I knew I wanted to use cloth nappies, environmentally and financially they made a lot of sense for our family. I was really lucky that my sister-in-law had previously used them for my nephew, and was both a wealth of knowledge and also gifted us pretty much all of the nappies we could possibly need (and I am eternally grateful for that!).
Why choose cloth nappies?
1. They have saved us an absolute fortune. Even more so obviously in our case because we didn’t have the original outlay. Apparently babies need about fifteen nappy changes in the newborn stage, so even if you bought fifteen nappies brand new (which would be around £250 pounds), that is it. From birth to potty that’s you done. No more nappies forever. That includes subsequent babies too. I’m not daft enough to think that £250 up front is easy to find for everyone, because it isn’t, but I’ve just added two new nappies to our stash because I’ve found a couple of our Totsbots fit less well on Pippin now, and they were £16 for two secondhand. There are so many online groups for buying secondhand nappies, and you’re not only saving yourself money by doing that you’re also being even more environmentally friendly.
2. On average a baby will be in nappies for two and a half years. Obviously you aren’t changing fifteen nappies a day for all that time, but I can’t even begin to do the maths on the number of nappies you’re going to get through. Apparently there are around eight million nappies thrown away in the UK every day, that’s a lot, and they aren’t going anywhere. These nappies aren’t biodegradable, their components just sit there in landfill – indefinitely. Your child’s nappies will out live you, it’s an unpleasant thought. There’s been a much touted myth that cloth nappies are just as bad for the environment as disposable. Despite being much discredited due to problems with the sample size, what I would say to you is that the environmental cost of cloth nappies can be reduced by altering detergent, drying methods etc., however the environmental cost of disposables remains the same.
3. You’ll reduce your plastic consumption. Of course this falls under the environmental benefits, but I think it deserves a point all of its own. We all know the problems that our excessive love of plastic is causing our planet, and that we need to do something to reduce it. Cloth can do that. Disposables are plastic, in plastic, in plastic. Then they come wrapped in some more plastic.
4. You won’t have smelly nappies hanging round for up to two weeks. Pippin has a poo, I flush the waste down the toilet, sluice it and then put it in the nappy bin. That evening or the next day it goes into the wash and job’s done. In my area our black bin collection has reduced to every two weeks, you can get an extra bin collection if you have two or more children in nappies, but that doesn’t apply for most of us. So in the summer heat you can have nappies in a giant plastic box getting heated up. I wouldn’t want to open it!
5. You know what makes up your nappies, and what’s going on them. Disposable nappies have chemical gels in them, much like the ones you get in disposable sanitary products, that’s what makes them absorbent. Reusable nappies have a waterproof PUL outer, and then a combination of fabric inners to make them absorbent. That’s it.
Aren’t they expensive?
It’s a difficult one to answer. They can be. They biggest problem is that the outlay for cloth nappies is pretty much all in one go, and buying the things you need for your new baby can get expensive anyway. However the cost overall will be cheaper, buying disposables just allows you to spread that cost out a little bit more.
There are ways to reduce the initial cost. Asking family and friends to gift you some can be a good one, lots of people buy packets of disposables for new parents – just point them in the direction of the reusables instead! You can buy them second hand which cuts the cost significantly.
Some local authority areas offer cloth nappy schemes; this might take the form as a voucher to use towards buying your supplies, or a cloth nappy starter set. There are also hire schemes that allow you to try before you buy.