There are many excellent reasons to use cloth nappies, here are some of them:
The good quality nappies that I recommend cost around $15 - $30 each, which at first sight could seem expensive. But disposable nappies cost between 30c - 50c each, depending on the brand and size of the packet you buy. So with an average of 6 nappy changes a day, disposables would cost $2 - $3 per day, but a modern cloth nappy would have paid for itself in 7 - 10 days. And that's only for your first child! Modern cloth nappies can go on and be used for subsequent kids increasing the cost benefits enormously.
Here are some environmental impacts that an independent study found:
- The production of disposable nappies uses around 3.5 times the amount of energy used for a cloth nappy.
- The production of disposable nappies uses over twice the amount of water used for washing cloth nappies.
- Disposable nappies use over 8 times the amount of non renewable raw materials and a whopping 90 times the amount of renewable materials (measured in weight).
- For one child with an average 6 nappies a day over 2.5 years, approximately 734 kg of solid waste goes into landfill.
- Disposable nappies are not bio-degradable and can sit in our landfill for hundreds of years.
Disposable nappies are designed to contain a distinct amount of liquid. For many babies this is enough, however if you have a 'heavy wetter' there is no where else in the nappy for the wee to go. With cloth nappies this problem is easily solved with adding a booster (or two if necessary) to increase the absorbency.
Disposable nappies are notorious for 'blow outs' - when they can't contain the runny explosive poos especially common to young babies. The superior elasticised waist and legs in modern nappies put an end to this problem.
"I always use fitted cloth nappies at home, but two days a week when my daughter is at childcare, she is in disposable nappies. Every time she comes home from childcare I notice that she is in her spare change of clothes, and the clothes I sent her in are in a plastic bag, with nasty blow out stains. I have NEVER had a poo leak in my cloth nappies at home!" - Jessica
What are your most comfy undies made from? Cotton or plastic? Modern nappies are made out of a variety of materials from organic cotton to hemp to bamboo, and can be coupled with a silk or micro-suede liner. They are soft and non-restrictive and with a good liner, will keep your baby's bottom nice and dry.
"The bamboo nappies that my grand-daughter is in are just so soft and silky; I can't believe that bamboo could be that soft!" - Loris
Modern cloth nappies are just like a disposable to use. They have elasticised legs and backs and a fastenable waist (like Velcro or snap clips). You don't have to fold them or use pins.
"I care for a 6 month old baby girl one day a week. When her mother told me that she used cloth nappies, I was a bit nervous about using them. But to my complete surprise, she showed me the cute little nappies with elastic legs and Velcro tabs around the waist and they are just so simple to use!" - Emily
Cloth nappies are much easier to look after than one might initially think. Looking after your cloth nappies is as simple as:
a) Put the soiled nappy into a bucket with a well fitting lid - no soaking or chemicals are required
b) Put the nappies in your washing machine on a normal cycle, with half the powder you would normally use
c) Hang the nappies on the line or dry in tumble dryer
"Having two kids, a husband and a dog, I am already doing up to 7 or 8 loads of washing a week. Doing another couple of loads for nappies isn't even noticed." - Annette
Research into the health risks of disposable nappies is limited, however some independent research agents (not funded by disposable or cloth manufacturers) have cited the following risks and noted that further research is urgently required:
- A possible link between disposable nappies and the increasing prevalence of childhood asthma, due to airborne emissions from the nappies.
- Disposable nappies keep boy's genitalia at a slightly higher than normal temperature, possibly affecting their fertility.
- Sodium polyacrylate crystals used for absorbing liquid has already been banned in tampons for its link to Toxic Shock Syndrome, but is continued to be used in disposable nappies.
- Up to 3.6 times the World Health Organisation's estimated tolerable daily intake of TBT or tributyl tin (a very toxic chemical) have been found disposable nappies.