For your baby’s sake
Health: disposable nappies contain up to 200 chemicals and it is still not known just how many of them will be absorbed through a baby’s delicate skin.
Skin conditions: many parents find that their baby’s skin condition such as eczema or nappy rash is relieved by using organic cloth nappies as they allow more air to circulate than disposable nappies. Specially soft and untreated silk nappy liners are available to help delicate skin recover.
Comfort: many parents claim that cloth nappies are more comfortable to wear than disposable nappies. Certainly, it must be nicer to have a layer of soft natural fabric next to your skin rather than the artificial materials used in disposable nappies.
Potty-training: a toddler in a cloth nappy is likely to be more aware of when they have wee’d or poo’d, encouraging them to ask for the potty.
For the environment’s sake
Around 3 billion disposable nappies are used each year in the UK (for example, Leicestershire County Council estimate that they have to deal with over 50 million each year), so let’s have a look at how they are produced and disposed of.
Production: each disposable nappy will need around a cup of crude oil for its plastic wrap and 7 million trees are cut down every year to make disposable nappies. This is a major depletion of our fast dwindling natural resources.
A Women’s Environmental Network commissioned a study in 1991 showed that disposable nappies use 3.5 times as much energy, 8 times as much non-renewable raw materials and 90 times as much renewable material as reusable nappies. They produce 2.3 times as much waste water and 60 times as much solid waste. This even allows for the washing of cloth nappies! They require between 4 and 30 times as much land for growing natural materials as reusable nappies.
The physical production of the nappy involves the use of many chemicals and bleaches to product that lovely shiny white so beloved of the big companies.
Disposal: 3 billion nappies is a lot and it is estimated that 90% of them will end up on landfill sites – that is a lot of space! The cost to local councils is enormous – Bristol CC estimate that it costs them £500,000 per year to deal with thrown away nappies.
It is believed that it will take up to 500 years for these nappies to decompose (all the while producing dangerous methane gas), which could be a big headache for our grandchildren.
For your pocket’s sake
An average baby will be changed between 5,000 – 5,500 times (some people say as many as 7,000 times) between birth and potty-training, that could cost as much as £1,000.
Cloth nappies do require a large initial outlay (especially if you use all-in-ones) but should cost no more than £400 in total (including home laundry). Obviously, you will save even more money if you reuse the nappies for another child.
Remember, there is a thriving market in second hand nappies, which can retain up to 80% of their value.
Don’t worry if you can’t use real nappies every change, even if you only use 2 cloth nappies a day, that is still 730 less cups of oil and around £100 saved every year.