In true bumps to babbas style I’m not here to sell you a pipeline dream of how amazing real nappies are – otherwise why doesn’t every parent use them?
Some of the reasons that parents don’t use reusable nappies is that they don’t have enough information about them to make an informed decision. Real nappies also aren’t advertised as well as disposable nappies and aren’t available in many supermarkets (Waitrose sell some, as do Aldi on their promotional events but I’ve not seen them on other normal supermarkets). Choices that surround labour and birth, the choices in parenthood like real nappies, feeding and the reality of parenthood are all discussed and taught on the full KGHypnobirthing antenatal course I run. Message email@example.com for more information on the next available courses.
The hypnobirthing analogy of BRAINS can be used to every decision you make during labour birth and in parenting. A previous post focused on the benefits of choosing real nappies. Today will focus on the risks or disadvantages of real nappies as I am aware that real nappies will not suit every parent or baby and having all the information to hand will help you make the decisions that are right for you and your family.
Risk number 1:
The worst thing I find about cloth nappies is the smell of the used nappy bucket (also the waterproof bag with used nappies is the same). It smells like cleaning out a hamster cage with a strong stale urine scent. And with weaning the smell may become worse. The great thing is that the smell is contained within the bucket (so you only smell it when you open it to put more in or when washing the nappies) and can be lessened with a couple of drops of lavender or tea tree oil on the top of the lid. I also rinse my night time nappies in the sink which decreases the smell and wash every 3(ish) days. I also keep the bucket out of direct sunlight. I wash the bucket with fairy liquid each time I wash the nappies to keep it clean and fresh.
That said if parents don’t use nappy bags for disposable nappies the nappy bins for used disposables can smell just as bad. It’s just that parents who use reusables have to wash their smelly nappies rather than chuck into the bin. On the upside in the summer parents who use reusables won’t have an outdoor bin smelling of decaying nappies in the heat 😊
Risk number 2:
The washing is the other big downside of using cloth nappies. It takes me five minutes to chuck into a machine twice a week. If they are heavily soiled or my night nappies I pre rinse first (thanks to doing elimination communication I have very few soiled nappies 😄) Of course the worst part is touching the soiled nappies and the smell when you first put them In the wash. With the breastfed poos in previous weeks I have been rinsing the fleece liner before putting in the bucket.
When I come to introducing foods I use disposable liners to chuck away the poos and wash the rest of the nappy system. Alternatively you can use the fleece liner and lift the toilet lid up, hold the flush down with the liner against the toilet and it apparently cleans off the weaning poos off the liner – you probably don’t want weaning poos in your washing machine. Breastfed poos are mostly water based, smell sweet and aren’t bad for your machine (A once a month hot cycle is recommended like anyone whether you cloth nappy or not)
The other downside is time for drying. Unlike clothes most reusable nappies are advised not be tumble dried as it can reduce its absorbency and lifetime. So it means spending time hanging the nappies in a clothes horse inside in the winter or on the line in the summer (the sun is great for removing poo stains). Bamboo is an amazing material for absorbency but takes a long time to dry. Indoors they take about 24 hours to dry, outdoors varies depending on the weather and heat. It also means having extra time to sort the nappies as well – I do this while Evie is playing in her room as I can talk/sing/play with her while sorting the washing at the same time. In the early days of the #fourthtrimester this would have been impossible with a clingy baby so I am glad that I waited until Evie was 8 weeks and became interested by her playmat to give me ten minutes hands free time. As a new mum I was learning the ropes and learning how to use/wash reusables was an adventure in itself. Next time around I will know how to use and will start from birth but as a first time mum #wingingit I needed to have time to figure everything out.
Risk # 3 Upfront cost and the cost of nappy print addiction
As I said yesterday there are many long term financial benefits to using cloth nappies. There are so many second hand ones you can get discounted, pre loved kits and most companies do offers. However another downside is that you may become addicted and end up buying more and more because they look amazing or you want to try all the different brands and styles. Also you either choose to go up a size early In vests and babygros due to the bulkiness (for two part night nappy systems) or you can buy a couple of packs of vest extenders to make them last longer (£3 a pack of 3 so not expensive). And to begin with using cloth nappies are confusing. You have instructions to read to ensure you care for the nappies properly to ensure that they last as long as possible.
Luckily there is the ability to try kits from Wiltshire wildlife trust (check other local councils if you live elsewhere as you may be able to get discount vouchers or packs free). Every baby is different. Some are long, some are short, some have skinny legs, others have chunky thighs. You as a mum might prefer poppers or Velcro. You may find an all in one system easier to apply or you may prefer a two part system. It’s more expensive to find the nappy that suits you and your baby best with reusables in comparison to just choosing a different brand of disposables. But the trial kits are a great way to see what works best before investing in them. Most councils give you the opportunity to try before you buy which is fab to know what suits you and your baby best. I have still spent less on my reusable nappies (hard to believe with the nappy addiction but it’s still only £700 – and I’ve even handed my size one two parter’s to a friend to use on her new baby and then I shall have them back = next baby free of charge and I can sell my nappies on when I am done!)
Another risk of reusable nappies is how bulky they are.
