After making the naive announcement to friends and family that I was going to use cloth nappies (casting my memory back, strangely think I found this easier than announcing our pregnancy news), the enormity of my commitment set in upon hitting enter on my search term ‘modern cloth nappies’. Fitted, one size, all-in-one, all-in-two, night nappy…the list goes on… arrh what did this all mean? Before I venture any further, it would be remise of me not to mention that pre-baby, researching purchases was just not my thing. Perhaps in part because I am not a huge consumer of goods as such, but mostly due to a feeling or lack there of, of the need to so. Ha! How things have changed after a couple of dodgy baby purchases, but this is another story in itself!! So I returned to my home in Melbourne, from an almost two year stretch in Sydney, at 36 weeks pregnant, with little more than the baby gifts from work friends and colleagues. I can honestly say, I may have had the cutest pair of impractical kimono-style flannelette baby pj’s, but that was where my baby clothes begun and ended! It is not unreasonable to say there was a fair bit of tutting and flapping that transpired once this was revealed to my world (my mother mostly). So researching cloth nappies was one of a good number of things I needed to think about at that time!

Cloth Nappies

Thankfully my soon to be business partner Shannon, had done the leg work just six months previous, with the birth of her first and with her guidance, I was set up with a nappy stash in a two hour buy up. Honestly though, my brain was awash with which nappy required a cover, the do’s and don’ts of washing them and the list goes on. You could have knocked me over with a feather when Shannon broke the news that these nappies should be washed at least EIGHT times before using them, much like a towel, to up their absorbency.

When bubs arrived, coping with the explosion of washing was enough to send any sleep-deprived new mum around the bend, let alone considering adding to it with cloth nappies. So the eight-times washed nappies sat neglected under the change table, pining for some attention, for at least three months. I could only muster up the courage to use them in the safety of my home, too afraid of a massive explosion when out and about that I wouldn’t be able to cope with. I will be honest though, the one thing that drove me to convert to a full time user, was not the dollars invested (I think I spent about $400 initially to set myself up), but the naysayers among my friends who said I would never use them, as blah blah and blah blah had tried them and they got sick of them leaking, they are a pain to use and wash etc. etc. (I since established though, they were using the old school flat cloth nappies, unaware of the modern options – so enough said on that!) So three months into motherhood I had enough confidence in both my mothering abilities and my cloth nappies to convert to a full time user.

Jonah in cloth

Three years later, my first-born is toilet trained (thankfully, as two in cloth was hard work at times – when I crazily only had and still only have 15 nappies that I use religiously) and my 19-month-old boy is using his sisters’ hand-me-downs, which have easily withstood the test of time. With number three on the way, I am confident these 15 nappies will live to see another bum!

So did I ever fall off, or almost fall-off the cloth wagon? No and yes. I moved to Brisbane when I was 32 weeks pregnant with my second. Living in an old Queenslander, our laundry was a rat infested out-house, down a set off extremely steep stairs (illegally built I would imagine). Many a thought of “why am I doing this” crossed my mind, but I persisted. Going on a holiday, also came with the double bonus of using disposable nappies - I always granted myself this luxury. The cost of buying disposables (as I always had to compensate by buying the most eco-friendly option available) and the amount of rubbish they generated always made me want to return to cloth. My daughter always seemed to develop a worse than usual nappy rash with disposables, so changing back was always a no-brainer for me.

So do I do anything different these days with my cloth nappies? Yes, after trial and error with a good number of different brands and styles, I stick to one brand; an all-in-one, one size nappy. Both of my children have been heavy wetters (living in Brisbane, the climate was conducive to drinking A LOT of water), so I add two extra boosters, to increase their absorbency. BUT my biggest confession is that I use a disposable nappy at night, EVERY night. Both my children tended to soil their nappy first thing in the morning, so I rationalised in my mind that it is OK to use one disposable a day, eliminating this mess. This decision has been one of my best cloth nappy decisions, as I firmly believe it has kept me on the cloth nappy path.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to add that cloth nappies are never going to be, in my opinion, as easy to use as disposables. Over time they have become a part of parenting for me and I am more than happy to spend the extra time washing and re-assembling them, as reducing my family’s environmental footprint is important to me, but is not everyone’s ethos. I would like to think in a perfect world, cloth could once again become the nappy of choice, as the thought of almost 4.5 million disposable nappies being sent to landfill annually in Australia alone, is hard for me to comprehend. [I based this on ABS statistics of 297,900 births registered in Australia in 2010. This figure I multiplied by 6 nappies daily (and this is an underestimate) and multiplied again by 2.5 (years) in nappies on average]. However, with the seemingly ever-increasing pressures of life, we are all consciously or sub-consciously searching for short –cuts in the daily grind of parenting, and cloth has been bumped for a more time effective alternative. I have resided to the fact that this is just how we currently roll as society. Who knows though, our children’s children may one day rock the cloth again!!

Until next time, green regards!


Beginning Green