Cloth vs. Disposable Nappies : Best Nappies to Use on Your Newborn

By Jana Angeles from My Child (March 2020 Issue).

Taking care of your baby in the first few years can be a rewarding yet stressful time for yourself, and knowing what’s best for them comes as a first priority. Nappies are going to be an essential part of yours and your baby’s life, like it or not. They come in all shapes and sizes and with a little experimentation, you can find the nappy which comes as a dazzling delight for the bottoms of your little angels. Whether you’re passionate about the environment or have a thing for convenience, there are so many different brands to choose from and ultimately, the choice is yours.

We explore the advantages and disadvantages of cloth and disposable nappies to make decision-making just that little bit easier for you and your bub.

CLOTH NAPPIES

Cloth nappies are a dream if you value cost-effective and environmentally-friendly items. This isn’t to say that all cloth nappies adhere to these elements, but with a bit of trial and error, you can find a brand that suits you and your baby.

ADVANTAGES

  • They are non-toxic, meaning they don’t contain any harsh chemicals or plastics.
  • They are naturally-made. You also have the option of picking up organic-branded nappies made out of cotton or bamboo.
  • Cloth nappies are said to prevent any of those nasty nappy rashes because of the natural materials used.
  • Have less of an impact on the environment as opposed to disposables.
  • Different varieties of colours and designs exist in cloth nappies.
  • Cloth nappies have less leakage, which mind you, is a bonus for all mothers!
  • Cloth nappies are great for sensitive bottoms due to the natural materials used.
  • Coth nappies are less smelly than disposable ones.
  • When it comes to long-term use, cloth nappies are cheaper.
  • Because cloth nappies are washable, you’re not adding to the awful landfill.
  • Cloth nappies fast track toilet training because your baby can feel the wetness from the material.
  • Cloth nappies come in different sizes to suit your baby.

In article on The Guardian, Karen Reekie writes why she’s never turned back when using cloth nappies. She says, “Within three days of wearing cloth nappies, our daughter’s bottom started to clear up, and the horrible rash and blisters disappeared. She has never had the thrush return. We were sold, and never looked back.”

Of course, cloth nappies have all these wonderful advantages but when it comes to weighing the decision of actually using them, knowing their disadvantages also helps.

 DISADVANTAGES

  • Cloth nappies can be difficult to manage especially if you’re planning to go on a long road trip somewhere.
  • Washing them can be time-consuming and you can’t just throw them out like disposable ones.
  • The payment for individual cloth nappies is a lot higher compared to just buying a supply of disposables.
  • You have to be extra careful when it comes to cleaning them and ensure that they’re sanitary. You also have to dry them out and this could be a time-consuming process.

In an article on Mommyish, some of the mothers mentioned how much of an inconvenience cloth nappies were when it came to their lifestyles. One mother said, “I looked into using cloth diapers when my child was a baby, because of how bad pampers are for the environment… unfortunately the cost and time commitment and inconvenience seemed too much to deal with while preparing for a newborn.”

 DISPOSABLE NAPPIES

If convenience is an ultimate win for you, then disposable nappies are the way to go. Of course, they aren’t as environmentally friendly as cloth nappies but they can be just as good when it comes to doing the job.

 ADVANTAGES

  • Convenience. Convenience. Convenience.
  • There are many brands that offer organic and biodegradable options, which is a win for the environment.
  • They are super easy to use.
  • They are readily available and can be purchased at your local supermarket and department store.
  • They are considered to be more sanitary than cloth nappies because of their one-off usage.
  • It’s been said that disposables absorb more than cloth nappies. Technologies in disposable nappies offer special crystals which pull away the liquid from the nappy, helping prevent nappy rash from occurring.
  • They don’t need to be washed or dried!

Despite the cost-saving benefits found when using cloth nappies, Australians prefer convenience over cost which is why they opt for disposable nappies. In an article on Sydney Morning Herald, it was mentioned that families paid more for disposables due to the convenience it offered for them, spending between $1900 and $3000 by the time their child was fully toilet trained.

Even with its convenience, disposable nappies have their downsides.

 DISADVANTAGES

  • Most people incorrectly dispose nappies – this could mean having the poo still inside and throwing them out! When the nappy is decomposing, human waste lets off lots of methane and this is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gases.
  • It’s been said that disposables largely contain harsh chemicals and materials which can affect your baby’s skin.
  • They contribute to landfill and aren’t as environmentally-friendly like cloth nappies.
  • There’s more trial and error involved with disposables because there are so many different brands and sizes.
  • Disposable nappies take at least 200 years to decompose when in landfill.
  • When it comes to long-term use, disposables are considered to be more expensive as opposed to cloth nappies.

In a blog on Courier Mail, a mother criticised the harsh effects disposable nappies had on the environment. She says, “Considering that most parents leave faeces in disposable nappies, the chemicals in disposables, having them wrapped in little plastic bags, this is a scary thought.  But, even looking at the manufacture of nappies, there are an awful amount of resources, from chemicals to water, put into producing a disposable that has a single use.”

 VERDICT: CLOTH OR DISPOSABLE?

So when it comes to cloth and disposable nappies, deciding the real winner is going to be a personal decision. As a parent, you know what’s best for you and your baby and both nappies offer great advantages. Using a combination of disposable and cloth nappies can help you and your bub live easily. Besides, your bub won’t be needing nappies forever, so make sure their bottoms live in comfort for the first few years of their life. They’ll thank you for it!