There’s no right or wrong answer…but when you’re making your decision to use cloth or disposable nappies, or indeed a combination of both, it helps to hear all sides of the argument.
-We’ve put two passionate bloggers head to head to argue the pros and cons of each option. Becky from The Mummy Adventure is a cloth-bum mum and Jo from Jo’s Nursery says she’d never use anything but disposies. Both are mummy to two young boys.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL ARGUMENT
“If Henry VIII had used disposable nappies then they would still be rotting in landfills now – fact. Every year the UK dumps 1.21 million tons of dirty nappies in landfills and it takes 500 years for each one to completely decompose,” Becky informs us.
“Well, cloth nappies are not as ‘green’ as everyone thinks they are,” begins Jo. According to the Nappy Information Service there’s little difference in the overall environmental impact of disposable and washable nappies. Disposable nappies contribute to household waste while washable nappies consume energy, water and detergents.
TIME IS MONEY
“You can’t argue the fact that cloth nappies save money too – the average child will use 6,000 in their life time,” Becky retorts. “I bought a kit of TotsBots nappies when I had my first son. Three years later the same nappies used by my second. I spent nearly a year with two children in cloth nappies and saved nearly £2,000 – enough for a lovely family holiday.” Kiddicare sells similar Bambino Mio starter packs. Read more about the range in this special Bump Baby & You Q&A.
Jo decided she’d be using disposable nappies early on in her first pregnancy. “The main reason is washing! I can barely keep on top of our laundry pile. Adding stinky nappies into the mix really didn’t appeal! With two kids, the washing pile has only got bigger so I continued to use disposables, despite offers from the local council to convince me to try cloth.” Some local councils offer Real Nappy Incentive schemes which include free cloth nappy trials or money off vouchers.
“I spend enough hours in the day doing the housework and laundry. Children are only young once and time spent with them is precious – I’d rather be reading them a story than doing extra washing,” Jo continues.
Becky explains it’s not THAT bad, “Yes, there is a bit of extra work. Every three days I put on an extra wash. I tip the nappies straight from the bucket into the machine, do a cold rinse and then a wash. It takes five minutes – about the same as it took me to empty the bin every day when we used disposables.”
At home, maybe cloth nappies are manageable, but what about when you’re out and about, asks Jo. “I already look like a pack horse when we go out – cloth nappies would mean ANOTHER bag! At least people would give and the double buggy a wide berth as I’d be carrying an armload of dirty cloth nappies with me!
“I can’t count how many nappy changes I do every day. My toddler drinks like a fish and my baby does very big poos when he’s teething which disposable nappies only just about handle. I’m sure changes would double if I used cloth nappies as they absorb much less than disposables,” Jo adds.
Becky acknowledges that cloth nappies do take up a bit more space in a nappy bag. “I still managed to fit everything I needed for my two boys in cloth in a standard change bag though. There are so many benefits to using cloth. They are more reliable, holding in all my sons’ poop-losions. Rather than festering in a bin or bag, pooh is tipped straight into the toilet. Lidded buckets contain smells until wash time.”
The advantages of cloth nappies don’t end there. “You can never run out! Even if the shops are shut, you can’t get out of the house or you only have enough money left for nappies or cake – using cloth means it’s no problem! Have cake! They help promote good hip position for babies and provide cushioning for toddlers learning to walk. They are often colourful and look great with a T-shirt on the beach or in the garden. Plus, it’s thought that cloth nappied babies potty train on average six months earlier than those in disposable nappies.”
THE LAST WORD
And finally, in case Becky hasn’t managed to convince you to go cloth, she begs you consider this: “Did you try paper or plastic knickers after you gave birth? You tell me what feels better on your bits; those or soft, breathable big cotton pants? I rest my case.”
Final challenge from Jo, this time for nappy manufacturers. Whilst cloth or disposable is a personal choice for every family depending on their circumstance or preferences, “With today’s technology, I wonder why standard disposable nappies can’t be made more biodegradable?”
Is it the role of the manufacturers to take responsibility and steps to sort the issue? More so than the parents that are drowning in pooh and pee just trying to survive the day? Food for thought indeed, mums and dads…