One of things my husband and I decided – while still pregnant – was to use cloth nappies instead of disposables. We had different motivations- my husband didn’t want to waste money on disposables and I was concerned with the impacts disposables have on the environment. 12 months into our cloth nappy experience, I am sharing what we have learnt. Hopefully it will give you something to think about and show you it isn’t the hassle you might have expected.
People consider cloth nappies for a variety of reasons. Did you know a baby in disposable nappies sends 700kg of waste to landfill every year, where it sits, leaching toxic chemicals, for a very long time? Environment Victoria has this and other facts about disposables on their website. For price-sensitive individuals like my dear hubby, for example, you may be interested to know that you could spend between $2,500 and $4,000 on disposable nappies per child OR set yourself up with all the modern cloth nappies you need for a child (and subsequent children) for around $200 to $300. Modern cloth nappies are colourful, don’t require folding or safety pins and get mothers’ groups everywhere talking about how CUTE they look on little bottoms.
Cute and colourful bottoms
To get the full story of cloth nappies, you can do lots of research online. Web searches will reveal many modern cloth nappy suppliers and hordes of excited converts. Seriously, modern cloth nappy users can get pretty hardcore in their commitment to reusable nappies and spreading the word. If you would like to skip the web trawls and just hear some practical experience, please read these 7 tips I have found that work for us.
1. My Little Ripple modern cloth nappies are what we use. Sometimes referred to as ‘ebay cheapies’ these have worked for us ‘most of the time’. I could tell you stories about the ‘one that got away’ - but I’d be able to count these occasions on one hand. We got 30 nappies with inserts for $110, including postage. This was enough for us, washing daily or every second day. At 12 months we could get away with half this supply (see tip 6).
The nappy cover, insert and liner
2. If possible, get the nappies while you are pregnant. The inserts need to be washed and dried at least 7 times before you use them to make them absorbent enough for use. If you have time up your sleeve, you can add the inserts in with your regular loads.
Choose an appropriate washing detergent
3. We wash the nappies in AWARE sensitive powder, found at Woolworths. I read online about regular “strip” washes, and tried it once with several of the nappies, but haven’t found strip washes to be necessary. Drying on the clothesline gets rid of stains as well as saving energy and money. Pegging the nappies out white-side-up avoids fading too.
4. Every now and then (maybe 3 times in the first year), we had wet days where the nappies didn’t seem to be up to the job. After a nap, I’d be washing the nappy, plus pants and sometimes the sleeping bag too. It was at this time that I tried a strip wash and I experimented with 2 inserts in a nappy too. I guess my advice would be, don’t give up on the nappies if this happens to you. Using disposables for the rest of the day may be a convenient solution, but then give the cloth nappy a chance again the next day.
Liners make clean up easier
5. Originally we didn’t use liners, but now we use them all the time. I can confirm that liners are NOT flushable (learnt that the hard way - plumber bills cut into your cloth nappy savings!). Throw liners in a bin with your wipes. I reuse bread bags, keeping them at my change table for “soiled” liners – bag them up and contain the stink. I have tried scraping and hosing nappies down – techniques that got me way closer to excrement than needed – and have now reconciled to using liners. Big W sells liners.
6. We use huggies overnight. Somewhere around 4 months I decided 33 cents was a fair price to pay for more sleep. The disposable nappy didn’t magically cause sleeping through the night, but did mean less disruption.
7. We have a stash of Aldi nappies for daytime use when it is more convenient. By taking a relaxed approach to occasionally using disposables, we have made it over 12 months with mainly reusable nappies.
As you can see, I am quite mild and compromising in my approach to cloth nappying for the environment. If you’d like, you can use local nappies, reusable wipes and liners to lessen your impact. Or, if you are like me, motivated to use cloth nappies but not that hardcore, I hope that I have reassured you that you can still have a cheap, convenient and CUTE experience!
We too have made use of cloth nappies, but a little less now that I'm back at work 3 days/week. While pregnant we bought 3 different types: 6 Bambooty, 6 GroVia (snap-in inserts) and a dozen of the eBay 'el cheapos'. We also bought a dozen bamboo inserts to go with the el cheapos to provide additional absorbency. This proved to be a good idea.
The Bambooty were (and still are) a bit too big for our petite 14-month-old tot. The el cheapos have been great value, however the GroVia were the standout. Although a bit pricier, they fit our bub the best and the Velcro tabs make changing a wriggly baby a tad easier. They are essentially a waterproof cover (with cute designs of course!) with snap-in inserts that catch the mess. You can re-use the covers a few times in a day. The snap-in inserts are very easy, especially when #2s become a bit easier to deal with ;)
I would definitely recommend buying a few different types of fabric nappies, trying them out & buying a few extra of your faves if need be once your baby has arrived.