Baby Stuff: The Messy Art of Eating – – Highchair Reviews & Baby-Led Weaning

When W was 4 months old, he was a hideous sleeper. There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a weapon of war and torture. It hurts. Physically hurts. Being woken every 45 minutes overnight for more than a night or two causes psychosis. Every 2 hours, a moderate delirium. Every 3 hours, a notable tetchiness. Every 4 hours is tolerable. I was working towards 4 hours.

Having studiously scoured the pages of the No-Cry Sleep Solution in the weeks prior to W’s arrival and diligently implemented all the recommended strategies for helping my baby to learn to fall asleep and stay asleep without needing to be physically attached to me, I was rather devastated and disillusioned when at 4 months of age, I was still to get more than an hour or two consecutively on a consistent basis. In desperation, we decided to start W on solids.

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W celebrating turning 4 months old with rice cereal for dinner.

Diligently following the ‘rules’, we started with rice cereal mixed with expressed breast milk and spoon-fed him. He enjoyed it. And then slept for two four hour stretches overnight. That’s it, I cried, we’ve found the solution!!

The next night, I served him another bowl of rice cereal. He woke up every hour. Every hour. Sigh.

I spent a few weeks pureeing and straining vegetables and spooning them into his mouth. It was messy, time-consuming and he was still a hideous sleeper.

So, after a particularly painful session of trying to extract pumpkin goo from underneath the blades of our Thermomix, I dug out a book that had been randomly given to me by a woman I met at a plant propagation workshop while I was pregnant. Baby-Led Weaning by Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett.

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W shows me he’s ready to move on to a baby-led approach to food.

I had opened the book while pregnant and the first paragraph about needing to be willing to breastfeed my baby until they decided they’d had enough and that could take “several years” (!!!) had put me off entirely and it had sat for months at the bottom of my baby book pile. Wiping pumpkin goo from my hands to my jeans, I re-opened it. A very good friend had started her two boys on solids this way while working in a seriously busy full time job. It had to be easier than pureeing everything.

There in nothing ground breaking about baby-led weaning (BLW for those in the know). In the book, a brief history of feeding babies reveals that this whole mush craze is a recent invention borne of a drive to feed babies not ready for solids. The authors draw links between (now historical) implementation of four hourly feeding by maternity hospitals, a lack of breast milk production in new mothers and a drive for early introduction of additional nutrition in the form of solids. I haven’t done the background reading myself, but it sounds logical. To get my breast milk supply up to a level sufficient to sustain him, W was feeding every 2 hours in those early days, and at times cluster or, more accurately, continuously feeding for hours at a time.

The basic idea of BLW is that you let the baby feed themselves. No spoon feeding. No mush. So, leaving a few pots of pureed brown lentils in the back of the freezer just in case this all went horribly wrong, I embarked on a new mush-free approach.

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Loving a lamb chop.

It’s been messy, but after nearly two months, W is really getting the hang of it. He’s biting with his two brand new teeth, chewing and although a lot of food ends up spread around, I have objective evidence (ahem!) that some of the food is getting swallowed! He enjoys porridge fingers for breakfast, strawberries, watermelon, banana, yoghurt, savoury muffins, vegetable fritters, sticks of cucumber and roast vegetables and the biggest hit has been a lamb chop which he happily sucked on for over 40 minutes while we entertained dinner guests!

Essentials of BLW

Equipment

  • Easy to clean high chair (probably a good idea regardless of how you’re feeding your baby). Reviews on our two chairs below.
  • Plastic sheeting to protect carpet (we have this one, it’s a bit on the small side but is handy for gathering up the muck and taking it out to shake off in the chook pen)
  • Coverall water-resistant smock (we have these and they’re fab, the pocket catches a lot of the mess and prevents it getting squashed under chubby thighs)
  • Cloth wipes (we love these as they are a good texture and very grippy – useful for wiping down faces, hands and then giving the highchair and plastic mat a once over)

Food Ideas

  • Baby’s food should be free from added salt and sugar and present no hard choke-size pieces (like nuts).
  • Pieces that are easy for them to hold in a fist and still have enough sticking out to chomp on are good – sticks of steamed veggies, fresh cucumber, toast soldiers, porridge fingers (paraphrased recipe from BLW Cookbook: equal parts rolled oats and milk, soak for a bit until slightly mushy, press with back of spoon into small flat square container, microwave for 2 minutes, cut into fingers while hot, allow to cool before giving to baby), roast vegetables cut into large wedges.
  • Let the internet help you! I’ve found some brilliant ideas here and here. Essentially, I try to make food that we can all enjoy but is in baby hand friendly shapes and sizes.
  • Dinner is easy as we just give W a bit of whatever we’re eating.

