Cloth nappies seem to be a topic that simultaneously overwhelm and fascinate many of us parents (maybe it’s because there are literally 5 different words you can use to refer to a reusable nappy!). If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I’m extremely passionate about making cloth nappies mainstream. With Real Nappy Week around the corner, let’s dive in and start exploring – and breaking down – some of the most common myths that fly around regarding reusable nappies.
Myth 1. Reusable nappies are more expensive than disposables
As with all reusable items, the upfront cost can seem hefty but in the long run, you will absolutely save money. To firstly give you an idea of quantities, if using disposables for your baby, you’d get through approximately 5,500 from birth to potty, whereas all you’d need is 15-20 reusable nappies. And there’s even more savings to be made if buying nappies second hand, if selling on after use or if you’re planning to use them with subsequent children.
According to a study by the Environment Agency, disposable nappies, baby wipes and nappy sacks for the nappy lifetime of your child will set you back around £1,250; compare that with approximately £90 which is all you’ll need for example 16 Bambino Mio miosoft nappies and 3 nappy covers. Also if you’re based in the UK, do check if you’re eligible for nappy vouchers – this is money us our Government gives us parents to spend on cloth nappies!
Myth 2. Reusable nappies create too much washing
It’s certainly true that nappies create more washing but they can easily slot into your current washing routine, using the same detergent and machine. Simply store dirty nappies in a lidded bucket lined with a net or a concealed bag until you’re ready to run a wash – you won’t smell a thing – then take your net bag full to the washing machine and bung it in. Also, is there anything more relaxing than hanging out nappies to dry on a line? Oh and if you’ve got help on hand from a friend, relative or partner, asking them to put a wash on for you is always a good idea.
Myth 3. Reusable nappies are too complicated to use
Ok, so here’s where modern invention offers us a helping hand. Previous generations may have had to use safety pins and complex folds, but nowadays cloth nappies – especially if you go for an All in One or Pocket Nappy – are incredibly similar to disposable nappies in their look and feel. Instead of plastic tabs, they have velcro tabs or poppers on the side, with poppers on the front to adjust the size, plus cute patterns to boot!
Myth 4. Reusable nappies are inconvenient when out and about
Reusable nappies are exactly the same to use as disposables when out and about except that instead of chucking a dirty nappy in the bin, you put it in your wet bag, which is 100% waterproof and fully sealed. Once home, pop it in your nappy bucket/bag or straight into the washing machine. Super easy and smell free!
Myth 5. Reusable nappies cause nappy rash
You need to change your baby every 2-3 hours (just like with disposable nappies); the difference is that reusable nappies are free of chemicals, and use natural and breathable materials which means nappy rashes from cloth nappies are far less likely to occur than when with regular disposables. In fact, children with sensitive skin are often recommend to start using cloth nappies for precisely this reason.
Myth 6. Reusable nappies are not environmentally friendly
Ok, so this myth especially bothers me! We know we’re in the middle of a global plastic crisis and we know that nappy waste is a HUGE contributor: 8 million disposable nappies are sent to landfill every single day in the UK alone, that’s 3 BILLION in one year. Not just that; each and every one of those nappies is estimated to take around 500 years to decompose and so to give you an idea, if Henry VIII had been wearing disposables, they’d still be around now (or they might be floating in the ocean or they may have been incinerated, still using energy and emitting greenhouse gasses). Kinda incredible (in a bad way), right? Put simply, using disposable nappies is not sustainable. When people think about reusable nappies they also associate them with water and energy because they’re washing them. They might also think they’re saving water by using disposable nappies. In fact, single use nappies use HUGE amounts of energy to manufacture. There are over 2 billion people who live without safe drinking water so how we think about and looks after water is more important than ever, not to mention all the trees cut down to manufacture the wood pulp, another key component of disposable nappies.
Myth 7. Reusable nappies leak all the time
In my experience, reusable nappies contain far better than disposable nappies because there’s so much more scope for fitting a nappy just right. If your child is experiencing leaks, perhaps they need an extra booster or they’re not quite fitting properly. Also, always remember to pre wash your nappies a few times before use to ensure they gain their maximum absorbency (and get super soft!)
Myth 8. Reusable nappies are gross
There’s a real myth that if you’re using reusable nappies, your hands are covered in poo all the time. This is simply not true – and whether you use a particular device for scraping poo off nappies or simply the force from the flush of your toilet – the poo goes down the loo, where it belongs! I find it gross when poo goes in the bin and sits there for hundreds of years, which it does with a disposable nappy.
Myth 9. Using Reusable nappies whilst travelling is impossible
With a little bit of prep, it’s perfectly possible to use cloth nappies whilst traveling – just don’t forget a wet bag or two! If you’re going away for a few days, chances are you’ll be able to take enough nappies to last you the entire time. If it’s slightly longer, you might want to check ahead if your hotel allows you to borrow their washing machine or if there’s a laundry service. Even easier still, if you’re self-catering you’ll have your own washing machine to use and hopefully some sunshine to help dry them quick. Using a public launderette is also an option – just give them a ring beforehand to check.
Myth 10. Reusable nappies are hassle
OK so yes, reusable nappies are more work than disposable nappies because you’re not just throwing a single use item straight into bin. But….they’ll save you money, they’re not complicated to use or inconvenient when out and about, they’re chemical free and might help prevent nappy rash, they’re far more environmentally friendly, they contain everything better, they’re not gross and you can go on holiday perfectly easily and still cloth nappy, so I’m personally A OK investing a little more effort into using them. Also just think of all the time you save not having to constantly stock up on more disposable nappies or empty a smelly nappy bin full of dirty disposables.
I hope by reading through these myths which are all too easily overturned once pressed a little, you might be inspired to give cloth nappies a go. Remember too that none of the above is new – what I’m actually advocating here is simply a return to how our parents and grandparents used to do things – disposable nappies are a totally modern invention borne out of convenience and it’s time to look to the past to build our future. Most importantly, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing: simply by using 1 reusable nappy a day, you’ll prevent approximately 912 disposables going to landfill every year. Finally, don’t let the topic overwhelm you – just give it a go and ask questions as you go. I can’t wait to see all your cloth bums – use the tag #mamalinaxcloth to share how you’re getting on!