I'm sure that many of you reading this post would have been babies during a time when cloth nappies were the order of the day. Well, over the past decade or so disposable nappies have become the norm, adding to the environmental woes caused by todays wasteful society. Did you know that it can take up to 500 years for one disposable nappy to decompose, and that’s ignoring all the energy and materials gone into producing it? Over the past 40 years disposable nappies have taken the world by storm because they are so easy to use and throw away.
The costs alone are something every parent must endure within modern society because until now, alternatives haven’t been viable. Of course you could go 'full hippie' and let your kid run naked around the house all day to save on costs, but within a month you and your home will probably begin to look and smell like a pig sty. Increasing concerns about the chemicals in disposable nappies and their proximity to a baby's reproductive organs while wearing them, as well as causing nappy rash, are just some of the reasons parents are looking for modern alternatives. A result all-in-one cloth nappies are making a big comeback, primarily for reducing a child's exposure to chemicals, secondly for value for money and finally for environmental reasons.
There are two main reasons why people switch to cloth nappies. The first and foremost reason is cost, as these can be an expensive monthly expense for parents. Secondly, which is less prevalent, is for the benefit of the environment. The chemicals within disposable nappies and their impact to the environment are debatable and it is totally dependent on where you stand amongst the debate.
Let's assume that the average age that a child learns to use a potty / toilet is at roughly two and a half years old. I'll also assume, for the purposes of cost comparisons, that a child uses on average three nappies per day for the first year and an average of 2 per day for the remaining year and a half. This would bring the total number of nappies used to 1,643.
If you were to visit Pampers.com.au you would find their ‘Simply Dry Extra Large 62 Jumbo Pack’ costs $32.50 for 62 nappies, or $0.52 per nappy. So let's apply this rate to the first year of the child's life.
As they develop into a toddler, you might change them into Pampers’ ‘Easy Up Pants Mega Pack‘ that contains 69 nappies for $49.95, or $0.72c per nappy which would be the unit cost for the remaining year and a half.
On top of this cost, you also need to factor in the wet wipes used to clean your baby between each nappy change. Pampers sell a ‘Sensitive wipes’ triple refill pack containing 840 wipes for $49.95. This works out at 6 cents per wipe which over a 2.5 year period would end up costing you $295.74 (i.e. 1,643 nappy changes x 3).
What you'd end up paying is as follows:
1st year nappy cost: $0.52 x 1095 days = $569.40
2nd year nappy cost: $0.72 x 548 days = $394.56
2.5 years of wet wipes: $0.06 x 1,643 days = $295.74
Each and every baby’s consumption of nappies will be different, but with a cloth nappy the pressure is less on both your wallet as well as any environmental concerns you may have. A quick search online for cloth nappies in Australia produced a website called Bambooty. These guys sell all-in-one (AIO) and all-in-two (AIT) packs containing nappies, reusable wipes, a portable changing mat and the best part is you can choose the colours and patterns for your nappies.
I would personally choose the all-in-one nappies because they are exact replicas of the disposable ones most parents will have become accustomed to. Alternatives cloth nappies do exist in other forms which you may like to consider such as:
Fitted / Covers
Contain no waterproofing materials and require a separate water resistant cover that’s sits over the base nappy (it just sounds complicated).
These nappies are generally made up of a water resistant outer shell and have a built in pocket that you can stuff absorbent boosters into (this just sounds a bit messy).
The absorbent inner core can be snapped on and off from the outside so the basic shell remains attached making changing quicker. This is close to the all-in-one nappies and is a great second alternative. I visited Bambooty and selected their AIT ‘Rainbow Colourful Bottoms’ pack which contains:
- 15 x nappies (rainbow coloured)
- 6 x Bamboo boosters
- 10 x Snap-in inserts
- 2 x Reusable wipes
- 2 x Wet bags
- 1 x Anywhere change mat
The total price for this pack is $368.95, a saving of $890.75 over the two and a half years compared to using disposables. Plus, if you plan on having another child, then the Bambooty cloth nappy pack can be handed down meaning your savings increase to over $2,150.45 ($890.75 + $1259.70) versus having gone the disposable nappy route for both kids.
However, if you wanted to go with the AIO nappies, which are slightly more expensive, then a pack of ‘Magic-Alls Multi-Fits Easy Value Pack’ plus ‘5 Organic cotton wipes’ from BabyBeeHinds will cost you $591.80. This is a total saving of $667.90. By the same token, having a second child using the same (hand me downs) would give you a total saving of $1,927.60.
Obviously the more children you have, the greater the saving. I have two siblings which means my parents could have saved $3,410.15 with the AIT or $3,187.30 with the AIO if they purchased the cloth nappies with the first child.
On a final note, I believe it’s worth mentioning that these nappies do not require you to do more washing. They can be washed in the same load as your ordinary clothes wash, just be sure to throw any solids down the loo first. Certain parents may feel more comfortable rinsing the nappies before washing and that’s fine, but it’s not compulsory.
Alternatively you can slip the nappies on a separate pre-wash / rinse before adding your other clothes to complete the full wash. Finally, line drying in the sun is recommended because the sun is a natural germ killer, plus it works wonders for removing any stains. Additionally, I would recommend that you read the washing instructions as each manufacturers’ guidelines will differ, but overall the washing method I have just explained will loosely cover most new cloth nappies.