In an effort to feel morally superior, increase my workload and really engage in a tactile way with my child’s digestive process I am a committed user of cloth nappies. This allows me to dish out pointed looks while changing my child at the shopping centre. My change mat has a sticker proclaiming “My other change mat is underneath a tree at the organic farmers markets”. But now let’s hear the truth about the dark underbelly of cloth nappies.
1. The more you pay the more it stains
After working through five different types of MCN’s (Modern Cloth Nappies) I can say the best cloth nappies are the ones you don’t have. The really funky bright ones in fun synthetic fur leaked explosively. The insert style wicked urine up the back of the baby’s shirt. The Velcro tab style tangled into an angry cluster every wash (despite securing the tabs according to the manufacturer’s advice). Finally the organic hemp and bamboo snap closure All-In-Ones contains the baby by-product but leaves a patina of effluence with each use. My nappy collection is becoming quite the modern art piece.
2. “Poo Forensics” is a real thing
When you don’t get a lot of sleep, infrequently interact with adults and no longer use reason or logic to frame the world (my children exist in a narrative framework e.g. “Because I said so”), one’s sense of propriety can suffer. I have discovered the simple peace of staring at my child’s soiled diapers in the laundry as I contemplate the least disgusting way to separate the solids from the cloth. This provides ample opportunity to interrogate and identify partially digested solids with the cool detachment of a palaeontologist. “Fascinating, chia just doesn’t digest!”
(Afternote: we do have a Lil’ Squirt but I broke the toilet trying to install it and now it is in the ‘To Do’ pile. With the tax.)
3. Too late or too often: the delicate imbalance
Unlike the decadent abandon of disposables where blissfully ignorant infants can wallow in their own fluids due to the outrageously effective science of that weird gel stuff, cloth nappies are a temperamental beast that will punish you at the slightest misstep. Left the nappy on too long? If you are lucky it's nappy rash which requires ‘nappy-free time’ aka roll up the carpets. But more than likely the expanding wet patch of urine from each leg crease reveals itself as so much more. Still less irritating than capturing an infant to change it and opening up a dry nappy.
4. No one will change your baby
I doubt anyone is lining up to change babies but I’ve heard tales of parents, siblings, even the odd close friend who would revel in the novelty of slipping off a disposable and slapping on a fresh one (wee’s only of course). Alas the insurmountable challenge of press studs/ Velcro is the ultimate barrier to otherwise capable adults when it comes to cloth nappies. Well that’s the excuse.
5. Baby got back: packing so much junk in the trunk
In the words of Sir Mix A Lot “I like big butts and I cannot lie”. This was not in reference to babies in cloth nappies though I sing it in my head every time I try and drag a pair of pants over the impossible bulk of the diaper. Sure it provides a softer landing for budding climbers but I can’t help but feel the excessive posterior counterweight inhibits my child’s mobility more than it protects it. Watching a tiny bare bum jettison across the bed post-bath reminds me of how tiny my baby is when not armoured with a poo shield.
As you can see the best cloth nappies in the world cannot protect your child from incompetent parenting so take heart and do whatever you wanted to do anyway (that’s the best way to parent in my experience).
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