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Cloth Nappies Parenting

So why cloth nappies?

“Why Lou?” I hear people ask. “That’s a lot of extra laundry. Don’t you want to just bin the poop and be done with it?”

Well, no. And here’s why:

The rubbish bins in my town only go out fortnightly.

Three reusable nappies - a purple one, a patterned one and a black one.
Nappies from Minimi, Kekoā and Jubel, three awesome Kiwi nappy makers. You can also get all three brands from Tweedle.

Seriously. Can you imagine? Two weeks of soiled nappies and wipes? They’d fill up the entire wheelie bin! And once the kid starts solids, that’s two weeks of stinky human waste sitting there in your trash – even if you’re the responsible type who flicks solid poop off the nappy into the toilet like you’re apparently supposed to.

No way. Ew. 

For me, that was the clincher that began my cloth journey, but there’s actually a ton of great reasons to go cloth. Here were the main ones for me:

  1. You save money, even if you go a little nuts buying prints

You save a butt-ton of money using cloth. Once you’re past the initial outlay, you’re only paying for laundry powder and some electricity for the extra washes. Going full cloth will save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars – even when compared to the cheapest disposable brands!

Remember, you do not need to be all or nothing with reusables. If you only have a couple of cloth nappies to start with, that’s fine! Don’t let anyone make you feel like you’re doing it wrong. Owning and using two cloth nappies is two nappies you save from landfill every time you use them. It adds up. And keep in mind, you don’t even need to buy brand new! There’s a great market for secondhand nappies online now, so you can build a stash for not much more than the price of a few boxes of disposables. And even within brand new nappies, there’s a huge range of prices.

I’m at the more expensive end with nappies. I’m luckily in a position where I can do that, and I have fun with it. I started out with a huge collection of Baby Factory nappies from a friend of mine – she gave me so many that I was able to share them with three other friends to boost their cloth supplies and give them an opportunity to try cloth out without committing to anything. From there, I bought a few trial packs from different brands. Trial packs are a great way to test a nappy brand while getting a wee discount. I started with trial packs from Fluffy Ducks and Bear & Moo and got addicted from there. I ordered mixed packs from Tushie, Fluff Mail, Tweedle and Wren & Myrtle. Once you’ve tried a few brands you’ll have a good idea of what you need and what you like in a nappy, and you can go from there.

And when your child is toilet-trained, you can sell them to someone else! Can’t do that with used disposies!

Nappies from three fantastic and affordable Kiwi brands – For The Burrow, Yoho & Co, and The Bebe Hive.
  1. They’re better for the environment

Disposables take hundreds of years to break down, and it takes more waste water to make one disposable than it does to grow, create and use a cloth nappy. That astounded me and I really wasn’t okay with it. I’ve been trying to cut down on my waste for years, with mixed results. However, I’ve managed to have a waste-free period for 3 years prior to my pregnancy. Cloth nappies seemed like another great opportunity to minimise my landfill contribution.

For Leo’s first three weeks, we used disposables* – we spent most of his first two weeks either in the birth centre or in the hospital and it was just too hard to contemplate going home every day to do a wash when I was tethered to an exclusively breastfed baby who couldn’t leave his blue light bed. Once we’d been home for a week and felt settled, I started him in day nappies. Once he hit 2 months old, I began doing cloth overnight, and we also began using cloth wipes. Since then, I’ve only used disposables on a couple of overnight trips. That’s what works for us right now. Every cloth nappy reused is one less disposable going into my wheelie bin and into my town’s landfill. Stoked!

*When I do use disposables, I use Noopii – they’re a NZ brand (possibly the only one now that Treasures have shut down?) They also seemed a bit more environmentally-friendly than the other brands, and a percentage of the purchase price goes towards conservation of native NZ animals, which is pretty fly. Ka pai, Noopii! Little and Brave also appealed as a disposable option, but their compost program doesn’t extend to my city yet, so I decided against them. Would love to try them if they ever bring their commercial composting to my neck of the woods, though.

  1. I like laundry

I find doing laundry weirdly calming. It’s one of the chores I insist on doing entirely myself – not because my husband isn’t capable (he is perfectly capable of washing his own clothes, and everyone should be), but because I like it. (He did his own laundry for years before me, there’s no issue there. He still folds his own clothes because he likes the Kondo method, and Konmari is lovely and tidy once it’s in your drawers, but I feel like it takes foreveeerrrr. Do any of you guys still do Konmari stuff, or was it just a passing fad?)

Aaaanyway, I looked up a wash routine on Clean Cloth Nappies and went from there, and in the process I learned a bunch about how to get all kinds of stains out, so now I really like laundry because I get sweet results and also get super zen when it’s all done and out on the line. I even bought metal pegs so I never have to deal with plastic pegs breaking! 

I can already see some of you side-eyeing me for the laundry stanning. Come on, doesn’t everyone have one chore they actually secretly like? Well, this is mine. Don’t judge me.

The chore I hate is ironing. Don’t even start. Ugh. 

  1. I love the prints!

My addictive personality has totally latched onto cloth nappies. I love the patterns, I love trying different brands, and I love collecting prints that mean something to me. I have prints of movies I love, animals I love, random prints that remind me of special moments with my family, and colours that I find satisfying. I even have some nappies designed by a friend of mine (check out Tuti’s Wild Things collection)! Every print I buy is in my collection for a reason. I have no idea if other people put this level of nerdery into the nappy prints they buy (I’m sure I’m not alone!), but some aren’t concerned with this aspect at all and are happy for any print, focussing instead on price point or brand or whatever. Each to their own. If you’re not compulsive like me, I’m sure you’ll find cloth nappies much simpler! Either way, it’s loads of fun. 

My Tuti nappies, designed by one of my favourite women!
  1. Shopping small and local

I’m big on shopping local these days, especially now that importing clothes and shoes comes with a GST charge at the border. I really like supporting small businesses. I like to know that my money goes to families like mine. I like getting little thank-you chocolates in my courier bag. I like the little thank you notes. People put so much care into the deliveries! I’ve also ordered from Australia a few times – again from small businesses – and although that’s not exactly local, I still like knowing that my money is going to small business. And hey, my kid is half-Australian, I’ve got to have Aussie animal prints on his butt, right?

So there you go: my reasons to go cloth. What are yours? Are you considering cloth but haven’t taken the plunge? Feel free to ask questions if you’re curious.

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