16 March 2012

Old fashioned? Who me?

"Cloth nappies are old-fashioned."
"Cloth nappies are gross."
"Only poor people use them"
"They are too much effort!"
Any of these sound familiar? Well then I can almost guarantee that the person uttering them has not seen a modern cloth nappy in action! If you're thinking terry towel squares, pins and plastic pants, then you're in for a big surprise.

Modern cloth nappies are no different from disposables, except they're made of cloth instead of plastic, gels and chemicals and you wash them instead of throwing them away.

Thirsties Duo Wrap in Alice Brights
Let's address these claims one by one:

"Cloth nappies are old-fashioned." 

Sure they can be, if you're using old-fashioned nappies! Just like clothing can be old-fashioned if you're wearing old-fashioned clothes. Times have changed though and there are a lot more options available than what your mom or grandma had. They go on as easily as a disposable, using either velcro or snaps and most have a built-in waterproof layer to protect baby's clothes plus a stay-dry inner to protect baby's bum. Have I mentioned they also look super cute?
Only problem is, you have to do some digging to find them! You will not find them in the mainstream baby stores (Toys R Us, Baby Boom, Baby City, etc). They might have a lonely pack of Glodina towel nappies stashed in a corner somewhere, but I think most people will understand if you're just not up to the origami folds and the intricate pinning. Heck, I'm not!

So where *do* you then find them? Online! There are a few dedicated South African sites available where you can purchase nappies to your heart's content (Doodle-Bums, The Real Nappy Company, The Eco Baby Company to mention a few), not to mention the hundreds of overseas sites that sell them.

There are also a few stores that sell a limited range of cloth nappies where you can get a feel for them. In Cape Town area I know that The Wellness Warehouse as well as Kids Emporium (Durbanville) carries cloth nappy stock.

"Cloth nappies are gross." 

Really? With both cloth and disposable nappies you're going to be cleaning up poo. Let's face it, it's not a pleasant task either way, but someone's gotta do it, right? There is a big misconception about how cloth nappies are cleaned. Would you believe me if I told you it's as easy as throwing them in the washing machine? Well, it is!

Before introducing baby to solids, his/her poo is water soluble, which means you don't need to do anything with the nappy except throw it in a bucket and, when wash day comes, empty the bucket into the washing machine. Then it's just a matter of pressing a few buttons and a little while later you have clean nappies. There is no need to soak nappies or scrub nappies, they just go directly into the bucket. If you're worried about smell you can add a few drops of tea tree oil to the bucket, but I can tell you from experience that is not even necessary - if you keep the lid on the bucket no smell will escape.
Diaper sprayer

Okay, so what happens when baby is no longer consuming a liquid diet? Surely it gets gross then? Nope. You have a few options available:

- put a flushable liner in your nappies, when baby poos you just flush the liner down the toilet and the nappy goes into the bucket.
- install a nappy sprayer. This is a simple spraying device (much like a handheld shower attachment for the bath), that attaches to your toilet. Simply hold the soiled nappy over the toilet and spray the poo off into the toilet. Alternatively you can use the shower attachment in the bath and spray into a bucket which you then empty into the toilet.
- armed with a pair of rubber gloves, you do the old swish and dunk. That's where you hold the nappy by its waterproof outer and swish it around in the toilet bowl, flushing every so often to get rid of any solids.  This is probably the grossest option, but if you use the rubber gloves it's also not that big of a deal. To put it into perspective, you just wiped someone's bum after all.

Bumgenius Artistic Series 4.0 Pocket Diaper in Albert 
"Only poor people use them" 

I will admit that the usage of cloth nappies in South Africa isn't widely spread. But there are quite a few of us who do use them! Some even use the terry squares (hey, you can't beat a classic, right?), but many others use the modern all-in-one options available and those people are by no means dirt poor. We come from all ranks of society too and we all have in common a desire to a) save money (seriously, who doesn't love a good bargain?) b) care for the environment and c) avoid the use of chemicals on our precious little ones..  And I've gotta say, we're a pretty fantastic community.

Wouldn't it be great if these nappies were presented as an option in the various parenting and pregnancy magazines out there? Part of the reason why there's this big stigma attached to cloth nappies is because there  is so little information about them in the mainstream media!

"They are too much effort!" 

Pocket diaper shells line drying
If you're washing them by hand, then yes, sure they are probably quite a bit of effort, but I'm sure most of us have our own washing machines and usually a tumble dryer too, so it's as easy as loading up the washing machine, pressing a button, then coming back later to either hang them on the washing line or transfer them to the tumble dryer. And I'm talking as a mom who works full-time and whose total commute every day is just under two hours - if I can do it, so can you. And just think of the time you'll save taking a trashbag full of dirty nappies outside or popping out to the store because you've run out of nappies!


  1. Love, love, love using cloth nappies myself. So great to hear there is another SA mommy who shares my enthusiasm :)

  2. I love hearing from other cloth nappy users! The more the merrier.

  3. I just tried sending a comment..it may have been that I wasn't logged in that it didn't take it. Sorry if you get a double comment. We are an organic grocery store online called The Hippie Box. www.thehippiebox.com Is your cloth diaper company called Hippie Safari or is that the blog? We like the concept of carrying other products in our store with the hippie theme. You can send me more details about your brand info@thehippiebox.com


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