|All my friends use disposable nappies for their babies,
but I am worried about the environment. What should I take
into account when choosing what type of nappies to use?
Not that long ago, women routinely used cloth nappies and
the occasional disposable nappy for traveling and convenience.
This has changed dramatically in the last 15 years and the
swing has been firmly towards disposables. The increase
in working mothers has contributed to this trend –
it’s partly a time issue! However there is no doubt
that the modern disposables use incredibly advanced technology
to keep baby dry, snug and rash free for as long as possible.
The convenience of a nappy you can just throw away is very
attractive, reducing the problem of that smelly nappy bucket
in the bathroom, and the problem of carrying home a dirty
cloth nappy after an outing. The scratchy, uncomfortable
disposables of 20 years ago have been replaced by sophisticated
nappies, with the texture of cotton and designed for extreme
comfort. The efficient adsorption of fluid, combined with
a layer of fabric which stays dry next to the baby’s
skin, means that for some babies sleep is less disturbed
by a very wet nappy.
As for the environment, there is no doubt that the amount
of time that it takes for a nappy to decompose has placed
a huge strain on rubbish sites. Consumer pressure has encouraged
the manufacturers of disposable nappies to investigate the
biodegradability of disposables. You should consider the
fact that every baby who wears disposables will have sent
roughly two tons of nappies (about 5000 in number) to the
landfill. Quite a thought. If you want to use disposables,
yet are concerned about the environmental implications,
it is worth your while to investigate which brands are more
degradable than others. There are a few disadvantages to
disposables, such as anecdotal evidence that if babies are
too dry and comfortable in their disposables, that they
will not have any motivation to be potty trained.
While many women believe that disposables reduce the incidence
of nappy rash since the fluid is efficiently wicked away
from the baby’s skin, this has not been borne out
by scientific research. This may be an instance where your
baby gets the final say. Some babies do not do well in cloth
nappies, and find the waterproof pants to be extremely uncomfortable.
Other babies may find the disposable nappies to be hot and
irritating. So this may be a decision best made after you
have had a chance to see what suits your baby.
What may influence your decision is whether your town has
a nappy service. This is a service that provides you with
nappies, and does a regular collection of dirty nappies
and exchanges them for clean nappies. Since the nappies
are steam cleaned, they are extremely sterile and cleaner
than you could get them cleaning at home. The other advantage
is that the nappy service will provide you with soft flannel
nappies for the first few weeks, and then swop them for
toweling nappies when you feel your baby is ready. This
saves on the initial outlay. The nappy bucket is the only
down side, but it is usually a sealed container which keeps
the smell contained. Also due to the popularity of disposable
nappies, there are very few nappy services around any more,
mainly in the big centres, so you would need to check this
out before you consider what your choices are!
Toweling nappies that you wash at home will never be as
clean as those from a nappy service, but that is probably
what you wore as a baby and I bet you are none the worse
for it. There are cleverly designed cloth nappies on the
market that have the design of a disposable, and some even
have water proofing attached. The use of a biodegradable
liner can reduce the problem of soiled nappies and ease
the cleaning process. The environmental aspect does come
into play here too, since you would be washing a load of
nappies every day and probably using a very hot cycle. You
may need to tumble dry them if the weather is poor. So there
is an environmental downside to each choice. Plus this choice
is time consuming, so factor that into your decision.
So in the end it comes back down to you and your baby.
Baby’s comfort and well-being are paramount, and your
convenience and conscience need to be weighed against each
other. It’s your call!
Nappy - Nappy rash
Nappy - Nappy changing etiquette