Guest written by Zayaan Schroeder Mollagee from SURVIVING THE MADNESS

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.


“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.


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



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.Buttons


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.


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