We feel incredibly lucky to have a lifestyle that is centered around conservation, but you don’t have to live in a forest conservancy to make a difference. Conservation Corner is a series where I highlight the many ways people around the world are making an effort to tread a little lighter on our planet.
Today Annabelle from The Piri-Piri Lexicon writes about Using Cloth Diapers (or Cloth Nappies as they are called in the UK). Annabelle’s family speaks four languages on a daily basis and she writes about their lives as expats in Germany. I am really excited to be participating in Annabelle’s upcoming series Show Me Your Neighborhood, which will be a photographic journey around the world. Click over to find out more and/or to sign up to participate.
I plan to highlight one story a month and I hope to make this a space where people who walk with light footsteps meet. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in contributing to this series or stop by the Conservation Corner page for a list of upcoming posts.
Using Cloth Diapers: So Much Easier and Better Than You Think
They laughed and said: “give it a try, by all means but it won’t last, you’ll see”. Well, I am happy to report that we did give it a go, it did last and we loved it.When I got pregnant, we looked into cloth/real nappies/diapers. I loved the idea instantly and hubby had nothing against it, so we decided to give it a go. Most people we told this to laughed and said we would never use them long-term.
If you are looking to :
- save money;
- or do your bit for the environment;
- or avoid nasty chemicals on your baby’s bottom;
- or make your baby’s bottom super cute.
then cloth nappies are for you.Cloth nappies are really fun, easy to use and so much more environmentally friendly than disposable ones these days. I won’t bore you with numbers and facts as you can find these on any good, reliable and independent website. I will just give you two:
- 66% of the contents of a disposable nappy come from non renewable sources
- disposables take between 200 and 500 years to fully decompose (all the while emitting methane gas).
Did you know that disposables contain sodium polyacrylate gel? It is the little balls you may find on your baby’s bottom when the nappy has been on too long or is too full. It is what absorbs the urine. This substance was banned from use in tampons in 1985 because it was linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome yet it is still used in disposables. Now, this fact alone convinced me!
The days of pins, special washes, bleaching or soaking are finished. These are just myths opponents like to try and make you believe in. The truth is it couldn’t be simpler:
- buy a cute cotton, hemp or bamboo nappy
- put it on your baby
- admire the cute round bottom
- when soiled, throw it in a bucket
- wash at 60°C
- dry in the sun (or in the dryer if you really have to)
We started off with cloth nappies when our little one was about a month old. I had bought mainly one-sized nappies that grow with the child but these were a little too big for a newborn. We used them everyday until she was about 2 and a half and she started taking them off (tip: poppers are better for older kids). We decided, then, it was time to potty train anyway. Reusable swimming nappies are also brilliant and highly recommended. Swimming nappies are so expensive and completely useless.
All are now safely stored and can be reused for another child (saving even more money).
Some of the disadvantages of cloth nappies:
- Yes, some make a larger bottom than disposable nappies. But who cares, really! They are babies and toddlers, not top models. Plus, what is cuter than a bottom wrapped in lovely patterned nappy.
- Yes, you need to change them maybe slightly more often than disposables. Our daughter lasted a good 4 hours in them though. It will vary depending on your baby, their age and the type of nappy.
- Nights are tough to crack. We had to buy separate nappies for the night as the one-sized ones were not absorbent enough. She slept through the night from 7 months old and urinated a lot. But each child is different, so it may be easier for some.
- Research the issue: it will pay off.
- Do not buy a set of 10 nappies from one brand to start with. Buy several completely different ones. You don’t know what system you will prefer, what brand will fit your baby best. They are all so different and it is best to try and then stock up on your favourite ones a little later.
- To save even more money, buy them second-hand. There is a huge market for them and you will find them on any auction site or exchange forums.
Now, that we have moved on from nappies, I am really happy I used them. I never considered them cumbersome. I loved them. I recommend them to all of my friends.
Our daughter now plays with dolls and her grandma has made some reusable ‘nappies’ for the dolls with a piece of fabric!!
Some interesting links:
A very thorough study by the British Environment Agency (a government department) about nappies (from 2005).
Excellent article about substances in disposables.
The Piri-Piri Lexicon:
Annabelle is a 30-something French passport-holder married to a Portuguese citizen. They live in Germany with their multilingual 3-year old daughter. She considers herself a part-time stay-at-home maman. She runs a small business from home that sells eco- and multilingual- friendly paper goods. And she blogs about her family at the piri-piri lexicon. You can follow her on Twitter @pirilexicon.
Thank you Annabelle! We also loved our cloth diapers – my girls are currently using their old newborn covers on their baby dolls.