For more information on BLW, head here.

Interestingly, W started suddenly sleeping much better, day and night, as he hit 6 months of age. It made me wonder whether all the people telling me their children slept better after solids actually just happened to start solids at 6 months, as I had originally planned, and in fact the two events were unrelated.

I still believe Elizabeth Pantley‘s advice on avoidance of unsustainable sleep associations and am glad that I persisted with her methods. I now have a baby who goes to sleep on his own and does 4 to 6 hour stretches with the occasional all-nighter.

But I also believe that some kids just take a bit longer than the books say to learn how to sleep. No matter what you do.

Highchair Reviews

Product: Siesta Highchair

Brand: Peg Perego

Bought: Baby Junction

Paid: $399 (“How much?!”)

How I Use It: 

The idea of buying this (slightly ridiculously expensive) high chair was two fold. Firstly, it was a suitable seat for feeding my then 4 month old baby with his still developing head control. (I now know this should have been a red flag that he probably wasn’t ready to start solids!) Secondly, it reclines and wheels around and therefore could be a substitute for the bouncer. I envisaged W’s grandmother finding it much easier than the ground level bouncer to get him in and out of and he’d be on a good level for her to play with him without having to hold him on her lap. And, I could wheel him around into the kitchen to watch me prepare endless pots of pureed pumpkin each week.

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Peg Perego Siesta in action.

In reality, we rarely use the reclining function. And W’s grandmother simply jumps down onto the floor to play with him. I do wheel it around and he does watch me in the kitchen. Though, I’m baking savoury muffins these days instead.

We also take full advantage of the adjustable seat height by lowering W to the level of the dining table when we’re all eating dinner together. I’m surprised at how much I love having him at the table with us. I’m also surprised at how fond I’ve become of a 5:30pm dinner time!

Problems: 

I use a folded old bath towel to boost the seat as the tray is too high (and not adjustable) and it’s a bit tricky for W to grab his food effectively from a surface level with his armpits.

After a week of pumpkin goo, I bought suck pads for the harness and it is a rather impractically highly absorbent fabric that seems to soak up anything that it comes into contact with. Now, however, I simply strap him in before putting his smock on. The smock protects his clothes (mostly) and the straps. I have removed the shoulder and hip straps and put them through the washing machine a couple of times, with pleasing results, but the central buckle strap is not easily removed from the chair and hence still pretty funky.

The seat cover can be removed reasonably easily for a good wipe down but it’s a bit too much of  nuisance to do with every meal. The creases and crevasses do hide crumbs and smooshed strawberry, so a careful wipe down is required after each meal. The controls on the sides of the chair are disappointingly prone to collecting food bits and are difficult to wipe down quickly.

The front base has two protrusions presumably to add stability in the presence of the wheels. They catch on any edges (such as plastic sheeting) as you wheel it around and I often find myself lifting the whole chair to move it. Disappointing for a thing fitted with four wheels.

Pros:

  • Adjustable seat height
  • Able to be wheeled around
  • Looks very pretty
  • Tray comes off making getting baby in and out very easy
  • Five point harness (safe)
  • Seat designed with bit between legs so when you unclip the harness the baby can’t slide off the chair before you manage to pick them up
  • Easy to use once you learn where all the buttons and releases are
  • Tray top is removable, which makes it easy to chuck in the sink for a scrub or even into the dishwasher.

Cons:

  • Highly absorbent straps
  • Tricky to wipe down – lots of spots for food to hide in seat and also frame
  • Front edge catches on things while wheeling it around
  • Tray set too high for seat and not adjustable
  • Pricey!

