Why we’re changing to cloth nappies

A couple of months ago, I don’t know where, but I came across this:



And my first thought was “That is cute as heck!”. I was directed to the South African cloth nappy users group on Facebook and then I stumbled down the rabbit hole that was Modern Cloth Nappies. It took me two full whole days to digest all the information I was assaulted with and I wrote this article: Cloth Nappies 101 – seriously check it out of you need some of these things simplified because it A LOT.

My motivation for giving myself a headache was that cloth nappies are a hell of a lot cheaper in the long run than disposables. It’s estimated that you will spend approximately R20 000 on disposables from birth to potty training for just one child. That is a heck of a lot of money, you guys. A decent stash of cloth nappies will cost you around R4000 (for all your children) if you don’t give into all the super cute prints that are available. And if saving money is the point, you have to remind yourself to curb your enthusiasm.

I’m going to be honest with you guys, the environmental impact of cloth nappies is a bonus for me. Allegedly one disposable nappy takes 500 years to decompose. Not the greatest thing for our fragile planet and I’ve already donated enough to the land fills in The Munchkin’s almost 18 months.

What about the poop?

“Who’s going to clean it?” is a question that I got a lot when I mentioned this to people. Um, there’s this handy invention, I’m not sure if y’all have heard about it? It’s called a washing machine. Does all the work for you! SO amazing! And about the poop, well you get this handy thing called disposable liners:

Exhibit A. Disposable liners

Exhibit A. Disposable liners

The liners catch the poop. You flush the liner in the toilet and flush. The end.

Well, kind of… if some poop gets on the nappy itself, you just rinse it off with the toilet sprayer or hand shower but it shouldn’t be a lot because the liner will catch most of it. Then you pop it into the dry bucket (no need to soak anything) to wait for wash day. Same with the pee nappies, you take them off and put them in the dry bucket for wash day – which is about ever 2nd or 3rd day depending on your stash.

How many nappies?

Which leads to this question… well the answer is dependant on the age of your child and how many nappy changes they go through a day. And then multiply that number by 2 or 3 – depending on how often you plan to wash. It’s a good idea to have enough for 3 days though – so you can have a set while the rest are being washed and dried.

Right now because we’re still testing things out to see what’s going to work best for us we only have 6 nappies – some are pockets, some are All-in-Two systems that will require more inserts. We didn’t get any All-in-Ones because they are more expensive and take longer to dry even thought they’re probably the easiest to use. But the plan is to do cloth nappies part time – we’ll use disposables if we’re out on the road.


Missing: One Spiderman pocket nappy


What the heck did you just say?!

This ain’t your momma’s old school terry cloth nappies that you must still fold and sukkel with safety pins. It’s as convenient and easy to use as putting on a disposable. You get different styles of nappies and depending on what works for you and your family you can choose what ever makes your life easiest (or cheapest). A lot of the nappies you will find are OSFM (one size fits most) which can be used from birth (depending on the size of your baby) to potty training. They have rows of snaps that make them adjustable.

The easiest to understand are pocket. You stuff it with an insert (either microfiber, bamboo or hemp – or a combo) that’s going to absorb the pee, lay a liner inside for the poop and pop it onto your baby. To make life easier to pre-stuff all  the nappies before hand so you’re just grabbing one instead of stuffing while changing.


Pocket style nappy

Pocket style nappy

This next one is the nappy that we use during the night. I also put in a Ultimate Night Booster which is two layers of bamboo folded in 3 to give extra absorption for the long hours. Baby’s bum also stays dry because of the stay-dry material that sits against his skin.


Ultimate Night Booster form Bam+Boo

Ultimate Night Booster form Bam+Boo

Ultimate Night Booster folded

Ultimate Night Booster folded

Then you get All in Two systems which consists of a cover and inserts. The brand we have, Buttons, is a wipeable cover and every time baby pees you just change the inserts rather than a whole new nappy like the pockets.



This one is also considered an AI2 but if baby wets any part of this one then the whole thing needs to be changed so I prefer the Buttons or Snappy Nappy brand.


The upfront cost of modern cloth nappies can be expensive, giving out R4000 in one go is a lot. So if you’re pregnant and considering this, I would advise to buy 2 or so a month and build your stash slowly.

