Thursday, 8 October 2015

Review: the new Peenut (cloth nappy system)

The TotsBots Peenut baby - so cute!

On 7th September to coincide with the start of Zero Waste Week, Tots Bots released a new cloth nappy system. The Peenut.

Designed to be their most cost-effective way of doing cloth bums yet, the simple, no frills nappies are birth to potty, day to night, and with a while clean outer to reduce the number of nappies you need.
Being the nappy geek I am, I immediately ordered 2 wraps and inners to test out how they work on both my newborn (small stationary bot) and my 18month old (heavier soiling, crazy-active bum).

Why is it new and exciting?
My munchkin inspects the merchandise
  • Often the initial outlay cost of cloth nappies is off-putting for those who'd otherwise try it, even though cloth is massively cheaper than disposables in the long term with an average cost saving of £1200 for one child - and economies of scale thereafter (see the pdf available here for some cost breakdowns, assumptions and graphs, if that's your thing). These nappies will set you back less than £200 for an entire starter kit , so all the nappies you need for one baby, from birth through to potty. Not too shabby.
  • No muss, no fuss. In theory, these are the simplest and easiest cloth nappies to use yet. They have a wipe-clean outer and pop-in inserts of varying absorbency so that less components are needed.  All you have to do is choose which pads you want to pop in (depending on the age, wee-capacity, and day/night situation of your little one) and wipe clean the outer wrap before popping them in and onto your baby's bum.

The best bits
  • Pop pop pop. Need I say more? So simple, so quick, so easy to use. I'm a bit in love with the popper insert system, and I defy you to find me anyone who can't change a cloth nappy with one of these systems.  If you've never used cloth before, or have a cloth-phobic relative or carer taking your usually cloth-bummed little one on a regular basis, these nappies should allay any panic. Pop them to size, pop in the inner and velcro shut. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

  • The versatility. With 2 children with different needs, both of them are able to wear these by adapting the size and absorbency as needed each change. Also being adaptable to other cloth elements like additional boosters is a big win. 
  • Slimline shape. If you're put off cloth because of the chunky bum look and the need to put your baby in bigger sized bottom halves, this will sort that problem. In a Peenut, you can't tell that it's cloth. It's that streamlined. 
  • They're a good size unlike other TotsBots which can be a bit on the small side. The size 2, which is meant for 9-35lbs, would happily fit even the chunkiest of toddling bums, so you're sure to get your use out of them.
  • The PUL outer is a lot more leakproof than I have found TotsBots fabric outers to be in the past,  and whilst there's only one leg elastic on each side (no double-protective elastic like a Blueberry wrap has) the inner is absorbant enough that it seems pretty leakproof to me. I'm a regular changer though and practice a bit of Elimination Communication so if you prefer your cloth nappies to rival a disposable's containment, this might not be so leakproof for you...
  • They're very pretty. The Elements patterns of white with rainbows or birds on is very cute; or any of the existing nursery rhymes and stories prints are lovely. Or you can go for plain white. 

