Aside from a couple of days when his umbilical cord hadn’t yet dropped off, M’s worn cloth nappies exclusively. From the very beginning, we got used to washing and drying on a regular enough turn over to ensure there was always a nappy clean, using a big enough bag out and about to store clean nappies, and bring home dirty ones too, and both he and us got used to the heave-ho needed to pull his trousers up and over the nappy. Cloth nappies were – are – the norm, but we’re experiencing a sudden strong cloth nappy doubt.
A well-known nappy company has just begun selling organic cotton nappies here in Turkey as well as allergen/chemical-free wet wipes. The nappies are paper-thin, soft and flexible, and the wet wipes scent-free. We bought a pack of both, brought it home and put it away to be dug out when we pack for our UK trip next week because we’re going to need every ounce of our luggage allowance coming home. Then two days ago, M’s cloth stash started emitting that ‘in-need-of-stripping’ aroma and karma seemed to be telling me to strip them all at once, and use the disposables we already had in the meantime. So I did, and stripped the wipes as well (cotton cloths we steep in camomile, olive oil and tea-tree). And I like them – I. Like. Disposable. Nappies.
Breastfed poo is easy..no rinsing, no real smell, no chunks. Just take off the nappy and put it straight in the wash. As babies get older, and start eating food too, you need to shake and rinse before the wash and nappies can no longer be left more than a day between washes, yet you have fewer full loads. And it’s not just the contents of the nappy which become harder to deal with as baby gets bigger; the act of changing the nappy becomes more difficult too. M turns, wriggles, tries to suck his toes and put his hands inside – once the used nappy is off, it requires military precision and artful maneuvers to get a clean one on correctly. At least it does with cloth..and we have pre-folds, all-in-ones, pockets, too; none of the styles are as easy to get on a wriggly baby as the disposables we’ve used the last two days. And in a city where there are very few baby change rooms meaning you’re forced to change nappies on whatever surfaces you can find, the quicker you can get a nappy on and off, the better.
Our – my doubts – about cloth aren’t just about the ‘ick’ factor, or the convenience or the ease… the day after we put him in throw-away nappies for the very first time, he mastered the crawl. Not the push with his arms and pull his legs after, but a real, use arms and legs in sync, baby crawl. Coincidence? Probably, but there’s no doubt that these nappies fit him like a glove and give him much more freedom to move – for the first time he can suck his toes while his nappy’s still on. He’s not restricted by extra bulk. And talking of bulk, I went out yesterday, for the day, and even after his nappies were in, I still had room in my bag for two books, extra clothes, a shawl, a brollie, and all the shopping I did: the best bit? This bag was smaller than my usual nappy bag. As M gets older, I find myself lugging more and more clutter for him..extra toys, and a teether, extra clothes, extra hats, spare sock and much of the time I’m on foot, with M wrapped firmly to my front and the backpack stuffed full balancing me out; the heavier he gets, the less extra bulk the better.
If I sound like an anti-cloth proponent, it’s misleading; I still advocate for cloth and would use these nappies all over again, but I think cloth diapers may have a shelf life, and we might have just hit ours. The past six (almost 7) months would have been where our major nappy expenditure was seen, and thanks to cloth nappies, we halved our outgoings. Expenditure, like everything else, has to be tipped against what works best for you, as a family, to live the life you aspire to, and the cost of nappies is outweighed against the added ease disposables give us as we travel with M round our home city. The cost is a factor, of course – adding in nappies is going to jolt the weekly shop, but we don’t actually use many these days. M pees on the potty and as the efficiency of our elimination communication practise continues, I foresee – insh’Allah – us using fewer and fewer nappies by day. (The irony here is that the fewer nappies M uses, the fewer laundry loads which need doing, but the big-boy smelliness of said nappies means they can’t be left like before, so in fact, laundering the napies so frequently in such smaller loads probably negates any environmental benefit using cloth adds. This deminishes my guilt, slightly.)
We go back to the UK in 3 days time and we’re there for a week. The bumper pack we bought should last from now ‘til we come home and then we’ll look again, but if nappy rash doesn’t appear and the nappies don’t leak, we might be putting those cloth nappies to bed.