Cloth nappies – Part 1: Why choose cloth?

Cloth nappies on washing line

We’ve been using cloth nappies full time since Toby was seven weeks old. So that’s about five months and he hasn’t worn a disposable nappy once. Recently there seem to have been a few people asking for advice on starting to use cloth nappies so I thought I’d write a few posts to try and dispel some of the myths about cloth nappies and share what I’ve learned since we’ve been using them. In part one we are looking at why you should choose cloth nappies.

There are loads of reasons to choose cloth nappies over disposables.

There were two main reasons we chose cloth; firstly the cost. Estimates can vary but if your baby wears nappies until they are two and a half years old (and I know some wear them longer) they will probably use between five and six thousand nappies! Disposable nappies do vary in price but if you take an average of 15p per nappy then you are looking at between £750 and £900 spent on nappies. Compare that to reusable nappies – again there is a variation in price; cloth nappies vary from the cheapest terry squares with a waterproof cover for a few pounds up to the more expensive nappies at nearly £20 each. To use my own experience as an example. We have 15 bumgenius Freetime nappies which retail at about £15.99. We got 10% discount on most of ours by buying several at the same time, and some in a sale for £10. We also have one Tots Bots Easyfit which was £14.99. These are our daytime nappies which cost a total of £193. For night time we have four Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch nappies which we use with Blueberry Coverall wraps (of which we have three). These cost £11.50 for the nappies and wraps £12.50. We also have five bamboo boosters which cost £6.50 – a total of £90. We also use fleece liners in the nappies – I made these myself from a couple of fleece baby blankets that I bought in Tesco for £2.50 each. Lastly we have a nappy bucket which was £9, a mesh liner for inside the bucket which was £4.50 and a two wet bags for when we’re out and about which were £3 each. So, if my maths is right, a grand total of £307.50. This amount of nappies allows me to wash every two or three days. I do use the tumble drier sometimes but mostly my nappies are either dried outside on the line or in the airing cupboard overnight. The extra washing and drying adds around £35 a year to my electric bill. Even so the overall cost of £377.50 is still less than half that of using disposables. AND if we have another baby we’ll use the same nappies again meaning another saving. Added to that we also use washable wipes saving us another £150 or so! This is just an example of what we use. It is possible to use cloth nappies for a lot less (or a lot more if you get carried away with all the lovely colours and prints that are available!) but whichever cloth nappies you choose the savings are considerable. The only real disadvantage to cloth is that you do have a big financial outlay at the beginning, but once this has done you are saving all the way.

The other main reason for us choosing cloth was environmental. Even before Toby was born I was concerned about the amount of waste we would be creating if we used disposable nappies. Approximately 8 million disposable nappies are sent to landfill in the UK every year and they take 200 years to decompose. Yes, there is an environmental cost to using cloth nappies – they still have to be manufactured and there is extra washing involved. But the impact on the environment of using cloth nappies is far less than using disposables in the long term. And if I wasn’t convinced by the waste argument, a few weeks of having a wheelie bin full of disposables soon confirmed it for me!

There are also several other reasons to choose cloth nappies. They are better for your baby. Disposables contain all sorts of chemicals which can find their way out of the nappy and on to your babies skin. Cloth nappies are soft and fluffy, and contrary to what you might have heard they don’t cause nappy rash. In fact Toby has never had nappy rash and his bum is kept nice and dry by using a fleece liner. They are much better at containing poo-splosions than disposable nappies. And lastly, they’re just so damn cute!!

Despite all these benefits to cloth nappies, lots of people still seem to be put, usually for one of two reasons.

1. There’s a lot more work involved than in using disposables.

2. There’s somehow more contact with poo involved in using cloth nappies.

So let’s have a look at those two reasons. Firstly, they really aren’t much more work. Yes, you will have to do a few extra loads of washing a week but since Toby was born I seem to have been washing all the time anyway so it really doesn’t make that much difference. Other than that, it’s no harder to put a dirty nappy in the nappy bucket than it is to put a disposable in the bin.

Which brings us to the second reason – does using cloth nappies really mean you have to get up close and personal with baby poo?? Not really, no. We use fleece liners inside our nappies so I just pick it up by the edges, tip any solids in the loo and then the dirty liner goes in the nappy bucket. I use a mesh bag which goes inside the bucket so once the bucket is full I just lift the bag out and put the whole lot in the washing machine. So yes, I have to dispose of poo down the loo, but we have never ever had poo leak out of a cloth nappy, I’ve never had to take poo covered clothes off my baby and clean him up, so probably, I’ve touched less baby poo than you have! In addition to that, I have a bucket (with a lid) in my downstairs loo which doesn’t contain any solid waste (that all went down the toilet, where poo belongs). If you use disposables you’ve probably got a wheelie bin sitting outside your back door with up to two weeks worth of dirty nappies sat in it. I know which smells worse!

So now we’ve got that out of the way; you have decided you want to start using cloth nappies on your little cherub’s precious bum, what do you need?

In part two of my cloth nappy series I will be looking at how to choose the right cloth nappy for you and your baby. Come back next week to find out more.

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