Cloth nappies: the final frontier


So we did it. Our stash of disposables running low, we took the plunge. Of all the challenges we’ve faced this year, this seemed like the greatest: ladies and gentlemen (okay, so mainly ladies…), we are now cloth nappying a scarily squirmy, frighteningly farty, utterly unpredictable and extremely explosive eight week old baby. Without a tumble drier. In the depth of winter.

I wasn’t at all certain that we’d do it. The lack of a drier and the depth of winter bit tipped the scales when I discussed it back in Autumn. But then Nappy Ever After offered us a free one-month trial of their laundry service, slap bang in the middle of that new baby honeymoon period  - you know the one: “I’VE HAD A BABY! I CAN DO ANYTHING!” Very shortly followed by: “OH MY GOD, I’VE GOT A BABY. I CAN DO NOTHING.”

Anyway, it seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. In essence, they deliver a clean load of nappies once a week, give you a nappy bin to store them in, and – here’s the magic bit – TAKE THE DIRTY ONES AWAY. It’s a brilliant idea and, back when they had funding, they supplied hundreds of families across London. It must have done a huge amount to spread the use of cloth nappies and reduce landfill because back then it cost as little as £6 a week for people in the right borough. Now that funding’s dried up they’ve had to put their costs up too, so it’s a less easily affordable £15 a week. So yes, funding people, get back on it…

Back to us. The nappies arrived on Monday and… we haven’t really looked back. We’ve cloth nappied in the Tate Modern, in the loos of several London pubs, in a farmer’s market (perched precariously on a vacant stall) and in the playground. Not a single spillage so far. I carry a smallish wash bag inside my handbag with a couple of extra cloths, a couple of nappy liners and a smaller, plastic-lined wash bag within it for the wet, used ones to go in. It’s no bother.

In fact, it’s given me the courage to think I could easily manage the extra washing and do the laundry myself, when our free trial runs out. It’s doable, isn’t it? A couple of extra washing loads a week, hung out to dry overnight on a heated drying rack?

At home, I stick a couple of drops of lavender oil in the nappy bin whenever I remember and there are honestly no suspicious smells drifting around at all. The only thing I’m still hesitating over is nights. We’re still using the last of our disposables at night. When these run out, could we really switch to cloth? The only disadvantage I can spot so far is how much wetter she is, in comparison to the disposables and the chemicals in them that draw moisture away from babies’ skins. Wouldn’t she wake up more often?

So far, at least, cloth nappying feels good. I like the idea that she has soft, natural fibres against her skin. On days when I feel like everything’s gone wrong (you know the ones, the big fat FAIL days when you can’t believe there isn’t a law against people like you being responsible for a human child) I can cling to my eco credentials. At least we’re saving the planet. One nappy at a time. Right?!