If I had my time again: There are lots of things I like about this chair, but I probably would have bought a chair that is easier to clean.

Overall Rating: I like it, but it’s not perfect. 7/10.

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Product: Antilop Highchair with tray

Brand: Ikea

Bought: Hand-me-down from husband’s colleague

Paid: Nada (retails for $29.99…yes, yes… less than 10% the cost of the other chair!)

How I Use It:

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Al fresco breakfast in the Antilop.

This chair was given to us as a part of a massive pile of baby stuff by a colleague of my husband. It was hard, uncomfortable looking, and a hideous white plastic. Not nearly as pretty as the Peg Perego. So, it sat dejected and gathering spiders in our shed for several months.

Given the difficulty with cleaning food from the crevasses of the Peg Perego, we decided to give this chair a go.

It has its advantages, but I still prefer the Siesta for most meals. We use this chair for outdoor meals (easier to move it over the lip of our verandah door) and for anything that is expected to be particularly messy.

Problems:

The main issue I have with this chair is W’s chubby thighs. The tray is fixed to the chair and getting him in and, more challengingly, out is difficult. I find myself gripping the feet of the chair with my toes to hold it down while I lift him out. Otherwise the whole chair just comes with him.

Pros:

  • Extremely easy to clean. The safety belt is still absorbent but we’ve mostly been using this with his smock on. The rest of the chair simply wipes down with very little in the way of cracks and crevasses in which soggy bread crumbs can hide.
  • Light and therefore mobile.
  • The tray is at a good height.
  • Cheap!

Cons:

  • Fixed tray means tricky manoeuvring required to get baby in and out of the chair, especially if you have a chubby thighed baby
  • Possibly uncomfortable (But how can you tell? W seems happy enough!)

Overall rating: It has its place and is a great starting point for people looking for an affordable chair. 7/10, but for different reasons.

Baby Stuff: Review – – Foamy Wipes Wash by Bubblebubs

After a recommendation from a fellow cloth mumma, I decided to try a simpler approach to reusable wipes. My buckets of water system was going to become complicated and potentially dangerous once W started walking, so I’ve moved to a safer and simpler system. Dry wipes and a bottle of Foamy Wipes Wash.

Product: Unscented Foamy Wipes Wash concentrate and 200mL Foamy Bottle

Brand: Bubblebubs

Bought: Online via Bubblebubs website

Paid: Bottle $3.95, concentrate $16.95. Total $29.85 (incl. taxes and shipping).

Contents: One 200mL foamy bottle and one 100mL bottle of Foamy Wipes concentrate. You need to purchase a bottle of distilled water separately. This is available in the laundry aisle at the supermarket near ironing type stuff.

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The Foamy Bottle produces a mousse type blob of foamy stuff.

How I Use It: This is pretty simple stuff. 20mL of concentrate into the bottle (I use a tablespoon (15mL) and teaspoon (5mL) to measure this out) then fill the bottle with distilled or demineralised water. When you press the pump on top of the bottle a foamy substance comes out. I use about 2 pumps per wipe and I don’t try to get the solution absorbed into the wipe or anything before using it on W’s bottom. The dirty wipe then goes straight into the nappy bin ready for the laundry. I use the Foamy Wipes Wash with my bamboo wipes from the Apikali Swipes pack, plus some polycotton thin face washers I bought from Baby Bunting. These are available in value packs at most baby stores and also department stores, like Kmart. This are less absorbent than the thicker bamboo ones and therefore stay wetter and wipier. I know ‘wipier’ is not a word, but you get my drift.

If you’re into smelly things (in a nice way), the Foamy Wipes Wash comes in lots of different fragrances. I opted for unfragranced as we’re using a scented CJs BUTTer stick and I didn’t want to overdo it smell wise.

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Cheap polycotton wipes seem to work better than thick absorbent ones.

Problems: Nothing specific to mention here, but having recently started W on solids we’re finding that dryer stickier poos (mmmm…. nice) are much harder to wipe away with this system and I must confess we have been resorting to disposable wipes.

Pros: Economical and ecological. Works well for newborn/breastfed babies and for a gentle clean up of an unsoiled bottom.

