Archive for Me and Family

Bio-Baba You Can Do It!


Many people know they want to use alternatives to disposables but are put off by the lack of practical information about exactly how to use them: how many they need, how often to wash them, what to do with a nappy bin etc.

I would like to give you a brief overview here; with the rest of the information downloadable from the web. All Bio-Baba nappies come with Swing Tickets with full fitting, washing & care instructions.


The short answer is “ 12 Bio-Baba nappies of each size” (Medium 6-9.5kg suitable from approx 3 months to a year….Large 10kg-16kg suitable from approx a year to potty training). This means that you will have enough nappies to last you for 2 days, with some being washed whilst the others are being used.


Bio-Baba’s have a handy ‘flip-out flap’ which allows you to hold the nappy whilst you flush the good stuff down the loo. Then put in the nappy bucket to soak as usual.


Do NOT use Steri-nappy or any other bleach based product…in addition to destroying the special breathable waterproofing, bleach is incredibly bad for the environment, as it kills all bacteria (good & bad) & life in the water system. We recommend using Bio-Baba Nappy Soak  (R39)…a really great product that uses the power of essential oils to disinfect the nappies or a few drops on tea tree oil in a lidded bucket. You can also use white vinegar, but this is a bit pongy!


Do not use any products containing bleach, petro-chemically derived soap products or strong detergents to wash your nappies as this will destroy the special waterproofing fabric and radically reduce their life-span. We recommend using an eco-friendly laundry gel or powder. (Eco-soft or Sunlight Baby) as they are mild enough not to irritate babies skin or do serious environmental damage.

We recommend changing your soaking solution at least every 2 days. What this means in practical terms is doing a ‘nappy wash’ Monday, Wednesday & Friday…if you have domestic help on these days – that’s an added bonus!


Bio-Baba nappies will line-dry on a reasonable drying day…if they are slightly damp or you want to take this chill off them, place them face down (cloth side) on a heated towel rail for 10 mins. Babies love having a nice warm nappy put on! (Nappies should NEVER be put next to an open flame or heater element)


Bio-Baba nappies are EXCELLENT NIGHT NAPPIES. In order to get into a ‘Complete Bio-Baba System’ including using a Bio-Baba’s at night you will need 15 nappies (take aadvantage of the Complete System Specials)… You would then fit the nappy as usual, folding the hemp pad into the ‘famous “V” fold’ AND insert an extra pad into the flip our flap. This will provide the extra absorbency needed to keep baby dry at night.


Yes! These are great nappies for the beach and by the swimming pool…they do not get all hot and clammy like a disposable and come in such vibrant trendy colours that your baby will be the coolest baba in town! Do remember to remove the Hemp Booster Pad before going in the water though – we don’t want to absorb the whole pool!


The most common problems associated with a leaking nappy are:


  1. The nappy has been fitted too loosely:  What I do is a ‘One leg at a time approach’. Place the nappy under the baby’s bum as per the “Fitting instructions” available on the web THEN, pull the elastic of the right leg straight up to 2 ‘o clock and close the right tab. Then, pull the elastic of the left hand side of the nappy straight up to 10 ‘o clock and then close the left tab. It is absolutely vital that there are NO GAPS underneath the legs after the ‘smart-fit’ tabs have been closed. Finally, check that all the flannel has been tucked in and that the edges are straight and comfortably protecting from the Velcro.
  2. The nappy has been left on for too long: It is impossible to set a blanket recommendation for changing times as each child is different and poos and wees at different times with varying impressiveness! I really encourage mothers to become aware of their baby’s unique rhythm. That said, babies in the Medium nappies should happily stay dry for between 2-3hours in the day, and a little longer at night. Children in the Large nappies will need to be changed after they wee, (as they are doing much larger wees), and be encouraged to toilet train. The waterproofing on Bio-Baba nappies is NOT PVC which is designed to lock all wetness in, making for a very wet-skinned uncomfortable baby who will wake up and cry. We have used a breathable fabric to ensure that baby is as comfortable as possible and that you know when baby is due for a change (thereby avoiding nappy rashes). Once you get to grips with your baby’s rhythm, you will be able to pre-empt any dampness and change beforehand. Take note of when you put the nappy on.
  3. Insertable hemp ‘Booster Pad’ has not been washed enough: The Bio-Baba nappy is designed specifically to wick moisture away from the baby’s skin with the hemp used in the removable ‘Booster Pad’ doing all the hard work of the nappy. If this pad has not been washed several times before use (AT LEAST twice), then it will not be operating at its full absorbency. Remember, the more your wash it, the more absorbent it becomes.

