Nappies. Let's face it, no one, on seeing that blue line on a pregnancy test for the first time, thinks 'yay! I get to be up to my elbows in shit for the next two years!' Well, maybe some people do. Let's try not to judge.
Fact is though, that dealing with the contents of someone else's bowels is a pretty big part of having a baby, so it makes sense to put some thought into how you'll deal with it. For me, when people mentioned cloth nappies, my first thoughts ranged from, 'I don't swathe myself in sun-dried hemp while praising mother earth for the new day and I don't wrap my baby's bum in a glorified towel; I'm not that kind of mum' to 'urgh, poo in the washing machine!'. I also thought that my lack of origami skills would prevent me from doing the necessary folding of massive, towel-like nappies which I would then wrap around my newborn while trying not to poke her with an enormous pin, the likes of which only belong in the earlobes of gothy teenagers.
Turns out though, that cloth nappies have evolved somewhat. OK, you can still choose to use traditional terries if you want, but I have no idea why you would (except that it's by far the cheapest way to do cloth). Modern cloth nappies are as easy to pop on a bum as a disposable and not much more work, so here are the main reasons we decided to cloth bum Little Bear.
1. It's cheaper. Or it can be if you don't end up addicted to buying new styles and prints which is very easily done! Admittedly, it's a big initial outlay. LB has around 30 nappies which, along with some accessories like a nappy bin, wet bags and liners, have cost us around £350 (crikey, that's loads when you add it up!). However, a quick Google tells me that a single supermarket own brand nappy costs about 15p a nappy (brand names are obviously a bit more). This article in the Guardian suggests that the average baby goes through 4000 nappy changes in the first 2 years (that's a lot of poo!) which works out at £600. So double what we've spent on LB's nappies. True, you have extra costs with cloth like washing powder and electricity, but it still works out loads cheaper.
2. It's healthier. I have super sensitive skin and when I was pregnant I knew there was a decent chance that LB would inherit this wonderfulness from me. I have trouble wearing sanitary towels because of the chemicals used in them to make them absorbent and I wasn't keen on LB having similar chemicals against her wee bot for 2+ years, especially since she would be wearing a nappy almost non stop in that time. Cloth nappies have no chemicals except washing powder. Win.
3. It's cuter. Have you ever actually looked at cloth nappies? They're bloody adorable. They come in loads of colours and prints and you can even get custom made ones. Getting too excited about this does render point 1 a bit null and void though.
LB rocking a TotsBots Peenut in 'Twinkle'
4. It's easy. Trust me when I say that I am easily the laziest person I know. As an example of this, I am currently playing an exciting game of Russian Roulette with my bladder because I just cannot be fucked getting up and going to pee. With that in mind, there is no way I would use cloth if it was more effort. Basically, how it works is that I take LB's nappy off, pull the absorbent lining out and chuck both bits into a nappy bucket which is lined with a mesh bag. Every other day, I take the mesh bag out and chuck the whole thing in the washing machine. That's it. Basically the same as putting a disposable into a nappy bag and then emptying the nappy bin every few days. To make life even easier, we also use cloth wipes so everything used in a nappy change goes into the same bucket and all gets washed together. Easy. The only thing that's any extra effort is putting the absorbent booster back into the nappy before it goes on LB's bum. If you choose to use all in one nappies you don't have to do this, but they do take longer to dry.
Anyway, this has all got very long, but suffice it to say, I'm very happy with our decision to use cloth. It's a good choice for the wallet, the eye, and LB's delicate wee tush. Now, hold my hemp, I'm off to do my sun salutations.
*disclaimer: I have no idea what hemp is.