Cons: Not very good at creating a wet wipe for sticky, dry pooey bits. Ewwww.

Overall rating: For newborn/breastfed, I loved this. Now we’re onto solids, I’m suspecting it may not cut it just due to the lack of wetness on the wipe.

Pearls: A less absorbent wipe is actually better with this system.

Baby Stuff: The Quest for the Ultimate Cloth Night Nappy

So far cloth nappying has been a breeze. That or I’m so sleep deprived that all challenges I have faced have been lost in the fog. In any case, I am now in a pretty good rhythm with my laundry routine and for the most part they are easy to clean, dry and use and we have no more wee or poo leaks than the next person.

During the day.

The nights are another story. Now don’t get me wrong. The need for a night nappy is not a function of W sleeping for prolonged periods – that’s a rant for another time – but rather a function of me trying to keep him as sleep ready as possible throughout the night wakings and nothing says “Party time!” quite like a nappy change according to our little wannabe nudist.

So, what have I tried?

Itti Bitti Boo

I bought these in the small size at a time when W was probably ready to move into mediums but I was in denial about him growing up. The design is trim and they are not significantly bulkier than the regular Itti Bitti D’Lish SIO except for the need to put a cover on them (more on cover options later). They snap apart for quicker drying, like SIOs, but given their higher absorbency they are slower to dry.

With a polyurethane laminate (PUL) cover, we initially had some success, but as he grew and his small SIOs started to leak in the day, so did his Boos. We never got anywhere in a fleece cover.

By the time I acknowledged he needed medium SIOs, I had already bought various other night nappies and I hadn’t been so convinced by the Boos ability to last the night out, so I haven’t bought any mediums. It’s on my to do list – unless I find something better.

Bambooty Easy Nights

This is a great looking trim nappy and doesn’t need an cover as the outermost lining is waterproof. The design is an all-in-one style but the layers of absorbent bamboo are separate for quick drying.

I wanted so much for this to be the night nappy. It looks great and doesn’t make W’s bum the size of a small hippopotamus, but unfortunately we have had a pretty high leak rate with this, even with an additional two boosters, after about 6-7 hours of wear. Not enough to get us through the night.

On the plus side, the customer service has been phenomenal. I accidentally ordered and then pre-washed the wrong booster (designed for a different nappy) and they replaced it with three of the correct boosters without a fuss. Brilliant! Just wish the nappy didn’t leak! I’ve emailed the company again to see if they have any tips for me to get this to work.

Baby Beehinds Night Nappy & Bamboo Fitted Nappy

I ordered the Baby Beehinds Night Trial Pack a month or so ago and it was about this time I realised I was become a little fixated on finding the nappy. While both nappies seem to go the distance (still mostly in PUL and I’ve successfully braved the wool cover twice) the sheer size of the nappies is something to be reckoned with. I wonder how W doesn’t get reflux from them as he is essentially tilted head-down all night. These babies are huge!!

The other thing with these nappies is that while we haven’t had any leaks, on more than one occasion I have changed him out of a sodden nappy at about 4am as he’s crying but not hungry and the change seems to have settled him. So, I’m thinking that while they absorb a lot of wee, they maybe don’t feel that dry to the wearer. A steeping in your own wee all night isn’t too nice. Even if you are just a baby. So the sheets stay dry but either the wetness or arse-in-the-air position seem to get my W out of sorts by the early hours of the morning.

Bubblebubs Good Night Sleep Tight Nappy – Heavy Wetter Version

So by now, I figure I have a heavy wetter on my hands who doesn’t enjoy a wet bum. Enter the Bubblebubs Good Night Sleep Tight. A nappy they challenge your baby to “outwet”. It also has a stay-dry microfleece lining. Ah ha! This will do the trick! So again, it’s, well, enormous, but it seems snug and comfortable and W doesn’t look quite so ridiculous in it. The nappy has a booster inside the main nappy and then an extra booster on the outside for the heavy wetting version.

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Bubblebubs Good Night Sleep Tight with a PUL cover.