 Another tip:

 The hemp ‘Booster Pad’ is the backbone of the nappy…use it smartly. Where does your baby get the most wet? Usually boys wet higher up as their ‘equipment’ is higher than girls! Girls tend to wee straight downwards with great force, and boys might aim straight for your eye, so make sure the hose is pointing down when the nappy is fitted. You can give your nappy extra support by folding the ‘Booster Pad’ double  in a “V” shape and placing it on-top of the ‘danger zone’ with the “V” protecting leaking at the edge of the nappy along the legs. Again, work with your own baby. If you do fold the pad double, ensure that you do not let it interfere with the fit of the nappy.

Then there is the question of the ‘Child Who Wees for Africa’

It’s something you don’t notice when a child is in disposables, but you certainly do once they are in real nappies. In my experience, however, most people think their child is a heavy wetter. Personally, I just think we don’t really appreciate the liquid in = liquid out equation while a child is in disposables.

Remember that wet nappies are a GOOD thing, in that they indicate that your child is well. The problem comes when the wetness turns into leaks.

Are they simply drinking too much? If you always provide juice, toddlers will frequently gulp it down and then ask for more, which will have the obvious effect on the bladder. As they approach toilet training they will no longer be doing lots of little wees which are easily absorbed, but will be doing occasional full wees. Any nappy, including a disposable, is going to be hard pushed to absorb these quickly enough if liquid intake is excessive. A good tip is to offer juice only at mealtimes, and to provide water at other times during the day: your child will drink if (s)he is thirsty but not for the sake of it. You will also be cutting down on your child’s sugar intake, which is a good thing, especially if you have a hyper child.

Keep in mind that you are using a cloth nappy that contains no chemicals to absorb urine and turn it into a non-biodegradable gel. You are using high quality fabrics that can be washed over and over. You have chosen to use a great nappy that is eco-friendly and much cheaper than disposable alternatives. Take the time to get the fit right and you won’t look back!


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Bio-Baba – Local is Lekker!

recently Bio-Baba joined our Supporters Group – a very BIG thank you to Vicki for her support.  Bio-Baba is supporting our drive to educate parents on the impact of disposables, not only financially but ecologically as well.

So here’s to greening your education about the nappies you use!

 A shift towards sustainable parenting? – by Victoria Penfold on World Environment Day

 Since starting Bio-Baba nappies 5 years ago, I have been pleased to see a radical shift in thinking towards the inclusion of cloth nappies in a nappy routine. Originally, when people discovered that they had to wash them, they simply were not interested and stopped listening to reasons why it was a good idea, citing lack of time or sheer disinterest in ‘someone else’s problem’ as the basis for not wanting to go the ‘eco-route’.

 However, that was before we had to pay for plastic bags, before the tsunami, before the ‘fuel crisis’, before the discovery of a mountain of plastic in the ocean that stretches from Hawaii to Japan:

 “The vast expanse of debris – in effect the worlds largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting “soup” stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.” (

Now people are finally waking up to the sad reality that there will not be a planet for their beloved children to inherit if they do not take the warnings seriously. After all, if learned people such as George Orwell are to be believed, “We humans are capable of convincing ourselves of something that is not true long after the accumulated evidence would convince any reasonable person that it’s wrong.”

