For as long as I have been thinking about the possibility of having a baby, which has been off and on for quite a while, I have always assumed that we will at least attempt to use cloth nappies rather than disposable ones. Highest on my list of reasons for this is that a disposable nappy takes, so I read, over 500 years to decompose in landfill. Bearing in mind that one child might wear over 7000 disposable nappies over the course of their life time, that’s a lot of nappies in landfill waiting for half a century to decompose.
Other reasons that evangelists for cloth nappies quote as cloth being better are cost, environmental impact and being better for the baby.
As far as the environmental impact is concerned, my reading leads me to believe that (aside from the landfill issue) cloth nappies come out marginally better than disposables, but not hugely. Climate Change Challenge says :”According to a report commissioned by the Environment Agency, a reusable nappy is responsible for 560kg of greenhouse gas over the baby’s first two and half years of life, whereas a disposable nappy is responsible for 630kg. (That’s equivalent to an average car driven 1800 miles)”. So a bit better, but I am not sure whether that takes into account using a tumble dryer to dry nappies in the winter.
As far as cost is concerned, I understand from some basic internet research that cloth nappies will cost between £200-400 for the first year, depending on how many you buy, brand and washing costs, and then only washing costs from then on. So perhaps up to £600 for the first child. Disposable nappies on the other hand will cost about double that. Obviously I anticipate we will need to use some disposables, but over all, it ends up a saving, especially if you have more than one child. The only obvious caveat is that you need to put over half the cost of the nappies up front, rather than splitting the costs over the course of the child’s nappy wearing life.
As far as being better for the baby, I haven’t done much reading on this yet. But given that the washable nappies come out better environmentally and better in terms of costs, I am pretty much sold.
My question to you guys though is this: have you used them, what advice do you have and what brands would you recommend?
Also, what do you think about buying cloth nappies second hand on ebay? Is that just a no?