I was usually met with either horrified looks or on the other end of the scale almost roaring applause when I announced that I was planning to use cloth nappies instead of disposables on my new baby.
My daughter is now 7 weeks old and I have been using them right from the start.
To opt for cloth nappies (and breastfeeding by the way) made sense to me for several reasons:
- They are far more benign on the environment, as an estimate of about 3 million nappies a day and 8 billion nappies a year a day are filling up the landfill sites in the UK alone
- They should be easier on my budget after the initial investment which can be a one-off of about £100 in my case, although there are varying accounts of how much a big bag of pampers, Asda nappies, Tesco nappies, Aldi nappies etc. would cost
- They are better for my baby’s skin. If you can stomach a big scare, read on.
- There is evidence that they are better for your baby’s hips. This was confirmed by the orthopaedic consultant who had a look at my daughter’s hips by the way.
- Although there is less certainty about this it is possible that toddlers are more easily potty trained but it could be that it is more of your own initiative than theirs as there isn’t the “convenience” of disposables.
All I can say is that I haven’t found it much of a hassle or a problem when we are out and about. I just carry a bag to put the wet/dirty nappy in to take back home and admittedly I do bring some disposables for an “emergency”.
The main reason behind it though is the feeling of being responsible for our children’s future and their health and well-being. Looking at the evidence above, I think the facts are clearly on the side of the old-fashioned cloth nappies. And with automatic washing machines, I really wonder where all the so-called hassle should be. And even if you add up what extra you have to spend on washing powder/laundry liquid and electricity, it is only one extra wash every other day than what I would normally do with the usual laundry of my own and my husband’s clothes. I wash the nappies separately and use a big bucket to soak them beforehand with Nappy Fresh sanitiser and stain remover from Bio D.
But here is the range of products which of course far exceed the needs of a single person and are time-consuming when you initially have to research them (I spend weeks doing it around mid-pregnancy).
But now I use terry towels because of the following advantages compared to other reusable nappies:
- Fast drying
- Best for budget
- One set can be used from newborn till toddler stage
All you need to do is fold them into a triangle and fasten them with a pin or a nappy nippa. That could be seen as a drawback and they are quite bulky for newborns but after a while, you’ll get the hang of it. You will also need some so-called boosters for the night for added absorbancy.
I also decided to buy some reusable cotton wipes (just wet them in water) as using some of the disposable wipes is another environmental and financial issue as well as what you, once again, allow to come into contact with your baby’s skin. I am quite happy to use the Earth Friendly Baby Aloe Vera Wipes which are 100% biodegradable.
The full kit for terry towels contains:
- The terry nappy
- A washable fleece liner (or disposable paper liner which usually comes in the kit when you order them)
- A popo wrap – these come in different sizes and go on top of your terry towel. I would recommend XS for the newborn and then the one size from about 5kg (about 10lbs) onwards
- Boosters for the added absorbency
- Nappy nippas for fastening the towel
- Washable wipes
And that’s it.
Another incentive is the fact that you can claim some of the money back from the local council as part of a waste reduction scheme.
Of course, there are many more that are roughly shaped like disposables which are more expensive than the terries and take longer to dry. I haven’t tried any of them yet but I plan to do so as there are very good quality ones made from organic cotton or bamboo thread to suit all needs.
I am also advocating reusable swim nappies. I have used them the first time I have taken my daughter to the pool last week. I used to work as a lifeguard at the local pool and I’m also a baby swimming teacher and therefore I know about the number of nappies that end up in bins after just one session, that is the disposables the little ones were wearing and then the disposable swim nappies. After a baby and a toddler session, you would have an average of about 40 nappies after 10 pairs of parent/baby attending each class and that is just a small place in south-west Scotland.
If you are unsure, most suppliers offer a questionnaire to make the search for your ideal nappy easier.
So, go for it! It’s worth the extra bit of work (which, trust me is negligible)!