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

  • I do totally agree. Especially in terms of the wash routine talk that’s out there.
    Sometimes we overcomplicate the simple stuff.

    Tara
  • I never comment on things, but thought this article was too important! I am a first time Mum and hadn’t even changed a nappy before I had my little girl. I’ve used cloth nappies from the start (and cloth wipes) and I have NEVER had a problem with them! I’ve had a couple of leeks along the way, but these have always been due to my inexperience, not due to the nappies. My baby is one of the only babies I know who hasn’t had nappy rash. Plus, I love changing her as her nappies are so cute! And the washing is not difficult, it becomes part of the routine. I tell everyone who will listen how amazing cloth nappies are. Together, we can make a difference!

    Anna Morgan
  • Well said.

    Heather
  • I agree! So much conflicting advice when a parent asks a question, no wonder it puts people off! I will ensure I direct people to the manufacturer in future

    Rachel
  • Could not agree with this more! I often get friends who started using cloth after me sending me panicked messages asking about washing routines and powders after reading something online – I always tell them if they look and smell clean when they come out then whatever they’re doing is working and not to worry. I hate the jargon and I hate the myths because cloth is SO EASY. I don’t know anyone that has ever given the same level of thought to how they wash their clothes which are far far more expensive and more fragile than any cloth nappy! Wishing you all the best for the future Jane, great thoughts to leave us with x

    Rachel

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