For the next few months, we’re doing Questions and Answers from our Live Podcast! This is our third in the series and Catherine is our special guest for this month’s Q+A. Catherine is a prep teacher and mother to Theodore. She asks about getting a perfect fit, how to boost and has some useful advice for new mums.
This Nappy Leaks episode is recorded in front of a live studio audience… and by “live studio audience” we mean in the Bubblebubs warehouse with an audience that was 50% babies! But we all had a great time and it was good to be able to pick Vashti and Vicki’s brains.
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.
Transcript: Nappy Leaks Live
Andrew: Welcome to Nappy Leaks with Vicki Simpson and Vashti Wadwell. How are you doing, Vicki?
Vicki: I’m good, Andrew, how are you?
Andrew: I’m excellent. How are you doing, Vashti?
Vashti: Wonderful, thanks Andrew.
Andrew: Excellent, and we have another guest. We have Catherine. Hi Catherine.
Andrew: How are you?
Catherine: Yeah, well thank you. Thanks for having me along.
Andrew: You’re a teacher.
Catherine: I am a teacher. Yes indeed.
Andrew: Tell us about being a teacher. [background laughter]
Catherine: Vicki will be glad to know that I’m not a high school teacher. I teach Prep actually.
Vashti: We’ve got two teachers in the room today.
Catherine: [inaudible word, 00:44] Teacher represent!
Vashti: Oh three, sorry.
Catherine: That’s all right, we understand bureaucracy too.
Andrew: So you’re still learning about the cloth nappy world?
Catherine: Yeah, we’re only eight weeks into our journey, so still feeling like we’re finding our feet, but it’s been really great, and Vashti gets visits from me, I think even before Theodore was born she was getting multiple visits from me going so, what do we do about this? and what about this? It’s been really good to be able to navigate alongside someone who knows what they’re talking about.
Andrew: Nice. Well, I’ll let you ask your first question.
Catherine: Alright, so my questions are very kind of nappy and fit specific. Obviously it’s what we’re experiencing in the early days. I’ve got a very chunky boy here…
Catherine: Yeah, no.
Jenna: He’s gorgeous, the rolls are beautiful.
Catherine: Eight weeks, seven kilos. So chunking up. So what are some good tricks with getting a fit for the snapped one size fits all? Or Candies, let’s be honest, that’s what we’re talking about, when his legs seem to be kind of between snap sizes.
Vicki: Do you do more fit… do you want to take it, or do you want me to take it?
Vashti: Well it’s about Candies, so you take it.
Vicki: OK, what I find is, and I did a video on Ryan. I really need to redo that video, and Jenna will just write it down now, because that’s what she does. I did a fit video on Ryan. What I find actually is running your fingers along the elastic to actually move, it kind of moves the bunchiness of the elastic into kind of right around, to get it more into the groin. That’s what I find is by far, the easiest. And as long as the marks aren’t super nasty red, a lot of, what we actually find is a lot of people get an underwear type mark and go oh my God, I’m getting really bad red marks. And you look at it and the nappy is on super loose, and marks are normal. Red marks are normal. Deep red welts are not normal. If you liken it to your own underwear, or wearing a pair of tights…
Vashti: A pair of tights or jeans. A red mark isn’t going to hurt. It’s like when we wear bras, because let’s face it, most of us listening to this podcast are mums.
Vicki: I’ve got a bra on today.
Vashti: Woo hoo.
Jenna: Vicki’s checked.
Vicki: But if you’ve got a red mark from your own clothing, if you get red marks from your nappies, it’s a similar sort of mark. If the mark from your nappies is welted, if the skin is broken, or if that mark doesn’t disappear by the next nappy change, then we’ve got a problem. Or if their toes turn blue. If their toes turn blue, the nappy is on too tight.
Catherine: Yeah, I think early on that was daunting, and even my husband was like, it’s too tight, I can’t put it on him any tighter. And I’m like no, you’ve got to really get in there. And I think that was a big thing, building confidence and seeing that…
Vicki: They’re not breakable.
Catherine: That Teddy’s response was, he was quite comfortable with it, and wasn’t complaining and that kind of helped me to be reassured that I wasn’t harming him in any way.
