earner now.
Andrew: Good for me.
Vicki: You never see any of it. He gets $50 a week. That’s all I pay him. Everything else is just paper. Second reason…
Andrew: Uh, uh, one at a time.
Vicki: No, I did the first.
Andrew: Yeah, now Vashti’s turn. Vashti, what’s your number one?
Vashti: The number one reason I got into cloth nappies was because my Mum guilted me into it.
Andrew: Oh really? Wow. Have you discussed that before?
Vashti: Yes, I have.
Andrew: You have.
Vashti: No, my Mum guilted me into using cloth nappies, and I had no choice, pretty much, however…
Andrew: So you mean your mother dragged you into the cloth nappy industry and look at you now.
Vashti: I know. I know. I have my mother to thank. And she’s my biggest [indistinct, 02:11] too. I love her. Love you, Mummy. As long as she listens. Got a funny face on. I remember I was 15, and my Mum would turn around to me. I was a horrible 15-year-old, because teenagers can be unbearable. I don’t know if you know this?
Vicki: Wretched. Fifteen-year-old girls are the worst, I’ve heard.
Jenna: I was a delight from about 14 to 17, and I remember her turning around to me on more than one occasion and saying, “We all have to get used to things in life, Jenna. I have to get used to the fact that you’re going to put my grandkids in disposable nappies.” She used to say this to me all the time. What are you on about, mother? What are you on about, woman? And I don’t know why she kept saying that, but she brought it up for years. And now I know, she spent a lot of time emotionally going through something she didn’t need to go through.
Vicki: No, no, but she was planting seeds. See, the one thing I have learned about having a teenage daughter is they will do the opposite of what you say.
Jenna: Both my mother and my mother-in-law think they’re the reasons that I…
Vicki: So what is your number one reason?
Jenna: I’m a cheap arse. Can I say arse?
Vicki: What’s your number one reason?
Andrew: Let’s find out.
Jenna: I’m a cheapskate. I don’t like wasting money. My friends will laugh when I say I’m a cheapskate, because I have a really expensive taste, but that’s because I like to be very choosy with how I spend my money.
Vicki: This is why we get on so well, and why we work together so well, is because that one thing about you know, being a cheapskate, but at the same time…
Jenna: Wanting quality and value.
Vicki: Yeah, yeah, it’s about not wasting money. More than anything.
Jenna: I feel like Casey and I don’t own a ton of money, but we’re able to get the most out of our money because we manage it tightly and we make intelligent decisions, and that’s why I’m a cheapskate and I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on disposables, and that’s why.
Vicki: But didn’t you, that last release, into night packing, just for nappies…
Jenna: And I spent…
Vicki: No money.
Jenna: Technically spent no money. Spent five hours at night, five hours of my life, but reason number one, I’m going for that, what’s my number one reason? More will come, more will come.
Andrew: So Vicki, what’s your number two?
Vicki: You’d think I would have thought of this by now, because it’s not like this has just been thrown on me. But my number two reason. See, I’d like to say…
Andrew: Number two reason was referred to number one?
Vicki: Pretty much. I would like to say that it was environmental, but you know, that was actually a by-product of using cloth. I would have to say number two was probably wanting the best for my child, and my perception of best was cloth nappies. And also I had all of these fantasies as a first time mum, I was going to make my daughter these clothes, because I’ve been sewing since I was eight, and you know, all of that sort of stuff. I would say number two would have to be wanting the best, but something that I made for her. Does that make sense?
Andrew: That’s funny you say it was clothes, but you ended up making nappies and nappies and nappies and nappies.
Vicki: All I ever did was make nappies. Oh, my gosh. Quite honestly, all I ended up making was nappies. And there were so many dresses and all sorts of things all cut out, ready to go, and I haven’t sewn for fun in such a long time.
Andrew: What’s your number two, Vashti?
Vicki: Feel sorry for me.
Vashti: My number two [laughter].
Andrew: Nobody feels sorry for you.
Vicki: I don’t get to sew anymore.
Vashti: No [laughter].
Andrew: And it’s not from a lack of sewing machines.
Vicki: No, the poor things never get used. Feel sorry for the sewing machines.
Andrew: Two industrial sewing machines and a home sewing machine.
Vashti: She had to borrow mine, the last time…
Vicki: To sew something. You know what to know what’s really, really funny, is I was going to an awards night and I had a dress, and I needed to hem the dress. And actually it was the same night that we did the release. So I got home at like 3 o’clock in the morning, and I was flying to Melbourne the next morning, so I had to, I borrowed Vashti’s sewing machine because I couldn’t find the foot pedal on mine.
