It’s the middle of the night and I can’t sleep. I command myself to stay off the MCN (modern cloth nappy) Buy Swap and Sell sites but I ignore my own warning and have a look anyway. Oooh, 6 Close Pop-Ins and postage for $110. Damn they’re cute. That’s less than $20 for each. Posted… I force myself off that group and head to the support group. I see that someone has just joined and has declared how happy she is that she’s begun her cloth nappy experience. “Welcome to the cult” someone has replied. I chuckle in the dark.
Before my love of cloth nappies escalated (some of my stash above – just the ones I stuffed today), I would scroll the online community sites and be absolutely amazed at the level to which mums (and the odd dad) were obsessed with these things. I had inherited a full set of prefolds and covers from a friend – a great get – and had received 4 weeks of a nappy service (best present ever) when our first child came. The nappy service just dipped my toes into the whole experience (and every dirty nappy I chucked into a bin for someone else to wash). I had no idea the extent to which modern cloth had become a cult following and really – a big market for nappy sellers to that group (apparently only 10% of nappy users use cloth). Friends already on the cloth nappy wagon added me to MCN Review groups and the Clean Cloth Nappy Down Under group on Facebook. In the early days (oh how naïve I was then) I would read out posts to my partner. He would suffer, feigning interest, as I crawled down the rabbit hole further and further:
“Look babes – these women are OBSESSED! Look how many nappies this lady has?!”
“Oh my god, so much poo talk…”
“Wow, now they’re discussing what kind of SPATULAS they use to flick poo off into the toilet…”
“I mean seriously, how many nappies can a baby REALLY need?”
“I’m totally happy with the prefolds – I don’t need to buy any more nappies EVER.”
“How hard can washing them be?”
“What the f*** is FLUFF MAIL?”
“Sweet baby cheeses, someone made a cloth nappy key ring.”
Now, with some genuine interest:
“I think we need one of those hoses to shoot the poo off into the toilet.”
“Do these nappies smell right?”
“DO NOT USE THE RUBBER GLOVES IN THE BATHROOM, they are my poo gloves.”
“Can we have another baby so I can buy more nappies?”
“I need to talk to you about a new clothes line.”
“Don’t look at the PayPal account. But if you do, I can justify every purchase.”
“No seriously – can you smell these for me?”
“You don’t understand. Washing nappies is a science.”
“Imagine if we have twins – I would have to buy like, a full new set of nappies.”
When I first started musing about cloth nappies, my mum was very negative – (sorry Mum, but you were) or let’s say, cynical. She was fairly adamant that the power and water I would use washing nappies would make the savings from not buying disposables redundant. Now obviously I live in the echo chamber of MCNs, but I have seen much information that confirms that environmentally, and economically, I’ve made a good choice – especially since I don’t use a dryer. This came with my nappy purchase recently:
**Before I continue – there is no judgement for those who use disposable nappies. Motherhood is bloody hard and whatever works for you, is what you should do. Also, washing nappies requires a certain commitment of time and effort – not everyone has the time and space needed to do this. **
For me the landfill issue is what justifies every moment of my cloth nappy lifestyle. Every year, for every child, you might be putting 300 kilograms of nappies into landfill. Disposables are made using energy and water, and take hundreds of years to break down.
We still use disposables at night-time and when we are away for more than a few days. I always have some back up in the nappy bag. For anyone wanting some environmentally friendly ‘sposies’, these nappies are great, and fully compostable.
(I actually know someone who composts them.) You can get them delivered, but they are more expensive than your more mainstream option. You can also get compostable wipes, but I’ve embraced cloth wipes too, which is easy if you are already washing nappies!
I made this for bath time >> by cutting a hole in a zip up pouch that had some sort of baby related bath gift inside. (#hoarder) You fold them into each other like normal wipes and tissues. Wet as you go or fold in damp.
My (to be honest, sometimes frightening) obsession with cloth nappies has really made me question why I love it so much. Why I want to buy all the nappies. Why, when it was my birthday, I wanted to just get more nappies. I mean, I don’t even wear them. WHY DO WE LOVE THEM SO MUCH?
Being at home (I’ve been at home with baby for 5 months now) can be a lonely experience. It depends on your personality I think, and your ability to be alone how well you cope. I’ve always been good alone. Especially alone and busy. I talk to myself, I set tasks and I pump my fist to no one when something is a success. But I’m in this strange new situation where despite me being busy all day – all day – cleaning, cooking, breast feeding, washing, playing, shopping… I can go the whole day without doing anything for myself besides having a cup of tea. I treasure doing stuff for myself. I love puzzles, I love reading (LOL, haven’t read for months), I love learning, I love gardening (LOL plants are dead), I love accomplishing.
I loved being a teacher, and I miss it. Sometimes I feel that when I left my career behind I also left behind a little of my identity. I like to have purpose, and yet every time I set about doing something, there is a nappy to change, a mouth to feed, a baby to entertain, or dishes to clean. (These are all purposeful things, I mean, without me my baby would starve and the household would fall apart.)
But when I wake up and think NAPPY WASHING DAY, I jump out of bed and get started. I still feel new to this so getting the washing done correctly is SO important. I check the water level, make sure the detergent amount is good, make sure they’re pegged properly, ensure the safety of the precious nappies as they get smashed around in the Heavy Duty cycle. This is where the Clean Cloth Nappies Down Under group comes in. This Facebook group admin offer you all the information any novice cloth nappy user needs. They give you a nappy wash routine based on your detergent, your machine, even the hardness of your water (edit: this is no longer available from the CCNDU crew but they offer all the info you need to make your own). The admin (and the whole group community) support you as you sanitise and strip your nappies, choose detergent, fit your nappy to your baby properly… everything. I can’t adequately laud their greatness. They are angels. You have a problem, you ask them. I had smelly nappies after I washed them. The smell was still there a wash and a soak later and that broke me. I thought about giving up cloth. I was wasting water and time trying to fix it. I asked the CCNDU ladies, they gave me the help I needed and I am back on track with beautiful, healthy, clean smelling nappies again.
[Obviously it’s not sunshine and rainbows – every day (or two if I’m lucky) I put on my Trump gloves and rub my baby’s shit off a nappy. Yeah, I do that.]
My point is I love cloth nappies and I love the feeling of success that every good wash brings. But I also love the colours and the prints. I love their feel as I slide them under my baby’s butt. I love the fact that I reuse them. I love WASHING THEM. They’re pretty and awesome, but they give me purpose! It empowers me because I am doing something fantastic. I am literally saving a kilo of rubbish from going into the ground every day. I am a planet crusader, AND I’m saving money. But on top of this, I’m taking poo and wee ridden nappies and every third day I’m returning them to their natural, crispy white and bacteria free state because I am good at washing them. Think about that for a moment.
For stay at home mums who might feel like they have not accomplished much (besides keeping their baby alive and well and happy), being capable of reusing something that others throw out every day is a bloody marvelous achievement.
So cloth ladies, when you stand back and look at your freshly washed nappies drying, when you stuff them ready to go and stack them into a kaleidoscopic pile of environmentally friendly beautifulness, make sure you look around the empty room, nod your head at the imagined applause, high five your baby, and pump your fist in the self-adulation that you truly deserve.
Now I’m off, need to get the gloves on.
P.S. My fluff mail came with a cloth nappy key ring. My life is complete.