Aussie Mums Returning To Cloth Nappies (Diapers)

cloth nappies line dry photo

Photo credit: Warren McLaren / INOV8.

Last month the results of a survey into nappy (diaper) use in Australia were released. Whilst the findings focused mostly on which brand of disposable nappy (diaper) was favoured and why, the research also turned up other gems of information.

"Although most Australia mums are most loyal to disposable nappies because of their convenience, a significant percentage of women are choosing cloth nappies instead because of their low impact on the environment," said Head of Research for Canstar Blue, Steve Mickenbecker. As the headline for the media release was entitled, "1 in 5 Aussie mums make the eco-friendly choice to buy cloth nappies' we'll take that 'significant' percentage to mean 20%. We were also appraised that, "8% of health-conscious mums are choosing to buy organic nappies."

buried in cloth nappies diapers photo

Photo credit: Warren McLaren / INOV8.

When this writer became a first time parent, almost two years ago, he spent an inordinate amount of time researching various nappy (or diaper) options for his young son. We had field trials (!) with various brands, my wife organised mum's meeting to hear what other parents were using, and we scoured the internet.

In the end, for various reasons, we bought three dozen reusable Pop-In Nappies from the UK. These have a soft, fitted, waterproof outer shell, with terry towelling style liners made of a 70% bamboo rayon, that 'pop-in' with plastic snap fasteners. And generally they've been a great solution. However we found that if worn for a long time (3 hours or more) our son developed an irritating nappy rash, which we tried treating with calendula cream. Whilst an excellent and most effective lotion, this alas didn't solve the issue long term.

After much trial and error, we eventually settled a solution of roughly 60% reusable cloth nappies and 40% disposable nappies (chiefly for our son's night time sleeps or travelling.) We use a front load washing machine, have solar hot water, and line dry the nappies, so our cloth nappy energy and water use is pretty minimal. For other kids, with less sensitive skin, complete use of reusable cloth nappies is no doubt a perfect option. I guess our experience highlights the many conundrums in seeking out a green lifestyle. It's not always black or white.

It's a tussle between our child's immediate wellbeing and planet's long term welfare. Not an easy choice, but the little guy does got the gong in this instance. Though the thought of heaving disposable nappies out to the garbage bin still makes me gringe.

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