This week’s post comes from Eva Van Strijp.

Have you ever purchased a product that fell apart or some component broke within minutes of use? I have. And honestly – these things happen. These little hiccups are rarities for good brands though.

If you’ve ever purchased something from a reputable company and experienced this kind of defect, you’ll probably have felt more annoyed than if you’d bought it from a lower quality brand. Why? Because the expectation is higher. All your other purchases from this reputable company were top notch, so why did this one have to break?!

Sometimes stuff just breaks despite great quality control procedures. The best outcome in a case like this is a simple and efficient refund or exchange process with the seller. You get a new, properly working product and everyone moves on with life.

The same goes with cloth nappies.

For safety and quality assurance purposes, every product that we use requires a certain amount of testing. It’s no different for reusable nappies. In fact, one could argue it’s even more important for cloth nappies than many other products as they’re used, day in and day out, for small children.

Some brands appear on the market after very little actual testing in the design process and virtually no third party reviews. If you’re looking to use cloth as an integral part of your parenting, it’s important to consider the quality and safety of the nappies that you’re choosing, because while nappies don’t last forever, you do want to get the most out of them.

If you choose a brand that’s been around for some time (or if the brand is new to the market and can at least show that it’s been tested and independently reviewed), you can usually be assured that they are safe for use. You can also rest assured that if you happen to stumble upon one of those rare manufacturing defects, it’s going to be dealt with promptly and with zero fuss.

(NOTE: This is a whole lot harder if your seller lives on a different continent!)

Here are 6 ways to ensure you’re getting a reputable brand:

1. Ask about independent reviews.

Ask the seller if there are any independent reviews you can take a look at. It’s one thing for a business to share testimonials from their own happy customers, but another thing all together to hand over a list of candid reviews or to point a potential customer in the direction of a third party reviews site. The Australian Nappy Association’s Cloth Nappy Reviews site is a great resource for honest, independent feedback and reviews about the wide variety of nappies sold in Australia.

2. Look for real life.

Look for lots of nappies-in-use photos on social media, not just staged lifestyle shots produced by the manufacturer. It’s in these natural day-to-day shots that you’ll get a clearer idea of how the nappy fits, the size of the babies it looks comfortable on and of course, the beauty and simplicity of using cloth nappies.

3. Ask your friends.

Ask your cloth-nappy-using friends if they’ve heard of the brand or had experience with it. Bear in mind, though, that everyone’s experience is different and every child is different. Just because one friend loves the nappies, doesn’t mean they’ll be a great fit on your child. Just because another friend has had a bad experience, doesn’t mean you will too. It’s about getting some more real-life perspective and using this to help inform your own choices. Also, if your friends have used the brand, they might be able to offer some great tips for getting the most out of the nappies or may have one you can have a play with.

4. Ask your retailer.

Most retailers have used every brand that they stock and will give you an honest opinion based on their experience and your needs. They have helped hundreds, sometimes even thousands of parents make a great choice for their family and they can help you too.

5. Check that the brand has a warranty policy.

All brands should have one, and most offer a warranty on manufacturing defects for 3-6 months. In our experience, most manufacturing defects occur within the first few weeks, so 3-6 months well and truly covers you.

6. If in doubt, start with one.

If you’re struggling to get any solid info on the brand but really want to give it a shot, just start with one. You’ll work out pretty quickly if it’s good quality and if it will do the job.

One of the great things about living near a cloth nappy retailer is that they’ll give you a demonstration of the nappy and how to use it, so you won’t go home wondering where to start. Check out the Australian Nappy Association’s list of upcoming events and workshops to see if there’s something happening near you.

Alternatively, you could look for a nappy library that adheres to Australian Laundry Standard AS/NZS 4146. Nappy libraries are great for trying a variety of nappies before you commit to purchasing.

Eva Van Strijp is a mother of six, founding member of the Australian Nappy Association and creator of Seedling Baby. When Eva isn’t hanging out with her family or running a business, she’s eating chocolate, listening to podcasts or tending her veggie patch.

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