Get started with cloth nappies: 4 friendly tips

Posted on 26 April 2021

Cloth nappies are making a huge comeback amongst parents eager to reduce plastic disposable items or save money. It’s sobering to find out that almost 800 million disposable nappies end up in Australian landfills annually, meaning a stack of hard-earning money has just gone to ‘waste’, quite literally.

These days reusable cloth nappies are easy to use and clean, plus there are different brands and companies to choose from. No longer do soiled nappies need to be soaked in bleach or boiled, and modern washing machines make laundry a breeze.

My partner and have using cloth nappies since our baby was born and we have no regrets. It’s saved us thousands of dollars over the years, we’ve avoided the blowouts common with disposables, and it’s significantly reduced out rubbish. Did I mention how cute the prints are?

Instead of getting into the nitty gritty of nappy styles and laundry routines, I want to share some mindset tips that can help set you up for success.

1. Ignore the well-meaning pessimists

When I shared that I would be using cloth, I received a range of feedback. Some positive (often from older generations who used them too) and some negative, with some suggesting I’d quickly give up from the extra work. I soon realised that unsupportive comments are rarely borne from first-hand experience. The person may have a distorted view of the maintenance involved, or an irrational belief that cloth is somehow ‘ickier’ than disposables. Criticism can also come from a genuine concern for the wellbeing of new parents, wondering if we can cope with the ‘extra’ workload. I was lucky to take time off from paid work to care for my child and I found the predictability of nappy laundry to be a welcome foil to the other more challenging aspects of infant care. While it’s true new parents should take care of themselves, and everyone’s situation will be different, the overall challenge of cloth nappies is routinely exaggerated and perpetuated by even well-meaning folks.

2. It’s not all or nothing

We bought a full stash of cloth nappies before my child was born and chose to use them full time including for overnight, from the day we got home from hospital. This worked for us, but even using a few reusables a day will trim your waste and spending. If you can’t afford a full set, start with one or two and build your stash over time. Or if full time cloth makes you nervous, make it work for you by using cloth when you can. Similarly if you’ve fallen away from using cloth, you can start back anytime. Cloth nappies aren’t pass or fail. We’ve used disposables here and there in the past few years when needed.

3. Resistance is often lack of knowledge

It can be frustrating if your child’s other carers don’t support your choice to use cloth nappies. Most people don’t realise that a a modern cloth nappy is just as easy to use as a disposable. Having printed instructions near the change table can help to allay fear, and demystify fit and washing. Showing the cost savings of cloth over the nappy years can help motivate some into action, as can simply stopping buying disposables.

4. Find support online

If you don’t know any other cloth parents in real life, there are plenty of online forums where you can find advice, brand reviews or plain old moral support from veteran cloth parents.

Overall, choosing cloth nappies has been easier than I thought and more rewarding. Once I made it clear that I was committed to using them, most people became much more supportive. Now, two years later, I enjoy helping others to get started with cloth successfully.

Join us for an intro to modern cloth nappies on 7 May. In this free, in-person session you’ll get an overview of the various styles, as well as how to fit and care for your nappies:


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