Here at the Australian Nappy Association, we are super excited to bring you our Cloth Nappy Super Hero Series, This series puts real mums and dads in the spotlight and celebrates every day Aussie families using cloth nappies. If you have a story to tell about how you stumbled into cloth, or consciously choose it, or struggled and triumphed, or found it a breeze… we’d love to share it with the world!
Our first story in this series comes from Caris Morris and her beautiful babies. Enjoy…
I first saw cloth nappies when I was 19 years old, working in childcare. And I’ll be completely honest – my first thoughts were ‘ew, what kind of weirdo washes their kid’s poop?’. It’s the same expression I get from about 50% of people when I tell them we use cloth nappies now (the other 50% are usually too polite to say it out loud).
When I fell pregnant (unexpectedly) at age 23, we hadn’t had the time to ‘plan’ how we were going to parent. My partner and I are researchers (/nerds) by nature – we google everything, use spreadsheets, read reviews, pros and cons lists, etc etc. With our 9 month deadline fast approaching, we rapidly sorted through the best pram, nursery furniture, car seat, all the new-fangled baby devices, and debated the merits on finding out the sex of the baby, discussed if we were comfortable co-sleeping, weighed our options on breastfeeding (yes, no, and let’s give it a go). I had seen a few friends on my Facebook feed mention cloth nappies so I jokingly mentioned it to Gav (my partner). He took it seriously and said we should look into it. Again, we turned to google, and found the (somewhat overwhelming!) world of Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs).
Gav had been envisioning the towel-and-safety-pin ensemble of his childhood and what we found was vastly different.
Bright colours! Cute patterns! Matching outfits!
Officially, we cloth nappy to save money and reduce our environmental impact, but if I’m completely honest – I just think they’re gorgeous. After some research we figured out that if we built up a reasonable stash (about 20 nappies), it would cost us about $200-$300 upfront for the type we liked, but over a child’s lifetime could save us $2000+.
Plus, we wouldn’t be throwing out 6-10 plastic items a day!
After a couple of months our stash ballooned to about 50 (be warned: it can be addictive). We used them until our first daughter was toilet trained (2.5 years) and have been doing full time cloth with our second daughter since she was big enough to fit into them (the past 6 months). We also took the plunge with our second child and started using cloth wipes as well.
So for about $600 outlay, we have saved an estimated $3000-$4000, plus saved so much from ending up in landfill.
I never really found any issue with the cleaning side – perhaps working in childcare helped with that, or perhaps I’m naturally un-fazed by nappies. It’s just an extra load of washing every second day, and with babies/children, you’re washing all the time anyway so it hasn’t really been noticeable.
Our biggest issue was getting the fit right at first – as we use One Size Fits Most (OSFM) style nappies, they last longer, but you need to pay close attention to getting the fit right otherwise you end up with leaks. Which we did, mostly overnight unfortunately, but after a couple of weeks of trial and error we got the right fit and absorbency and had no further issue.
Our eldest slept 7pm-7am from 5 months so we had to make sure we had something that worked for that amount of time!
The most frustrating thing would probably be just having to educate some people. Some people can be quite uninformed or outright condescending – but I was one of those people not long ago, so I try not to hold too much of a grudge.
What I love about cloth nappies is that it’s something environmentally friendly that is also gorgeous. I get excited about which nappy my daughter is going to wear next – will it be the minky zebra pattern, or the daisies, or one of my Doctor Who customs?
I don’t think many people can say they get excited to change a nappy.
I even had a custom made for our wedding day when our first daughter was 2 years old – more people commented on it than my wedding dress!
My number one tip would be: don’t give up.
Finding a type and fit that works for you and your child can take a bit of time but once you’ve got it, you’re gold. I’m glad I didn’t buy too many until after our daughter was born – turns out we make long skinny babies, so a few of the ones I initially bought before she was born just didn’t fit right around the legs (no chunky thighs to hold them in place!). Also, have a good routine – it is a little extra work, but if it’s just part of an ordinary day, it doesn’t seem like much.
My husband’s number one tip would be: watch out for nappy addiction!