A few people have commented recently on how unusual/strange/excessively demanding it is that we use cloth nappies. I know I’m a bit evangelical on the hippie-baby stuff, but really, this is not rocket science nor hard labour. Here are the reasons I like them a lot:
1. I know that environmentally there’s no difference really, but washing cloth seems less gross than accumulating landfill. Cloth nappies are not actually more environmentally friendly than disposables – or so say the eco-warriors I’ve met that have actually done the math (I haven’t). I wish I could say they were, just because I think they’re a better choice for other reasons. But the truth is that in a country with severe water shortages in most provinces, it’s probably as damaging to do a machine wash daily as it is to dump a bucketload of disposables into landfill. Although, admittedly, the former option still sounds less gross to me.
2. Cloth nappies definitely work out significantly cheaper than disposables. Especially if you use the traditional old flat nappies. The fancy shaped ones that I got in the UK are a bit more expensive (though worth it for convenience in my opinion). Glodina do a version of them in SA; the other popular cloth option here is Bambino Mio prefolds. Even the fancier, pricier and well-designed ones don’t come close to the expense of buying disposables week on week for two to three years.
3. Disposables smell and feel grim in comparison to cloth. It’s my opinion, but I’m sticking with it. Would you want to wear plasticky paper impregnated with weird-smelling chemicals for two years of your life, especially with sensitive skin?
4. Disposables entail muuuuch more handling of icky pooey stuff, surprisingly. I’ve seen people change disposables. The thing is, a disposable nappy is designed to such moisture away from the skin so that the baby is unaware for as long as possible that he needs a nappy change. This means your kid is sitting in excrement for a fair amount of time. That means squishy stuff caked everywhere. With cloth, your baby lets you know pronto that the nappy needs changing. Or you can tell yourself, as there are no chemicals masking the smell. And if the nappy contains anything, you just toss it into the loo with the biodegradable liner. There’s seldom much left on the nappy itself.
5. Cloth nappies are not actually a lot more work. When you take a disposable off a baby, you still have to bag it and bin it and take that bin out at some point. When you take a cloth nappy off, you just bin it in the nappy bucket. The days of soaking in Milton are long gone; a dry bin with a few drops of tea tree oil and a lid that closes properly pretty much does the trick. I guess there is the work of dumping it in the washing machine, hanging it up and bringing it in. I must admit, I do find that fairly soothing work though. It also involves …
6. Seeing a whole lot of lovely white nappies hanging on the line is oh-so-happymaking. I can’t explain this one further.
7. In cloth nappies, your child will not be under the misapprehension that their nappy is still dry when it isn’t. Down the line, this helps them to stay aware of their elimination patterns in a way that will help potty training. OK, so this is my “elimination communication” evangelist emerging, but, really, using cloth is helpful in this regard.
8. Modern washing machines make the cloth-nappy experience muuuuuuch easier than it was in our parents’ day. These machines wash fast and efficiently, and stuff comes out properly clean and nearly dry.
9. Cloth nappies are a million times cuter. Like, really.