Vicki: He certainly will let you know if he is not happy. There is no, it’s a bit like being in labour. Not that I’ve even been in labour, because too posh to push three times, apparently. But you know, when you’re in labour and I think I’m in labour, and then oh yeah. OK, yeah, this is labour, yeah. And it’s the same thing. Bub will certainly let you know if it’s too tight. But I do find running your, and any nappy, front snap, side snap, front Velcro. Running your finger along that elastic line, it just moves the elastic out a little bit. Another hint is with any of your nappies, to actually stretch the rise. So put your palm on, at the top of the nappy and actually stretch it. And that kind of evens the elastic out. So that can help a lot.
Catherine: That’s good. Now, I have found videos about replacing Candies elastic, and I can be really bold with some of my second hand ones that I picked up and doing that. Can you do the same thing with Bam Bams? I haven’t opened one up to have a look, but also, they’re overlocked, so I was curious what that would look like.
Vicki: You will need some way of resealing. So you’ll either need to zigzag or re-overlock. Because you’ll either, look, the lazy way to do it is to cut it off. Cut the overlocking off. That is hands down the quickest way to do it, because you just cut it on one side. Actually, I cut it on both sides, and then you can just get in, take the elastic off, put the new elastic on. Or you can actually unpick the overlocking, which obviously takes a lot longer. But personal preference as to… it’s not going to affect the actual fit. Being a fitted nappy, even if you end up moving the elastic in, like a little bit, to make sure that the…
Vashti: The frill.
Vicki: …the frill is still nice and thick, it’s not going to impact on the function of the nappy, enough for it to be a concern.
Catherine: And my last question is just, what are the best ways to boost absorbency with the least bulk? At the moment we’re finding that with Teddy just being super chunky but not terribly big, putting the bulk in with the booster means that it’s quite gapey around the leg. And this is hilarious Vashti that I’m looking at you, because we totally were at Nest navigating this only a couple of weeks ago.
Vashti: So it’s really about trying to manoeuvre that absorbency, trying to get the thinnest absorbency you can, and manage it into that position. So trying to get that bulk into the centre and bring the shell out and around it. So there’s no reason why the elastic from the shell of the nappy can’t actually be sitting sort of over the top of the absorbency, almost once it’s on, if that makes sense. It’s really, really weird to try and describe it. But you get the elastic of the shell in on the undie line, and then the shell sort of comes out and around the boosting. Obviously it is really, really hard to boost an all in two, or an all in one nappy, because the more absorbency you put inside the nappy, the further it pushes the shell away from the body, which is one of the reasons why I love fitteds and flats and prefolds, because you can boost those until the cows come home, and a shell goes over the top, and as long as you’ve got the nice fit on the shell, then you’re set, it doesn’t matter. But boosting an all in two or an all in one is a lot harder. Things like microfibre work really good for quick absorption, and they’re generally reasonably trim, a little microfibre booster. But for holding in your absorbency, your cottons and your hemps and your bamboos are a lot better, so all your natural fibres.
Jenna: I’m really loving them…Hello, I’m Vicki now.
Vashti: Sorry, Vicki’s just had to step out.
Jenna: Vicki had to step away and now Vicki is Jenna. I’m really loving at the moment for trim boosting, muslin or birds eye flats.
Vashti: Yeah, they’re great.
Jenna: They pad fold down to the size of your palm, and especially because I’ve got a little boy, you just chuck it in the front and I find that works really, really well for extra absorbency, while being quite trim. And the other thing is of course double gussets. Anything with a double gusset will handle that boosting better. It gives you that different shape to get it around and really handle that boosting. Again for a boy, I assume it would be a little harder for a girl, because you’ve got to get it between the legs, whereas a boy you just chuck it all at the front. You’ve got experience, you’ve had both.
Vashti: Yeah, well yes and no. Girls do pee, we do say try and put your boosting for a girl in the middle, and your boosting for a boy at the front. But that also comes down to, if you’ve got a younger bubby, they’re spending a lot of time on their back, so you do need to get more of your boosting towards the back of the nappy, because when they’re lying on their back, that’s where all the moisture runs.
Jenna: Yep, whichever way gravity goes.
Vashti: Yeah, once they’re up and moving and stuff like that, yes you do need to get more of your boosting down the bottom of the nappy because they’re up.
Jenna: The great thing with the muslin flats I’m finding is, and this would be quite flexible for a girl and a boy, is I can fold it to the exact width that I’ve got at the front, so you could make it longer and thinner for a girl to get through that crotch without making it too uncomfortable for them. But I’m just finding them, they’re my favourite at the moment for boosting, because they’re really trim and super absorbent. You can get them bamboo, cotton, whatever you’ve got, all those good options. But I just find they’re really good for trim boosting at the moment. It’s my favourite flavour of the month.
