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The Great Nappy Debate

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In a time when we are debating our impact on the environment and carbon footprints, I think the question of whether cloth or disposable nappies are better is very relevant.

We used both types of nappies for our sons – cloth when we are at home and disposables at night and while out. Two dozen cloth nappies was one of the first purchases we excitedly made when we first discovered we were having a baby and they have been used as nappies, cloths, towels, burp cloths mats and a range of other purposes. Modern cloth nappies (MCN) made from natural fibres, like bamboo, hemp and fleece, are wonderful (and we have tried these too), but we’ve the towelling squares to be far more versatile in use beyond their main purpose.

While we try to consider the environment as much as possible through recycling, conserving water and growing our own produce, the ease of use, convenience and water-saving properties of disposable nappies deserves some leeway. I’ve never been an advocate of either cloth or disposable nappies over the other, but have been told I am “good” by many people for even considering cloth. They cite the time spent soaking, washing and drying cloth nappies as a reason to avoid them, but washing has never really bothered me (not like ironing does anyway!).

The reason we chose cloth nappies was mainly cost, and secondly the environment. Like many families right now we are just trying to make ends meet with the money we have available. Cloth nappies seemed a great way to save some money – we paid $30 for each dozen cloth nappies that we could reuse, compared with around the same amount for one large packet of disposable nappies. It made economic sense to us.

At first I used cloth nappies almost exclusively (after leaving the hospital) because I was so terrified of what my newborn might or might not do so I didn’t leave the house for two weeks! Once I got over that fear, I got into the routine of using disposables when I went to the clinic, mother’s group or shopping. We also used (and still do) a disposable nappy through the night because the positions our sons sleep in make leaking a certainty. Our system works well for us.

As I worked more, and as Harvey took over caring for our boys, the number of cloth nappies we use has dropped a bit – but so has the number of disposables. Noah, 3, is pretty much toilet trained and only wears a nappy to sleep, so that just leaves Ethan, 10 months, who wears the combination of both nappy types.

We haven’t forgotten our financial and environmental aims, but combine these with being practical. We save around $0.40 every time we use a cloth nappy, but having carried around several soggy (and worse) cloth nappies for hours while out, we know it’s not practical for us to use them all the time.

As you can see, we straddle the fence when it comes the nappy debate. Where do you sit?

5 Comments on “The Great Nappy Debate”

  1. Simone says:

    I use MCN full time and exclusivley. To overcome the soggy and wet nappy while out, you just need a wet bag you can purchase from any nappy supplier online. They are PUL coated and stop any wetness or smells getting out and you just chuck it in the wash when you get home. I do agree that the Terry cloth squares are really versitile, we use them as wipe up cloths, burp cloths the works. However could never use them on our DD as she was such a heavy wetter and tummy sleeper that MCN were the only answer.
    We use cloth at night as well, we have what are called “night nappies” which have lots of extra absorbancy and last abut 12 hours. Washing isnt an issue, just shove them in the nappy bucket and then in the washing machine, rinse then wash then hang out. Its not a huge deal. You dont need to soak MCNS. I also have almost no nappy rash issues, or skin irritation issuse with my daughter who has sensitive skin. Outlay initally can be expesnive, however $700 for full time set that will last till they are 3 years old, VS $2000 at least over the same period for disposables name economical sense to me! And you really do get sick of chucking so much out when you have a baby!

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  3. Brandie says:

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