So are South African parents really prepared to make a change? Do the rich and affluent still suffer from ‘affluenza’ – a sickness where you believe that because you are successful and can afford to buy and throw away as much as you like, environmental concerns have nothing to do with you?  

 Top excuses still given for not taking responsibility for the waste produced by disposables:

 Excuse No.1: “Cloth nappies are too much hassle; I don’t have the time.”

 You have to ask yourself – do you have to change a babies’ nappy? Obviously you do, (this is where the design of the cloth nappy you choose really comes into the equation), so if you use a super absorbent all-in-one hemp nappy like Bio-Baba, it is just as easy to fit as a disposable; it is also just as effective as you only have to change after 3hours and, with extra hemp boosters, it can effectively be used for a ‘sleep through’ night! Okay … so it is easy to fit … is just as effective as a disposable (with no chemicals) … but what about the washing? For a start you will not be washing as many nappies if you use Bio-Babas since their added absorbency means you will not be changing as often; so washing is done every second day. If you have a washing machine, not to mention any form of domestic help, then this is simply no excuse!

 Excuse No.2: “I can’t afford Bio-Baba nappies”

 This is possibly one of the most illogical excuses since if you have a child in disposables for a 2½ year period (6000 nappy changes) then you will be spending (at today’s prices), between R12 000 and R15 000 for the sake of convenience. If you use Bio-Baba nappies (including at night), you could save up to R10 000 over this time! The catch is that you have to buy and pay for them all at once, which is seen as a convenient excuse – ‘why I can’t so I don’t’. However, since Bio-Babas can be conveniently paid over several months on credit card … this simply doesn’t make sense.

 Excuse No.3: “I am not the one! Too lazy, can’t be bothered, don’t care.”

 I once had one of my well educated friends tell me that her mother-in-law had refused to use Bio-Baba nappies as she considered herself ‘above that sort of thing’. Her actual comment was that she was going to ‘let the next generation worry about it’! Well, what can you say to that? Ironically, she was an incredibly caring and attentive grandmother who had taken on the responsibility of looking after baby when my friend returned to work … she just seemed unable to make the connection between her choices and the future of her grandson.

Are you one of those people that Mr Orwel was talking about? Did you know that:

 Disposable nappies are one of the world’s biggest household waste contributors, behind newspapers at No.1 and containers/packaging for food in second place. Your household is no different … millions are thrown away annually in SA, 9 million a day in the UK and 20 billion a year in the US and Canada …This equates to 750 000 tonnes of nappies being buried annually in landfill sites around Britain and they do not biodegrade! In desperation, several municipalities in the UK are now offering mothers a “£80 incentive to cut ‘nappy mountain’”. The Daily Telegraph -UK, Feb 13, 2006

  • If you have a baby in disposable nappies your household waste doubles!
  • During the 2½ years in disposable nappies a baby will have:

Ø    used 325kg plastic

Ø    20 trees worth of paper

Ø    produced 1 tonne of landfill space

  • Many municipalities in South Africa are facing major landfill airspace crises…for example – out of 6 sites in Cape Town – now only 3 remain; Bellville, which  will close in approx. 2013, Coastal Park  in approx. 2022 and Vissershoek in about 2017.


  • Waste in South Africa is currently growing at 5% faster than the population growth…where are we going to put our waste is a very serious question. In other countries they have been dumping in the sea and as a result have created huge ‘dead zones’ where nothing except giant jelly fish (who can live without oxygen for extended periods of time) can thrive. This is particularly alarming since approx. 90% of the world’s oxygen comes from the sea!
  • Nappies are classified as medical waste and should be incinerated – however individual municipalities in South Africa do not have the resources to do this; it is actually illegal for health reasons to dispose of human faecal matter in municipal bins, but nobody I know flushes what their child does in a disposable down the toilet before throwing it away. This poses a health and environmental threat as there is danger of the leaching of live viruses (given in the form of vaccination to babies) from landfills where disposables are dumped into our water system. We have just had a recent wave of mysterious baby deaths from contaminated water in the Eastern Cape … you have to wonder?


