Reusable Nappies

People we’ve told about our reusable nappies look at us with either admiration (from those of our generation) or dismay (from our parents’ generation). And everyone assumes we’re doing it from an eco position. Which we’re really not.

Very early on after V.’s birth she developed nappy rash, which, if you read the books, is quite early. We tried the three most recommended creams to help clear it up, with limited success. Her mother and I felt that if we didn’t solve this problem our daughter would be suffering for a long, long time.

F. continued to use the creams but began looking online at better solutions, including reusable nappies. She had never like the disposable nappies we’d be using since birth. She felt that they were plasticky, couldn’t breathe and were more of an irritant than most people let on.

So we decided to give reusable nappies a try because they were mostly made of natural fibres that grew softer and more absorbent the more you washed them. We ordered 15 pairs from two different manufacturers. They were one size its all, so should last V. all the way to toilet-training. The waist band and overall sizing are altered through plastic poppers.

The nappy itself is a soft, light fleece outer shell with a water-resistant backing. Inside the nappy is a fleece lining and two or three detachable layers that are added either through more poppers or inserted between the inner and outer layers.

Reusable nappies seem to work just as well as disposables in capturing what they need to capture. Once the nappy is taken off the baby, it is disassembled, and stored in a waterproof, zip-up bag. We keep ours in the bathroom. When the bag is full (around 8 nappies or so), the contents – plus the bag – go into the washing machine.

It’s at the laundry end where reusable nappies are a lot more work than disposables. You’re generally looking at one extra wash every other day. And it will be a long wash: our used nappies go through a 36 minute rinse, the a 2 hour cotton wash cycle, and finally – if it’s a rush job – a one hour tumble dry. The nappies then have to be assembled which takes us a half hour whilst sat in front of the TV. It’s the constant washing that makes me doubt the manufacturers message that reusables are cheaper than disposable diapers. I haven’t done a calculation, but based on the amount of energy we’re using to keep these things clean, I doubt we’re saving any money. And even if that were true and they were a little cheaper. So what? We all pay more money for more convenience, anyway.

If you’re taking baby on a trip, these nappies will raise one or two logistical questions. They are quite bulky and will need to be washed whilst you are away, depending how long you are away for. I wouldn’t leave them in the nappy bag for too long. We forgot about a nappy we left in a travel-size zip-up bag for 3 days; when we took it out, it was pretty rank.

After a month of using these nappies – plus finding the right nappy rash cream – V.’s nappy rash has completely cleared up. Could a simpler way have been found? Perhaps. But we’re happy to have found a formula that works so we’ll be sticking with reusable nappies.

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