For the next few months, we’re doing Questions and Answers from our Live Podcast! This is our fourth in the series and Kailyn is our special guest for this month’s Q+A. Kailyn is mum to Oscar and she asks about how to tell when a cloth nappy has “had it”, when to boost and the pros and cons of liners.
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.
Transcription: Live May 2019
Andrew: How are you doing, Vicki?
Vicki: Oh, I’m good, Andrew.
Andrew: Going to get you on that all day. How are you doing, Vashti?
Vashti: I’m good thanks Andrew, how are you?
Andrew: Excellent. And we have a guest, Kailyn.
Kailyn: Hi, how are you?
Andrew: How are you?
Kailyn: I’m good thanks, how are you?
Andrew: Good. So you’re the first in your group to use coth nappies?
Kailyn: Yes, I am, and I’m sure that they’re wishing for me to shut up about it probably. But I have a few…
Vashti: It’s exciting though.
Kailyn: Yeah, it is good. It gives me a lot to talk about, and I have a few friends who are due very soon, so they’ll be getting some cloth gifts at their baby showers.
Vashti: Woo hoo.
Andrew: Nice, nice. And you’re a first time mum with Oscar?
Kailyn: Little Oscar, yep, he’s five months old in a couple of days. He’s going alright.
Andrew: Nice. Very alert for five months old.
Kailyn: Really? He’s a fun one, he keeps us on our toes, and he loves to just squeal out of nowhere.
Kailyn: So be warned.
Andrew: The microphone should pick up that beautifully. Now you currently use cloth, but you still use disposables when you’re out.
Kailyn: Yeah, so we’re doing part time. I am trying to get a little bit more adventurous and take the cloth out with me, and I’ve tried again today, but my first experience wasn’t fun. But I’ve learned from my mistakes.
Andrew: What went wrong?
Kailyn: I lost track of time, and I’m used to him being in disposables and if I lose track of time at coffee it’s not as bad. I lost track of time and it actually didn’t affect the nappy, it wasn’t coming out, but I did realise the poor little fellow had been sitting in in for a long time and then of course he did a poo explosion, which he never does a second time around. So that was a fun one. That was not an issue with him again, it didn’t go on his clothes. It was more of an issue of what do I do with a poo explosion and a cloth nappy in a shopping centre bathroom. That’s not one of my questions, but maybe…
Vicki: Maybe it should be. Or maybe that’s an idea for a podcast.
Andrew: I will let you ask your first question right now.
Kailyn: Alright, so I, kind of going a little bit backwards, I want to know how do you know when it’s time to retire a cloth nappy?
Andrew: When you can see through it.
Vicki: Really depends on the nappy, I guess.
Vashti: It also depends on your standards though.
Vicki: Actually I don’t know if I should mention specific issues, but bamboo in particular wears. A cloth nappy isn’t going to be perfect until the day it dies and then all of a sudden it self combusts. That’s an unrealistic expectation. Over time, especially if your wash routine isn’t spot on, and you’ve got, you’re leaving it say three days between washing instead of two and stuff like that, holes start to develop. That doesn’t mean that they’re unusable. You can hand stitch over them or you can continue to use them. You should see some of the nappies that I’ve got left over from Gabrielle, I can’t believe I was still using them, to be honest. Pretty much as long as your P.U.L. is intact and you’ve got enough absorbency within the nappy, they’re pretty much still good to go. We find most people, their nappies are still in good enough condition to donate. But what I would say if you’re looking at your nappies being at the end of their life, if you wouldn’t put them on your kids, if you’re at the stage where you go yeah, if somebody gave this to me, I wouldn’t put it on my kid, throw it in the bin. Don’t go and donate it. Because I know a lot of people do that with charities. Donating their clothes and stuff like that. It’s not a case that they’re out of fashion, it’s a case that they’re falling apart kind of thing.
Kailyn: Makes sense.
Vicki: Yeah, I’d say P.U.L. would be the biggest, because elastic can be replaced.
Kailyn: Yeah, true, and so can Velcro, I guess.
Vicki: Yeah, absolutely.
Kailyn: I guess it depends on what your standards are, and I’m looking at some of my Velcro that’s a little bit worn and he’s only five months old, and clearly the nappy is still fine.
Vicki: Yeah, and Velcro is really easy to, that’s one of the last things that is put on a nappy. It’s really easy to replace, generally.
Vashti: But at five months you’re probably getting to the point where you want to move away from Velcro anyway.
Kailyn: Yeah, and I haven’t experienced it myself yet, but I have heard through your podcast, reasons why Velcro’s not such a good idea when they start to get better control of their arms.
Vashti: I had one of my customers sent me some pictures recently of one of her nappies, a Velcro all in two that she just decided to convert to snaps, and it looks awesome. She’s done a really, really good job.
Kailyn: What a good idea.
Vicki: We’ve got pictures of what Velcro happens with toddlers in sleeps, in dresses.
Andrew: In every little disaster that we had at home, there’s a design change.
Kailyn: A learning.
Vicki: Actually, and that answers some of the questions from previous podcasts from like months ago, about product development. It comes from, it’s like when you’re cooking, you learn not to put so much salt in next time because it turned out too salty. It’s the same sort of thing.
Andrew: That’s a true story.
Vicki: Yeah, from the other night. How can you over salt mashed potato? Ask Andrew.
Kailyn: I get it, you could.
Vicki: Nobody ate it, and like mashed potato is like the favourite food in the house. For all of us, and nobody ate it.
Andrew: I’ll let you move onto your next question.
Kailyn: OK, so I am never sure whether or not I need to use the boosters. I struggle to tell whether he’s over wet, or whether he’s just over wet at the front. And so I stick all the boosters in with all the nappies all the time, so they’re massive, and my husband hates it, and says why are we wearing these ridiculous nappies?
