Why modern cloth nappies?
After working in the paediatric wards of several hospitals, I knew I would never be able to use disposable nappies. The smell, the sound, the sagging between the legs, the chemicals exploding. This beside the fact that they take 500 years to biodegrade, while causing landfills to fill up with toxic matter. I just knew they weren’t for me.
I wondered, though, what I would do one day if/when I had children. There was no way I would be folding Glodina towels into aeroplane shapes, pinning them with a snappy and pulling up plastic pants. It turns out, fortunately, that there is another road.
A glimpse on a wash line
I might not have found out about it, but I happened to be visiting a friend in East London who had recently had a baby. Next door to her lived another lady from our church, and she had a toddler. The neighbour had some washing hanging in a communal area, and I saw some strangely shaped objects. I mentioned the oddity to my friend, and she told me: “Oh, those are modern cloth nappies.”
Aha, modern cloth nappies. At this stage, that was all I knew, but it was enough. I filed the information away for further use. One day, if I had kids, I would be using modern cloth nappies.
The research begins
Several years down the line, my husband and I were expecting our first child, and I decided it was time to start investigating these modern cloth nappies to find out how they worked. My preliminary findings confirmed what I had suspected – these were nothing like the piles of towels soaking in Steri-nappy that made babies need to wear clothes several times larger than they were.
It turned out that modern cloth nappies came in a variety of styles, and could be made of different fabrics. Many of these options were much less bulky than towelling. Also, it turned out that there were different ways to fold nappies, too! Nappies didn’t need to be soaked and didn’t need any complicated washing other than a rinse beforehand and the avoidance of softening agents.
The tipping point
Environmental impact aside (more water is used in the manufacture of disposable nappies than it takes to wash cloth nappies), the cost saving calculations were really significant. A conservative estimate of the savings over 3 years was about R15000. That is a lot of money. R15000 can buy you a really decent camping trailer. Or air ticket for a holiday overseas. Cloth nappies for the win!
So the ‘Should I use cloth nappies?’ question for me was easily answered. The ‘What kind of cloth nappies should I use?’ was a bit more tricky. Stay tuned for the next installment to hear about my budget-friendly, easy-washing, quick-drying, minimal-work solution!