Using cloth nappies has been a big learning curve for us in our adventure in urban sustainability over the last eleven months with our little bub. Reusable nappies have come a long way since the terry towelling nappies with plastic covers our parents used on us. These days there’s a mind boggling range of modern cloth nappy options out there. Kristin from Cloth My Bot has a good summary of the different options here.
From talking to other parents, it certainly does seem that different nappy styles suit different babies and the only way to find out what suits you and your bub best is to try different kinds. We’ve picked up different nappies that have been new and unused, or only used a couple of times, from the local second hand Baby and Kids markets and Baby Bazzar markets, and also from Ebay. Hiring a nappy pack with different styles is also a great option, like from Ecopatooties, an Illawarra business. A friend of mine has been really happy with her newborn nappy kit from Ecopatooties, and we wish we had hired newborn nappies for when our little one was just born. We’ve always used the adjustable ‘one-size fits from birth to toilet training nappies’, but really they were too big for our tiny girl when she was born, so there was lots of changing clothes as she frequently sprung a leak!
We’ve been using mostly pocket nappies such as Bum Genius and Bum Cheeks. They have a waterproof cover and a cotton or bamboo insert that slips inside. They fit well, are easy to put on, and do look very cute! For night-time I find the Pea Pod nappies are really absorbent. We even have a reusable Charlie Banana swimmer nappy for trips to the pool.
Though we haven’t tried them, amongst the greenest of green nappies would probably be something like these gorgeous organic flat cotton Disana nappies with wool covers from Woollykins. Well even greener than that would be embracing Elimination Communication where you become so in tune with your baby you can take them to the toilet or put something under them when you know they are going to do something – but we haven’t tried that one either.
We have about 25 nappies, and use about 6 or 7 a day. Dirty nappies are stored in a big bucket without any water (this is known as dry pailing) and then chucked in the washing machine on heavy duty cycle with ½ a cap of Ecostore washing liquid. We wash a load of nappies every second day. The bamboo inserts take much longer to dry than cotton inserts. Facing the inside of the nappies directly into the sun helps fade any stains. The way nappies are washed and dried has a lot to do with their overall eco footprint. Apart from three occasions, we’ve always line dried our nappies. Our washing machine is also powered by our own solar power system.
We also use liners on the inside of our nappies. They draw the moisture away from bubs bottom quickly making them more comfortable, and they help protect the nappies from stains. Before our little one started on solid food at 6 months, we used homemade washable polar fleece liners by cutting rectangles of fleece to fit the nappies. Her poos were so little at that stage we just chucked the dirty liners straight in the dirty nappy bucket to be washed.
Once our gorgeous girl started on solid foods and her poos became more solid and volumous (and chunkily colourful with bits of food!), we started using biodegradable bamboo liners. They can be flushed down the loo, but as it’s best not to flush too many as they can clog the pipes, we only flush liners that have poo on them. The ones that only have wee, we wash with the nappies once, as we find they can be used twice before the start to fall apart. After they’ve been used twice only for wee, we pop them in the compost.
We now use the polar fleece liners as reusable wipes, wetting them with water, or a gentle liquid soap if lots of cleaning up is required!
It’s also handy to have a couple ‘wet-bags’ like this one featured on ‘Nappiness’, another Illawarra based cloth nappy business. They’re quite handy for storing wet nappies in when out and about.
There’s no doubting that reusable nappies are more work than disposables. They’re also much cheaper than using disposables in the long run. But what motivates us is the thought of leaving between more than 5,000 dirty nappies sitting in landfill for our distant great great great great grandchildren’s world. No one really even knows how long it takes for nappies to break down in landfill. Even nappies made from biodegrable materials can’t break down in landfill as they’re deprived of moisture and oxygen and essentially mummified, so you’d have to compost them all at home to allow them to biodegrade. However, we’re totally non-judgemental about people’s nappy choices. We live in a very hectic world that is not easy for parents, you do what you have to do to survive! We also can’t imagine what it would be like to have two (or more!) little ones in nappies!
Anyone else got any thoughts or tips on using reusable nappies? There’s some great comments on a different range of nappies at http://www.clothnappyreviews.com.au/.