Nothing in this post is new as such, but I’m hoping that it might be new for someone. If you don’t think cloth is for you; if you think I’m crazy or “too” concerned about the environment (is there such thing?); if you don’t have kids but might in the future — just hear me out anyway. Give it a few minutes of thought.
Because things have changed. Using cloth nappies (or diapers) is not as hard as it used to be. Really. There’s no soaking, no folding, no plastic pilchers, and a lot less leaking.
As a brief intro to the method, I invite you to spot the difference:
|Put nappy on child||Put nappy on child|
|Take nappy off child when wet/soiled||Take nappy off child when wet/soiled|
|Place wet nappy in wet bag, or rinse first if soiled||Place wet nappy in bin, or place in nappy sack first if soiled|
|Empty wet bag into washing machine when full; turn on washing machine||Empty rubbish bin into council bin when full|
|Hang nappies in the sun to dry and disinfect; when dry, snap together and put away||Rush out madly to restock nappies when you’ve run out or they’re on sale|
The main reason why it’s so much easier is the materials used. Modern cloth nappies are made of bamboo or hemp (often organic, if that floats your boat) or microfleece; these are more absorbent and dry faster than the cotton squares that your parents may have used. They’re also shaped more like a disposable nappy and fasten with velcro or snaps, rather than dreaded safety pins. Wet bags contain the smell and eliminate the dangers of full nappy buckets for small, mobile children.
Yes, there’s some extra washing, but it’s not as though you need to take them down to the river and scrub them by hand. If you use cloth full-time, you’re looking at three extra washes per week, max; some people run the nappies on a rinse cycle first before adding other clothes.
The main benefits, apart from the obvious environmental ones, are a saving of thousands of dollars per child, and the elimination of some of the nasty chemicals used in disposables (eg, sodium polyacrylate [now banned from tampons] and various carcinogens such as dioxins). An appeal for some is how cute and colourful they are; so much nicer than being covered with the same generic cartoons every time.
There’s a bewildering array of brands and styles that suit different needs and tastes, and that’s why trying before you buy makes sense. Many companies offer trial packs and there is even a nappy library. I’ve been availing myself of the latter (and have paid for the service, for anyone watching for conflicts of interest). I considered reviewing the brands I’ve tried so far, but decided it’s overload. Just ask me if you’re interested.