This time last year we started using cloth nappies. Bee was 8 months old. We had intended to try them very early on, but in the haze of first time parenthood they fell way down the list of priorities, somewhere beneath sleep and personal hygiene. But I wish we had revisited the idea sooner. When we finally took the step we found it far easier than expected. With borrowed nappies and advice from a new friend, not forgetting the local nappy library, we figured out a system that worked for us and Bee.
In celebration of our 1 year, cloth bum anniversary I’ve rounded-up 7 myths about cloth nappies that may be putting you off.
Cloth Nappies are Expensive
Initially, yes, it can feel like quite an outlay. And certainly if you fall victim to the cloth bum addiction that most do, then you can spend quite a few pennies on new designs and patterns. But in the long-term, cloth nappies are cheaper than disposables, especially if you use them for more than one child. It’s definitely worth using a Nappy Library to find the right system for your baby, before you spend money. And of course, looking out for promotions, like Real Nappy Week can get you big savings. It’s also good to remember, that well cared for cloth nappies have a very good resale value.
Cloth Nappies Involve Lots of Work
Admittedly they do take more effort than something you take out of a packet and throw in the bin afterwards. But is it lots of work? Not at all. We do 3-4 nappy washes a week. We’ve developed a system of hanging, drying and stuffing that is the least amount of effort for us. Personally, we believe that the small increase in laundry is tiny in comparison to the benefits of reusable nappies. I’ve actually come to really enjoy stuffing nappies of an evening, whilst catching up on my favourite television.
Cloth Nappies Need Changing More
Disposable nappies are designed to draw moisture away from baby’s bum. To do this as effectively as they do, they are lined with super-absorbant polymers, made with a combination of chemicals like sodium hydrochloride, acrylic acid and chlorine. Research says that trace amounts of these chemicals reach baby’s skin, although claim that the levels are not harmful. Cloth nappies use more natural methods to absorb urine and wick moisture away from the skin, that pose no fraction of worry to a baby’s bottom. Boosted cloth nappies can go a good few hours, and to be honest that’s really enough. Changing a baby’s nappy more often can only be a good thing, I wouldn’t want to sat in cold wee for very long, especially if there were chemicals in the mix too.
Cloth Nappies Keep Bottoms Wet and Cause Rashes
The non-absorbent properties of fleece make it an excellent wicking layer to line cloth nappies with. Urine passes through into the absorbent core but is prevented from sitting next to the baby’s skin. There is no wetness.
Nappy rash is primarily caused by the reaction between poo and wee. There is no evidence to suggest that nappy choice has any effect. They key to preventing nappy rash is regular changing, something that comes with the territory of cloth nappies.
Cloth Nappies are Unhygienic
As parents we come to realise that we all share the same family bugs (eat of each others plates, share ice creams, towels and baths etc) so washing nappies at 40°C is generally enough, with the occasional 60°C every now and again. Nappies used on newborn and ill children should always be washed at 60°C, which is sufficient to rid them of bacteria. We store our used nappies in a lidded bin and wash every other day, so they never really build up a stink, unlike disposables which can be sitting in your outside bin for weeks. The poo scrape or flick does take a little getting used to, especially if you breastfeed, but a good hand-washing afterwards (which you’d do after changing a disposable anyway) is all that is needed.
Cloth Nappies are Not Really Environmental
Cloth nappies pose different environmental challenges to disposable nappies. Disposable nappies end up in landfill, they take hundreds of years to degrade, and their manufacture has a huge impact on the environment. Disposable nappies use three and a half times more energy to make than cloth nappies. Cloth nappies use energy in the cleaning process, but the type of people who chose reusable nappies, tend to also wash laundry in a more environmentally friendly manner – 40°C not 60°C, energy-efficient machines, full loads, and line drying. Users have no control over the environmental impact of disposable nappies, but cloth nappy families can choose more environmental ways to lessen the impact.
Cloth Nappies Make Finding Clothes Harder
As disposable nappies have come more the norm, the design of baby clothes has changed. Less fabric is needed and more slimline designs are created. But there are still plenty of baby clothes that will fit over a cloth bum. Sometimes you have to go up a size, as we do with sleep suits, but generally you simply learn what styles will work, in the same way you know what shapes suit your own body. Roomy trousers and dungarees, tights and wool leggings are always winners. There are also cut for cloth brands, Frugi is my favourite, that are reason enough to use reusable nappies. We’ve also found that vintage baby clothes, from the charity shop or attic, also fit a treat.
We are so glad we switched to cloth nappies. I feel happier knowing that Bee is comfortable, with no chemicals or clammy, non-fabric material next to her skin (I remember those awful maternity pads). I love that we are lessening our impact on the environment, and my bank account loves that we are lessening the impact on our finances. Cloth bums look so cute, and there are so many really lovely nappy designs and patterns. Sometimes, all it takes is the joy of picking out your favourite pattern to brighten up a poo-y day. Sorry 🙂
Real Nappy Week runs between 24th – 30th April. Look out for promotions, competitions and discounts across online stores and social media.