Some days it feels like parental choices only make life harder. Public or private schooling, breastfeeding or formula-fed, natural birth or caesarean, immunized or not, and now disposables or cloth. All of these options have their adherents, and a few in each camp aren’t afraid to be pushy, rude or even nasty about why their view ought to prevail for us all.
Cloth seemed like the obvious choice for us, before Wriggly arrived. We’re stereotypical urban white liberals, who like to think our individual efforts to recycle, compost and use public transport can make a difference. Surely we wouldn’t be the kind of people who would willfully choose to sully Clean Green New Zealand by contributing tonnes of disposable nappies to landfill?
Well, as with many of these choices, the answer is both yes and no. A harmonious blend* if you will.
A newborn baby is a demanding beast and frankly there’s enough laundry already without adding nappy inners, outers and overnight booster pads to the load. Especially if you’re parenting alone, you’ve had a caesearean and shouldn’t lift anything remotely heavy, you’ve got other kids to look after, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation are exhausting you, your partner is working long hours, or you simply can’t afford the outlay. There are many good reasons why parents would choose the convenience of disposable, and some of these apply to my little family.
One of the pro-cloth arguments that annoys me is the money-saving theory. Yes on the face of it cloth nappies could save you money, a lot of money, over the course of the several years your baby will wear them. But the outlay required is rather extreme and thus beyond the reach of many. Cloth nappies can cost $20 each. And that’s without the additional laundry costs, and putting a monetary value on the time of the person doing all that washing. I’ve worked out that I’ll need to use each cloth nappy around 80 times for it to be cheaper than disposables, and even with a booster pad they may not be absorbent enough for Wriggly overnight. I don’t think we did break even on the cloth nappies we used along with disposables when Wriggly was smaller, especially given how long the suckers take to dry after laundering. Round and round and round they went in the dryer in the persistently wet winter we had in Auckland last year.
But I do want to get our boy back in cloth if possible. We’re hoping to get a bit of a cash injection soon and I’d like to put this towards kitting him out in the appropriate outers and inners and covers and whatnot. Like so many of the green initatives we are encouraged to take up, my family can do this because we (will, hopefully,) have the readies. Otherwise we’d be continuing to spend more, and make more rubbish, with disposables, because it’s far easier to spend $2000 over 2 years than $400 in one day.
* Or dialectical materialism if you prefer.