How to make the switch to cloth nappies

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Have you been thinking about changing your nappy lately? It's a question that's doing the rounds in mums groups and we're not talking brands here. We're talking about making the switch from disposable to reusable nappies. But is it worth it?

Well, it's definitely worth giving cloth nappies a test run. In fact, the mums we've spoken to who have made the switch from disposable nappies say they hardly notice the extra washing but really appreciate having more money in their pocket at the end of the week.

Many of today's kids are toilet training later - closer to three than two - which means the cost of keeping them in disposable nappies is also rising. Look at it this way: popular disposable nappies work out at about 40 cents per nappy, so using just six nappies a day for a year costs $873! Enough for a short holiday or a take-away pizza once a week for a year!

But how do I know if cloth nappies will work for me?

Well, the first step is to understand that modern cloth nappies are NOT the same as the terry towelling squares your own mum probably used. They are a fitted nappy that comes in a range of fabrics, colours and of course, prices.

Premium products will house baby's behind for between $25-30 (or more) per nappy while more affordable cloth nappies will do the job for less than $10. There are cotton, bamboo, hemp and synthetic fabrics out there and different styles, from all-in ones to nappies with pockets for absorbent nappy inserts. A handy little add-on to look out for are flushable nappy liners which can be picked up (just grab them carefully from the corners) and flushed down the toilet! Which takes care of messy business quite quickly.

While buying in bulk will save you money, if you're new to the world of modern cloth nappies try buying just a single nappy to give it a test run. You could even try buying a couple of different ones and comparing them. Once you find something you're happy with, stock up.

Look out for free postage as this can help you keep your initial costs down.

What if I get sick of the washing?

The choice between cloth and disposable nappies doesn't need to be all or nothing. Many mums find they prefer to use disposables when they go out or if they need to be away overnight but enjoy the cost savings and comfort of cloth nappies at home. There really aren't any hard and fast rules.

What about nappy rash?

Some babies are prone to nappy rash, regardless of what nappy you put them in. Sensitive skin can be tough for parents to cope with. Regular nappy changes, applying a thick layer of barrier cream and using sensitive bath products can all help. Your choice of nappy is not likely to make any real difference - if you find your cloth nappy doesn't draw the moisture away and leaves baby's bottom red then it would be worth graying a different cloth nappy before you abandon the idea altogether. Flushable nappy liners are a really good option, as you can change these as often as you need (even without changing the nappy if it's not full).

It's worth giving it a try!

It's true that as mums we seem to be turning the clock back toward a more sustainable era. We prefer to pack our kids' lunches in reusable containers than throw-away plastic. We like to plant our own beans in the backyard so our kids can taste real food. And we would prefer not to throw billions of nappies into landfill each year. We don't want to fall into the trap of trying to be a 'perfect' parent but little changes over time can make a big difference. If you've never tried a cloth nappy before, give it a go. Make it a mums group challenge to test cloth nappies then compare your experiences!

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