I’ve used this with a PUL cover and we have never out wet it, even when leaving the ‘heavy wetting’ extra booster off. The sodden cold nappy issue seems less problematic too. We’ve had one episode of changing the nappy in the early hours with a happy baby afterwards… but it was just once and it might have been coincidental. The nappy didn’t seem that wet. Further trials are required.

The main thing preventing me from investing in a stash of these is (a) W is still not sleeping well at night and I’m still wondering if the nappy issue is a contributing factor; (b) the best sleep he’s ever had was while we were travelling and he was in disposables at night time and (c) it’s huge!!

Night Nappy Covers

Apart from the Bambooty Easy Nights, all the night nappies I’ve tried require an additional waterproof or water repelling cover. The three options are PUL (which is plastic), synthetic fleece or wool. I have tried all three.

PUL works in terms of keeping the sheets dry (assuming that the nappy’s not overcome by inordinate amounts of wee beyond it’s capabilities and that the cover is fitted properly). The main downside is that it doesn’t breathe, so your bub is potentially marinating in everything all night.

Synthetic fleece covers work by repelling the water rather than being strictly waterproof. This means a heavily soaked nappy will push water through the cover. We’ve had this happen on several occasions and now I tend to stick to PUL as a result. Will retry the fleece once we’re sleeping well as I like the idea of the breathability. The benefits of fleece over wool is ease of care. Fleece just gets chucked in the washing machine with W’s clothes. I bought some super cute covers from Fleecy Little Lambs as they were both made in Australia and a lot cheaper than the ones I could find in the cloth nappy stores online.

My understanding is that wool covers are similar to fleece in terms of the way they work. We’ve not had any leaks with the wool cover I have (Baby Beehinds) but I’ve only used it a few times. The cover is aired after use rather than washed and then one has to lanolinise (if that is a word) it every few weeks. As I’ve only used it three times I haven’t looked into this or done it yet, so can’t really comment. In an ideal world, I’d use wool covers for night nappies as it’s a natural fibre and requires the least washing (i.e. water and power), but I’m not ready yet. We need the right nappy first!

So…

The quest for the ultimate night nappy continues. I await a response from Bambooty about my Easy Nights issues and I ponder the purchase of a few more Bubblebubs Good Night Sleep Tights. In the meantime, I’ve put W to bed tonight in a disposable wondering whether it’ll be the difference between a night of wake ups and a long, peaceful sleep.

Baby Stuff: Review – – Itti Bitti D’Lish All-in-One Nappies

Product: Itti Bitti D’Lish Sized All-in-One (AIO) Nappies

Brand: Itti Bitti

Bought from: Itti Bitti Online & borrowed from a friend

Paid: Bought a ‘Get Into Cloth’ pack for about $80 which included one small AIO. These packs change in their contents, price and availability. Check here for the latest. A single AIO goes for $26.95. Better value if you buy a stack of them.

Contents: An AIO nappy is exactly that. All in one! The shell is padded with an absorbent layer and then a microfleece liner is sewn in. This lifts up as a flap to improve drying times and also had snaps for the insertion of a Itti Mini Booster (available in bamboo or microfleece) if you need a bit of extra oomph.

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As easy as a disposable – – no assembly required!

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The microfleece stay-dry piece is sewn in but separate for quicker drying times.

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Laundry instructions are printed on each nappy.

How I use it: As per Itti Bitti’s recommendations, I prewash the nappies 5 times to get them up to a good level of absorbency. Not sure why they aren’t sold pre-washed, but I have it on good authority from a fellow Itti user that failure to prewash leads to leaky nappies.

As I have had issues, especially as W has gotten bigger, with wee leaks in the AIOs, I snap in a minibooster prior to use. The nappy goes on like any disposable with snaps to close.

At change time, I unsnap the minibooster (washing with pieces snapped together can cause the snaps to pull out of the fabric over time – not something I’ve had happen, but a friend has) and the whole lot goes in the nappy bin.

See my review of Snap-in-One (SIO) nappies for details on how I wash the nappies. The issue with AIOs is that I can’t separate out the polyurethane laminate (PUL) part of the nappy and given I am fond of a hot wash, this means my AIOs are destined to not live as long as the SIOs.