The effort of washing nappies is not that much of an effort at all. You literally throw it into the machine, give it a rinse and then you can even add your normal clothes to the load. So there doesn’t have to be extra washing all of the time. You don’t need too use special washing powder and you save on softner because you shouldn’t be using any on the nappies – they affect the absorption.

One nappy costs between R90-R400 depending on the brand. The bam+boo pockets (a South African brand) I have cost R90 each and come with inners. The Buttons (an American brand) covers and inserts are sold separately because you’ll need more inserts than covers. A cover will set you back about R200 and the inserts between R46 and R65 depending on the material used.

For winter I was thinking of just getting a Dri-Buddy to help with the drying because we don’t have a tumble dryer and I don’t trust it to dry fast enough on a clothes horse.

The Husband and I have worked out how we are going to do this, which type of nappies would be most convenient and cost effective and broken it down to how much it would cost us. And the amount is considerably cheaper than the amount we’ve already spent on disposables. Is it too late to start with him for it to make a difference in what we’ve spent? Probably. But we plan to use these for any other children we have (inshallah!). I really wish we started this on The Munchkin sooner!

What I’ve learned from the South African cloth nappy users groups is that there is no one way to do this. You have so many options, so you can find a way that works for you. So go check the group out if you’re interested and also have a look at Cloth Nappies 101.



  1. Tami

    March 16, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Great post Zayaan. Cloth nappies where just starting to come back into fashion when I had my son 10 years ago and when my daughter came along, we knew we weren’t going to have more kids so we didn’t make the change over. Thankfully she potty trained herself really early so we didn’t have to worry with disposables for long. I find the Spindel works way better and faster than the DryBuddy and anything that has been through the Spindel dries overnight on the clothes horse. Just an idea for you to keep in mind. 🙂 xx

    1. Zayaan

      March 16, 2015 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks Tami! We are also considering a Spindle. We’ve had a Dri Buddy before so we’re familiar with how it works. Winter must just keep itself at bay so long!

  2. cat@jugglingact

    March 16, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    I am more thankful than ever that we are over the nappy phase. Twins were tough!

  3. faz

    March 16, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    I knew about the cloth nappy buzz – but just purposefully remained ignorant and wrote it off as a modernisation of the old school method.But after reading your post . And wanting to be a Frugalwood weirdo . Dang girl you just done educated me . Will be seriously considering this now. Disposables are soooooo expensive.

    1. Zayaan

      March 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      SO expensive!! But seriously, did you check out that article I linked to? I explain more about the different kinds of nappies in there. It’s so easy to use. You put it on like a disposable but the bonus is you wash it and get so much use out of it. Then when you’re done you can either use for the next child or resell them. There’s even a buy/trade/sell group for it. Very enlightening.

      1. Sonja

        March 16, 2015 at 11:23 pm

        I have my 2 year old twins on bam+boo cloth nappies since they were 3 months old and have not yet regretted it one day. Saving me loads every month and not one nappy rash bum yet…… I have 40 bamboo nappies in stock and they get me through most of the time. I do wash every day, but it quickly becomes part of daily routine. Great investment!!!!

  4. Yumna

    March 17, 2015 at 1:22 am

    Hi Zayaan

    Just curious, would you recommend this for new borns too since their poo is much more softer and soggier and will prob penetrate the liner and inner which means it will have to be washed immediately rather than 2-3 days?

    Just curious

    1. Zayaan

      March 17, 2015 at 6:08 am

      I have no experience with the newborn phase but what I can glean from the South African cloth nappy users group is that newborn poo is water soluble so you’d just give that a rinse immediately, then pop it into the bucket. I’d recommend joining the group as there are FAR more experienced mommy’s there who can give advice on the newborn phase. I definitely want to try from newborn with our next child.

      1. Yumna

        March 28, 2015 at 11:41 pm

        On which site will I be able to get AI2’s?

        I started trying this out today, got a pocket though, and since we only bought one it doesn’t work as great.

        Im very keen on trying the AI2.

        1. Zayaan Schroeder

          March 29, 2015 at 7:52 am

          We got an AI2 system called Buttons, where the inside is wipeable and the clip in inserts just need to be replaced. Check a site called They sell a few different brands.

        2. Zayaan Schroeder

          March 29, 2015 at 7:55 am

          Also if you want to try the Buttons to see how it works buy one cover plus 2 inserts. And remember if you don’t like a nappy you can sell it on the South African cloth diaper buy/trade/sell Facebook page.

