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January 4th, 2017 – Sharmilla: LGR Fan
Re-use, no refuse: why we’ve chosen cloth nappies
My name is Sharmila and I’m Eliot’s mum. I’m also an ecowarrior… Okay, perhaps ecowarrior is overstating the mark a teensy bit, but I try to do my bit. So, when I found out I was pregnant I wanted to make sure this particular pitter patter of tiny feet wasn’t going to leave behind a trail of enormous carbon footprints. Having heard the estimates that disposable nappes may take between 250 and 500 years to decompose, investigating reusable nappies seemed to be the way forward.
My research unearthed some persuasive information about costs. While there’s an initial outlay when using cloth nappies (perhaps between £100-250 for twenty), on average, parents will spend well over £1000 on disposable nappies, wipes, nappy bags and so on.
There are counter arguments on both cost and environmental factors. Extra loads of laundry will consume more energy and water whilst driving up utility bills, particularly if you use a tumble dryer as well. However, the statistics on increased costs generally refer to 90° washes and most modern reusable nappies advise washing at 40°. As to the extra washes, well, I figure that once the baby comes along the washer and dryer will be running a lot more in any case.
At a local National Childbirth Trust event, my district council gave me a free sample nappy and explained their scheme to reimburse parents up to £30 on reusable nappy costs. A volunteer-run nappy library in my area loans out trial packs of different styles. This seems great, as I do find all the different nappy systems a little daunting. There are pocket nappies, all-in-ones, all-in-twos and of course, traditional terry towels – but even these have been jazzed up, with sharp, pointy nappy pins thankfully a thing of the past. The nappy library volunteers suggested that we shouldn’t worry about getting to grips with reusable nappies when we’re getting used to life with our newborn. We took their advice and planned the switch to reusables after a couple of weeks.
Our loan is arranged to begin a day before my due date, which seems fine to us, as we’re 100% certain that this baby will be late –oh, and a boy. Needless to say, she – yes, a girl called Eliot – arrives four days early!
It became apparent that rearranging our nappy loan was a challenge we simply didn’t need at that point. My husband got on the case. There is a boom trade online in second-hand nappies. He read some reviews and tracked down a few of the best-rated styles for about £20 in all. All are B2P or birth-to-potty; nappy jargon meaning they are size adjustable – not all cloth nappies are. We went for two types; pocket style, where the outer part is made of waterproof material, the inner lining of microfibre fleece and you slot a washable pad in between the two. The other is a two-part nappy, where the absorbent lining is attached to the waterproof outer shell with poppers.
So, at one month, Eliot is a convert to reusable nappies. Conclusions so far: the washing machine and tumble dryer appear to be running constantly, but that was to be expected. The nappies themselves are incredibly easy to use – I could have used them from day one no problem. And, having shopped around for deals and picking up some pre-loved bargains, we’ve spent about £220 on a batch of nappies that should see Eliot through to toddlerhood. Considering we went through about eight to ten disposables a day during the first fortnight, they are starting to feel like a very worthwhile investment. As for being more eco-friendly, all I can say is prior to Eliot’s arrival, we were sending one half-empty bag of rubbish to landfill every week. With disposable nappies, our amount of non-recyclable rubbish more than doubles. It’s early days, for sure, but with reusable nappies I feel like Eliot has at least earnt her stripes as an eco-cadet!
— January 25th, 2017 —
The bottom line on reusable nappies
A while back I blogged about why I decided to use cloth nappies on my daughter Eliot. She’s now eight months old so here’s a timely update on the state of her bum, and whether it’s as smooth as it ought to be.
Initially we experimented with a number of different types and brands. After a few weeks though, Eliot’s dad and I noticed that whenever we heard the Code Brown klaxon, we would reassure each other by saying ‘It’s okay, she’s in a Pop-In’. Of all the nappy types we tried, Close Parent Pop-Ins were the most consistently leak-proof – and indeed performed better than disposables during those early, runny days (sorry to be graphic, but we are talking about nappies!).
The Pop-In is easy to use and wash. Their bamboo fibre liners are super absorbent, but do take a while to dry naturally. Containment is excellent. And an unexpected bonus – snapping the liners onto the outer wraps is as satisfying as popping bubble wrap, but far more constructive. On days when you haven’t scraped the breakfast oatmeal off the walls and forgot it was Extra Special Sparkly Sensory Play day at the community centre, a few minutes spent snapping together your Pop-Ins makes you feel like you’ve achieved something.
If you’re not sure that cloth nappies are for you, I would still highly recommend investing in a pack of reusable wipes. Cheeky Wipes are blooming brilliant little microfibre squares that are about a zillion times more effective at cleaning your newborn’s behind than the recommended cotton wool and water. I don’t know how many bags of cotton wool we would have had to go through without these wipes.
We also tried a few different pocket style nappies, but found sizing to be a real issue. Some types gaped round the legs while others offered very fiddly ways of adjusting the size – I felt like I was spending too much time messing about with elastic. However, the Little Lambs pocket nappy has provided a good fit throughout the last few months – but with all pocket nappies, you do need to change them quite frequently as wetness quickly seeps through.
We do use disposables when we are out and about, but leaks which necessitate an entire change of clothes have left me wondering if lugging a soiled nappy about is any more trouble. But don’t get me wrong – I definitely have days when I can’t face another load of laundry, so into a disposable she goes. (By the way, a top laundry tip for dealing with ‘stubborn’ stains: you’ll see lots of online advice to bleach stains in sunlight. Back in the winter, they might as well have suggested drying them with the breath of a pink unicorn. However, even on an overcast day, the UV rays do the trick and lift those skidmarks right out. Honestly, it works better than any amount of detergent.)
Ultimately, I really would recommend trying reusables to see how you get on. And there’s no need for an all or nothing approach. I picked up a great tip from another mum, who boosted disposables with reusable liners. There are so many benefits – environmental, economic and practical. In short, for a happy baby bum, use a cloth nappy mum (and dad, too, of course)!