Real Nappy Week

It’s Real Nappy Week and we are loving our cloth bums!

Initially the thought of using cloth nappies filled me with genuine horror. Giving birth and breast feeding just seemed like enough for me and why on earth would I want to add more washing to my already mountainous pile of tiny dirty clothes?

After the dust had settled I became very aware of the huge amount of waste this tiny little person was creating. At his peak Cass was getting through 15 nappies a day as well as all the baby wipes. It just felt wrong filling the bin every day with items that are designed to never decompose. On top of all the guilt, the council then decided to collect the bins every three weeks. I did not want to to experience a three week old nappy at the height of Summer.

So we decided to make the switch to cloth nappies. There are lots of styles and brands out there and what works for one family might not necessarily work for another. I was initially very confused and intimidated by the whole idea, I didn’t want to throw money away buying the wrong product. After asking a few questions at our baby group, I found lots of parents who were willing to offer advice and lend us a few nappies to see what we thought before taking the plunge. There are also lots of groups on social media that can help you and answer any questions that you may have. 

We chose to order Tots-bots nappies through Babi-Pur. Babi-Pur do a starter pack which included 3 different styles of nappy so we could see what worked best for us. Their service is quick and they send a discount code with every order.

When I found Tots-Bots I loved them because of the Velcro fastening at the front, I found the poppers on other brands fiddly and hard work. The Velcro made the nappies quick and could be adjusted with ease. 

We tried three different nappy styles from Tots-bots, Peenut, Bamboozle and Easy-Fit. The Peenuts are my favourite, they consist of two pads and a wrap. The wrap is water proof and the pads just pop inside, the whole thing comes apart and dries very quickly. I also put in a fleece  reusable liner to protect and draw away moisture from the skin. We did try disposable liners but they just stuck to Cass’s bum and stressed me out.

The Easy-Fit are just one whole piece that folds up. You can put in inserts to add extra absorbency, they are fantastic as they never leak but I find that they do take some time to dry so we only have a couple.

We use Bamboozles at night time, they are a complete towel nappy with inserts for extra absorbency, to ensure that they dont leak a water proof wrap goes over the top. 

I can honestly say that the switch was a lot easier than I expected. The nappies are washed on a 40° cycle with antibacterial washing detergent and are line dried. Although the initial spend was around £14 per nappy, we were spending an absolute fortune on disposables every week. The reusable nappies never leak and they keep Cass’s bum nice and dry. We invested in a pack of reusable fleece liners, which not only protect the nappy, but also draw moisture away from the skin. 

When we are out and about I just fold the reusable nappy up and store in a water proof wet bag. I sort it out with the others when I get home. 

I’m amazed at how fantastic cloth nappies are and I feel so much better about reducing the amount of waste we produce as a family. There is a lot of support out there to get you started through Cloth Nappy Libraries or local baby groups. Some local councils even offer incentives for switching to reusable nappies to reduce waste. 

What we use

▪️7 cloth nappies, (Tots-Bots easy fit and Peenuts)
▪️Tots-Bots reusable fleece nappy liners
▪️A wet bag for travelling

Ali Dover

When I first carried Cass I wore a Close Caboo stretchy wrap, I hired it from my local Sling Library in Salford. We quickly moved onto woven wraps. Lucy, a volunteer at the library first introduced me to the beautiful striped wraps created by Ali Dover.

Ali Dover is famous for her beautiful textiles and breath taking photography. A mother of three, Ali fell in love with woven wraps after the birth of her daughter, also Lucy. Her eye for style comes across in her art, and her calm persona resonates through her photography and her textiles.

Ali’s wraps are some of the most sought after on the market, this is not just down to the fabric itself but also the personal way in which Ali runs her business. If you have ever been lucky enough to buy a wrap direct from Ali herself you will see the care and attention that goes into every delivery. From the handwritten labels and tags, to the perfectly pressed and folded pieces of fabric, all hand tied with brown string.

These woven wraps are not mass produced, each one is individually numbered, with handwritten labels sewn onto the fabric itself. This is a labour of love, which makes owning one of these beautiful wraps so worthwhile.

The trademark striped wraps of Ali Dover were what initially caught my eye. I adore stripes for many reasons, mainly because of the simplicity of the design but also due to the fact that they are fantastic for teaching and learning, whether you are a beginner or an expert.

The first Ali Dover I ever got my hands on was Soul. Soul is perfect, the blues, greens and greys remind me of Summer in the park with Elvis, my dog. The colours are so crisp and vibrant. Soul is 100% Italian combed cotton, light weight (232g/sqm) and thin in hand but sturdy when on. The weave is tight and strong, it is not prone to pulling and does not sag.

All of the ‘Stripes’ are 100% Italian combed cotton apart from Heathers and Elements, which are woven using English cotton. I think that this difference makes Heathers and Elements feel heavier in hand (236g/sqm) and makes the wraps seem more robust and in need of breaking in. Both colour ways are perfect and drawn directly from nature. You don’t see them around as much anymore as people tend to hold on to a rare find.

 There has been a steady release of ‘Stripes’ designed by Ali. Each colourway holding something special, and selling out in record time. The wraps are comfortable and supportive and are suitable from birth. The 100% cotton blend makes the ‘Stripes’ easy to care for especially with tiny babies and sticky toddlers.