        3. Zayaan Schroeder

          March 29, 2015 at 8:05 am

          I’m also very keen to try a Grovia but their inserts are so expensive.

          1. Yumna

            March 31, 2015 at 10:38 am

            So I ordered the Buttons brand, and then popped in Snappy Nappy and Grovia. Made a deal with my husband so I was able to order a good-ish amount.
            Sheesh but Grovia is expensive, so an insert is actually R140 extra to what is displayed. I used the pocket type and I am honestly more open to the idea of snapping in a dry insert than changing the entire nappy.

            Must say this article gave me a whole new perspective on cloth nappies, shukran so much.

            Im just so excited to start the cloth nappy era. And get me some funky doodle bums.

            Tx again

          2. Zayaan Schroeder

            March 31, 2015 at 10:54 am

            Ooh yes, I must be SO careful with buying new nappies! It’s making me broke. I’ve not gotten a Grovia yet because I can’t get my heart over those insert prices. Snappy Nappy is the same concept as the Buttons and I think their inserts are interchangeable but I’m not sure of the Snappy Nappy quality compared to the Buttons. You must let me know! The thing with pockets is you must change the whole nappy and put a new one on like a disposable. I don’t mind the pre-stuffing then having them all ready. So I have a few pockets because I like the prints, lol!

            So glad you’re loving this. Honestly R likes the cloth on his bum rather than the disposables. He scratches and pulls at the disposables.

  5. michelle

    March 17, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    have you looked on A number of our ‘south african brand’ nappies are actually rebranded Alva nappies, I ordered off their website and they were delivered within 10 days for about a third of the cost of buying them here 🙂

    1. Zayaan

      March 17, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      I have yes! But I think my husband is more a fan of the all in two Buttons type system than the pockets. He’s home with The Munchkin so does most of the nappy changing. Also, I’m a bit concerned about customs. Do you pay any on the nappies?

      1. michelle

        March 18, 2015 at 11:22 am

        I didn’t but a friend did…

  6. fatima

    March 17, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    sheesh…where was this 19 years ago….I used Terry cloth (by choice) for both my kids and disposables at night and when we went out…
    back then I had a’s a drum kind of thing that you turn a few times and viola, baby’s clothes be washed…which I did daily..being a stay at home mum at the time…even took it with on camp
    its so cute that I want to use it as well lolz

  7. Yumna

    April 10, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    So firstly thanks for inviting me to the Tiny Hiney page. I swear I am signing up on almost all modern cloth nappy pages and sites.

    So I went crazy when I bought my first stash and it turns out I got Cherub Tree and not Snappy Nappy.

    I’ve tried using the difference brands of snap on inserts between the different nappies but it doesn’t fit. Grovia only works on Grovia, Buttons on Buttons and Bamboo Baby on Bamboo Baby.

    I will officially be starting this system later today, but because he doesn’t drink as much I really don’t have to change him as much. He slept in a Fancy Pants last night and I put in 2 inserinserts, the bottom one was slightly damp but it wasn’t really needed because the top one could still take 1 or 2 more beatings.

    So hopefully my 6 nappies is good enough to Last me 2 days. I think cloth nappies is eventually going to cost me more than disposables. And what if I have a good set of say 30 and newer cooler designs come out?

    1. Zayaan Schroeder

      April 10, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      So glad it’s working out for you. Maybe get another 6 then you can have a set while 2 are in the wash and drying. Be strong when it comes to the pretty designs!! Remember your goal was to save. I have enough for 2 days now and I’ve put a ban on buying any more. So that I can maybe buy myself something. What do you like better the Grovia or the Buttons?

      1. Yumna

        April 10, 2015 at 3:40 pm

        Gosh I get satisfaction when I buy him things, it’s like a gift TO ME, lol.

        Between the two, I haven’t used either of the 2 yet, but Grovia dries super quick. I hung it out around 5:30 last night and an hour later it was dry. That’s also because the lining isn’t felt or microfiber. The inner of the Grovia takes longer because the inner is actually a double layer for real! So also you paying R250 for just 2 inners, its actually 2 double iinners that you are gettin.

        Buttons on the other hand has the double thing going on around the legs, loving that.

        I have yet to try them both but I will give you better feedback by next week.

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