A good question. On the face of it, cloth nappies seem like more work, and disposables are so convenient. Aren’t they?

Yes and no. Disposables are less bulky, easier to find and more mainstream. But they’re also stuffed full of chemicals to make baby feel dry and that can mean you don’t tune into your baby as much as you do with cloth. And they’re yet another throwaway item.

One of the clinchers for me was when I heard that every single disposable nappy ever used is still in landfill – because it takes 500+ years for them to break down. If each baby uses roughly 5,000 nappies from birth to potty and there are approximately 700,000 babies born in the UK each year, that’s 3.5 million disposable nappies in landfill per year’s worth of babies! We are fortunate in this country to have an organised system for rubbish disposal. Other countries do not have this luxury. Perhaps we’d all be back to weekly rubbish collections if more people used cloth nappies…just a thought.

To be honest, the planetary argument was only part of the reason we switched. Even with washing, we estimate we can save £600 with this baby and even more if we have another one. (Or two, but don’t tell my husband). That is a not insignificant sum, especially in the current economic climate, and could have been even greater had I gone for the most economical method around – terry towels and wraps.

In fact, I do have some terry towels and wraps, I’ve just been a bit pathetic about learning to fold them and my little one is such a wriggler I think I may have missed the boat. I will make myself learn how to do it at some point though.

I keep hearing stories of children who are not potty trained until three, four or even five years old. Apparently kids in cloth tend to potty train earlier than those in disposables – how good is that? I’ll be honest, newborn poo is relatively innocuous. Weaned baby poo can be fairly offensive, so the sooner I don’t have to deal with it, the better. In many other cultures babies are toilet trained by the age of one, or never use nappies at all.

I use cloth nappies for several reasons: they’re economical in the long run, they look good, they’re better for the planet (even with potential water shortages), and I feel closer to my baby by doing so. I am also breastfeeding, baby wearing and baby-led weaning. I do all of these things because I think they’re best for my baby – and that, after all, is what most parents are interested in. For the record, I do also have a pushchair, I have given the occasional bottle of formula and my freezer harbours an ice-cube tray or two of pureed vegetables. My point is that it is possible to mix and match these things and cloth nappying is not a no-going-back scenario.

Tomorrow: What I wish I’d known before starting out, and some old wives’ tales examined. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, hopefully I can pass on a few tips that will make your cloth journey that bit easier.

Read Helen’s first post: My Washable Nappy Journey

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