We have been part time clothbum parents since small was about 3 months old. We knew that we wanted to use loth but also saw the benefits of disposeable nappies, and so were happily using both. Usually cloth for at home during the day and disposeables at night and out of the house. At Christmas we were away and decided not to take the cloth nappies with us. The travelling combined with the small deciding that lying down for a nappy change wasn’t something he was willing to do, meant that cloth- especially the 2 parters we were often using were not currently working for us.
However, recently it was Reuseable Nappy Week and I was inspired to get his bum back in cloth and have another go at it. It helps that we now have more all-in-one nappies (mostly pocket nappies) which are a bit quicker to put on, however we have more leak-free success with the two parters.
The reason we wanted to try cloth was because of the obvious environmental impacts of disposeable nappies. I worked in Recycling for a few years and the amount of waste we produce in the West is really quite frightening. One family’s bin doesn’t feel like a lot, but then you multiply it by the 45,000 households in your town, then think upwards to your region, county, country, etc… it really is huge. NAppies alone- each baby will go through around 4,000 before potty training and they each take 200 years to degrade fully.
The Basel Convention has estimated the amount of hazardous and other waste generated for 2000 and 2001 at 318 and 338 millions tonnes respectively. These figures are based on incomplete reports from the parties to the Convention. Compare this with the almost 4 billion tonnes estimated by the OECD as generated by their 25 member countries in 2001 (Environmental Outlook, OECD) and the problems of calculating a definitive number for global waste generation are obvious.
(Average amount of disposeable nappies used by one child, birth to potty)
Some people like to argue that reuseable/washeable nappies are bad for the environment because of the washing. Like everything it depends on how you approach it. There is an assumption that nappies are washed on high temperatures and then tumbledried, which actually goes against most manufacturers guidelines. Most people I know who use cloth wash on lower temperatures with an extra rinse and then line dry. Although I am doing this I do feel I need to learn how to use my washing machine better!
An updated government report published by the Environment Agency in October 2008 found that reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment than disposable nappies – but only when parents take sensible steps to reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and drying them.
We have two main types of cloth nappies- I’ll let BabyCentre do the hard work in describing what they are and how you use them:
A pocket diaper consists of a waterproof outer layer and an inner layer of fabric that has a pocket opening. An insert is stuffed into the pocket opening before wearing and then taken out for washing. Pocket diapers’ absorbency can be adjusted by using more or fewer absorbent inserts.
The inner layer of fabric is sometimes made with stay-dry material to keep your baby comfortable. Pocket diapers have elastic around the legs and waist and fasten with snaps or tabs.
An “All in Two” diaper, or AI2
An AI2 diaper consists of an outer waterproof shell (similar to a diaper cover) and an insert that gets put into the shell and lies directly against your baby’s skin. Some inserts attach with snaps or Velcro, and some get tucked under flaps in the cover.
The shell has elastic around the legs and waist and fastens with snaps or tabs. The insert is made of absorbent material. Some inserts are topped with a stay-dry fabric for your baby’s comfort.
All-In-Two Nappy (images thanks to Ecoaction.com.au, words from http://www.babycenter.com/0_cloth-diapers-a-quick-guide-to-your-choices_10320145.bc)
We have joined some clothbum facebook groups and started using the cloth more again. Hardest thing is getting small still for long enough to adjust a cloth nappy to get it right. There are some great youtube videos out there to help so I won’t bang on about it, but they do sit differently to disposeables and it’s worth taking the time to find it out.
Cloth nappies can be a bit scary- some people don’t like the thought of it or don’t know where to start. We got lots of second hand cloth and worked our way from there. For us the best fit is a tots bots or bambino mio pocket nappy with a microfibre insert, possibly a bamboo one too (as these are thin) and then a fleece liner with a flushable paper liner on top to catch any pooh! Very different at 20 months to three months!
We did buy a few cheapy pocket nappies with soft outers and although we love them, the fit isn’t great!
All in all, I’d say to go for it if you’re not sure. I do like cloth even though it takes a slightly different mind set and we’ve also been using them out and about now we’re more confident! Your local council may offer a cheap starter pack or even a cashback incentive. Even though we bought all our nappies second hand, we have recently applied to get cashback from our local council!