Why use reusable nappies?
While the disposable v reusable nappies debate has been raging for some years now, there's no doubt that they have come a long way from the days when white terry nappies had to be boiled in aluminium buckets!
When deciding on whether to use a cloth nappy or a disposable, it's worth knowing that modern cloth nappies are not only good for your baby (comfy, shaped to fit and elasticated for maximum containment) and good for you (convenient, easy to use), but they're also eco friendly, environmentally friendly AND good for your bank account! So what's not to like?
Why use reusable nappies: 1. Good for the environment!
For many parents, the environmental factor is often the most important reason when opting for cloth nappies. If you think about the number of changes needed per day, it's a frightening statistic that disposables account for approximately 4% of all waste to landfill. This equates to three billion nappies weighing 690,000 tonnes per annum. Many people are disgusted to learn that all this untreated sewage is buried in landfills. They also take up to 500 years to decompose. Combine that with wrapping them in a plastic bag, which takes up to 1000 years to decompose and we can see how scary the environmental impact is.
Disposables, which are still full, are simply rolled up and thrown into the bin without a thought for the environment. Many parents simply do not realise that the contents of their baby's disposables are as polluting as adult faeces. Washable nappies are a viable alternative and offer a means of significantly reducing the disposable waste stream, whilst also benefiting parents by offering a cheaper alternative with proven carbon reduction qualities.
An Environment Agency Lifecycle Assessment report, which was published as far back as 2008, confirmed that real nappies, if used sensibly, were up to 40% better from a global warming perspective than their disposable counterpart, making them eco-friendly. To achieve this carbon saving, parents needed to wash at 60°C in full loads and use A-rated appliances. Washing at 40 and not using a tumble dryer makes them even more environmentally better. This did not take into account the time taken for disposable nappies to decompose, or ones which are wrapped in plastic bags at nappy change time, nor did it consider that cloth is often reused on second and subsequent children, so the life cycle is much longer.
If drying is an issue, we recommend avoiding bamboo shaped nappies, which take much longer to dry and opting for a quick drying type like BumGenius Freetime or Flip Stay Dry. Neither of these needs a tumble dryer and will dry very quickly in comparison to more bulky types and babies love their soft stay dry layers against their skin.
Why use reusable nappies: 2. Good for your bank account!
The financial benefits of cotton nappies are often overlooked, but research has shown that if a family uses cloth they can potentially save up to £500 over the lifetime of a child - which averages around two and a half years - and even more if used on a subsequent child. There is naturally an upfront cost when buying a starter kit (an average £150-£250 for around 25), but if you take into account the cost of disposables per month - which can average out at around £40 to £80 - you can clearly see the saving that can be made over a short period of time. Further savings can also be made by the fact that many are now available in one-size and so will last from birth until potty for each child. When BumGenius launched their one-size pocket in 2006, it revolutionised the cost of cloth! Families who have two or three children can use and reuse them time and time again, making the savings even greater! You can often find second-hand, in great condition for sale too, which means you can save even more!
Why use reusable nappies: 3. Good for your baby!
In addition to the financial and environmental benefits of using cloth, there are also advantages for your baby, since the use of natural fibres, such as organic cotton or natural materials, means that if, for example, a child has any skin problems, parents can usually see an improvement once they make the switch from disposables to reusables without chemicals that use natural fibres instead. We have found, as years go on, that allergy to disposables is becoming more and more prevalent, and this is an increasingly common reason for making the switch.
Why use reusable nappies: 4. Convenient to use!
Unlike the old-fashioned terry nappies, which also required the use of near-lethal pins, modern types come in a range of styles, so there's something to suit everyone. All-in-One (AIO) nappies are as simple to use as disposables and many styles also come with hook and loop (velcro) fastenings, poppers or clips, so they're easy to pop on and off, and you don't have to worry about jabbing your baby - or yourself - as you're working with them.
Fitted nappies which require a separate waterproof cover tend to be particularly popular for night-time use, although many people use them for daytime as well. Whilst some parents are put off by having to work with a two-part system, like bamboo nappies, particularly when they're trying to deal with a wriggling baby, they tend to be a lot more economical and you wash less so slightly better for the environment. BumGenius Flip is a two piece pad system and is our most popular style as once you have your waterproof breathable flip wrap, you can choose organic, stay dry or disposable pads for the inner part. Whichever style appeals to you most, there's a fantastic range of options available in today's market.
When you're first starting out, the wide range of shapes and sizes available can be a bit daunting, so try a few types before you buy a bulk pack. Fortunately, you can buy most in single packs, which allow you to try them out on your baby before deciding which brand to opt for, so take advantage of this before you splash out!
Also natural fibres, like organic cotton, make great options when toilet training as they help babies to feel the wet, so help to get the cause and effect which will aid in potty training. In the months before you start to train, remove the stay dry layer and this will help make the process.
Why use reusable nappies: 5. Convenient for washing
As we said, the old-fashioned image of aluminium buckets filled with terry nappies steaming away on the cooker is long gone! Today's types are easily washed in the washing machine which eliminates the need for soaking, making them convenient for today's hectic lifestyles.
The process is convenient and easy to factor into your daily routine. You simply store your nappies in a wetbag or nappy bucket until you have enough to make up a load in your washing machine. Your baby's bowel movement is collected in biodegradable liner sheets, which can be flushed away and, in any case, poo isn't an issue until your baby is on to solids! Alternatively, you can simply use washable stay dry liners. Whether you choose a wetbag or a nappy bucket is entirely up to you. You can read more about the pros and cons of the different nappy storage options HERE!
If there is any dried-in poo, then use your machine's pre-wash to loosen it and rinse it out, before going onto the main wash. Wash the nappies on a 60°C wash cycle or 40°C - the choice is yours. You can, of course, if you wish, soak them prior to washing, but it's no longer a requirement, and actually a bit of a chore!
Why use reusable nappies: 6. Sleek design
While the benefits of using cloth over disposables are many and varied when it comes to your choice of designs, the sky's the limit! The range of colours and styles available on today's market is amazing and you'll have great fun choosing designs that appeal to you - and your baby! Over the last few years, they have evolved into a range of funky designs, and today you can get them in practically any colour and pattern! Or of course, you can just buy white!
Why use reusable nappies: 7. Nappy Rash
We have done a blog to explain this in details, but just a quick summary to say NO, using cloth does not cause it more than disposable. In fact, if your child is allergic to disposables, they will more likely cause a rash!