AIOs do take considerably longer to dry than SIOs, which in winter is a bit of a pain and could potentially lead to more use of the clothes dryer (not a problem for me as the vast majority of my stash are SIOs, so if I can get the SIOs dry without the dryer I don’t run out of nappies and the AIOs can just stay on the line).

Pros: Eco friendly, kind on sensitive baby bottoms, easy to use, look super cute, no snapping in required (unless you have a heavy wetter, then a booster may be needed).

Cons:  Sized nappies means buying more as bub grows (compared to Bitti Tuttos which grow with baby), expensive upfront (even more than SIOs as can’t bulk out nappy stash with extra soaker sets), whole nappy needs to go in wash at each change (c.f. SIOs which can reuse the shell and just have the soaker set changed), PUL shouldn’t be hot washed either need to tolerate cold/warm washed nappies (I’ve found this leads to problems with ammonia smell from my heavy wetting baby) or resign self to the fact that the life of the nappy may be shortened by frequent hot washing.

If I had my time again: I wouldn’t buy any AIOs (I only bought one as part of a trial pack and have three or four from a friend) as I much prefer the SIOs.

Overall rating: Not too bad, but not my scene!

Baby Stuff: Review – – Itti Bitti D’Lish Snap-In-One Nappies

Product: Itti Bitti D’Lish Sized Snap-In-One (SIO) Nappies

Brand: Itti Bitti

Bought from: Itti Bitti Online

Paid:  $12.50 per shell (bought as value pack of 12) & $10.80 for a soaker set (bought as value packs of 6) = $23.30 per nappy

Contents: Each nappy is made up of a minkee shell – which is essentially a waterproof polyurethane laminate (PUL) layer with a fluffy outer in the shape of little pants with different snaps to allow for adjusting the size – and a 2 piece soaker set – which includes a square piece that folds into three (trifold soaker) and an hourglass shaped piece (which looks a lot like a sanitary pad) with a stay-dry microfleece surface. The soaker set snaps into place by using the colour coded snaps. There are also two red snaps on the bottom of the hourglass shaped piece which can be used to attached a mini booster (sold separately) for extra absorption.

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Itti Bitti D’Lish Snap-In-One is made up of three parts. Left to right: Trifold soaker, hourglass soaker (with microfleece on one side which keeps bub’s bum dry) and the minkee waterproof PUL shell.

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Shell with two soaker pieces snapped in

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Trifold soaker in position as I use it. Could also be folded in half lengthways to give extra absorbency up front for seriously heavy wetting boys but this hasn’t seemed necessary in W as the soaker seems to soak it up even in this flat position.

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Nappy with microfleexe hourglass soaker in place over the trifold. Ready to pop onto your baby’s bum!

How I use it: As per Itti Bitti’s recommendations, I prewash the shells on cold once prior to use and prewash the soakers on warm 5 times to get them up to a good level of absorbency. Apparently the manufacturing process leaves residue on them that makes them not hat great to start with. Why Itti don’t prewash them prior to sale, I’m not sure. I would think that this would be better for the environment as they would have an economy of scale. Anyhoo.

I snap the soaker in with both pieces lying flat with the hourglass over the top of the trifold, so that the stay-dry layer is closest to W’s skin. You can fold the trifold to make most of the absorbency at the front for boys, but this ends up pretty bulky up front and I haven’t found it to be necessary.

At change time, I either change just the soaker set (if he’s only wet or done a small poop without any soiling of the shell) or change the whole thing (if he’s soiled the shell or the shell has been in use for a few changes. I make sure I unsnap the soakers from the shell before putting them in the nappy bin. Putting nappies in a bin without any water is called dry-pailing – a term you’ll come across on cloth nappy websites.

If the shell isn’t soiled, I pop it in with his dirty clothes as hot washing (which I use for nappies) isn’t great for the elastic or PUL in the shells and will shorten their lifespan.

I wash the nappies in a front loading machine and use a wet towel to ‘trick’ the machine into using more water than it thinks it needs to as this helps rinse out all the poop. I do a rinse cycle then a hot wash with a pre-wash and extra rinse. Unfortunately, with a front loader this all takes about 4 hours! I use a low residue laundry powder (have been using Earth Choice, but just switched to Aware to give it a go). I have also tried sample packs of Rockin’ Green which seemed to work well.