We have been extremely lucky and have had many come and spend time here with Cass and myself. Not only has Ali created exquisite and beautiful woven wraps but she has also created a wonderful community of families that share a common interest in her designs and baby wearing. Families will pass on their wraps through buying and selling or simply loaning them out to others for short amounts of time. Some of these beautiful wraps are so sought after, that there are just not enough to go around and they sell from the website seconds after release. I have met some wonderful people through this community of baby wearers.

The design and production of ‘Hygge’ (pronounced hooga) and all it’s magnificent colourways sent the baby wearing world crazy. Hygge is a Danish word which has no direct translation into English, but has a meaning of general happiness and well being, almost like ‘cosy.’ Ali likens her baby wearing experiences directly to Hygge and the emotions that it creates and draws out. Hygge is a 100% cotton, double weave, weighing 253g/sqm. It is light but blanket like and soft. Hygge is coolto wear but is strong and carries well, once the wrap has been worn a few times after it’s first wash it is grippy and holds tight. Pop was the first Hygge and also my favourite, it reminds me of soft jeans, a washed out Denim blue with vibrant bursts of pinky red. It’s just perfect.

The future for Ali Dover fans is looking pretty exciting as we wait on the release of a brand new Hygge, Dove and two new Stripes. However, I think the most excitement lies in the release of more Hygge Linen and the reweave of both Studio and Gift.

For myself and Cass, Ali Dover has been with us since the beginning. We have loved so many of these beautiful wraps and passed them on to other families to love too. I do not think that we will ever be without one in our home, even when our carrying days are long gone.

Thank you Ali ❤

Lucy Graney

Time to buck my ideas up -Beco Gemini Twilight

My education into the world of buckles continued this week with the arrival of the Beco Gemini, Twilight. This is a popular buckled carrier that is designed to fit newborn to toddler (7lb-35lb) It can be worn in 4 different positions, front inward facing, back, hip and front forward facing. 

The carrier is neat and compact and very easy to get on and off independently. It folds up very small and can be easily transported. I love how the Gemini has an adjustable seat so that you can make it larger as your baby grows and the adjustable head rest is fantastic, especially when supporting younger babies or if baby falls asleep. I found the straps ergonomic and very easy to tighten, they sit comfortably on your shoulders with no digging.

I have to be honest though, this carrier did not blow me away. I collected a few opinions from other baby-wearers and the views were mixed. Which goes to show that different things work for different families. 
The Gemini claims to be suitable for babies up to 35lb, my little boy is 24lb and I really struggled with him in this carrier. He seemed almost squashed, he was not happy and a trip around the local shopping centre made me want to get back to the car as soon as possible. The seat is quite narrow despite being adjustable and he just didn’t seem comfortable. The biggest problem that we had was that the carrier was extremely warm. The body is made from a thick, structured foam, which is supportive but also warm. Cass became so angry and flustered even with only a long sleeved vest on. I found myself running for the exit just so we could cool off.

It’s a shame that I didn’t discover this carrier when Cass was a newborn. I think that it would have been perfect, especially because it is so easy to use and so compact. It’s just not for us now he is older and heavier, the carrier does not seem to withstand the weight and build of an older baby. If I was buying this carrier with my toddler in mind I would be disappointed, but for a newborn it is ideal. 

Sling when you’re winning 

On Thursday I had the pleasure of being invited to some of the week long birthday celebrations for Swing-Sling Manchester. I’d been asked to take some photos and really find out what Sling-Swing is all about.

Now, as a new mum who used to be a bit of a keep fit addict, I have found it incredibly hard trying to find time for myself for exercise. For me exercise isn’t just about losing a bit of weight and trying to squeeze back into my skinny jeans, it’s a lot more. Exercise keeps me in check, it allows me some precious me time, a way to unwind and release stress. It looks after my mental health and keeps me happy. However, having a new baby means having time to get to the gym or go for a run is not always a priority. 

Swing-Sling Manchester is part of a franchise with 25 franchisees across the UK, the wonderful Nikki owns and runs Swing-Sling Manchester. Not many fitness instructors will allow you to take part in their exercise classes with your new born in tow, but Swing-Sling is not just any exercise class and Nikki is not just any fitness instructor. 

Sling-Swing is a fun and exciting parent and baby dance class. All members of the family are encouraged to take part by wearing their baby in a soft carrier or woven wrap and join in with the fantastic dance routines. Nikki’s enthusiasm and love of dance and baby wearing make Sling-Sling so fabulous. The routines are fun, gentle and suitable for people of all abilities and fitness levels. With a playlist boasting tunes from Beyoncé and JP Cooper, you will struggle to not enjoy Swing Sling. 

As I snapped photos and joined in haphazardly with the routines I noticed two things, the whole room was full of happy smiling parents (and one grandma) and every baby was calm or fast asleep. What more can you want? There was definitely a party atmosphere and everyone was laughing and smiling. Nikki’s infectious enthusiasm makes everyone feel welcome and at ease. Everyone is encouraged to stay after class to chat, change and feed their babies, it was great.

What Nikki has built here is amazing, I would recommend Swing-Sling to everyone. Check out their Facebook group for details of classes in your area. 

Don’t have a carrier? Don’t worry, there is the option to borrow carriers in class. Sling-Swing promotes safe baby wearing and someone will assist you with your carrier.