If you’re anything like me, you might have received a few funny looks from people when you tell them that you are planning to or that you currently are using modern cloth nappies.
I remember the sceptical look from some people when I was pregnant (to be fair this was balanced out by a fair amount of support too). This look very clearly communicated a ‘try it and see how much you enjoy the hard work’ view while silently nodding and smiling.
I think my favourite was the shop attendant who told me modern cloth nappies leaked and that I should just use disposables for the first little while till I was able to get on my feet with being a Mum. While I understand that advice was well intentioned in hindsight it couldn’t have been further from the truth for me.
I’ve had strangers ask me ‘what kind of nappy is that?’ and some have seen them and commented ‘you’re using those re-usable nappies!
All this has led me to give some significant thought about the perception society has about nappies and how we ended up where we are. The only answer I can come up with is that for the past 20 years or so we have been bombarded with some pretty savvy marketing messages from big brands with huge marketing budgets. So bombarded that many of us now believe the only choice we have is which brand of disposable to buy at the supermarket.
Would it be fair to say that 10 or 15 years ago the cloth nappy had all but been forgotten about by the majority of us? I’d say so, in fact I’d go so far as to say that even today at least half of all parents-to-be possibly have not heard of or even considered using cloth nappies for their family.
That’s really interesting when you consider that using cloth nappies will actually save a family thousands of dollars. A friend of mine recently told me she spends $40 per week in her grocery shop on nappies for two children. I couldn’t believe it, while I’m sure that you can buy disposables each week for less than that; it is still a lot of money for a family who most likely is on a single income.
The modern cloth nappy might be on total 15-20mins of extra work per week. Although when you factor in how much disposables can leak and the extra washing and changing required the workload probably evens out.
Modern Cloth Nappies have had a bit of a makeover in recent times. It’s no longer a case of origami folding terry cotton squares and nappy pins. Cloth nappies look similar in design to disposables and are just as easy to put on. They can be used 300 or more times and are often used on multiple children.
Modern Cloth nappies come in five main styles:
All in One – all absorbency built into the nappy which comes complete with a waterproof cover. Usually has a stay dry layer to draw away moisture.
All in Two – absorbent inserts that snap into the waterproof cover. The cover can be used again on another set of inserts as long as it’s not dirty.
Pocket – absorbent inserts are placed into a pocket opening in a waterproof cover. The inserts sit under a layer of material that draws moisture away and keeps bottoms dry.
Fitted – The whole nappy is made of absorbent material and needs a separate waterproof cover. Usually considered bombproof and particularly good for heavy wetters.
Prefolds – square cloth with layers of absorbency sewn in. You can fold it in different ways to use. The most similar to old style terry cotton squares. A separate waterproof cover is needed.
I realise I’ve already said this but I’m going to say it again – they will save your family thousands of dollars over the course of one or two children. There still seems to be a bit of scepticism about how much you can actually save. Also this belief that you must pay an $800 set up fee up front, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Most parents using cloth spread their purchasing out over time, starting before their baby is born and buying bits and pieces as they go on. There is also a thriving second hand nappy market so most families actually recoup some of their costs when their children are out of nappies.
Many parents report less instances of nappy rash when using cloth nappies. This could have something to do with how well the materials used in nappies breathe and having natural fibres against delicate baby skin. Disposables contain a whole concoction of synthetic chemicals in their makeup. Some of which have been banned in feminine hygiene products.
On average using cloth nappies on one child will also save more 6000 disposables and two tonnes of waste going to landfill. Not to mention the environmental impact of manufacturing disposable nappies. Reputable cloth nappy companies are incredibly environmentally conscious and go to great lengths to make sure their product is created sustainably. From the organic cotton and bamboo they use to the factories producing the nappies. Branded cloth nappies are produced fairly and conscientiously.
Cloth nappies are specifically designed not to leak. One of the many big plusses about them in my humble opinion. I’ve seen newborn disposables leak right out the leg, and you can probably count yourself lucky if they manage to contain the feared poo-splosion. I really enjoy not having to carry around spare sets of clothing in my nappy bag ‘just in case’. I’m not saying that no one never had a leak while using a cloth nappy. What I will say is that there is usually a very good reason a cloth nappy leaks. Incorrect fit, not enough absorbency or the nappy being on too long are the main culprits. Once you nail these three things you are pretty much set.
Parenting decisions are a very personal thing, and each family will choose what feels right for them. All in all cloth nappies allow families to have a choice. They are a low cost environmentally friendly alternative to throw away convenience products. The thing is you honestly just have to give them a go; you might be surprised how easy they actually are.