Imagine if someone invented a ‘zero waste’ disposable nappy - and it's as cheap as a reusable nappy.
There would be no environmental or financial reason to use cloth nappies. I would never need to rinse the poo from another nappy. My days of remembering I’ve left them on the washing line - when it’s dark and cold and I’ve just put on my jammies - would be over.
Obviously, all us cloth bum parents would switch to the zero waste disposables, right?
Here’s the thing. I use reusable nappies because I prefer them. Yes, I like the fact their environmental impact is much, much smaller.
But there’s a lot more I like too. I like not worrying about up-the-back poos. Poos in disposables always felt a bit like Russian Roulette… “will it shoot up the back?” or “Oh noooo, she’s in the high chair; get her out QUICK before it comes out the side”...
Our spare outfit in the change bag is there for when our boy slides down a five foot high pile of dirt; or lands face first in the muddiest puddle ever. If we made a list of ‘Potential Reasons for an Outfit Change in the Boot of the Car While it’s Blowing a Gale and he’s Hungry, Tired and Feeling ‘Sensitive’ - then a leaky nappy wouldn’t make the top ten.
(Come to that, I’d stick with my reusable wipes for the same reason - they just do the job better. It really is worth trying them - it’s kind of like realising you’ve been riding a BMX instead of driving a BMW.)
I like reusables because I find them easier. They suit our life. When our eldest was a baby, we used single use wipes. It was 10pm, my husband was away, my little one had a poorly tummy, and I’d had two hours sleep in 24 hours. After the gazillionth nappy change of the day I went to get a new pack of wipes. There weren’t any. Nowadays, I’ll happily trudge outside (in my pyjamas and wellies) to get my reusables off the washing line, rather than ‘coping’ with that again.
I’m basically lazy, so given the choice between the bin stinking of dirty nappies and going out in the rain to empty it...I’ll choose the stink. Every time. Which is an obvious cue for snipey exchanges with my other half and waking up the next morning to a gross whiff and a dollop of guilty self-loathing. But there is another choice. No stinky bin - because there are no stinky nappies in it. Result.
The clincher for why I prefer reusables? They look gorgeous.
Is that shallow? Maybe. But until you’ve experienced the joy of finding a pair of dungarees that match a nappy, you don’t know the satisfaction you’re missing. (And yes, we do realise that that no one else will know they match. That doesn’t matter.)
Our eldest - now 11 - decided to potty train when our daughter was a week old (thanks son), so I never had the joy of siblings in matching nappies. This still makes me utter a little sigh of regret.
Our little one has nappies with puffins, frogs, elephants, vehicles, flamingoes, rockets, cactuses...the list goes on. He learnt his colours by choosing which nappy he wanted to wear. He strokes his minky when he’s watching TV. (Parents of boys: that is not a euphemism.) His current favourite is Pandas. He actually has a favourite nappy.
He loves his nappies - his favourite clothes disappear with the seasons (and because he’s growing up far too quickly); but his nappies have been a constant since before he can remember. And that makes me happy.
Reusable nappies aren’t inferior, they’re not a sacrifice. They’re just different, and different things suit different people. So, to the imaginary inventor of the zero waste disposable: thanks, but no thanks.