The two part nappy systems are the most bulky on you baby, as you can see in the pictures. The all in one nappies are much slimmer but from personal experience more likely to leave slight urine leaks on the edges of vests (which may be due to the fact my daughter has skinny legs rather than chunky legs) and need changing more regularly. Disposables only become bulky when filled whereas reusable nappies are bulky all the time. Due to the bulkiness it means going up a clothes size earlier than planned or getting vest extenders.
It also takes up more room in your changing bag (the nappies are light though). Going away for a few days or on holiday can also be a struggle storage wise and many people choose to use disposables while away to save washing and room in the changing bags. Or parents plan to go away somewhere with washing facilities to continue using and not take as many if it is a longer trip.
Another risk is support
Because society has been using disposable nappies for so long now, reusables aren’t ’embedded’ into our ‘natural’ way of parenting. What this means is that you will have a great many comments, criticisms and moments where people around you might not be as supportive. Like anything is seems overwhelming the choice to begin with but this is where going along to local nappy meets, joining supportive online Facebook communities can really help you. Also they are a fab way of troubleshooting any concerns you may have. Join the Wiltshire real nappy network page on facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/170778133114106/ (and join the close bottom fluff of Wiltshire page), and the nappy lady pregnancy, baby and parenting group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/groups/TNLParentGroup/about/ has been an invaluable source of support to me throughout my postpartum period: not just for cloth nappies. I have posted about anything and everything, and as a supportive community it’s amazing to provide moral support to others. It’s one of the least judgemental or picky groups I have been part of and sadly it has fuelled my nappy addiction with all the beautiful pictures of nappies and gorgeous babies with pretty nappies on.
The final problem
Is that it is difficult to know when the nappy needs to be changed. As they do not get bulky when it fills unlike a disposable it is a bit of a guessing game in the early days and it varies depending on how many inserts you add, what material your nappy system is and the age of your child (as urine volume changes with your growing child – some months they may be ‘heavy wetters’ and others not as much). As time progresses you begin to know when the nappy needs changing, how long each one lasts and then it gives you a rough timeframe. Depending on the nappies used I use between 4-6 nappies in each 24 hour period. I know which ones will last 2-3hours and which ones last 12-13 hours.
So are there ALTERNATIVES to cloth or disposable nappies? Essentially yes you can get eco disposable nappies. Having never used eco disposable nappies I cannot tell you the pros and cons but Wendy at the nappy lady has the low down on them https://www.thenappylady.co.uk/news/fallacies-of-eco-disposables.html
From reading, eco nappies have less chemicals and some are biodegradable BUT only if you do not send it to landfill where it gets compacted and takes just as long as traditional nappies to decompose. So unless you are going to compost the ECO nappies in your back garden (I would be most worried about the smell and hygiene here) they are just a really expensive nappy with a few less chemicals to put against your babies skin. Italy are also looking into recycling used nappies. Although if you read Wendy’s blog, this technology/ability to recycle used nappies has been around for a long time and no country has wanted to do this until now mostly due to profit margins. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/science-environment-47964006/disposable-nappies-how-this-company-plans-to-recycle-them
And there is one other ALTERNATIVE which is also technically the same as what if I do NOTHING? You could begin elimination communication from the day your baby is born. It takes a lot of nappy free time, watching your babies cues closely and getting them on a potty/toilet quickly. It is the leading form of toilet hygiene for babies in the world. It’s a thing I have used with Evie since 4 months old and it’s meant a lot of poos have been in the toilet. Win win! Again there are support groups on facebook you can join for extra support and advice: https://www.facebook.com/groups/babyledpottytraining/about/.
Another alternative to help reduce financial costs, reduce your carbon footprint and reduce plastic waste is to use reusable wipes.
I began using disposable wipes and nappies when my daughter was born. I tried a variety of different wipes and all of them made my baby have a bright red sore bum (all babies have delicate skin). No matter how natural disposable wipes claim they are, look at the ingredients list to preserve the wipes and fragrance them which will show you how many chemicals still exist. And I challenge any of you to use baby wipes to wipe yourself after every time you go to the toilet for a week (wee and poo) and see how quickly your skin changes. Clean your face twice a day with a baby wipe for a week and you will notice how dry your face becomes. Disposable baby wipes are awful for facial skin and every cosmetic expert out there reports how awful baby wipes are for make up removal; yet it is a cultural and societal norm to expect our babies delicate bottoms, hands and faces to be wiped with disposable wipes. This is how baby bum creams make a huge amount of profit each year. Nappy rash will still happen when a baby is unwell, ill or teething but you will save a fortune not having to buy huge amounts of barrier creams to treat the problem the wipes cause.
It takes up the same room in your bag as a large pack of wipes. I have a set for hands/face and then a set for her bum. You can make your own or buy them. The great things about them are that you choose what you put on it. You could just use water or use what ever products you use to clean your baby or make your own solution: https://allaboutclothdiapers.com/my-three-favorite-homemade-wipes-solution-recipes/ I store them in clean used Chinese takeaway tubs and put the soiled wipes in with my waterproof nappy bag.
You never need to find a bin, they are lighter than a pack of disposable wipes, you need less of them and you can find a sink, wash out the muck and start again. You can wash the hand and face wipes with your normal wash. You could even just use cheap flannels from bargain shops. Many companies such as cheeky wipes also offer all in one kits to make life easier