My Green Nappy Discovering Modern Cloth Nappies and Eco-Friendly Disposable Nappies

December 23, 2011

Top 8 Myths About Cloth Nappies

Filed under: Modern Cloth Nappy Advice — charndra @ 7:00 am

Top 8 Myths About Cloth Nappies

A lot of myths exist around cloth nappies. I’m here to dispel them!

Let it be known, first of all, that I have nothing against the old fashioned terry squares, even though it looks like I’m bagging them. I used them on my son for well into his third year of nappying, and almost exclusively for his first three months. They’re nice & cheap, can fit any baby of any size or age, and they’re great for more than just nappying – burp rags, wiping up spills, putting on your bare leg so the laptop fan doesn’t burn your skin, etc.

So they definitely have their place, but a lot of the myths seem to be based on them, so I have to mention that.

By Melissa Smith of Little Para Pants

1. They leak

What, so you’ve never had a leak from a disposable? I have! As for cloth having leaks, remember that regardless of what type of nappy you’re using, it only has a limited capacity. Once it reaches capacity, any nappy will leak, soak through, or blow out. Also I think this myth is based on older style terry squares, which definitely can have leaks if you’re not using the right type of fold for your baby. Modern cloth nappies have elastic around the legs and in the waist to prevent anything getting out.

2. They’re too much work

The old style of cloth nappying required you to fold the terry square, dunk it in the toilet to rinse, soak it in a bucket with Napisan, and iron it of all things! When you’re thinking like that, of course it’s too much work. Newer style nappies need no folding. You do need to rinse/dump off any poo, but you’re supposed to do that with disposables anyway. And as for soaking, there’s evidence that shows it causes as many (or more) problems as it’s supposed to prevent – such as creating a nice, moist environment for bacteria to grow in. Most cloth users simply put the soiled nappy in a bucket without soaking or rinsing (except in the case of runny poo). This is called ‘dry pailing’ and is much easier than soaking everything.

3. Cloth nappies are worse for the environment because they use so much water

Have you looked at how much water goes into making disposable nappies? And let’s not forget the chemicals used to bleach the paper, those mystery crystals that absorb the liquid, the plastic coating on the outside, the fact that most people don’t dump the poo off before putting nappies in the bin, and I could go on and on. Cloth, on the other hand, will last through a child’s entire nappy time, and even on to the next child/children. When they finally wear out, you can put them in the bin or compost them, and they’ll break down in weeks, not years.

4. They’re gross and unhygienic

Well, yeah, the thought of handling poo doesn’t impress me either, but the thought of my son’s waste products sitting around in a landfill for 500 years or more impresses me less! Now that’s gross and unhygienic.

5. They’re bulky

It depends on the nappy. Some can be really bulky, but in some cases this can be a good thing. Bulky cloth nappies are one of the more natural treatments for hip displasia. Hemp and bamboo are both super absorbent fabrics, which means fewer layers and better absorbency than old style terry squares.

6. They smell

If you’re cloth nappying, generally you’ll put the soiled nappies in a bucket to deal with all together. Buckets have lids. And when the bucket gets smelly, a little baking soda in the bottom will fix that pretty easily. And honestly, I think disposables smell more than cloth!

7. They cost too much

The initial outlay for cloth nappies does indeed look scary to start. But when you think about it, those nappies are going to go through several uses every week. So you’re going to very quickly recoup your costs! If every fortnight during your first pregnancy, you spend $20-30 on a nice modern cloth nappy, and one of those fortnights buy a pack of prefolds or terry squares, by the time your baby is born, you’ll have enough nappies to last you a couple days between washes. Also, many cloth nappy retailers will happily set up a lay-by account for you if you’re planning a bulk purchase. Getting addicted to all the cute prints and buying more nappies than you need, however, I can’t help you with!

8. They keep baby wet

Only if you don’t change often enough. Also, many types of cloth liners exist now that keep baby dry – suedecloth and microfleece to name a couple. However, some parents prefer their babies to know when they’re wet as it may make toilet learning easier.

– Melissa from Little Para Pants in South Australia

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