Excuse No.4: “My crèche only takes disposables.”

 I have found that this is not true … without exception, the people who run crèches are more than willing to use something that is just as easy to fit and change as a disposable, especially when the parent takes the time to explain that they are changing to Bio-Babas for financial and environmental reasons. In a country where people are working to sustain themselves, very often for less than R2000 a month, it is not only an environmental, but a social injustice too that some of them are spending as much as a third of their salaries on disposable nappies and childcare!

 Children really do live what they learn … I encourage all parents to choose a sustainable future for their baby by incorporating a cost-effective and easy to use cloth nappy like Bio-Baba into their nappy routines; limit disposable use to holidays and emergencies … use cloth nappies around the house, when visiting friends and at crèche. Future generations depend on us; the time is NOW – we all can make a difference!

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Bio-Baba Nappies

Pegged as Fit Pregnancy magazine’s ‘most convenient’ ,‘easiest to use’ and ‘nicest looking’ cloth nappy! (March 2009)

Bio-Baba nappies are so versatile that a single nappy can be used for:
• day nappies
• night nappies
• swim nappies
• potty training

The all-in-one design (nappy, liner and waterproof) means that they are so quick and easy to fit that anyone can do it. You will also not have to pay for more waterproofs, swim nappies or potty training pants! Bio-Babas are made from 100% unbleached cotton with multi-layers of sustainable and super-absorbent hemp…you simply won’t find a more efficient cloth nappy.

Disposables are one of the world’s biggest waste contributors behind newspapers at No.1, and containers/packaging for food. If you have a baby in disposable diapers, your household will be no different… millions are thrown away annually in SA, 9 million a day in the UK and 20 billion a year in the US and Canada…they do not bio-degrade!

Did you know that if you have a baby in disposable nappies in your home, your household waste doubles! It is estimated that approximately half of household waste in the UK is made up of disposable nappies…

In 2 1/2 years in disposable nappies a baby will have:
• used 325kg of plastic
• 20 trees worth of paper
• produced 1 tonne of landfill space

If you are eco-conscious and want what is best for your baby then take back their future by investing in these cost-saving nappies NOW!

If you are pregnant/1st time customer and want to avoid the inevitable ‘baby tax’ of disposable nappies (between R12 000 – R15 000 before baby is potty trained) – then take advantage of this sustainable nappy solution by ordering now


Bio-Baba Head Office

No. 7 Athlone Rd

Vicki Penfold

Tel: +27 21 761 8982
Fax: +27 21 761 8982

Online shopping site:

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Towelling Nappies – Not the enemy!

I use towelling nappies on my boys and a friend who stayed with us recently asked me if I had heard of disposable nappies.  I was a little taken back, disposables cost the earth and then you just throw them away – that doen’t make economic sense.

But more to the point it’s whats in the nappies that bugs me more the anything else.  So to help everyone understand what I’m going on about, here’s research to prove I’m not as crazy as you all think!

Ok – so what chemicals are we talking about?

No. 1 is DIOXIN – this is a highly toxic by-product of the bleaching process and is the most toxic of all cancer-linked chemicals. Dioxin has been known to cause birth defects, skin disease and liver damage.

No. 2 is SODIUM POLYACRYLATE GEL – the stuff that does the absorbing in the nappies…if you have ever seen that clear gel-like stuff (beads) on your babies’ genitals – that’s it. This substance was banned from use in tampons in 1985 because it was linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome. It is still used in disposables:

Employees in factories producing Polyacrylate suffer from female organ damage, fatigue and weight loss. No long term studies have been conducted to assess the risks of 24/7 exposure to this compound on a babies vulnerable genitals.

Due to its extreme absorbency, this chemical has been found to draw moisture from the skin, causing severe nappy rash and bleeding of perineal and scrotal tissue. Sodium Polyacrylate is also lethal to cats when inhaled.

