One of the saddest things we hear is “I looked at using reusable nappies but I can’t afford them”.
Because if a family cannot manage the initial outlay for cloth nappies, then they are exactly the kind of family who could do with saving hundreds of pounds - or even more - by using reusables instead of disposable nappies.
But what makes us really sad is that the upfront cost is never, ever a reason not to get started with cloth nappies. Why? Because getting started doesn’t need to cost any more than a pack of single-use nappies.
The idea that it costs a lot to get started with reusables nappies is a myth. There doesn’t have to an ‘upfront cost’; there doesn’t have to be an ‘initial outlay’.
Here’s how to get started with reusable nappies - even if you think you can’t afford it.
Build up gradually
Using washable nappies isn’t all or nothing. There’s nothing wrong with buying one, or two, or five nappies - using your reusables when they’re clean and using single-use when they’re not.
One parent in the Baba+Boo Hang-out described how she initially bought enough reusables to last a day - which meant they used cloth for three or four days a week. Because she was using half the amount on disposables, she simply used these savings to add more reusables nappies to her collection until she had enough.
Ask for big gifts...
Grandparents are often falling over themselves to spend hundreds of pounds on essentials like travel seats and cots….so why not nappies? Most grandparents will be over the moon to buy something that will actually save you enough money to take an extra month of maternity leave, or pay for your first family holiday. (They may also be relieved you’re asking for the £240 nappy starter kit, not the £700 travel system your sister-in-law lusted after.)
...and small gifts
Single nappies often cost between £10 and £20, so fit many people’s baby shower budget - many retailers also offer gift vouchers. If just five people gift you a single nappy, then you already have a quarter of the nappies you’ll need to use washable nappies full-time.
Of course, napppies aren't just for newborns - they're becoming more and more popular as birthday and Christmas gifts, expecially among families who don't need any more toys.
As reusables become the new normal, we’re seeing nappy starter kits being bought as workplace gifts when new mums start maternity leave. Just as cute, and surely more useful than yet another 0-3 month outfit that will be worn once (if at all?)
What if I buy nappies that aren’t right for me?
One of the big issues we see isn’t really affordability - it’s the fear of spending all that money on something that doesn’t work out for you. If you want the security of ‘try before you buy’, some retailers offer trial nappy schemes (at Baba+Boo you can return a trial nappy within a month and get 70% back); you can buy pre-loved nappies, safe in the knowledge you should be able to sell them on again; or you could borrow from a nappy library.
Do it on the cheap
Of course, many of us want brand new, beautiful prints...but it doesn’t have to be that way. Using old school terries, or buying pre-loved, could kit you out with all you need for less than a hundred pounds.
What about the extras?
There aren’t many extras with reusables. If you have your own washing machine then the additional two or three loads of washing a week will cost you far less than you spend on single-use nappies - and the only thing you really need is a bag or bucket to store your nappies in. Using reusable wipes instead of wet wipes will pay for itself in just a few weeks.
Reusables nappies save you a lot of money - even when you take into account washing costs; even if you buy the ultra-cheap own brand single-use ones; even if you build up your collection slowly.
So once you realise there’s no such thing as a big upfront cost...there’s no financial reason to use single-use nappies.