Before I became a parent, I swore I would Never, Ever buy or use a disposable nappy. Not even once.
I had no idea what parenting is really like! One important lesson I’ve learnt is that the only Never, Evers apply to judging other parents. We can’t put ourselves into the shoes of others and we don’t know what informs their choices (accidental or well thought-out, clutching at straws…or ‘the best I can do right now’).
While pregnant with my son, I investigated cloth nappies. I bought some second hand ones from a friend. They were enormous! When he was born I saw that was no way they would fit him or be at all comfortable or practical. We found some Eco-disposables and blithely I thought I was doing a reasonable thing for the planet in using them. I guess a bit of self-delusion helped here…and sleep deprivation…and desperation…
When he was nearly 2 I finally used the cloth nappies – they leaked and gave him terrible nappy rash. In the meantime, I had spent the equivalent of several days online trying to find a slimline, affordable, reliable cloth nappy to use. Eventually I resorted to using cloth training pants at home and Eco disposables when out and about.
When I was pregnant with my daughter I did even more reading about nappies. I was lucky to meet a doula who showed me how to use muslins with waterproof covers. That personal contact was so valuable and I believe it is what would really help more people to use cloth. I used these with my daughter until she was quite some months old, when they were not sufficient any more. Then after a difficult time personally I fell back to using Eco-disposables most of the time. Months passed…we arrived here and I borrowed some cloth nappies from a new and generous friend. Once again they tended to leak. I did keep using them at home (my daughter is much more aware than my son was and would often tell me when she was wet which helped!).
Finally at around Christmas time, I felt some energy at last to try again with cloth. I had found out the fallacy of Eco-disposables – they don’t actually biodegrade very well under normal waste circumstances. Bitter disappointment and anger!!! It took probably around 10 hours online to find our solution as it is such a complex and varied marketplace. I went for a Polish a brand called Milovia. They dry quickly, work perfectly, and feel comfy and look pretty (important for the wearer who is now coming up to being 2..). Her skin did take a while to adjust but she seems fine now. It’s such a relief to have solved this one!
I can totally understand why it is so difficult for most parents (including many climate conscious ones) to use cloth nappies with any regularity. Not to mention the extra washing… I hope that by writing about it I give a little window for non-parents to understand. There’s so much more I could say – about the nitty gritty of daily life as a parent, how many pressures there are, how we often spiral into difficult patterns, how much energy it takes to make a change, how many demands there are on our time and money, how easy it is to get drawn into an easier and more convenient solution.
For now I’m just glad that we have a solution that works! And I’d like to think about what might be useful for other parents who felt the same as me about this issue.