Incidentally – it was the fact that after I had my son Hugo in 2002 that I noticed that after wearing a disposable nappy his ‘jiggly bits’ looked like little prunes which they didn’t after wearing a cloth nappy. This made me suspicious and I tried to find out ‘what was in the nappy’ to no avail since there was nothing on the packet that indicated the ingredients; another red flag…even now I wonder if a particular brand can change their content and chemical make-up overnight whether anyone would be any wiser?

No. 3 is TBT or TRIBUTYLIN – ranked by the World Health Organization as one of the most toxic substances in consumer products in the world today. The function of this chemical is to kill bacteria. Independent tests carried out by Greenpeace found that this hormone disrupting chemical was present in quantities as high as 38.4 micrograms of TBT per kilogram in Procter & Gamble’s “Pampers® Baby Dry” nappies in the belt section as well as in the inner and outer layers. They also found other organotin compounds such as DBT (Dibutylin) and MBT Monobutylin – totaling 53.2 micrograms per kilogram:

Greenpeace’s scientific test results contradict a statement by Procter & Gamble, in which the company last Friday denied that its nappies were contaminated with organotin compounds. Greenpeace toxics expert Thilo Maack said: “The reaction of Procter & Gamble is a scandal. The company is downplaying the danger instead of actively searching for the source of TBT in Pampers®. It is absolutely irresponsible to expose babies to these extremely toxic substances”.

    “Fact is that TBT is one of the most toxic substances ever made, and it is being spread through the skin and contaminates the environment as well as people,” he noted.
This environmental pollutant, which has been in the headlines for months because of its extremely high toxicity, has a hormone-like effect. The smallest concentrations of TBT can harm people’s immune systems and impair their hormonal system. “The German government must ban this toxin in all areas of use immediately,” says Thilo Maack.  

If this information is not sobering enough, if you have a boy-child, studies linking male infertility to disposable usage should really sway your thinking towards alternative nappying choices. Since disposables are lined with plastic causing an increase in scrotal temperature, impairing the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles, it is thought that their use could affect normal scrotal development. The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life…the reason testes are external is that they need to be cooler than the rest of the body in order for this to happen.Studies conducted at the University of Kiel by Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of paediatrics, concluded:

A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, with implications for male fertility.                                                    

Furthermore, “Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels and are continuing to decline as fast as 2% a year.” 

 Last but by no means least – the asthma epidemic! Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathing the diluted chemical mixtures.  ”Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,” according to the paper.Although Anderson stated that it was too early to tell whether these chemicals trigger asthma-like responses until a vast amount of human data had been accumulated, she did say the following: “Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing.  When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action. She suggests that (parents) and doctors… believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.” Chemicals in diapers cited as possible asthma trigger
By Penny Stern, MD                                                                                                                                                                                            SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.

How to Clean Cloth Diapers:

   1. Remove solid waste from the diapers by shaking it off in the toilet.
   2. Add water to the diaper pail and ½ cup of baking soda or vinegar.
   3. Soak the diapers until you’re ready to wash them.
   4. When ready to do laundry, dump the soiled water.
   5. Put diapers in washing machine.
   6. Fill with cold water and add 1/2 cup baking soda. It neutralizes the urine and helps whiten the diapers.
   7. If possible, allow diapers to soak for a while or even overnight. A pre-wash cycle also works well for this step.
   8. Then, wash the diapers in hot water using a mild detergent on a regular cycle.
   9. Rinse the diapers in cold water. You can add vinegar to the rinse cycle by pouring it down the fabric softener compartment to help make      diapers softer and fresher.
  10. Check for stains. It’s a lot easier to get them out if you catch them before they set.
  11. Some people soak their diapers for 2-3 minutes in a disinfectant solution. This could be a tea tree oil solution.
  12. Place the diapers in the dryer and dry on high heat or place in indirect sunlight to dry.

