Your Guide to using Modern Cloth Nappies
Modern cloth nappies, as the name suggests, are today’s version of the traditional cloth nappy. Gone are the huge safety pins and hard to fold towelling with leaky legs. Instead, today’s modern cloth nappies offer an easy-to-use, environmentally friendly, cost-effective nappy which is also kinder to baby’s skin. Washing modern cloth nappies is also a cinch and doesn’t need to add a huge amount of time or work to your daily routine.
Why use modern cloth nappies?
There are a few reasons people choose to use modern cloth nappies. Here are the top ones:
From newborn to toilet trained, the average child will go through a staggering 5,000-6,000 disposable nappies1. This results in approximately 800 million nappies ending up in Australian landfills each year2. Once in the ground, the plastic in the nappies can then take 200-500 years to break down!2
By comparison, modern cloth nappies can be used and washed multiple times and have been shown to have up to 40% less environmental impact than single use nappies3. With the correct care they can even last to child number 2 and 3.
Better for baby
Nappy rash has increased from 7% to over 78% since 19553as the use of disposable nappies has increased. This is believed to be due to an allergic reaction by some babies to the chemicals and gels used in disposable nappies (and chemicals in mainstream nappy wipes). Additionally, some disposable nappies encourage longer term use, which can result in the bacteria in urine irritating baby’s sensitive skin.
Modern cloth nappies come in a range of natural fibres including cotton, wool, bamboo and hemp, which are gentler against baby’s delicate skin.Save money
Depending on which cloth nappy you decide to use, you can save anywhere from $1,500 to $2,000 by choosing modern cloth nappies over disposable. Whether you have one child or more, this is a significant saving.
Types of modern cloth nappies
There are four main types of modern cloth nappies:
Fitted nappies are shaped like a disposable nappy with a contoured shape and elastic at the waist and legs. They do up with snaps or hook-and-loop closures. They require a waterproof cover to be placed over the top.
Cons: The extra step of the waterproof cover may be a deterrent if changing on the run. Takes a bit longer to dry than pocket or all-in-one.
Pocket nappies contain an opening at the front or back into which you insert a booster (pad) which makes the nappy absorbent. Pocket nappies do up with snaps and usually have an inbuilt waterproof layer.
Cons: Unstuffing the dirty insert takes a bit of practice and re-stuffing adds a small amount of extra time to preparing the nappy for use.
All in one (AIO)
All-in-ones are the most convenient modern cloth nappy and closest in design to the disposable. An AIO contains the absorbent nappy and waterproof layer all in one piece so you don’t need to fit boosters or add a waterproof cover. The one piece means you can throw the whole nappy in your wet bag or nappy bucket when it’s time to be changed.
Cons: Takes longer to dry than other variants as all layers sewn in together.
All in two (AI2)
The all in two nappy consists of a waterproof outer cover with a snap-in absorbent pad. The cover can be reused several times before becoming wet and often has snaps which can be adjusted to different sized babies, making this an economical option.
Pros: Easy to use and empty – simply remove pad and empty into toilet. Economical option with reusable cover and snap-to-adjust sizing.
Cons: A bit more work than AIOs. Also, some brands require that you use only their inserts.
How to use modern cloth nappies
- If using cloth nappies full time, have enough nappies so you only need to wash every second day.This allows one day for wear and one day for laundering.
- Take your chosen cloth nappy and fit to your baby.
- If using barrier creams, you should also use a nappy liner as the creams can clog the cloth. You can choose from biodegradable disposable liners or reusable liners
- When it’s time to change your baby, remove the nappy.
- Drop solids down the toilet. If a significant amount of solids remains, rinse excess off. One option to do this is a nappy sprayer which is fitted to the side of your toilet and sprays solids off the nappy and straight into the toilet.
- If using a biodegradable liner, dispose of liner in the rubbish. Don’t throw down the toilet as it can block the plumbing. If using a cloth liner, remove as much solid material as possible and place liner in nappy bucket.
- Pop nappy in nappy bucket or in your wet bag if out and about.
- Wash dirty nappies every second day. You can wash at night or first thing in the morning and then hang out to dry for the day.
- First, wash in a 40 degree pre-rinse/pre-wash cycle without detergent. This gets rid of excess soiling before the main wash. It is also advisable to do this as modern water conservative washing machines will recycle water from pre-rinse into the regular cycle and you don’t want your nappies being washed in dirty water.
- Secondly, wash the nappies in a 40 degree regular/long wash cycle using a natural detergent.
- Dry on the line if possible as sun bleaches the nappies and prolongs their life. If line drying isn’t possible, then tumble dry according to manufacturer’s directions.
- Never use bleach on your modern cloth nappies as it will degrade the cloth and may cause rashes. Likewise, avoid fabric softeners as these reduce the absorbency of the nappies.
- Fold nappies ready for use.
Considerations when choosing a modern cloth nappy
Following are some key questions to consider when choosing your modern cloth nappy:
- Do I want to use cloth full time or part time?
- If my child is at daycare, can I use cloth there?
- What is the main factor in choosing a nappy – fast and easy to use, quick to dry, or cost-effective?
- What is the weather like where I live?
How many nappies will I need? Guidelines for use:
- Newborn babies will use approximately 10-12 nappies per day
- Infants will use approximately 6-8 nappies per day
- Older babies will use approximately 4-5 nappies per day and one at night
Try a few different types to see which you prefer. You can do this by purchasing different types of nappies or great cost-effective option is to hire nappy packs from a local nappy library. You can search online to find the nearest nappy library to you.
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