Meet the parents
We asked five CHOICE parents & friends to test five different modern cloth nappies and let us know their experiences. Here are our trialists:
Katie & Sophie
Katie, with four-month-old daughter Sophie, used disposable nappies nearly exclusively since Sophie was born but she always intended to use cloth nappies once things were more settled. Just before our trial she started doing so. She sees definite advantages as Sophie seems less prone to nappy rash with cloth nappies. As a downside Katie nominates bulk. While it makes baby easier to hold, and Sophie doesn't mind the extra cushioning while she's crashing about trying to learn how to crawl, it certainly strains the seams of her jump suits and baby trousers.
At the end of the trial Katie now firmly believes she will keep using cloth nappies. She says: “I get great satisfaction from knowing my nappies are environmentally friendly. I'm more certain about this now, having experienced just how little water and detergent is needed to clean them." However, Katie says she would still use disposables when travelling, to avoid the hassle of carrying around heavy, smelly nappies.
Janet & Leo
Janet used cloth nappies exclusively with her 11-month-old son Leo. Some of the nappies she uses with Leo and his twin brother Darcy were used previously by her three older children. Janet spent less than $1000 in total on a variety of cloth nappies for her five children. This compares with a total cost for disposable nappies of $10,420 for the cheapest disposable nappy in our trial, up to or $23,230 for the most expensive one – a massive saving. Janet says: “I love not having to think about buying nappies every time I go shopping. I love that most of the modern cloth nappies look good enough to wear as a “bottom” on a warm day, meaning no fiddling around with pants. Just pop on a t-shirt and a cute nappy and off you go!” But she also shares a common dislike: “rinsing the pooey nappies!!! I don’t have a problem with actually doing it, it’s just a little niggly thing that sometimes makes me wistfully think of the days when I used to use disposable nappies, and just roll them up and put them in the bin!”
Juliet & Lucas
Juliet used disposable nappies exclusively with three-month-old son Lucas. She wouldn't contemplate using the traditional 'terry squares' cloth nappies and was put off buying modern cloth nappies because of the upfront cost and limited variety. She was unsure about what would suit Lucas best and thought it was too expensive to experiment with several different brands. During the trial Juliet found that the cloth nappies seemed to stay quite wet, which Lucas did not like. She also found it was too much work at that stage, as Lucas needed nappy changes about eight times per day. "That combined with the bowel habits of a milk-fed baby makes me of the opinion that I would not use cloth with such a young baby. I prefer the convenience and ease of disposables."
Since the conclusion of our trial, Juliet has reported back that she purchased, and is now using, modern cloth nappies with Lucas on a part-time basis. She is finding them easier to use now he is six months old and not requiring so many changes a day. She is also contemplating buying more so he can be in cloth full time.
Joanne & Henry
Joanne and her six-month-old son Henry used cloth nappies through the day and disposable nappies during the night and when they are out and about. Joanne thinks cloth nappies are more breathable as Henry sometimes gets a red bottom with disposables, but not often with cloth. “I don’t find cloth to be much more of a hassle than disposable – I actually find them better for number twos! The only problem I sometimes have with cloth is spillage with number ones,” says Joanne. She is a little worried about how much water she uses when washing the nappies, as she generally does a rinse first (to loosen up any dried bits), and then an extra rinse at the end to remove all the detergent. She does not think drying the nappies is much of a hassle. In winter, she dries them over the heating vent and they dry in a day; on a muggy summer day it can take a day or two. “I don’t mind the washing and drying of nappies – I think it is a small task to do for my son to be more comfortable. And the sight of all those nappies on the line is quite satisfying!,” says Joanne
Kate & Liam
Before our trial Kate had tried some cloth nappies with 13-month-old son Liam but had problems with leaks. She put it down to her baby’s skinny thighs not fitting well into the cloth nappy brand she'd bought. In general she thought cloth nappies didn’t fit as well as disposables, are more work and leave a baby damp and hot. Because of her efficient washing machine detergent she thought cloth nappies would be on par environmentally. Our trial showed Kate the variety of cloth nappies available and she now thinks it's simply a matter of finding the right fit for your baby. A bit of practice also makes the routine easier. She will keep using some of the nappies from the trial although she still thinks drying them can be an issue, especially in damp weather. She prefers the cloth nappies that dried quickly. “I liked the way some outers can be reused and another insert used – not having to wash the whole set every time is a good thing,” says Kate.