A personal opinion: We need to stop the chatter

This is my last Baba+Boo blog. I’m gutted - but life happens, and right now my family needs me. I adore Eve, Baba+Boo and you lovely, lovely lot - but my family has to be my priority. 

This is my last hurrah, my final shout through the megaphone - and so permit me to indulge in sharing my own personal opinion. To be absolutely clear, everything I’m saying here is my own view, not the official line of Baba+Boo. 

The thing is, I’m worried. The progress that’s been made towards making reusables normal is stalling. Why? Because of the very people who should be at the forefront of change.

There’s a very real danger that everything that’s started to make reusables mainstream over the last couple of years has been for nothing. 

So it’s time to get real about ‘real’ nappies.

Let’s get real about ‘real’ nappies

Reusable nappies are not hard. Or, at least, they don’t have to be. 

But go online and you’d be forgiven for thinking you need a PhD in Laundering Techniques to adequately parent your child. 

Online nappy groups are a constant hive of chatter on fit, leaks and problems. Laundry has become something that needs special routines, methods and techniques. There are detergent indexes and groups with thousands of members, dedicated purely to washing nappies.

This is a big deal. It’s stopping reusable nappies from becoming mainstream. 

Think about the message we’re giving. We’re signalling, very loudly, that reusable nappies are really, really hard. 

Look at all these problems that appear to abound - and then consider the amazing myriad of potential reasons for the problems. The message is clear. Reusables are not as good as single use nappies. 

Read through the posts from the incredible, awe-inspiring, strong-minded minority who get past the internet chatter and decide to “take the plunge”. They’re determined to make reusables work - despite being overwhelmed, confused, and daunted. Just take a moment to consider what we’ve created - that choosing to put your baby in a nappy made of cloth has become such a big deal that it’s regularly described with phrases like ‘taking the plunge’.  

And those who get past their fear and confusion? They’re the tip of the iceberg. For every one of those brave souls, how many more have thrown in the towel?

And how many of those who have been put off will tell their friends that they looked into it - but reusables are really hard, and they leak, and so it’s best to stick with single use?

What are we doing? Why on earth are we making them so scary?

No one thinks using a single use nappy on is hard, or daunting. And that has to be the same for reusables. 

When I was looking at this, two things struck me hard. 

1) The overwhelming majority of parents who have problems with their nappies are the ones who use online groups. To be clear, I don’t mean these are people who have a problem, so join a group. I mean, that if you look at a list of customers and compare the ones who have had problems with the ones who haven’t, there is a difference between both the number of problems and they type of problems they have. Why? It’s a bit like googling your medical symptoms. Pre-Google, you were a bit under the weather. Post-Google, your symptoms clearly indicate that you’ve got...well, pretty much every disease ever to afflict humankind.

2) Between 40% and 70% of the advice dished out online is, at best, irrelevant or - far too often - downright wrong. 

Take a moment to think about the implications of that. 

How do we get out of this mess?

I’m a huge advocate of peer support. For years, I embraced the idea of parents giving advice to other parents. But it’s all gone very wrong. And, quite honestly, it needs to change. 

The online advice groups are causing more problems than they are solving. 

If we care about reusables becoming mainstream we all need to step back and think rationally. 

Of course, problems happen. But let’s go back to googling those medical symptoms. If you genuinely need advice, where is the best place to get it? A Facebook group? Or a medical professional?

It’s the same for nappies. Manufacturers and retailers know what they’re talking about. It’s their job to know. They deal with this every day. Go online and you have no filter, no way of knowing whether the well-meaning advice you receive is from someone who’s been using reusables for six weeks (but has read a lot!) or someone who has the dirtiest, stinkiest nappies ever, which leak every two minutes. 

Go online with a simple question about leaks and you’ll probably get 10 or 15 potential reasons which you have to sift through, with no real understanding of which are likely, which are myth, and which are totally irrelevant to your circumstances. 

Ask a specialist and they’ll take it one step at a time, using their vast experience to quickly give you a solution that, nine times out of ten, will solve your problem straight away. Because nappies aren’t hard - if you ask the right person.

I’m not criticising anyone. No one is doing this deliberately. But in our quest to help and support each other, we’ve created a monster - an online myth that reusables are complex, fragile and inferior to their single use counter-parts. 

If we really care, then we have to follow the advice and guidance of the manufacturers, the retailers and the experts. We need to quit the chatter, the detergent indexes, the well-meaning but misguided advice, and the complicated and time consuming routines. 

We need to stop handling our nappies with kid gloves, and start treating them as what they really are - a bit of cloth that you wrap around your baby’s bum.

If just a few of you take this forward - if we can halt this crazy path that’s taking reusables back to a place where the only parents who use them are selfless eco-warriors - then my job here is done.

Thank you x


17 comments

  • Absolutely agree. If I’d found these groups before I switched to reusable nappies there’s no way I would have started. I joined the groups once I was already well into my journey and I’ve never had these problems that so many others speak of.

    Dee
  • Let me told my nappy story. I started my nappy journey 4 months ago. I spoke with users that told me how easy it is. But I went to Facebook and everything turn into a scary and hard world of washing routine and amonia which is waiting at any corner to attack your child bum. But I keep going anyway. Now I’m having leaks probably because my son who is in a size 6-9 months, is wearing newborn nappies. And I’m considering to give up, because I’m scare to sell my 1-4 months old nappies in case of people thinks than I’m selling destroyed PUL nappies (I don’t think so) because of a tea towel stupid test. And if I cannot sell my 4 month old nappies and I have to put them into the bin, why am I using cloth nappies? I think you are right, I would never have been started with cloth if I were read everything what it’s written in the Facebooks groups before. Thanks for your blog, enjoy your new journey

    Ana
  • So sorry to see you go jane! Ive loved reading upur blogs over the years and following baba and boos journey with my two cloth bums. I wish you luck in the future!

    Cara-jade
  • How beautifully put! Direct and to the point. I think nappies are pretty easy now I’m into it, but I was scared! I am going to take this on board. And anyone that asks about the nappies, I’m going to tell them that I find them easy and to go onto the websites that I have found helpful 👍 wish I had found this blog earlier. Enjoy your family time ❤️

    Lucy Murphy
  • So perfectly written! My friend and I have literally been discussing this tonight!

    Louisa

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