Before David was born, we planned to use cloth nappies. We did a little bit of research, but never got round to buying any. We’d balked at the initial outlay and the idea of washing them. Then, in the fuzz of the first few weeks and months of parenthood, we kept him in biodegradeable disposables: he was getting through so many of them, and we couldn’t see that we’d have time to wash and dry nappies and clothes and everything that the poor stressed cats had peed on. My mother was very negative about the whole idea of cloth nappies: why go to all that expense and work when you could buy a packet of Pampers?
Pretty soon, the biodegradeable disposables started getting expensive, so we moved onto whichever nappy was on special at the supermarket. (Thankfully, they often discounted the eco-friendly ones, and I’d insist on stockpiling them.) Huggies seemed uncomfortable and we had major leakage problems; Pampers were even worse, and they irritated his skin; the Sainsbury’s eco nappies were alright, but prone to leaking. The only disposable we actually liked was costing us a small fortune.
Thankfully, when David was about three months old, we met Anna from The Cotton Nappy Company at a baby clinic. Despite our initial doubt, especially involving the expense, she introduced us to the Bumgenius V3.
The Bumgenius nappy comes in four parts: a quick-dry outer waterproof layer with a soft lining, two inserts (which you can use together or separately), and flusable nappy liners which go on the very inside. They will adjust to fit your child’s size by way of poppers: they will fit newborns to children up to 40lbs. The outer liner and the inner layer both adjust and grow with your child. They fasten with Velcro, so there are no nasty pins and no risk of pricking your baby They’re available in a variety of colours, too.
The best thing about these? The flushable liners. These are once-washable if they’ve just been peed on, but they come into their own when they’re dirty. Just whip the liner out, throw it into the toilet, and there’s (hopefully) not much more to clean up. Formula-fed babies’ nappies are never very nice, but I actually found that this was easier than dealing with disposables.
If you buy a starter pack, there’s a nappy bin with a mesh bag liner included. When the nappies are wet or dirty, the parts need to be separated and thrown into the bucket. When it’s time to wash them, you can just take the mesh bag out and put it into the washing machine. One thing we did find was that the velcro tabs on the outers needed to be stuck down, or all the nappies would stick together. We started off with ten nappies and using the biodegradeable disposables overnight. We’d wash them and put them out to dry in the evening, and by the morning they’d be dry. We were able to put the absorbent bits on the radiator and the outer liners on a washing rack, and they really did dry quickly. The Cotton Nappy Company recommend you start with 20, and I’d back this up: we’ve now bought an extra five, and that means we can wash every two days. If I was starting with a newborn, I’d want 20.
Bumgenius nappies are very, very absorbent after the first few washes, and rarely leak. (You do need to do them up firmly, although not tightly.) We’ve only had one leak in the last three months. I didn’t initially believe that they’d contain David’s “explosions”, but they’ve fared the best out of everything we’ve tried. Now that David is older, they’re lasting for longer between changes; they’ve also stood up to crawling and bum-shuffling. He seems much more comfortable in them than in most disposables, but seems more aware of when he needs changing.
Now, the last point I’d like to make: the price. The average cost of a nappy increases as the child gets older, and estimates suggest that the cost of nappies up until the age of two is about £800. The BumGenius birth-to-potty kit costs about £270.00. If you plan on having more than one child, cloth nappies will pay for themselves over and over again. The initial outlay is steep, but it saves a lot of money in the longer-term. (We also use washable wipes when we’re at home, which cuts costs down even more.)
Our conclusion: we’re saving the planet, saving an awful lot of money, having a happier baby, and having a cleaner conscience about his environmental impact.
Disclaimer: I don’t work for the Cotton Nappy Company. I use their prices and refer you to their website because they’ve provided excellent service, they’re cheaper than buying from Mothercare, and they’re a local, family-run company.
Update: The Cotton Nappy Company are opening a shop in Leamington Spa on the 27th June: if you’re local, pop in and say hi. They’re selling slings and toiletries and a load of other stuff, too!