Vashti: You didn’t even hem the dress. I did it.
Vicki: I cut it off, and I’m like, you know what? I’m going to bed. I can sensor myself. Beep.
Jenna: So does that mean, in the last week, I have sewed more than you?
Vicki: Yeah, absolutely.
Jenna: I turned my sewing machine on. By the way, can I just say, I made little bags, and I had more difficulty threading the machine than making the bags. I’ve owned a sewing machine for two years, but I’ve really never used it. My husband is the only person that used it, and he was out of town.
Vashti: Your husband has used your sewing machine? Wow.
Jenna: He’s much better at these things than I am. My grandma gave me the washing machine. Uh, sewing machine. Washing.
Vicki: We did that last week. We did it last month.
Jenna: Last month, a long time, a very long time ago.
Vicki: Get it right, get it right.
Jenna: My Grandma gave me the sewing machine. She’s like, have you used it? I’m like, it has been used. She goes, Casey used it, didn’t he? I’m like, yeah. But I worked out how to use it this week. I was very proud. I’ve done that, I don’t need to do it again now.
Andrew: Number two, Vashti?
Vashti: Number two. So number two was I went from using flats, because that’s what I knew, to finding modern cloth nappies, and they were really cute, and they got my partner on board. So I was happy that he liked them.
Andrew: No, you can’t repeat them.
Vashti: So that’s my number two reason was when I found modern cloth nappies, and it was only a fitted and cover. But I was happy to use those. So we actually moved more into cloth because of fitteds and covers. We were using them…
Vicki: More supportive husband than I had.
Andrew: Jenna, what’s your number two? As she puts her phone down.
Jenna: You know who I’m helping? Customers.
Andrew: Tell them to email the podcast. [laughter]
Vicki: Go on, give her a shout out. Who are you helping?
Jenna: I’m helping Corey, who’s one of our brand new customers, and actually her supportive partner, actually he was the person I was talking to, and he was the one picking the prints, because she was just tired and hot. And he was like, I care more. I’ll pick the prints. So that was really nice. And I just helped them a whole big pack, and I’m like, I’ve got vicarious shopping hives. It was really fun.
Andrew: So they didn’t order 24 whites, did they?
Jenna: No, they didn’t.
Vicki: Actually you know, it’s really funny because Jenna was asking me, what can they have? Because we’re really low on stock, and what’s actually at the warehouse is not necessarily what’s in stock. It can be allocated to someone else. And I said to them unless they’re a 24 pack of white. Because we get that. We get that quite often that someone will want 24.
Andrew: But just white though?
Vicki: But I understand it, because you know why? White is clean, and babies and that whole white thing, I understand it.
Jenna: My grandma actually said to me when she saw I had a black onsie for Ryan as a baby, oh poor baby. She was very concerned about his wellbeing because he had a black onsie.
Vicki: I get the white thing.
Vashti: Because white is seen as pure and innocent, whereas black is seen as evil and devoid and stuff like that.
Vicki: It’s a bit like a white wedding dress. Like a white wedding dress compared with a coloured wedding dress. It’s that sort of thing. I understand it. It’s not for me, but I understand it is for some people.
Jenna: We were talking the other day about not judging mothers, if you need to use disposables, if you need to do this, that everyone needs to look after themselves and their mental health. And I was like, yeah, except people who buy all white nappy packs. We do judge them.
Vicki: Why? Why?
Jenna: Because we’ve got pretty prints. They’re wasting all the opportunity for the pretty prints, and I can’t handle it. This might be about me.
Andrew: They’re afraid the styles are going to date, and they’re going to have to buy it again.
Vicki: Good point, white never dates.
Jenna: I do own a white nappy. I’d like to comment, I do own a white nappy, I just don’t…
Vashti: What if you want to buy 24 white nappies because you want to tie down yourself?
Jenna: I think we need to ask her why. Maybe you can do something on the website where if someone buys all white nappies, a little thing pops up and goes, why? Why are you doing this? Tell us.
Vashti: Because Jenna needs to know.
Vicki: So Jenna, what’s your number two?
Jenna: My number two is,
Vicki: Race through this now, hurry up.
Jenna: My number two is environmental. And kind of by accident I didn’t really [beep] [laughter]. Let me talk! Vicki sneezed a bad way, Vicki, bless you.
