Tuesday, 13 June 2006


The thought that the nappies I use for my baby would still be in the rubbish tip until he is old enough to be a grandfather himself scares me. How would I explain myself to him why I didn't try to "reduce, reuse, recycle"? How could I justify my reasons for using non-biodegrable nappies? Ease? Comfort? Too busy to bother?
I still use washable nappies for my baby but I tell you, it’s.a.lot.of.hassle. I know. I used it with both of my boys. It’s only practical and cheaper than disposables depending on where in the world you are.

Zak was born in the Philippines and didn’t come to England until he was 6 months old. In most of those 6 months he used cloth nappies simply because 1) it was just too hot to wear disposables and because they’re plasticky unlike the ones here in the UK, they melt on your baby’s skin even before he wets it
2) we had a helper who looked after the washing and the ironing.

Cloth nappies in the Philippines (or at least the ones I had) are thin and are expected to be changed everytime they get wet. Now that’s not impractical. Babies there wear vests and nappies only because of the heat so even if a baby wets his nappy in the middle of his sleep, putting on a fresh dry nappy won’t disturb him. You don’t need to puff about with cardigans, trousers, socks, or sleepsuits.

With Lewis, having cloth nappies involves a lot of puffing with his clothes and the wet nappy itself before I could clean him. The procedure:

1. Peel off the bottom half of his sleepsuit/trousers

2. Unfasten the nappy wrap

3. If he has soiled himself, spread out some tissue paper (not nappy bag, or else, what’s the point?) to hold the cotton balls used to clean the nappy area

4. Put on the prepared nappy (folded, lined and inserted in a wrap)

5. Put back on his clothes

6.Throw in the bin the tissue paper with used cotton balls as well as the liner because (boots) liners are not biodegradable

7. Now, if the liner is soiled, peel it off the nappy and make sure that its contents are disposed properly in the toilet. Then put it in the bin. (If the contents accidentally go everywhere but not in the toilet, then prepare for some more cleaning to do.)

8. Remove the nappy from the nappy wrap and put it in another bin intended for all dirty nappies.

9. If the wrap is not wet or soiled, hang to air if off, or if it is soiled, wash straight away and dry.

10. Get back to the baby who’s been crying the whole time you’re doing this ritual in the toilet.

11. When the nappy bin is full (after about a week or less depending on how many the baby uses), wash the nappies in 60 degrees. Then dry.

12. Being me, I iron them! Talk of another hassle. But then if the cloth nappies are not ironed, they look and feel like kitchen foil.

See? Hard work. But then who am I to complain? The generation before me did the same, albeit without the luxury of nappy liners. Who’s not been there, done that?

Also, why should I complain? Why can’t I just get on with it?

And then there’s the moral obligation of being kind to the environment...
Lewis should better be potty-trained at 6 months!


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