It really quite easy to change your habit of using disposable nappies, just think of how much that poop or wee cost you!

article source:  www/

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Green your baby

Nothing motivates one quite as much as being responsible for a new being, and having a baby is the moment when many people move from one end of the green spectrum to the other – it’s no longer just what you put into and on your body that counts, now it’s a little life that’s being affected – it becomes a big deal!

Green jargon unravelled – just how to green your baby

We give you the low-down on how to be more ‘green’ when it comes to your baby; how you can treat the planet with the respect it deserves and in so doing, teach your child to do so too, and how to have less of an impact on the environment.

Nappies: Whilst many people function on automatic pilot and stock up on disposables as the only sensible approach, the cotton nappy is re-emerging as a far more sustainable, green option.

The stats:
• the average baby uses about 6 000 nappies
• petroleum-based disposable nappies take 200 – 500 years to decompose
• SA is running out of room for landfill sites
• disposable nappies contain chemicals banned in the 1980s in women’s tampons
• the long-term impact of chemicals in nappy production has not been studied
• nearly 8 million nappies make it to landfill every day in the UK

Yes, washing cloth nappies does use energy and water, but one study showed that home-washing cloth nappies has only 53% of the ecological footprint of disposables, and if you’re using biodegradable washing powder and sun-drying your nappies, the impact is further lessened. [revenge of the cloth nappy]

The days of pins and cloth nappies, like your mother used, are over too (although from experience we can say that the good old fashioned cloth nappies still work really well). Today there are fitted cloth nappies with velcro or snap fasteners.

Where to buy cloth nappies

There are local companies supplying cloth nappies made from eco-friendly materials like bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Not only are they comfortable, practical and absorbent, they look cute too! Local alternatives like Stegi eco-nappy, Bio-Baba, Mother Nature Products and Earth Babies all provide biodegradable nappies and sound advice.

Organic food: From about 6 months, your baby starts to eat real food. Whilst one of the most important choices you can make for the environment is to eat organic food, giving your baby organic food is even more vital.

Put simply: organic food is better for your baby! And here’s why:

• its has higher levels of vitamins and essential minerals
• there are NO additives
• there are NO pesticides
• it is NOT GM (genetically modified)
• babies are more vulnerable to developmental damage than adults
• immature organs are more susceptible to damage from toxins in food

There are a number of local organic box delivery schemes, Olli Organic Baby food is the organic alternative to Purity, and organic baby food is available from these suppliers.

And learn to read the label! If there’s anything in there that you don’t understand, then it isn’t natural and it probably isn’t good for your baby.

Body care: our bodies absorb whatever we put on our skins. Go to any baby shower and you’re sure to see an array of baby powders, creams and lotions that mothers feel obliged to buy for their newborns – most of them petroleum based.

The best baby lotion is olive oil; you can clean your babies bottom with water and cotton wool (camomile tea or rooibos tea makes a good alternative for nappy rash days) and other products need to be as natural, organic and fragrance-free as possible. Watch out for those baby products claiming to be natural and organic – again, read the label. Rather go for something like Enchantrix or Pure beginnings who use only natural and organic products.

Clothing: It’s easy to get caught up in the whirl of cute little designer numbers in gorgeous colours, but not only does your baby grow out of clothing at the rate of knots, but they get their clothing really dirty. Choosing organic cotton or wool fabrics made without toxic chemicals is certainly better for both baby and the environment. Going one degree greener than that is to buy second-hand, or share clothing with other mothers who have older or younger children – a far more sustainable option. Earth Babies and the Little Chicken Company are both local alternatives and provide a number of baby accessories, like organic mattresses too.

5 other tips to green your baby:

• use natural and organic washing powders and softners
• find natural and organic alternatives to household detergents
• grow your own vegetables and beat the organic food bill
• buy wooden toys and soft cuddly toys made from organic materials
• buy second-hand, durable furniture for your baby’s room – there is less chance of the use of toxic material, and its greener for the environment


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