When I was pregnant I thought that washable nappies were:
Accountable for giving babies nappy rash
I did not think to look into them when pregnant as I was not told anything about them, they were not covered at all in my antenatal classes & as I had signed up to every mother and baby club online I had loads of vouchers for Money off disposables.
My baby was not your regular ''poo everyday baby" but more of a "I'm going to save it all and poo every 5-8 days" baby, so when she went, well, she went everywhere. I tried almost every brand of disposable out there and could not find a single one that could contain my daughters explosive movements. I got sick of being frightened about her having a poo as I knew whenever she did it (and there was no warning, pattern or single thing that seemed to encourage her!) I would have to change her whole outfit & nappy. Baby poo also stains so you need to soak the clothes asap otherwise the outfit is ruined.
So everywhere that I went my changing bag was sure to go complete with nappies, wipes, a change of clothes & small pot of stain remover. If she went in the car seat that was a real problem as the cover also had to come off and be washed meaning that we could not go in the car again until the cover was dry.
Basically, the whole poo situation was getting out of hand and stressing me out! I was also finding that as she started sleeping longer periods at night wee was also leaking from many brands and I had had enough.
I was chatting to a lady at my breastfeeding group that used washable nappies, she said she uses them to stop nappies going into a landfill and told me there was no need for soaking, boiling & if buying pre-loved they are dirt cheap to buy. She claimed to have never had a poo leak from a cloth nappy and only ever had wee leak once when her daughter had slept longer than usual and she had not added an extra booster. I listened to waht she said but I was still sceptical due the things people had told me before.
I started asking around and soon realised that actually a lot of mums use cloth and all agreed they are better than disposables for containment. They also gave me loads of other reasons why they use cloth:
- Better for sensitive skin/Healthier for baby
- Quicker to potty train
- Saves money
- Better for the environment
- Less risk of SIDS
- Less smelly
- they look nicer
- more comfortable for baby
- Its easier to tell if baby is dehydrated and if they are having enough milk
To be honest I was really shocked that there was so much more to it that what I originally though so dcided to take each 'pro' into consideration and decide whether Real Nappies were for us...
Are cloth nappies better for sensitive skin and healthier?
Disposable have many chemicals in them, using cloth nappies ensure those chemicals are not next to your babies skin. According to Happy Bums Ltd
"TriButylTin - otherwise known as TBT was found in disposable nappies by the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) and Greenpeace. WEN found levels of 3.6 times the recommended level. TBT can be absorbed by your baby's skin and is a toxic chemical, which is a known endocrine disruptor. It is known that TBT causes sex changes to occur in shell fish. TBT is found in the plastic of the disposable nappy.
Sodium Polyacrylate is a super absorber. This chemical was considered to contribute to Toxic Shock Syndrome and the use of it in tampons was banned in 1985. Sodium Polyacrylate gives the illusion that your baby's skin is dry and actually it isn't. Sodium Polyacrylate when found in a disposable nappy looks like small crystals. Anyone who has used disposable nappies, know that as the nappy gets wet it expands and turns to a gel like substance. Sometimes this can leak from the nappy onto your baby's skin.
As disposable nappies have only been around since the late 1970's and early 1980's, there has not been any long term studies on all the chemicals found in the disposable nappy. A German study back in 2000 found that disposable nappies increased the scrotal temperature of boys, and whilst new born baby boys testicles are still developing, this is a major concern. Increased scrotal temperature is known to be associated with infertility in men. The German study also examined fertility rates in Men. The research found that the average sperm count in these men had decreased by some 25% and showed that the number of men being treated in fertility clinics has increased over the last 30 years"
For me this is pretty convincing research the washable nappies are better next to babies bums.
Quicker to Potty Train
According to Gary Lamont, Real Nappy Network Co-ordinator:
''Children today are potty training 6-12 months later than they did 50 years ago, and many parents using cloth nappies see their children potty trained by 2 years. Cloth nappies allow babies to feel when they are going to the toilet, and so they do not have to learn a whole new set of sensations when training. Choosing wraps or nappies which close with poppers for this size can help, as they can be pulled up & down like pants."