Baby: [grunting noise]
Kailyn: I also have a constipated baby. So apologies. [laughter]
Vashti: I’m a fan of keeping things true.
Kailyn: Oh God.
Vashti: Explosive poo in the early days, but we just changed every couple of hours. We’ve had time where Kylan was at the shop with me, I regularly walked out of the house without the nappy bag. Thank goodness I work in a cloth nappy shop. I’d get to the shop and go to empty the car and I’d be like, I have no nappies. So we’d take things off the shelf. And if it was a busy day, Kylan would be in a nappy for up to five hours sometimes. It would be absolutely drenched when I took it off him, but it would have held.
Kailyn: And that’s what I’m finding, is that I’m not noticing a leak or anything, but I can feel that the insert is quite…
Vicki: I just thought of the perfect answer for you. Do you know what you could actually do? Get a diary and weigh the nappies.
Kailyn: Yeah, right.
Vicki: And actually diarise how long it’s on for, what it weighs, and you would also need to know its maximum capacity, including all of the boosters and stuff like that. So just pop that in some water and let all the water drain off, until it’s wet, and see what it can do. Jenna’s looking at me…
Jenna: …you’d ever do.
Vicki: I would never, ever in a lifetime…
Kailyn: I probably would do that and I’d probably have a really excellent Excel spreadsheet too, so that suits me, that answer.
Vicki: Jenna’s people, Jenna’s people.
Andrew: We’ll get our little people to talk to your little people. Work something out. Do you want to ask your next question?
Kailyn: Yeah. And lastly, I came in and spoke to you, Vashti, and got some fleece liners because he used to wake up, and he still is pretty pick if he’s a bit wet, and I think they’re doing a fantastic job of keeping him feeling dry. But I am wondering, because he’s a bit of an explosive poo-er as well, and I often get the breastfed poos out to the sides of the nappies. Is the fleece liner potentially causing that to slip out to the sides and not absorbing it as quickly as what it would have?
Vicki: Have you ever watched it come out?
Vashti: It comes out with some force. You could use fleece liners, you could use raw silk, you could use one use disposable corn starch liners.
Kailyn: I’m wondering even no liner might be better and just clean it?
Vashti: It really doesn’t matter. Those explosive poos are going to go to the side, no matter what.
Vicki: If you were really concerned, you could go to Spotlight and grab some microfleece polar, sorry, micropolar fleece. Same fabric, it’s 100% polyester and actually cut some a little bit bigger. They don’t need sewing. So if it was that big a concern for you, you could actually do that and shape them a little bit…
Kailyn: Into the nappies…
Vicki: …if you wanted to.
Kailyn: That’s a good idea.
Vicki: It just depends whether that…
Kailyn: That’s been an issue or not. It’s not at the moment, because he’s not pooped for five days. Having the best time of my life.
Vashti: But do you know what? Breastfeed babies, that’s actually really normal. They can go up to a couple of weeks without pooing.
Kailyn: Yes, I know. I wish that was the case.
Vashti: If he was in pain, that would be an issue, but he doesn’t look like he’s in pain.
Kailyn: You wait until he goes red. He’s very vocal about it. I took him to the movies the other night, and this is what we got.
Vicki: Mums and bubs.
Kailyn: Yeah, much better. Far more socially appropriate. And blowing raspberries too. He’s a noisy fella.
Andrew: So what advice would you give to new mums?
Kailyn: New mums in general, I would say the six weeks milestone comes a lot quicker than you would realise, and you will get through it. That was my biggest thing that kept me going.
Andrew: So there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Kailyn: Absolutely, and I got to three weeks and thought, oh my goodness, this is the longest three weeks of my life. But then the next three weeks went so fast that I was wishing for it back. And in terms of cloth nappies, I went, when I was pregnant, and did an expo run and I bought one of everything, or the starter trial packs of all the different brands, because I had no idea what size he was going to be, what it would be looking like. And then I had about six nappies in my stash before he was born. Quickly realised when I had a tiny baby that that wasn’t really going to help me. So I went in a saw Vashti and got some advice on a tiny baby and what to do. But now we’re getting back into the nappies that we collected at the expos and picking all the ones that seem to suit him. And then of course a couple of weeks later, those nappies don’t fit him anymore. I’ve found now, I’ve got a few that I would like to buy full packs in and go fulltime.
Vicki: Because you find you’re picking the same ones out of the wash over and over. It doesn’t take long to work it out.
Kailyn: And even the ones I looked at and went this looks backwards, how am I going to use this? Is now my favourite.
Vicki: Is that Candy?
Kailyn: Yes. It was.
Vicki: Anyone would think this was a sponsored show. This is supposed to be unbranded, and I feel really uncomfortable. I really, I pushed to keep this unbranded, because I want it to be a resource rather than a product push. You know what I was talking about?
Vashti: The thing, I get it a lot at…
Vicki: I know, you sold a prefold to Bambams, didn’t you?
Vashti: Yeah, no, but it was that whole one that looked backwards.
Kailyn: And I looked at it again and again.
Vashti: A lot of the time people will pick up the Candy and they’ll immediately turn it so that the label is at the front, and they’re going, but this does up really weird. And I’m like, that’s because that’s the back.
Kailyn: And then I’m trying to explain it to my husband, after I decided they were my favourites. And he’s like what? I don’t know how to use this. Where’s the Velcro?
Andrew: Thank you very much, Kailyn.
Kailyn: No, thank you, it’s been excellent.
Andrew: That’s OK. Thank you, Vashti.
Vashti: Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew: Thank you, Vicki. You’re here this time?
Vicki: Yes, I am. Sorry.
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.