I’ll be honest…just a year ago I was a little unsure about the ‘cloth nappy’ resurgence. I had this image in my mind that cloth nappies were smelly, that they leaked and that parents would CONSTANTLY be washing the nappies and poo would get on everything.
Through my work as a Midwife and Child Health Nurse I have seen quite a few Modern Cloth Nappies and plenty of disposable nappies. I have chatted with Mums and Dads first hand about their experiences using both of these nappy options with their little ones and was inspired to write a mammoth post comparing cloth and disposable and well as how to use cloth nappies.
I hope that this article helps provide clarity if you're trying to decide what cloth nappy system to use. If you have friends or family that are wondering about nappies - be sure to share the link to this article so that too can get lots of helpful information!
A little summary of the PRO's and CON's of disposable and cloth:
Modern Cloth Nappies
-Reduced impact on environment (reduces waste & conserves energy)
-Support small local business
-Loads of amazing designs
- Require washing
- More expensive initially
- Take some getting used to
-Easy to use
-No washing required
-Impact on our environment
-Regular purchasing required
-May contain toxic chemicals
-Require new sizes as the child grows
HOW MANY NAPPIES DOES A LITTLE ONE USE?
Newborns require nappy changes much more frequently than older children. Regardless of the age of your child, they all require multiple nappy changes per day and this is something to consider when planning how many nappies you will need!
- Newborn babies on average require 10-12 nappy changes per day
- A 3 to 6 month old on average requires 8-10 nappy changes per day
- Once a child is 6+ months on average a child requires 6-8 nappy changes per day
I'M INTERESTED IN USING CLOTH NAPPIES BUT HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY I NEED TO GET STARTED?
Using cloth nappies is an investment in the beginning. Try not to be overwhelmed by the average start up cost as you will absolutely save LOADS of money in the long run.
If you are planning on using cloth nappies FULL TIME with one child – generally having between 20 – 30 cloth nappies is ideal.
Once your baby is born and you get used to using cloth you may find you want to add in some quick drying cloth nappies or extra absorbent cloth night nappies (or bamboo night liners which can be found at our website).
If you are planning on using cloth nappies PART TIME with one child – generally starting with 5 or 10 cloth nappies is a good amount and you can build up the supply from there. You might find you want to use a couple of cloth nappies per day or just use cloth nappies a couple of days per week – see how you go.
WHAT CLOTH NAPPY OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
Cloth or terry squares
These type of cloth nappies are made from liquid absorbing fabric (such as flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo or a blend of these). These nappies are designed to fit snug but do work best with a leak-proof cover to reduce leakage. They are a little more bulky than some of the more modern varieties. These work by being folded or fastened with old school clips or pins. The benefits? Super quick to dry. Cheapest option available. They fit all ages.
This variety of cloth nappy is made up of layers of fabric, such as cotton or bamboo. They are cleverly folded over into a pad shape and then put inside a fitted, leak-proof cover. This type of nappy is not bulky in its design however they are not as absorbent as other types of cloth nappies.You might need two or three different sizes. The benefits? Pre-folds are quite cheap.They dry quite quickly.
These are also known as contoured or shaped nappies. This variety are made of layers of cotton, fleece, hemp or bamboo. These nappies are used with a leak-proof cover and commonly fasten with either velcro or press studs. Some of these nappies have an absorbent insert. These nappies tend to be slower to dry and are often more expensive than cloth squares and pre-folds. The benefits? They often come in one-size-fits most as well as other sizes. They’re easy to change.
These cloth nappies are designed with a leak-proof outer shell that is sewn together with a soft inner layer. There are handy inserts in the ‘pocket’ between the shell and the inner layer to absorb liquid. Inserts are made of different materials, which absorb varying amounts of liquid. You do need to take out the inserts before washing and put them back in after. The benefits? Easy to use and quick to dry. They come in one-size-fits-most and different sizes.
The all-in-ones have both a water-resistant outside layer sewn together with an absorbent inner layer, so there’s no need for a cover or different layers. These nappies are shaped and can be secured with velcro, clips or press studs. These can be slow to dry. The benefits? They’re simple to use.
All-in-twos or ‘snap-in-ones’
These cloth nappies have a leak-proof outer layer and one or more absorbent ‘snap-in’ layers or ‘boosters’, which you take apart for washing. The benefits? These dry faster than all-in-ones.
(Information from the Raising Children's Website - http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/choosing_nappies.html)
HOW MUCH CAN YOU SAVE BY USING CLOTH NAPPIES?
You absolutely will SAVE money by using cloth nappies. Lets be honest, who wants to pay MORE than necessary just to dispose of POO AND WEE?! The savings are amazing, particularly if you have multiple children and re-use the cloth nappies with each child.
The cost of using disposable nappies per child until they are toilet trained is approximately $3500 - $4000 compared with modern cloth nappies which totals approximately $1000 (including cleaning and liners!).
Let’s consider a family of 4 children. If the parents opt to use Modern Cloth Nappies for all 4 children, then the total cost of would be around $3000 by the time the youngest child is out of nappies. Let’s compare that with a family using only disposable nappies for all 4 children – a whopping $16,000 by the time the youngest child is toilet trained. That’s a MASSIVE $13,000 difference in cost purely depending on which nappies you choose to use with your children. You could put those savings towards something much more exciting than nappies.
