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It never crossed my mind to use cloth nappies until I came across this amazing book a couple of years ago.
I had never even thought there were any options other than disposables, except in the “olden days” when nappies were folded and attached with safety pins, making the prospect seem
terrifying more than a little daunting for every nappy change!
So, being me, I immediately started doing a lot of research. And I was blown away by how far cloth nappies have come since the cloth and safety pin days. Suddenly I was looking at being able to spend just £100 upfront for 20 reusable nappies and liners which would be just as easy to use as disposables. They were nappies that would last until potty training, not just for my first child, but for any subsequent ones as well! The savings were so huge that I couldn’t stop myself, so I bought them.
And I haven’t looked back.
My husband and I were a little daunted despite all of our research, so we decided that we would ease ourselves into it and start off for the first couple of months with disposables. But within a couple of weeks, we tried reusables out and found that they were incredibly easy to use and we actually had fewer leakages with them, so we relatively quickly switched to them.
It’s not all been plain sailing – it probably took us at least 2-3 months of trying to become really comfortable with them. So if you have tried or intend to try them for just a few weeks before deciding whether or not they are for you, I would encourage you to give them a full trial of several months, because it really is worth it in the end!
We still use special nighttime disposables for nights (see comments on this below), and we more often than not will use disposables when we go away (more for other people’s sake than our own – we don’t often feel right asking them to wash our daughter’s nappies for us if we are staying for more than a couple of days!).
So, 5 months on, here are some of our thoughts on the pros and cons of cloth nappies (Erin goes into far more detail in the book that converted me, giving statistics and research!):
1. They are much cheaper.
They last a long time, which means you can reuse nappies with more than one child, and even buy them second-hand from other people. And yes, there is the cost of washing to factor in, but unless your washing costs are astronomical, when you actually compare the overall costings, it is far cheaper to only have to buy one set of nappies and wash them every few days than to keep buying hundreds, even thousands, over the years.
2. They are environmentally-friendly, or at least far more so, than their disposable counterparts!
Again, you have to take washing into account of this, but the comparatively small amount of water being used compared to the immense amount of disposables thrown onto landfills every year, is simply far better for the environment!
3. They work better (at least this is our experience of them!).
My husband has been won over by this in particular. We have been pleasantly surprised by how much better cloth nappies have worked. We have actually only had one ‘leakage’ with reusables, while we have had several with disposables, as they are smaller and have less padding, so they can contain less. We were also worried that our daughter may get more nappy rash with reusables, but actually the worst nappy rash we’ve had has been with the disposables we’ve used.
And they have only got easier and more effective with time. Now that G is on solids and so the poos *ahem* are
less explosive more solid, they are even easier and less messy to deal with. And easier to clean as well!
4. They are just as easy to use as disposables.
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology and skills, cloth nappies have basically become the same as disposable nappies, but reusable! They take minutes to assemble after washing and drying, then you literally just put them on your baby as you would a disposable. Easy! And even if you are a little squeamish, like me, just make sure you add some bio-degradable/flushable liners to them, and it really is no more messy than using disposables – you just remove the liner with a wipe and flush/bin it, then discard the nappy into the wash as you would put a disposable in the bin!
5. They last. A LONG time!
This is part of why they are so much cheaper and better for the environment overall. You can even buy them second or third-hand, because they last for such a very long time. You can use them with multiple children, and you can use the same nappies from birth to potty-training.
1. They haven’t worked as well for us at nighttimes.
We use nighttime disposable nappies, although this is partly because we have been blessed with an amazing night sleeper who has been doing 12 hours at night since 11 weeks (more on how we achieved this to follow!). As a result, there eventually came a period where neither disposables nor reusables were enough to hold a whole night’s wee! As a result, we decided that switching to nighttime nappies was best. There is actually a nighttime booster for the reusable nappies we use, but it makes the nappies so bulky that they start to become difficult with her nighttime clothes, especially in the winter when we want her to be more covered.
2. The amount of washing needed!
This is probably the biggest downside and the one that puts most people off. But we are in a small flat with minimal drying space, and we have actually found it manageable. The bills have not been astronomical, in fact, they haven’t been much more than usual. And we have found that even when we have had to go back to disposables for a couple of days for whatever reason, we still seem to be doing almost as much washing anyway! So actually, it doesn’t make a huge difference to us. Logically, the more nappies you buy, the less often you have to wash them, so it is worth spending a little more upfront if you want to space out the washes more. But we tend to wash ours every 2-4 days, and we have 20.
3. They can be quite bulky.
Although I have to say, I really noticed this at first, but I no longer notice it! It may mean moving up a size in clothing a couple of weeks earlier than usual, but on the whole it has really made no difference. In fact, it only looks cuter after a while! 🙂
4. They can be tricky with newborns.
We moved to reusables quicker than expected, but when you are dealing with a tiny tiny baby (up to about 12 weeks) you are changing them a lot and that can mean a lot more changes. They are also more messy… We simply bought a big multi-pack of disposables to help see us through that period so that we could switch as needed and ease ourselves into it.
As a final note, I wanted to say that washing the nappies (and all of our laundry!) has been made both much easier and far far cheaper by purchasing the EcoEgg. Not only is it environmentally-friendly, but it is much cheaper to buy one EcoEgg for £16.99 that will last a family of four 3 years (720 washes) than it is to keep buying laundry detergents. It is also free of chemicals, so is better for you and your family’s skin and general health. And it is really easy to use – you literally just place it on top of your washing and you’re good to go.
If you do get it, I would recommend getting their stain remover as well, as the EcoEgg on its own does not get out difficult stains, but this stuff is designed to go with it and is incredibly effective! And if you are like me and like clothes to smell “fresh” but not artificially so when coming out of the washing machine, then try adding a few drops of an essential oil (we use lavender) to the tray. Works wonders!
If you are interested – these are the nappies we use. We bought ours second-hand off eBay for £100 for 20 and they have been more than sufficient. But even if we had not found such a great deal, we would have paid Amazon’s £329 (or these for £289) for the 20-pack, as that is still an enormous saving compared to disposables!
It is also worth bearing in mind that there are schemes that exist within local councils that give bursaries and freebies to allow you to purchase cloth nappies, as obviously the environmental impact is a great one and many councils are behind it. Have a look here to see if you can find one that may apply to you. We also took part in a local children’s centre scheme when we were considering whether to use them or not – you can borrow some nappies to try out before you commit to buying your own.