I dry the nappies either on the line in the sun (when the sun is out…which it hasn’t been much as W was born mid-winter) or in the clothes dryer. Our dryer turns off automatically once it thinks things are dry and I occasionally have to give them another spin as they are still a little damp. A side effect of being pretty absorbent material. On the odd occasion that there have been visible yellow poop stains on the nappies after the wash they have miraculously vanished with natural bleaching from the sunshine.

Problems: The main problem we’ve had is with the nappies smelling like ammonia (wee) after washing. We have a fairly heavy wetter on our hands, I suspect. This smell is mostly noticeable if we use the clothes dryer. I emailed Itti about it and they were very helpful and so to try to fix it I’ve been using even more wet towels and an extra rinse.

Although I read a lot about “strip washing” in preparation for my life as a cloth nappy-er, I have since read this and it seems it is probably not a necessary chore to add to one’s list. In fact, since I started following the GroVia website advice of using a normal amount of laundry detergent (rather than the half-dose recommended by most MCN websites) the ammonia smell has pretty well vanished.

I think the main time I get the ammonia smell now is when I’m doing a large load and I suspect the washing machine is adding the maximum water it can but it’s still not enough.

We’ve only had occasional poonamis which have leaked – and this is no more than my disposable nappy using friends’ babies. Only wee leaks have been with the All-In-One nappies (AIOs) – more on them later – or when trying (in vain) to use the SIOs overnight (a task they do not claim to be up to).

Pros: Eco friendly, kind on sensitive baby bottoms, easy to use, look super cute, up to the task of daytime use even in a heavy wetter, dry quickly (compared to AIOs)

Cons:  Sized nappies means buying more as bub grows (compared to Bitti Tuttos which grow with baby), laundry techniques require a bit of trial and error and are harder in a front loader (I gather), need to unsnap prior to laundering does require some practice not to get poop on your hands in the process, shells shouldn’t be hot washed so need separation from nappies if wanting to hot wash nappies, expensive up front, need to be ‘made up’ prior to use

If I had my time again: I’d put W in these sooner (I persisted with the prefolds longer than I should have). I wouldn’t buy any AIOs. I’d start keeping an eye out earlier for discontinued prints (often cheap!).

Overall rating: Raving about them!

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Laundry instructions are printed inside the shells.

Pearls (applies to all MCNs not just Itti Bittis!):

  • Be prepared to always have something in the washing machine … but I suspect this is the case with a baby even if you’re not doing cloth nappies! This is probably a lot faster and easier with a top loading machine (front loaders have insanely long wash cycles).
  • Be prepared for a bit of trial and error with using the nappies – what I like may not work well for you, etc
  • Consider how many you want. Are you doing cloth full time or part time? Maybe try part-time before you buy loads of them. We are full time now and do a (half) load of nappies every 1-2 days with 12 shells and 24 soaker sets. A cloth nappy library is also an option (albeit one I never tried as my husband was too grossed out by the concept of second hand nappies).
  • Don’t skip the recommended prewash when you get your new nappies unless you’re quite happy for them to leak everywhere.
  • Read the care instructions closely – things like nappy rash cream, fabric softener and the wrong detergent can cause problems.
  • Don’t get sucked into the vortex of strip washing regimens (the internet is full of them)
  • Email or call your nappy supplier if you are having issues with them (leaking, smelling, etc)
  • Use the recommended amount of laundry detergent (you do actually want to clean those things)
  • Sunshine really does bleach things. Don’t get stressed by faint yellow poop stains as you hang your soaker sets on the line. They’ll be gone in no time. Promise.
  • Find your washing machine instruction manual (online if you don’t have the hardcopy). Took me a while to work out that I couldn’t tell my machine to increase the water level and so I had to ‘trick’ it with a wet towel (adds weight so it thinks there is more laundry in there).

Baby Stuff: Review – – CJs BUTTer Sticks

Product: CJs BUTTer Stick (Blueberry Crumble)

Brand: CJs Butter

Bought from: Gift!