Vashti: Vicki sneezed a bad word.
Vicki: It was not a bad word.
Jenna: My two and three are ties. My two and three are ties. I can do them at the same time, if you want. Environment, and I didn’t actually going into it give a crap so much.
Vicki: Hello! I know this.
Jenna: But we used disposables for the first two weeks, and within two weeks my husband and I were horrified by the waste. I hated the fact, and this is what it comes down to. It’s not even the waste going out of my house, I hate it if I put a nappy on him and he peed in it, that I would immediately have to throw it in the bin. When it hadn’t even been on him. And then I would go, oh maybe I could put it on him, and then I’d go, no don’t do that. And I hated having that conflict. I like the fact that I can change his nappy, this is my husband’s number one reason. He can change his nappy as much as he wants, and he does. He goes through so many more nappies.
Vicki: You don’t have to throw it out all the time. You have to use them all the time to get to them.
Andrew: No, no, that’s because he can change with one hand.
Vicki: He did, there was a monkey nappy that we had, and she was…
Vashti: Never seen it…
Vicki: …he kept putting it on.
Jenna: I had it like two months before I saw this nappy on Ryan. But I couldn’t stand having to balance wanting to be a good parent, and wastage. I hated that that was a factor in it. And I hated how full our bin was. I hated the fact that this whole thing had all these parts…
Vicki: See that’s only a by-product though.
Jenna: …went straight over…
Vicki: It’s a by-product of becoming a parent.
Jenna: I really didn’t go into it for the environmental reasons, I’ll put my hand up and say that, but it took us two weeks of using disposables to be absolutely horrified by the waste, and it quickly became a reason that I [inaudible, 11:58]
Andrew: What’s your number three, Vicki?
Vicki: It really is fashion. It was purely and utterly, and I completely stole that from Vashti, because she reminded me that I like pretty things. All the pretty things.
Andrew: That’s because you kind of made them pretty.
Vicki: Exactly, exactly. And it was fun because I’d go to Spotlight and pick out a pretty fabric and stuff like that. Back then it was really, really hard to get the right fabrics. But that was part of it. Oh, this pretty bit. But you know, it’s no different to now, people who aren’t seeing their own nappies, they’re buying for the prints. I understand that completely because that was me. I say, for fashion was my third.
Andrew: What’s your number three, Vashti?
Vashti: My number three, and probably my most important, it got me into the industry itself, was health. And this is really bizarre.
Vashti: But Mikayla, we’d worked out by the time she was six weeks old that she was allergic to disposables, which made me research, and I was horrified by what’s in a disposable nappy, how it’s made. The by-products of disposables, how long they hang around in the environment, that sort of stuff.
Vicki: It’s a bit like finding out about single use wipes. That you use them on walls to clean nicos and stuff. Oh my gosh, I’m putting this on my newborn baby.
Jenna: Ryan is violently allergic to disposable wipes. I forgot his cloth wipes for day care a couple of weeks ago. I told, such a guilty Mum moment. I picked him up, one day of disposable wipes, his bottom was bleeding. I thought he had a bad rash, until, his bottom was bleeding.
Vashti: Well Mikayla had blistering so badly that she’s, eleven years later, still got scarring on her labia. And it wasn’t just the nappies, it was the disposable wipes. It was also bum creams. Any single bum cream. We even tried raw beeswax, and she still reacted to that. We could only use cloth wipes and water. She’s fine with everywhere else.
Vicki: Well that is the most sensitive area of your body. So I think, a lot of people just don’t think. Well, you don’t. It’s the norm, it’s just what you do. And until you actually think about it, oh, I didn’t think. There’s lots of alcohol and chemicals in these wipes and nappies and stuff like that.
Vashti: They wipe the paint off your dashboard, those disposable wipes. And that’s the natural ones.
Jenna: I had crow cloth(?), as my Mum was, when I said I was using disposable wipes, reusable wipes, sorry, she was a little horrified and was really, really reticent. Now she’s the biggest champion of them. I’m making her write a blog, by the way. She is the biggest champion of them, and she loves them. But when I first mentioned them, she was super OK, she wanted me to do cloth nappies, but cloth wipes for her was a bridge too far. But now, she loves them. And I’ve only ever used water on Ryan because he has really sensitive skin too, he’s a really rashy little bubby. I get that.
