If the thought of using cloth nappies on your baby conjures up images of struggling with nappy pins wrestling with sweaty plastic pants and being surgically attached to your washing machine, think again! Far from being ‘out of the ark’ reusable nappies are very much the modern alternative to disposables. And you can give your baby a real ‘eco’ start in life by using cloth – did you know that 9 million soiled disposable nappies are binned every day in the UK – all ending up in landfill sites. And the scariest fact of all is that this waste can take 500 years to decompose!
I’m Convinced – So What Will I Need?
There are lots of different nappy systems on the market to choose from – a Google for ‘real nappies’ will turn up hundreds of results. The best place to start though, strangely enough, is your local council! Lots of local authorities are now offering cash back incentives to families who use real nappies over disposables and will often have a real nappy expert who can offer free, impartial advice on choosing the right cloth nappy system for your child.
There are several different types of nappy to choose from, and you’ll probably find you’ll need to try a few styles before deciding what is right for you and your baby. Most nappy suppliers offer sample packs to minimise your initial outlay.
These nappies have an internal pocket which you fill with an absorbent liner. The nappy itself has a stay dry inner and is waterproof on the outside, so you simply place an absorbent nappy pad in the pocket. The pads can be made of a variety of materials from hemp to bamboo! You can also use traditional terries as pads, folded to the required shape.
All in One Nappies
All in one nappies come complete with a liner and a waterproof outer. They generally fasten along the sides with popper and are a doddle to put on even for nappy novices – ideal for when you are out and about, or leaving your baby with a childminder. All in one nappies can be slow to dry, so unless you were prepared to buy a good supply in one go; they would probably need to be used in conjunction with another system.
Shaped Nappy and Wrap
Shaped (ready constructed) nappies generally fasten with poppers or Velcro and are worn under a waterproof wrap. They offer a snug fit around legs and waists, and a slim appearance under clothes – essential for avoiding that bumble bee bum effect!
Traditional Flat (terry) Nappies
The basic, terry towelling nappy is still very much a useable option – once you’ve got the hang of a fold that suits your baby, they offer reliable absorbency and are easy to wash and dry. Fasten with a ‘Nappy Nippa’ (a stretchy plastic fastener which hooks up the fibres of the nappy and holds it in place) rather than a pin to avoid accidents!
Nappy liners: Basically, liners stop poo staining your nappies – they simply sit next to your babies skin and once soiled are shaken out down the loo and disposed of in the bin. There are many biodegradable, eco friendly liners to choose from, and they come in either easy to use tear of rolls or tissue style boxes.
Muslin cloths have many uses, from nappies for new-borns, (folded into a waterproof wrap) to bibs, and wipe-up cloths. They also make excellent booster pads for pocket nappies or for overnight protection in your shaped or flat nappy.
But What About all that Washing…?
You do not need to be boiling nappies on your stove on a daily basis! Invest in a sturdy lidded bucket, plenty of essential oil like lavender or tea tree, and leave your nappies to soak until you have enough to do a full wash. Do not let the thought of washing cloth nappies put you off using them! But if you really can’t bear the idea of a nappy bucket and extra washing, there is an alternative…
Many areas offer a nappy laundering service, where fresh, reusable nappies are delivered to you on a weekly basis, and your used ones taken away for laundering. These services usually cost around £9 a week – much the same as using disposables but so much better for the environment!