Vashti: And you know what? Something as simple as a face washer folded in half is also a fantastic booster. It’s generally enough to just give you that little bit of extra absorbency that you need, without bulking the nappy too much. So you don’t have to go out and spend masses of money on buying these super dooper fantastic boosters. Use what you’ve got at home. You’ve got old flannelette sheets that have seen better days, chop them up, overlock the edges or…
Jenna: Tea towels that you don’t like anymore that are really absorbent.
Vashti: There you go, cotton tea towels, anything.
Jenna: Big fans of reuse.
Vashti: Anything you’ve got around the house.
Jenna: Big fans of reuse around here, there’s no need to go out and buy a whole bunch. And that was kind of, I had some flats that someone had given me to try out, and I’m not a big flats fan. But I found that for a night nappy, a fitted nappy and then folding that muslin at the front, and that’s all, my son is two, and that’s all he wears at night for 12 hours. Theoretically, except for last night, where he slept three hours. He normally sleeps 12 hours. Putting that at the front, that gets him through the night. So it really is a lot of boosting. So I suppose if you want a day boosting you could even cut those in halves or thirds and get a few uses out of them, they’re flexible in that way.
Jenna: Does that help?
Catherine: Yeah, yeah, that’s helpful. I just disappear, you guys can chat, over it, that’s cool. I actually find using the boosters from the Bam Bams that they’re that little bit thinner, that I’ve actually found they’re useful now we’re in one size fits most nappies, because they work like having a face washer folded in half, so you’re using the collection, what I’ve already got in my stash.
Jenna: I’ve got a friend who’s just starting and I’ve told her to take all the, most all in twos have a long, a big insert and a small insert, and I’ve told her to take the small inserts out of all the nappies, and if bubba is sleeping longer at night to put them in the front of her fitted nappies for when baby is small. You won’t need those in the nappies until later. Use those for your boosting in your newborn fitted nappies, if bubba is nice enough to sleep for you.
Andrew: Thank you, Catherine. Now, what advice would you have for new mums?
Catherine: I think the biggest advice, it’s all fairly fresh in my brain, when I was pregnant I’d done so much research, and trying to learn my washing routines and, thank you Amy for helping out with lots of those things. But I think the biggest thing is just try one. Just get one cloth nappy on bub and see how it goes, and the more that you do it, the easier it becomes. I’m not sure that rinsing poo out at the end of each night is getting any easier, but it’s not that unglamorous, and I just found that I was so nervous about it, I just needed to get in there and do it. And my husband was the same. He was so uncertain and the more nappies he changes, the more confident he gets. And we’re in cloth full time now.
Andrew: Cool. As far as washing poo out, just imagine it’s playdough, because that doesn’t smell.
Vashti: Just say for instance there’s a video where someone washes blue playdough off a nappy.
Catherine: I could deal with that if it was blue. My problems is, I really like the sweet potato dip, and often when he’s going down for a lunchtime nap, I just grab what I can for lunch to then sit down with him to feed. And sweet potato dip and I just can’t see eye to eye anymore. You get the last bit out of the container with your finger and then you go, I don’t know what that is now. That could be dip…
Jenna: It’s ruined now.
Catherine: …or not. So it’s ruined.
Andrew: That’s one of those foods that comes out the same way it went in.
Catherine: That’s it.
Andrew: Thank you, Catherine.
Catherine: Thank you very much.
Andrew: Thank you, Vashti.
Vashti: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you…
Vashti: Hey, thanks Catherine, it was great to see you.
Catherine: That’s alright, thank you.
Andrew: Vicki Simpson is a wife and mother to three children, President of the Australian Nappy Association and owner and founder of Bubblebubs. Vicki has been making and selling cloth nappies through her website for 15 years. Bubblebubs is now one of the most recognised and awarded cloth nappy brands in Australia, and is currently expanding to other countries. You can find out more and contact her through her website, bubblebubs.com.au. Vashti Wadwell is mother to three children and has been using cloth nappies for 13 years. She is the owner of Australia’s first cloth nappy store, Nest Nappies, located in Brisbane, Australia. She can be contacted through her website, nestnappies.com.au. If you would like to give us feedback, go to nappyleaks.com.au. If you are finding this podcast helpful, the way to thank us is to leave feedback in the iTunes store or wherever you listen to podcasts. I am your host, Andrew Simpson.