Paid: Nada

Contents: 56g stick of CJs BUTTer in Blueberry Crumble ‘flavour’

How I use it: This was a gift from a friend who was very keen to help me get started with my cloth nappy aspirations. It is a non-toxic moisturising goodness that is excellent for preventing nappy rash on little bottoms and, unlike most nappy rash creams, it is completely safe to use with cloth nappies. No liners required!

I initially used this by scraping some off the end of the stick with my finger and then applying it to said little bottom. This appealed to my sense of hygiene (never went back to the stick with a bottom-exposed finger) but resulted in (a) greasy fingers and (b) crumbly bits on the bottom. The ‘butter’ goes a bit grainy if it gets warm then cool again – a frequent side effect during transport according to the CJs website – and so using this method was getting the grainy goop on bub. Not an issue per se, but not aesthetically pleasing.

So I now use it as a stick. Think giant lip balm for bottoms. This keeps my hands grease-less, the little bottom free from grainy bits and seeing as I’m only ever wiping his bottom with it and not using it as an actual giant lip balm, the hygiene thing was pretty much pointless anyway. And I’m only ever putting it on a clean and freshly wiped bottom, so it’s not like I’m smearing poop all over the place!

Pros: Smells delicious, keeps W’s bottom in perfect nick, safe on cloth nappies, so non-toxic that CJs claim you could eat it (though they stress this is not recommended)

Cons: Grainy bits.

If I had my time again: I’d ask my friend for a second stick of Blueberry Crumble – they’re out of stock so I’ve ordered a few other ‘flavours’ to try. Will let you know how I go.

Overall rating: Raving about it!

Baby Stuff: Review – – Ubbi Diaper Pail

Product: Ubbi Diaper Pail in white

Brand: Ubbi

Bought from: Babyography

Paid: $71.95 + 19.99 shipping

Contents: One powder-coated steel nappy bin. Liner bags are purchased separately. This can be used with disposable or cloth nappies. Both disposable and cloth liner bags are available.

How I use it: We use this with the cloth liner bags made by Ubbi. The liner bags are put through a ring and then the lids secures them in place. The instructions are not entirely clear and I expected the bag to fit more specifically that it does, but it works well. The lid needs to be pushed down slightly to open and there is a locking mechanism for when W is older to prevent curious hands exploring the bin contents. The bags are easy to remove and I simply tip the contents directly into the washing machine by pushing the bag inside out. The nappies and cloth bag all go through the wash together. More on laundering cloth nappies later.

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Without the liner bag in.

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The liner bag sits inside the ring with the edges tucked over. This isn’t particularly neat or tidy but becomes secure once the lid is closed.

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You need to apply a little downward pressure before opening the lid. There is also a locking mechanism to prevent curious hands getting into the bin. The hole is a little small for pushing a whole cloth nappy through.

I always make sure to put a new bag in the bin as soon as I take one out, as there’s nothing worse than putting a heavily soiled nappy through the hole in the lid just as you realise there is no liner bag in there!

How this differs from instructions: The only thing I’ve done differently is putting the cloth liner bags in with the nappies on a hot wash. This is caused issues with the drawstring (see below).

Pros: Have had no issues with odour in the nursery, easy to use, looks nice, lockable lid, easy to clean/wipe down.

Cons: Hole for nappies is slightly small for putting cloth nappies through so occasionally get poop on the edges or need to push whole hand through the opening. Liner bags not supposed to be washed on hot (I like to wash nappies on hot) so the inside the drawstring section has gone a bit ‘sticky’ as a consequence and the drawstring won’t pull through easily. This means I don’t use the drawstring, but it’s not a big issue as I wash each day when the bag is only about half full.

If I had my time again: I’d still buy this bin. I’ve been essentially happy with it. I didn’t find any other nappy bins specifically able to handle cloth nappies.

Overall rating: Recommended.

Other pearls:

  • Avoid hot washing the bag if you want to use the drawstring, but if you’re not fussed the bag still seems to work well despite hot washing (after 2 months… not sure how it will go longevity wise!).
  • Always put a fresh liner bag in after removing the old one. You can’t tell if there is a liner bag inside once the lid is closed and I imagine cleaning poop out of the bin itself would be pretty awful.