Vashti: Well with Mikayla at day care, she was teething; she had a little bit of a pink rash, and I’d said to them, she’s a little bit pink because she’s teething at the moment. But they had a temp carer in there over the lunch break, who decided to slather her bum in Bepanthem and use a disposable wipe and stuff like that, and by the time I picked her up, she was so angry red and starting to break skin and stuff like that. And I took her back in the next day, and I said, “What was used on her bum yesterday? Did you guys put anything on it?” And the temp carer was in there in the morning, and she goes, she was a little bit pink, so I put some Bepanthem on it. I said, “Did you use a disposable wipe?” And they’re like, well yeah, because the cloth wipe I’d actually, because we used to pack a cloth wipe into each nappy, so they’d just wet it as they needed, they’d left the cloth wipe in the nappy…
Jenna: Thinking it was part of the nappy, wow.
Vashti: So I’m sitting there going, what did you use to wipe her bum with? We had some disposable wipes here. I’m like, you can’t use these things. I don’t send it, you’re not supposed to use it. And because they’d done that, and she was 18, 20 months old at that stage. So it wasn’t like she wasn’t used to those things, or her body hadn’t adjusted. She wasn’t really new and fresh. But yeah, she couldn’t. And Kylan recently, well not recently, years ago now, I was at a play centre, and we’d got a babycino for him. So he got chocolate all over his mouth, and I didn’t have any cloth wipes with me. So a friend gave me a disposable wipe to clear his face up with, and he broke out in a red rash over his face from a disposable wipe.
Jenna: See Ryan’s fine on his hands, but I can’t use them on the bum. I don’t use them a lot, so I haven’t tested them out in a very long time.
Vashti: Kylan, well he’d never had a disposable wipe, even on his face, and he broke out in a rash. And he started having reactions to things after that, and we had to get that out of his system, which took months.
Andrew: So Jenna, what was your number three?
Jenna: This is what Vicki wanted to hear for number two. Fashion. It is, it’s pretty, and you know what, it’s the fun and the pretty. Because A, when I see friends kids on social media, I try not to judge, but when you see the disposable and they’re running around naked in a disposable, I don’t judge the mother, I’m just like, it doesn’t look as pretty. It’s just, I don’t judge them for using disposables, I just want to be clear there. I just look at the picture, and I’m like, but it would be so much prettier if they had a cloth nappy on. And I love that Ryan can run around and I’ve got a shirt and a nappy, and it’s a whole outfit. I just think they look much cuter. Now I don’t like the feel of putting, I used a disposable like a year ago, one, and I felt like I was wrapping him in plastic bags. When you get used to that wrapping them in lovely cloth, it feels so much nicer. It’s the fact that nappy changes are fun. I don’t know many parents who don’t complain about nappy change, but I actually like nappy changes. It doesn’t bother me. I get to pick a new print, and it’s fun, and only cloth mums complain about toilet training.
Vicki: I was just about to say that. Only cloth mums complain about toilet training.
Jenna: I need to do a meme up, because you’ve got like disposable mums, who toilet train, oh yay. Cloth mums are like [sobs] my child’s toilet training. It’s terrible. And I get those feels. Not every cloth mum of course, but it makes, I’m going to steal Vicki’s quote here. It makes a crappy job, no, I’ve screwed up already, haven’t I?
Vicki: It makes a shhh….
[unison] It makes a crappy job fun.
Vicki: You know what? There is no, it’s not nice. Nobody really likes changing nappies. We’re talking about faeces and urine. That’s not fun, but what is fun…
Jenna: When there’s a new print range, and I haven’t gotten to put George on yet, because my husband keeps using it. Is he? No, it’s not wet yet.
Vicki: Yeah, that’s right. It makes it that little bit fun. It makes washing fun. It makes everything fun.
Andrew: I think we’ll have to finish there. Thank you, Jenna.
Jenna: Nice to keep talking. [laughter]
Andrew: Nobody can see it in the audience, but every time I want to talk, I’ve been putting my hand up.
Jenna: And we just keep ignoring it.
Andrew: It’s time to move on.
Jenna: Don’t you know we’re ignoring you?
Andrew: That’s right.
Vashti: Thank you, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you, Vashti.
Vashti: You’re welcome.
Vicki: Last again. Last again.
Vashti: Yeah, last again. Vicki’s last.
Andrew: Alright, thank you Vicki.
Vicki: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you, Vashti.
Vashti: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you, Jenna.
Jenna: You’re welcome.