We’ve been using cloth nappies full time since Toby was seven weeks old. He wore them until potty training at three and a bit. With Gabe we started with cloth nappies at three days old and we’re still going strong 20 months later. But why choose cloth nappies? Starting out can be a bit of a minefield though so I thought I’d share a bit about our experience.
There are loads of reasons to choose cloth nappies over disposables.
There were two main reasons we chose cloth; firstly the cost. Estimates can vary but if your baby wears nappies until they are two and a half years old (and Toby did another whole year after that!) they will probably use between five and six thousand nappies! Disposable nappies do vary in price but if you take an average of 15p per nappy then you are looking at between £750 and £900 spent on nappies. Compare that to reusable nappies – again there is a variation in price; cloth nappies vary from the cheapest terry squares with a waterproof cover for a few pounds up to the more expensive nappies at nearly £20 each.
To use my own experience as an example, within the first couple of months of using cloth nappies I had spent around £300 on a variety of day and night nappies
This amount of nappies allowed me to wash every two or three days. I sometimes used the tumble drier but mostly my nappies were either dried outside on the line or in the airing cupboard overnight. The extra washing and drying adds around £50 a year to my electric bill. Even so the overall cost of £350 is still less than half that of using disposables in the first year of use. Added to that we also use washable wipes saving us another £150 or so!
We went on to have another baby and are still using the same nappies making another saving. I have added to our cloth nappy stash over the last few years. Having two children in cloth nappies for just over a year meant I needed more if I didn’t want to be washing every day. I have sold some of these on now I only have one in cloth again, and so have recouped some of the cost already. The only real disadvantage to cloth is that there can a big financial outlay at the beginning, although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using cloth part time as you build your stash, and you can also save money by buying pre-loved.
Saving the planet
The other main reason for us choosing cloth was environmental. Even before Toby was born I was concerned about the amount of waste we would be creating if we used disposable nappies. Approximately 8 million disposable nappies are sent to landfill in the UK every year and they take 200 years to decompose. Yes, there is an environmental cost to using cloth nappies – they still have to be manufactured and there is extra washing involved. But the impact on the environment of using cloth nappies is far less than using disposables in the long term. And if I wasn’t convinced by the waste argument, a few weeks of having a wheelie bin full of disposables soon confirmed it for me!
There are also several other reasons to choose cloth nappies. They are better for your baby. Disposables contain all sorts of chemicals which can find their way out of the nappy and on to your babies skin. Cloth nappies are soft and fluffy, and contrary to what you might have heard they don’t cause nappy rash. They are much better at containing poo-splosions than disposable nappies. And lastly, they’re just so damn cute!!
But what about the poo?
Despite all these benefits to cloth nappies, lots of people still seem to be put, usually for one of two reasons.
1. There’s a lot more work involved than in using disposables.
2. There’s somehow more contact with poo involved in using cloth nappies.
So let’s have a look at those two reasons. Firstly, they really aren’t much more work. Yes, you will have to do a few extra loads of washing a week but since Toby was born I seem to have been washing all the time anyway so it really doesn’t make that much difference. Other than that, it’s no harder to put a dirty nappy in the nappy bucket than it is to put a disposable in the bin.
Which brings us to the second reason – does using cloth nappies really mean you have to get up close and personal with baby poo?? Not really, no. We use fleece liners inside our nappies so I just pick it up by the edges, tip any solids in the loo and then the dirty liner goes in the nappy bucket. I use a mesh bag which goes inside the bucket so once the bucket is full I just lift the bag out and put the whole lot in the washing machine. So yes, I have to dispose of poo down the loo, but the only poo leaks we have ever had out of a cloth nappy were when Gabe was a newborn, so I’ve very rarely had to take poo covered clothes off my babies and clean them up, so probably, I’ve touched less baby poo than you have!
The used nappies go in a bucket (with a lid) that lives in the bathroom. There isn’t any solid waste in the buckey (that all went down the toilet, where poo belongs). If you use disposables you’ve probably got a wheelie bin sitting outside your back door with up to two weeks worth of dirty nappies sat in it. I know which smells worse!
So now we’ve got that out of the way; if you have decided you want to start using cloth nappies on your little one’s bum, what do you need?
In this post I look at how to choose the right cloth nappy for you and your baby.