So do they do what they say?
Size 2 on its smallest setting...
  • I initially ordered two wraps, a size 1 for my newborn, and a size 2 for my toddler, then changed my mind when I realised that my tiny one isn't very tiny...  So right there, it's not quite birth to potty - even my little man who was 9lb 3.5 at birth (within the weight limit for the size 2 wrap) and who at 5 weeks old is in 3-6 month clothes, has only just started comfortably fitting the smallest setting on the size 2 in the past few days. Whilst he's long rather than chunky, I'd suggest that most babies would need at least 6-8 weeks of life before the Peenut would work unless the size 1 wraps were used. To go truely from birth to potty with this system would require both size wraps, meaning the size 1's, which take you to 18lbs, would be obsolete once your little one was a few months old.
  • The wipe clean outer... I have to say, when my order came I was surprised. I expected to see something revolutionary. Instead, I saw a hybrid of a TotsBots nappy and a Blueberry diaper wrap. Really, it's just a PUL wrap. And whilst a wee could be wiped clean, if the nappy is very wet, the legs of the wrap do seem to get a bit damp. I reused one on my newborn for an overnight change (pop-pop - so quick!) but in the morning the wrap felt damp as did his babygro although there was no evidence of leaking. 
  • And poo is definitely out. I wouldn't fancy the faff of trying to stretch out the leg elastic to 'wipe clean' poo from the creases. Or from around the poppers. Or any of the seams. To be honest, unless you caught your wee or a solid (once your child was older) poo the moment it happened, I'm not convinced that wiping it clean would be a viable option all that often - and I'm a frequent changer. I'm still willing to give it a go here and there but if I can feel any dampness at all on the wrap, I'll be swapping it out for a new one. On this element, I'm not sold...
  • The pop-in inners? They're good. Really good - nice and wide so they fill the nappy outer, they're lovely and absorbent and the poppers inside really help keep your nappy shape, so no bunched up inserts after a wee. That said, I used the 'night' system of both inners popped together for the daytime as my girl's a pretty heavy wetter at 18 months, and I wouldn't want to test it overnight on her. She can leak overnight even with a Blueberry wrap, bamboo inner and booster, and this didn't feel quite as robust. 
  • One inner is fine for my newborn during the day and two, with the second folded in half for absorbency where it's needed will work well when he's a little bigger - but it's too chunky between his legs to do that right now. I added a mini booster between the inner and the wrap instead and the popped in inner helped hold the booster in place,  so it seems a compatible system with existing nappy supplies if you already have them. 

The downsides
  • For me, the biggest downside is the flip side to the good absorbency - drying time. Even a full day on the washing line, now that the sun's not as hot, doesn't get these completely dry, and when forced to dry indoors, it can be a few days until the inner is ready for use again. For me to use these full time, I'd need a fair few inners which goes against the minimalist ethos behind the Peenut. To segway into cost briefly though, they're a lot cheaper than many other systems so you can afford to stock up on a few more inners than you might otherwise, and with the inserts being able to be used singly for lighter wetters, each set (2 inners costing c£8 if bought as a,single set) can effectively be 2 nappies. Looked at that way, the absorbency pros outweigh the cons.
  • Again on absorbency, though: it's not quite as pro as it's cracked up to be. My munchkin, at 18 months and a reasonable wetter, uses the 'night' setting with both inserts for a normal daytime nappy, and this morning after 2 hours of wear, we already had a leak. Because of that, I wouldn't try the 'night' version at night. Not until she's almost managing dry nights, I don't think. 
  • That said, the oh-so-slim inners mean there's plenty of space in the wrap to add a booster and it might be that a slimline but extra absorbent booster like a hemp one, or another bamboo layer, might get you through the night with a heavier wetter. I'll comment later if I get brave enough to risk a broken night with my girl! 
  • Wipe-clean? I don't personally think this works brilliantly as already outlined - have a read above if you're skipping about a bit! 
  • Velcro fastening. For many this will be a plus,  but on personal preference, I'm a popper-up gal and I wish these had a popper close.
  • Single gusset. Accustomed to the Blueberry's failsafe double gusset (2 elastic sections around the legs for leakproof bums), I wish all nappies had them. That's all. 

In conclusion 

They're not going to rival my Blueberry wraps for super-awesomeness any time soon, but the speed of changing, the ability to take less nappy elements out and about, and the versatility of use, as well as the very palatable price tag means that these get a good 'wrap' from me! In fact, I needed to up my stash to counteract the rain (slower drying) and additional baby and what did I order? The Peenut.

A quick note :
These don't come with liners as part of the pack as some do. - I'd recommend fleece liners for wicking away the moisture from your little one's bum, and minimising leaks.

If you're interested in this nappy system but want more information, or want to chat about cloth nappies more generally, please get in touch. My details are all here.

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