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Real Parents Using Reusable Nappies: We Revisit Sheila & Neil

Viola’s parents Sheila and Neil were our first-ever Real Parents interview back in 2018. We’re thrilled to see that they’re still loving reusable nappies two years later.

Sheila and Neil’s daughter Viola was only 11 days old when we first met her, and just at the beginning of her reusable nappy journey. We’ve kept in touch with the family ever since and caught up with them to hear their thoughts on using reusable nappies now that Viola’s a toddler!

We know you use cloth nappies pretty much exclusively with Viola. How soon after she was born did you start using reusable nappies full-time?
We hadn’t planned to go full-time with cloth from birth as we couldn’t justify the cost for the newborn size nappies for a few short months. We were part-time for the first couple of months until she chunked out and could fit into your one-size 8-35 lb nappies.

From then we went full-time except for the two weeks after both her rotavirus vaccines. Because it’s a live vaccine and I’m immunosuppressed, the doctor advised us to be careful when changing her. We went disposable during that time.

TotsBots one-size 8 - 35 lb nappies fit most babies from birth to potty training, and our newborn nappies are perfect for lower birthweight babies. Our TeenyFit all-in-one reusable nappies fit from 5-12 lbs, and our two-part newborn nappy fits from 6-18 lbs.

Did you find using reusables nappies hard in the beginning?
I think as a new (and exhausted) parent I had overthought it all a bit. I was worried it was going to be additional stress but after a few weeks of full-time cloth it was just part of our routine… and it has been ever since. 

Any poopsplosions?
Not in cloth, none. We’ve had a few ‘leaks’ but in two and a half years, I could probably count them on my hands. 

Do you use reusable nappies overnight?
Yep, we pretty much started using overnight nappies at the same time we went full-time with cloth. We use Bamboozles and a PeeNut Wrap. 

Made from super-absorbent bamboo fibre, our Bamboozle night nappy keeps baby leak-free for up to 12 hours. Don’t forget to pair it with a waterproof wrap to keep the wetness locked away!

Have you ever had a wobble about using reusable nappies?
No, not at all. We can’t imagine going back to disposables. 

What was the hardest thing about Viola wearing cloth?
We moved at the start of 2020 and for various and complex reasons didn’t have a washing machine until last week!  We had to drop nappies off at my (saintly) mum’s doorstep during lockdown. Luckily, she joined our extended bubble so we were able to use her washing machine later in the year. But even with that added pain-in-the-bum factor, reusable nappies have been totally fine! 

We were lucky and had a pretty good number in our stash. I think if you didn’t have enough, drying time could become an issue — especially in Scotland!

When the weather’s not behaving itself, you can tumble dry your TotsBots nappies on cool… but it’s better for the environment to line dry them.

What was the best thing about choosing reusables?
Environmental benefits, the long-term cost-saving, and how blooming cute Viola looks in them!

We couldn’t agree more! We created TotsBots because we were desperate for a planet-friendly way to change bums but the adorable prints are definitely the icing on the cake.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever found in Viola’s nappy?
A stash of Cheerios!

We’ve heard stories of plastic spoons and toy cars hidden down nappies too! Oh, to be a toddler again!

What’s your favourite reusable nappy accessory?
Various sized wet bags and a good nappy bin! Oh and reusable fleece liners for overnight nappies. They keep her bum nice and dry no matter how saturated the nappy is the next morning!

Our reusable fleece liners are the secret weapon for dry, happy bums! Just pop one into your nappy before popping the nappy on baby. They allow liquid to pass through into the nappy where it's absorbed into the bamboo core. These magic little liners stay dry and protect your wee one from soggy skin.

Do you use reusable wipes too?
We’ve used them for bum wiping since going full-time with cloth. They’re just part of our routine. I prefer using them on right sticky poos because they do a better job than disposables!

It’s true! When it comes to sticky poos, our reusable wipes do the same job as 100 disposables. No smears here, thank you!

What’s the weirdest comment you’ve heard from a naysayer?
‘Do you need two washing machines so you can wash them separately from clothes?'

Short answer: No! Slightly longer but still short answer: Your nappies just go in the washing machine with your regular laundry. Just remember to tip any poo down the loo then wash with non-bio powder at up to 60 degrees.

What are your best reusable nappy tips?

  • Build up your nappy collection over time. We bought one or two a month during pregnancy and built up our stash slowly and steadily (but it can be addictive!)
  • Reusable Nappy Week is a great time to get some bargains online!
  • Get a good selection of wet bags and a nappy bucket with a well-fitting lid!
  • Don’t not have a washing machine for 11 months!
  • Check out cloth nappy meet-ups in your area to talk to parents who have used cloth before
  • Check out your local authority website because loads of them do vouchers for cloth nappies

What has been the nicest surprise about reusable nappies?
That my mum has become a full cloth nappy convert too. And I love that feeling you get when you have a freshly washed and dried batch of nappies folded up and ready to use!

That feeling of calm that rushes over you when you look at a just-folded stack of fresh nappies… that’s called stackisfaction and it gets all cloth parents in the end!

Are you potty training now?
We have started potty training but we’re are at the very early stages of it. So far, she loves sitting on the potty and does so regularly… but that’s about as far as we’ve got!

Based on five changes a day since you went full-time with reusable nappies, how many disposables have you diverted from landfill?
If my calculations are correct, since we went full-time with cloth around the eight-week point… around 4,100!

Amazing work, you three! We loved catching up with Sheila, Neil and Viola. Their reusable nappy journey over the last two years proves that switching to cloth full-time is simple… especially since they even did it without a watching machine for 11 months!

Watching Viola grow up has been a total joy, and we’re so glad our paths crossed thanks to the eco-conscious choice Sheila and Neil made two years ago! That’s what we love about reusable nappies — they don’t just protect the planet, they grow friendships and communities too. Who would have thought all that lovely stuff could come from bum changes?