My name is Bethany. My little family includes me, my husband, our 5mo son, and a cheeky cat. There are lots of things we love about this parenting job, and using cloth is one of them.
My son has been in cloth since he was 3 weeks old. I don’t even remember where my decision to use cloth came from, but even before I fell pregnant I knew it was the correct choice for my family. Before Baby T was born I researched endlessly; I had no idea what was what and as I read reviews and browsed websites I became even more confused. Then I found the Nappy Lane website and this graphic – suddenly it all made sense!
My choice was met with lots of skepticism and derision (even from my husband!) but I really loved the idea of using cloth and tried to educate the doubters about modern cloth nappies. My in-law’s first objection was the ‘extra work’. To them I explained that today cloth isn’t as complicated as the old style terry-towel flats. My mother had used cloth with me and was worried about the environmental costs – water, electricity, napisan soaking. I told her I felt the reduction in landfill was worth those increases (and napisan soaking isn’t required with MCNs). We are the first of our friends to have a child and lots of them found it difficult to believe we would ‘willingly deal with poo’ – but you’ve got to deal with it one way or another! I’d prefer smelly nappies didn’t sit in our bin waiting for collection day.
I purchased our first MCN when I was 16 weeks pregnant and proudly showed it to everyone. They were swayed and I happily continued to buy cloth. We purchased a few at a time to spread out the initial cost, and bought OSFM to hopefully last us from start to stop. My sister gave us a leftover box of disposables which we used before T was big enough to fit our cloth – I’ve never had to buy a packet of disposable nappies.
I remember changing his first cloth nappy, my husband commented that T’s skin looked less red even in just three hours. A month ago we renovated our laundry and I contemplated using disposables while we had no washing machine. My husband smiled and said, ‘Isn’t is strange that you say disposables and the first thing I think is eewww, disposables?’ (He’s a total convert!) We love cloth so much that for 2 weeks we’d load up our washing and walk 4 blocks to my grandmother’s house to wash it!
When T was 3.5mo I sat down to work out just how long until our cloth started saving us money. Here’s the general gist of my calculations:
Total cost of cloth nappies = Cloth nappies + wetbags + postage = Cost A (More than I expected! The downside of not paying one bulk amount is I didn’t know how much I’d spent total until it was added up.)
How much disposables would have cost me per day = Single disposable price x changes per day = Cost B
I also worked out Cost A + average increase in water bill + average increase in electricity bill (I always heard about people whose bills didn’t change. In complete honesty, I wasn’t prepared for how much ours increased. But it’s also Winter and we bought a new heater, we’re running baths for T, we’re washing his clothes as well as his nappies. I don’t put the entire increase down to cloth nappies alone.)
Then I chose a number of days to multiply Cost B by (eg. 90). When the value for Cost B x 90 was more than the result of Cost A + bills increase I knew that was the number of days we needed to use cloth before we started saving money. For us, cloth began saving us money after 4 months of use.
For me, the most exciting part about using cloth is that intense satisfaction when I get a perfect fit. I’m forever calling my husband in to look and share my excitement (he doesn’t get it). It’s also very visual – I love choosing which print he’ll wear next; I love seeing all the clean nappies pegged on the line; I love opening his draw and seeing all the freshly folded nappies. For my husband, it’s that we’re saving money. We also love knowing we’re reducing the chemicals T comes into contact with, and of course lessening the amount of landfill.
My advice would be first, do your research beforehand. There are a lot of cloth myths out there so make sure you have all the information available. We’ve been really lucky in our smooth cloth journey –no smells, no rashes, no fit issues, minimal leaks (we did have some compression leaks to begin with, but we went up a size in onesies and if needed pop a bamboo booster behind the microfiber) – and I put some of that down to solid research beforehand.
My second piece of advice is don’t let anyone intimidate you out of using cloth. The looks of horror we got when we talked about choosing cloth always prompted me to say, ‘But not the old fashioned terry flats! Now they’re just like disposables.’ Ironically enough, we do use terry flats with a wool cover for nights, and I love them. They have great absorbency, I can customize the folds as T grows, they’re much cheaper than MCNs, and they honestly aren’t any more difficult than MCNs when you get the hang of them.
I could talk about cloth forever, but I won’t. I hope reading this can help someone who’s not sure if they should choose cloth. Cloth is fun, and it saves you real, measurable money. What could be better than that?