It’s one of those things that has been on my mind for a long time, the volume of nappies we have gone through in the last 7 years between the ladies is nothing short of shocking. Our bin destined for landfill felt as if it was 50% household waste and 50% nappies most of the time. I had thought about going reusable when Lucy was small but then it transpired she had a dairy allergy and lets just say I didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm for that level of washing!
But then Alice came along and I thought about it again and researched the possibility, cloth nappies are far more commonly used nowadays and although sometimes it can seem daunting to try and root out the information that you need. And then just as I was doing that the All-in-one cloth nappies from Bambino Mio appeared in my local Aldi like they do from time to time on special buy and I thought well there’s the sign I need to start. So I started with three and I went from there. I have to admit even when I started I was half sceptical about how I would make it work, I was pretty determined to make it work but at the same time I don’t have the energy to add to my already pretty full workload so I said I’d start with three and go from there. I would say that even if you are half interested in cloth nappies remember you don’t have to go the whole hog to start with, get a couple, even one and use it when you can, see how you find it and that’s a good way to start. The nappies aren’t cheap so to start out if you wanted to totally switch it is a bit of an investment (probably the guts of about €150) so start small. Even if you just used one cloth nappy twice a week that’s 104 in the year, visualise that and it’s still a decent mound of disposable nappies that have been saved from going to landfill! Now we’re about 4 months on and I have 15 cloth nappies and I am totally sold!
Which nappy? This is obviously a personal decision and you can look online and find comparisons for them all, also you can do a trial run with Cloth Nappy Ireland which I did, for €25 they send you a big bag of loads of different types of cloth nappies and you have them for about 3 weeks to try out so you can see which one you like best. I started out with the Bambino Mio Miosolo All-in-one nappy which basically means that it has a waterproof outer layer and then the absorbent layer is on the inside. I find these handy for me because it’s just one nappy I have to sort out each time (some nappies are seperate in that you have the outer layer which you can reuse a few times before washing and the inner layer then you change). I also find that these nappies dry really quickly and from what I can read online that is one of their huge advantages over most other nappies. Plus they are adorable the designs on them.
How do you deal with poo!? Probably the most frequently asked question online, is how do I deal with poo! So there is an option to buy a liner (almost like a dry wipe that comes in a roll of 50 from Bambino Mio but you can get them lots of other places online too) and you place that between the nappy and the baby’s bum to catch the poo before it gets stuck into the nappy. I have a roll and I use them, I find them only ok though, they do tend to often miss bits which sort of defeats the purpose so what I did do was cut up a thin fleece blanket into stripes that were larger and I’ve started using them, I like the fleece because I feel it draws the moisture away from her bum a bit better than just the nappy itself and also it catches everything because I was able to cut them to a size I wanted. Then I simply tip the poo into the toilet or if it needs a bit of a scrub I pop it into a basin of water (don’t use any stain removers on your nappies as it can ruin the fabric over time) and a quick scrub after a bit of a soak and straight into the washing machine. May sounds a like a bit of effort but it’s usually only once a day and now I barely notice doing it. How do you wash the nappies? Funnily washing the nappies has actually made a big difference to my least favourite task and that is doing the washing. I used to hate it so much I used to end up leaving it pile up until the weekend when my husband could help me but then it was so overwhelming it just added to my hatred. So now because I don’t want to leave a sed cloth nappy hanging around for days I tend to do a wash every second day which means that I can keep on top of everything a bit better and it’s a steady stream rather than a mountain.
The guidelines for the cloth nappies I have say to use a non-bio powder and to wash and either 40 or 60 degrees. I had read a bit online saying that bio powders are better at getting out stains so I switched (and I know ‘general consensus’ suggests that non-bio powders are ‘kinder’ on babys skin but this actually has no grounding in science, both powders are perfectly fine) to using a bio powder and I do find it better for cleaning so I’m going to stick with that. I just pull the inner core out of the nappy and pop it in with the rest of the washing. It is advised that you don’t use a fabric softener when washing the cloth nappies. How many nappies do you need? I have I think 15 nappies now which is plenty, I go through about 4 or 5 with Alice each day (we put her in a disposable at night, I tired a reuseable with an extra insert but it wasn’t good enough) so that gives me about two days to wash and dry them which so far I have managed perfectly.
Out and about? I have disposable nappies for out and about purely because I have them in the car, in my bag, in the buggy etc and therefore it’s usually one less thing to worry about having to gather up before I leave the house, if I had to remember to bring a cloth nappy every time I left the house I would end up forgetting them knowing me! Now here is the science bit because the only other question that rest on my mind is this – which is actually more environmentally friendly? Obviously we know that disposables take up a huge volume of space in landfill which is what I wanted to avoid but cloth nappies require a huge amount of water to produce and to wash. The most recent comprehensive life cycle assessment study I can find that compares the global warming impact of a disposable nappy to a cloth nappy found,that the average 2006 disposable nappy would result in a global warming impact of approximately 550kg of carbon dioxide equivalents used over the two and a half years a child is typically in nappies whereas if a cloth nappy user washes their nappies no higher than 60 degrees, line dries them, washes them in a full load and passes them onto at least one other child after the first child has used them for 2.5 years then yes its better for the environment with a carbon dioxide equivilant of 342kg. For us I feel like we can factor in some more environmentally friendly elements because we have switched our energy supplier to one that uses 100% renewable resources so I feel that a chunk of the negative energy demand in our case is taken out.
So the truth is in the science there is evidence to show that cloth nappies are better for the environment.