The Not So Shitty Truth About Cloth Nappies

I have to say it took me by surprise. A close friend had chosen to use cloth nappies.

Amongst all my breeding friends it had simply never entered our minds or conversations to debate cloth versus disposable. And we had discussed all the choices. Knowing the gender or not. Caesarean or natural. Drug free or drug me. Boob or bottle. But never disposable nappies versus cloth.

I just don’t think we’d ever really thought about cloth nappies. Why would we? Disposables were convenient, cute and well, disposable. As in minimal dealing with the poop. Cloth nappies just seemed so old fashioned, like something our parents’ generation used because they had no choice.

So what possible pros could lead a seemingly sane mum to use cloth nappies? And how did she deal with the, well, shitty bits?

According to my friend, win one for cloth nappies was convenience. No last minute nearly-out-of-nappies rush to the supermarket because cloth nappies never run out. Well unless you get behind in the washing. A valid point, but nothing a well organised grocery list/frantic on-your-way-home phone call to hubby can’t sort out.

Win two for cloth nappies was the cost. She had me there. It seemed that on average I had spent over $2500 for each child to dispose of their poop. Which is expensive pooping by anyone’s standards. By comparison, a set of cloth nappies costs around $300 and lasts for all a child’s diapered days.

Win three was that cloth nappies make toilet training easier because your child feels wet. A fair point. Or perhaps a good reason to switch once your kid reaches that age.

Finally there’s win four, the environmental impact of all that poop disposal. Reusing cloth nappies may mean an extra load of nappies per week, but in contrast the use of energy and water needed to make, package and transport disposable nappies far outweighs this. Then there’s the inevitable disposal of the soiled nappy in land fill. Not great when you think how many nappies each little bum goes through.

So it seems that there are some points in favour of cloth nappies. But let’s be real. There’s some pretty major shitty bits about using them, namely the well, shitty bits.

So what is really involved in cloth nappies?

My friend gave me a firsthand experience of changing a cloth nappy, kind person that she is.

The process is quite simple.

  1. Toss the poop out of the nappy straight in the toilet and flush it away.
  2. Put the nappy in a sealed pail and wash once there’s a load’s worth.
  3. Washed in hot water they are as clean as your undies and perfectly safe for your little one’s bum.
  4. There’s also a huge range of covers and liners to make the process simpler and leak free.

So it seems that maybe cloth nappies are worth considering after all – or at least not quite as shitty as I’d expected.

Avatar of Kerry Rosser

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

1 Comment

  1. Avatar of Blossom

    The baby has synthetic material against skin – not cotton padding. The “exterior” and the padding takes a fair while to dry. The exterior should not be put in a dryer. The padding take longer to dry too so if you are drying them on the clothes line or airer you need extra of them. The synthetic part gets the poo on it first , not the absorbant padding. With babies with hypersensitve skin, some synthetic materials irritate it.

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