SO ARE CLOTH NAPPIES ACTUALLY ANY BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
With almost 800 MILLION disposable nappies ending up in landfill each year in Australia, its surely worth looking at the other options available to reduce the impact that this is having on our planet.
In 2009, a study by the University of Queensland School of Environmental Engineering considered the impact of disposable vs reusable nappies (they considered water use, energy use and solid waste). Below is a little summary of some of the findings.
Disposable nappies once emptied into landfill take around 200 to 500 years to break down. A common argument I hear against using cloth nappies is that you use so much water and energy to clean them that it must outweigh the benefits. WRONG. The energy and water required to make disposable nappies is FAR greater than that of reusable nappies. Based on solid waste and energy – reusable nappies are much more beneficial for the environment and if washed efficiently they actually SAVE water compared with disposable nappies. For water efficiency performance it has been shown that washing reusable nappies in a front loading machine is the best choice.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN AND HANDLE CLOTH NAPPIES?
One of the common misconceptions with using cloth nappies is that you'll be forever washing and having to touch lots of poo and wee. Let us de-bunk some of those myths and explain how to handle and clean cloth nappies.
When they've done a NUMBER 1: Simply remove from baby, store in a dry, lidded bucket. Wash.
When a newborn has done a NUMBER 2: Just the same as above! (newborn poos are often runny and yellow)
When there is a SOLID NUMBER 2: Tip rolling number 2's into the toilet, store in a dry, lidded bucket. Wash. To make it even easier you can get flush liners to apply to the nappy before fitting (these are available in 100% bamboo fibre & biodegradable), flush away liner and the number 2 - the nappy should be totally mess free and ready to wash.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN WE ARE OUT AND ABOUT? This is SUPER simple - get yourself a waterproof wet bag (coming soon to Ever Nurture). If you are near a toilet when out and about - top solids into the toilet, if not just roll up the nappy and fasten with a snap clip. Place the soiled nappy in the waterproof wet bag (these ensure your bag won't stink or get messy!) and then wash as usual once you're home.
HOW DO I WASH THE CLOTH NAPPIES? This depends on what brand of cloth nappy you are using - the brand should provide washing instructions so just check this first.
For Eco Naps Modern Cloth Nappies the following washing instructions apply:
1. Full rinse cycle
2. Warm wash, no hotter than 60 degrees with a full dose of detergent
3. Line dry for best results or in a tumble dryer on cool
HOW OFTEN TO WASH THE NAPPIES: Once you have built up enough cloth nappies in the bucket for a load then you can wash them!
DO YOU CHANGE THE ENTIRE NAPPY EACH NAPPY CHANGE? Yes. The Eco Naps brand of Modern Cloth Nappies that Ever Nurture loves are lined with a stay-dry suede cloth to keep baby feeling comfortable and dry, even after doing a wee. It is important that each nappy cover as well as the absorbent inserts are washed after EACH USE to keep them hygienic.
PRODUCTS TO AVOID USING: When washing your Modern Cloth Nappies - avoid using softeners as these coat the fabric and can reduce absorbency. We also recommend avoiding bleach as this breaks down the waterproofing barrier on the nappy.
WHAT ABOUT STAINS? Eco Naps Modern Cloth Nappies are made from STAIN RESISTANT fabric - wash as directed, hang out to dry in natural sunlight and the nappies will remain stain free.
NOTE: If you are using OIL BASED nappy rash creams - be sure you add a mess free liner to the nappy to prevent build up as this can reduce absorbency over time. If you'de rather not use the liners - simply use a non-oil based nappy rash cream.
HOW LONG CAN A BABY WEAR A CLOTH NAPPY BEFORE IT SHOULD BE CHANGED?
The EcoNaps 3 in 1 Modern Cloth Nappies which can be found online at our website are designed to be worn for the same length of time as a disposable nappy during the daytime.
Overnight, some babies may require a little extra absorption to last throughout the night. You can find Bamboo Boosters and Tri-Fold Bamboo Night Boosters online at Ever Nurture which will help add extra absorbency to your little ones nappy and prevent leakage.
WE LOVE ECO NAPS MODERN CLOTH NAPPIES.
You can find EcoNaps Modern Cloth Nappies at Ever Nurture. EcoNaps is an Australian based brand that specialise in beautiful hand designed Modern Cloth Nappies as well as a heap of other handy baby and mumma essentials.
We love Eco Naps for the fact that they collaborate with local artists and designers in Byron Bay – hence why the prints displayed on their nappies are so CUTE. Oh and their Modern Cloth Nappies are so cleverly designed and get raving reviews from parents. Eco Naps Modern Cloth Nappies fit approximately 3.5kg – 16kg making them PERFECT for use with newborns through to busy active toddlers.
CLICK THE NAPPIES BELOW TO SHOP:
We all have a responsibility to reduce our footprint on this earth and using a more eco-friendly nappy option is one small way to make a difference. Even if you aren't keen to use cloth nappies 24/7 - you can reduce the impact on the environment by just using them with your little ones some of the time.