Thursday, October 29, 2009
Why Kaz Cooke's Kid-wrangling is wrong about cloth nappies
Kid-wrangling is a popular book in Australia. I'm sure its lighthearted look at parenting is a pleasant relief from some of the more intense parenting materials out there. In between the amusement, Kaz is attempting to provide real information for parents. Much of it is probably sound and helpful. When it comes to cloth nappies, though, Kaz is just wrong. Before I start on why, I need to state my agreement with Kid-wrangling that cloth nappy advocates shouldn't go around making judgmental statements about those who use disposables. That being said, advocates of disposables need to do their homework before saying anything about cloth.
I've just put my nappies on the line . . .
and it was way easier than Kaz would have us believe. We've used cloth nappies solely for four and a half months of Elnathan's life so far (excluding our overseas trip and his first two weeks). Disposables have their place, but good cloth nappies are really not that bad.
Kaz's comments are in italics. My responses follow.
They require far more labour.
If you use pocket nappies like Bumgenius it is very quick and easy. When we were in South Africa we used three different types of Huggies nappies, all with the same result: serious poo leaks that required clothing changes every time. Bumgenius have much better containment and reduce work in this way. Personally, I'd rather change a nappy than a whole outfit.
Soaking and washing them is an unpleasant, tedious task
Many modern cloth nappies don't need soaking. You just have to rinse off any poo at the time of changing the nappy, pop the nappy in the bucket, then dump them all in the washing machine when you feel in danger of running out of them.
They need to be washed with very hefty antibacterial chemical washing powders and in very hot water, and if poo stained they need savage bleaching products to look non-skid marked.
Huh? We don't own any of these products, and our nappies look OK. We rarely wash in hot water, either (shock, horror), and our baby's bot looks just fine.
It's hard to cope unless you have a whizzbang washing machine and dryer.
Our washing machine is fantastic (a Fisher & Paykel Intuitive Eco), but we don't own a dryer. We found it easy to get our nappies dry throughout the wettest Tasmanian winter for fifty years.
Cloth nappies are slightly trickier to fasten.
Only if you use traditional cloth squares! Bumgenius and some other pocket nappies are as easy as disposables.
about 30 to 35 nappies
try 20, I'm sure you'll be fine
about 6 - 8 plastic overpants
Yes, if you use nappies that need them. Pocket nappies like the marvelous Bumgenius don't.
Yes, if you use nappies that need them!
Why? Baby poo is not scary.
2 big nappy-soaking buckets with close-fitting lids
Try one, it is enough as long as you're not planning to soak your nappies (an unnecessary and annoying process).
bleach and antibacterial soaking powder
What are those things? We don't own them. The sun does the job.
a washing machine with a hot function
Handy but not strictly necessary, as long as you live in a climate where they'll get some sun.
antibacterial washing powder
Huh? We've purchased one box of ecostore powder and it is still going. With Bumgenius you are specifically required to use environmentally friendly detergent that doesn't contain enzymes, etc, and to use it very sparingly. If you don't, you're no longer eligible for the one year guarantee.
lots of clothes-line space and fine weather or a big clothes dryer
Neither are necessary. You can dry them inside if the weather is yuck. This is especially true of traditional cloth nappies, as they are thin cotton squares and dry quickly.
When I read Kaz's comments, I'm not surprised so few people use cloth. If I thought it would be like that, I probably wouldn't either. Kaz argues that using cloth is not necessarily an environmental improvement. If they are used in the way she describes, I agree. What many people forget is that you don't have to do cloth in the traditional way. Hey, it is 2009!