This statement makes a lot of sense, there are other experiments that have been undertaken to back up this research posted all over the internet.
Does using cloth nappies save money?
According to Go Real, each aby will go through aroung 4,000 nappy changed in their lifetime. A disposable nappy costs on average about 13p a nappy (based on the average of a Pampers Simply, Huggies Superdry & Sainsbury'S Explorer nappy price per nappy in a pack of 50-64 whilst there is 1/3 off all nappies - can't be fairer than that for pricing!) which means £520 minium & this is only if you can always buy nappies in bulk when on offer. You can kit yourself out with everything you need for birth to potty nappying for well under £100, so yes it definately saves you money & even more so for the 2nd child...and 3rd...and so on...
Are cloth nappies better for the environment?
Ok, 4,000 nappies sitting complete with their nappy sack sitting in a landfill (this is aprox 160 black bin bags full) or 20 washable nappies siting in a drawer in your house has most of the answer. Of course, washing & drying them has a factor but if you line/airer dry them and wash at 40 degrees with sanitizer then yes they are far better for the environment.
Are babies at less risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or Cot Death) when using washable nappies?
Babies in Cloth tend to be cooler than those in disposable nappies and over heating is related to SIDS so there is a chance the two could be linked.
Are cloth nappies less smelly than disposables?
Just take a whiff of any unused disposable then do the same with a line dried cloth nappy...I'll let you be the judge of that one...
Do cloth nappies look nicer?
There are 100's of different brands of cloth nappies out there and thousands of different designs, prints and fits. You can get pink girly nappies, army print covers, leopard print all in ones, plain white terry's...there really is something for everyones taste. There are even companies that specialise in personalising cloth nappies. Plus there is something very cute about a newborn in a cute pinned terry - its just not the same as a baby wearing a paper and plastic disposable.
Are real nappies more comfortable for baby?
Any women who has worn paper knickers following childbirth will know the answer to this...
Cloth nappies especially fleece lined ones are much softer next to babies skin and the fact the fabrics are breathable means that baby does not get as sweaty as they may in a disposable in the warm weather. Some babies also have a bit of a reaction to the chemicals in disposables so it can have a burning sensation when they go to the loo.
How do real nappies help you to know if your baby is dehydrated or reassure you they are having enough milk?
Disposables absorb all liquid into the core meaning it can be hard to tell if baby has been for a wee. With cloth nappies you can tell if baby has been as it will be wet, this is great as you can be really in tune with your baby and know very quickly if there is somehting wrong so you can take action as soon as possible.
And for the most common misconceptions; nappy rash, containment & are they not just loads of work?
Babies in cloth are no more likely to develop nappy rash as long as the nappy is either lined with fleece of you use a flushable/disposable liner. They need changing about as often as a disposable, fabrics such as bamboo are more absorbant so nappy changes can be less frequent, great for night times.
Cloth nappies contain both poo & wee far better than a disposable, this is more obvious when using a 2 part nappy system as the wast has to get through elastic/fold of the nappy & the elastic on the cover. You can add additional boosters for night times so that there is no need to change baby until the morning (as lon as they haven't been for a poo).
Real nappies do not need to be boiled, soaked or sterlised in sterlising fluid. You just need a bucket with a lid to keep the nappies in until wash day, no need to put any water or anything in the bucket although some people like to add a couple of drops of tea tree oil to mask any smells. Once the bucket is full (every 2-3 days) just place all nappies in the machine and wash on 40 degrees with half the normal detergent and a dessert spoon of nappy sanitiser. Thats it. Not that much extra work when you think in terms of soaking clothes and washing car seat covers.
So for me, using cloth nappies has actually made my life easier and I am slightly more affluent for it :)
There are lots of schemes all over the country to give you an incentive to use Real Nappies, why not find out if such a scheme is operating in your area or find a nappy advisor to go through things with you in more detail? You may be like me and find it actually saves you a lot of effort.