When I was pregnant, I did a little research into the most environmentally conscious way to deal with our upcoming bundle of joys’ poop. The decision I came to at the time, was to start off on Naty (the most eco /biodegradable nappy I could find at the time that were easily available), and when everything settled down and life got back to normal, switch to washable nappies.
The reality being that it took a fair few months to get into a routine, where we felt comfortable to try them out for the first time. We’d been given about 20 modern cloth nappies, of various brands, by friends who had tried it for their son, but found it wasn’t quite right for them. So we tried them… and in all honesty, I wished we’d started earlier. It was so easy…
Two years on and we’re still using the cloth nappies. We’ve had times where it’s been easier to stick my daughter in a disposable, but if it all feasible she goes in a washable. When we began to toilet train the modern cloth nappies were fantastic since, with the poppers done up, they pull up like knickers, giving my daughter the chance to practise before putting her in proper knickers (and no need to buy those expensive ‘pull-up’ nappies from the disposable manufacturers). And because they are not as absorbent as disposable nappies, my daughter is also more likely to get the feeling of ‘wetness’ when wearing washables, which will encourage her to use the toilet (same thought process behind the ‘training pants’ that disposable nappy manufacturers also want us to buy!).
The nappies we have are the ‘modern cloth nappies’, or ‘pocket nappies’. These cloth nappies have a leak-proof outer shell sewn together with a soft inner layer. There are inserts in the ‘pocket’ between the shell and the inner layer to absorb liquid. They’re easy to use and dry relatively quickly, but you need to take out the inserts before washing and put them back in afterwards. We have the ‘one size fits most’, which feature various rows of poppers allowing the nappy to be folded in various ways to fit from newborn. I believe you can also buy sized cloth nappies.
We have about 20 nappies, and these will last two-three days before we run out, I think another 10 would make things easier, as I prefer to fill the washing machine up with as many nappies as possible, but then waiting for the liners to dry can take a couple of days through Winter (on the line or inside in front of the fire). I have also been quite reluctant to put washables on overnight, as I have discovered they really need to be changed every two-three hours, and as our little one has slept through the night from an early age, I really wanted the reliability of a disposable nappy. I think if extra liners are added to pad the washable nappy out, then this will increase their absorbency. It is also really important to strip-wash the nappies every now and again, as they get to a point where they lose absorbency and need to be stripped back of all the washing products they remain.
So, in retrospect…. It is worth giving washable nappies a go… straight away. (Don’t delay!) Buy enough, so that there are always clean and dry ones waiting to be used, even if you haven’t managed to put the washing on for a few days. If they’re not working quite right for you, try a different approach, try a different brand… keep giving it a go, it’s worth pursuing for the sake of the environment (and your pocket). But to the same extent, don’t beat yourself up if you have to reach for the disposables at some point. Just remember that every washable nappy you use is one less disposable nappy to end up in landfill. Please read my previous article to find out more about the environmental impact of disposable nappies.