Money-saving columnist says you could save a fortune with cloth nappies

GEN-Y nappies at the Natural NurseryFelicity Hannah is Yahoo! Finance’s money-saving columnist this is her article about cloth nappies. The full article is here – http://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/Are-reusable-nappies-worth-yahoofinanceuk-3984659527.html

Are reusable nappies worth the effort?

Will using cloth nappies on your bundle of joy save you a bundle of cash?

Felicity Hannah, 11:44, Friday 11 November 2011

6,000 nappies. That’s the number of changes my infant son is likely to need between birth and potty training, according to official estimates. That’s a figure to make any penny pincher gulp.

Not only that, I also get a twinge of eco guilt every time I open my bin and see endless nappy bags ready to go to landfill.

According to Go Real, a UK website supporting the use of washable nappies, new parents can kit their babies out for less than £80, if they use the cheapest option.

Even factoring in £1 a week to cover the extra washing costs, it estimates parents can save upwards of £500 by using cloth nappies instead of disposables. That’s a serious sum, so I’ve been wondering if it’s time to change how I change my baby.

Green-minded mum

I met Sarah, a north-west mum who uses washable nappies and even reusable baby wipes on her son. This is primarily to reduce what they send to landfill, but also to save some money.

So how much has she spent getting set up in real nappies? “I would estimate that we have spent approximately £450 on nappies, wet bags, a nappy bucket, boosters, wraps and a few other related items. But it is possible to kit yourself out for much less… We spent more than we needed to as we wanted enough nappies not to have to do a wash every day.

Do the sums add up?

If I bought nappies in small bags, they would cost around 22p each. Over 6,000 nappies, that would mean an eye-watering £1,320 in total.

But I buy them in bulk, at a cost of around 10p each. So if my son goes through 6,000 nappies, it will cost me £600.

Compare that to Sarah’s £450 spend and it looks like cloth nappies win hands down. But the Go Real campaign reckons you’ll spend about £1 a week washing them, including detergent and heating, adding at least another £104 to her costs.

However, she can still save more than £46. After all, if they have more than one baby then she can reuse them again and, when she’s done, there are many websites where you can sell second-hand cloth nappies.

If you’re considering washable nappies but are worried about the upfront cost, there are lots of council-run incentive schemes that can help.

So there’s certainly a compelling financial argument, but how much hassle are they?

So are reusable nappies worth the effort?

Landfill isn’t infinite or desirable, so it’s obvious there’s a compelling environmental case for switching to reusables.

But they are undeniably quite a lot of extra work. You need to have a constant production line of washing, drying and stuffing if you’re going to always have a dry nappy ready. That takes some serious organisation, which some sleep-starved parents may not be able to face.

If you spend a few hundred quid on cloth nappies then your savings will be quite comparatively small, but if you use the cheaper Terry squares or buy them second hand then you could save a fortune over just one baby.

Am I a convert? There’s definitely a case for switching but I’ll probably try to find a middle ground. If I use at least one cloth nappy a day then I can cut back on the financial and environmental cost without sacrificing the convenience.