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Here is a wealth of information on cloth nappies, the benefits, pros and cons of using them, how to get started and more. If you’re still unsure or have any questions get in touch and we’ll do our best to help you. Alternatively, our monthly cloth nappy demos are a great way to learn all there is about cloth nappies and help you get started on your cloth nappy journey.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing whether to use cloth or disposable nappies. At the end of the day everyone’s circumstances and preferences are different and there is no right or wrong. Some people use cloth to lessen environmental impact, others choose cloth because they prefer the idea of natural materials next to baby’s skin rather than chemicals, and some people just think cloth is cute! What ever your choice, there is a system out there to suit you.
Here is some information to help you make your decision…
- Disposable nappies contribute to about 4% of the UK’s annual landfill waste, 5% of Australia’s landfill and 2%-4% in USA (estimated at 18 billion nappies a year). As they have only existed for 30 years or so, no one really knows how long they take to biodegrade – the first nappies still haven’t! Estimates range form 50 to 500 years for 1 nappy to break down.
- Did you know you’re actually NOT supposed to throw away disposable nappies with poop in them as it contaminates landfill? Human excrement has to be appropriately treated. The faeces can get into water supplies and contaminate it, not to mention the viruses and diseases involved too.This extract is taken from the website of a well know disposable nappy company “As the bag recommends, you’ll want to dispose of the bowel movements in the toilet.”
- Have you ever wondered how much it costs to put 1 child through disposable nappies from birth to potty training? The average premium brand nappy costs around AED 1 each (more for pull-ups or eco disposables). On a very low average you use around 6 nappies a day (more in the early months, less later on), that’s AED42 per week. For 2 and half years thats around AED5,475!! It is possible to buy all the cloth nappies, wraps and accessories you’ll need from birth to potty for as little as AED615 (see pre-folds birth to potty pack) if you go for simple terry squares or prefold systems, up to AED3,000+ plus if you go for all in ones in both newborn and then birth-to-potty size. Of course you have to factor in washing detergent, electricity, water and wear and tear on your washing machine. With reusable nappies you have control over your laundering costs and environmental impact (for more on this see our article “Are cloth nappies more environmentally friendly?”): the more frequent, hotter your washes with more detergent and tumble drying, the more expensive your laundering will be. Less frequent, cool washes with ½ – ¼ detergent (recommended) and line drying will significantly reduce laundry costs. An estimate of AED300-500 per year in laundering costs.
- Disposable nappies manage to be so slim because they consist mostly of a chemical gel in a plastic outer. This chemical gel soaks up the moisture. Little beads of this gel sometimes escape from the core of the nappy and can be found on baby’s bottom. Of course a certain amount of safety testing has to be carried out before products can be sold to consumers and the gel is claimed to be non-toxic by its very litigation-conscious manufacturers, but we really don’t know very much about it and the long term implications of it being in prolonged contact with skin. In fact it is more often not the chemical gel that babies react to but the fragrances added to disposable nappies to make them smell better.
- Cloth nappies are more time consuming as you have to wash, dry and re-assemble them after each use. An extra load of washing every 1-3 days (depending on how many nappies you have), 5 minutes to hang them to dry, and 5 minutes to re-assemble them and put away. Depending on the type of fabric your nappies are made of, they can take anywhere from 2 hours of 2 days to dry on a line. Living in the desert, we have the luxury of the heat and sun, which drastically speeds this process up. And then of course there’s tumble driers too (but these have a greater environmental impact)
- In terms of environmental impact, with disposable nappies it is the responsibility of the manufacturer to reduce this through manufacturing methods and by using materials that biodegrade easily (which they currently don’t!). With cloth nappies the responsibility is in the hands of the user. The environmental cost of using cloth nappies can be greatly reduced through the users decisions whether to soak, washing frequency, whether to tumble dry etc. For more on this see our article “Are cloth nappies more environmentally friendly?”
- Some pediatricians say that the extra support of cloth nappies, particularly when using terry squares or similar, provides better support for hip development and is particularly suitable for babies with mild hip dysplasia. Also, the extra spinal padding/cushioning in cloth nappies provides a softer landing for children learning to walk!
There are copious amounts of information on the Internet about disposables vs. cloth nappies. I urge you to research as much as you need in order to make an informed decision. If you still feel confused and overwhelmed please feel free to contact us at [email protected] for some more personal help.
You’ll need between 10 – 20+ depending on the age your baby is when you start cloth nappying, your baby’s bowel movements, fabric type of the nappy, washing frequency and drying time. We can advise you based on your circumstances. Its a simple calculation of how many times in 24hrs do you change your baby X frequency of washing. i.e. a newborn is often changed 10 times in 24hrs so for every other day washing you would need a minimum of 20 nappies. A 6 month old is generally changed less often so you could likely manage with 10 nappies for washing every other day. Its best to start with less and build up rather than buying a huge stash you just don’t need.
This is the waterproof cover used in a 2 part system (see “choosing nappies & wraps“). You only need 1 cover to every 3-4 shaped nappy/prefold/flat nappy. So generally, about 2 – 4 in any one size depending if your using 2 part nappies full time of just at night.
Either disposable or fleece. Liners allow for easier disposal of poop. Disposable liners come on a giant loo roll of around 100 liners and can generally be flushed down the toilet one at a time once used (we recommend you bin or re-wash wet liners and just flush soiled ones). Some disposable liners, such as Ultra Liners, can actually be washed a couple of times along with your nappies (if only wet, not soiled) and re-used. Fleece acts as a stay dry barrier between baby and nappy, some nappies have a sewn in fleece liner. Poop is tipped into the toilet and liners get washed along with the nappy. If you choose fleece, you’ll need as many fleece liners as nappies.
These increase the absorbency of the nappy by adding more fabric. They are often used at night when the nappy is used for a prolonged period. They are available in various fabrics. The number required will vary depending on your childs’ needs, but usually 3-6 is probably enough.
To store dirty nappies in. This can be any bucket with a lid, preferably a lockable lid to keep toddlers out! Alternatively you can use a XL/XXL wet bag.
Goes inside the nappy bucket or giant wet bag to make washing easier – you just take out the mesh bag (with the dirty nappies in it) from the bucket, throw the whole thing in the washing machine and press go. No need to touch dirty nappies! The nappies will fall out the bag as they go round the machine. Its useful to have 2 – one in the bucket, one in the wash.
This is a bag with a waterproof lining and a zip or drawstring to close it. These come in small sizes for putting dirty nappies in when out and about, or bigger sizes can be used instead of a nappy bucket.
These are a modern alternative to nappy pins. Sometimes called Nappy Nippas. Only needed for terry squares, muslins, prefolds or shaped nappies that don’t have a built in fastening. They allow for the most adjustable fit.
Much more effective than disposable wipes as the texture of the terry cleans up messes more efficiently that the smooth surface of disposable wipes. They can be stored wet or dry. You can just wet with water or add your own home made soak to soothe babys bottom (See”Cloth Wipes” for ideas). They go in the wash with your nappies. A pack of 20 – 30 should be enough.
When you first start with cloth nappies it may feel unfamiliar, especially if you are use to disposable nappies, but once you know what your doing its just as easy. The hardest part is to get yourself into a laundry routine. If you are generally a disorganized person, (like me!) you may need a few extra “just in case” nappies or you could always have a few disposables for those emergency moments!
Still confused? Send us an email to [email protected] or give us a call and we’ll help you out.