What are muslin wraps used for?

Diapers - reuse or dispose of? That is the question!

From the first few days after our first baby was born, my husband was really anxious about us going down the reusable diaper route, but the thought of it absolutely terrified me.

I didn't know anyone who used them, I hadn't been shown how to use them in any parenting classes I'd attended, hardly anyone had mentioned it. So the whole idea just wasn't on my radar and in all honesty it seemed absurd that he even had it when we had so much else on our plate to get used to with a new baby. For the next two years we used single-use diapers .... lots of EVERY single-use diaper. To some extent, I haven't thought twice about using single-use items, mostly because it's exactly what everyone else was doing. We tried a few more eco-friendly diapers, but they reacted badly on my baby's skin and gave him a rash so that didn't work.

We recently had our second child and my husband said once again that he really wanted us to think about using cloth diapers. I gave in and said, "Ok, let's try, but if it's too much hard work we'll switch back". We have a very energetic toddler and we sold our house. So the prospect of switching to cloth diapers at this stage seemed like a huge unrealistic mountain to climb.

A very nice friend of mine who uses cloth diapers walked me through all of the options, explaining the different types of diapers, the different materials, the different sizes, and giving me demonstrations of how to put them on my own baby. I've tried several times, he's a wriggler. My friend will confirm that it was during this session that I started to get anxious. I felt like there was a lot of information to take with you, there were so many options.

How do you know what's best for your baby?

How do you know which size is best?

How on earth do you get the poo out?

Wouldn't it clog the washing machine and stain all of our other clothes?!?

How long do they take to dry?

I have done so much washing with a toddler and baby who seem to go through clean clothes like they are in a race! So many questions ..... But I was determined to give it a try, so I persisted.

Armed with different types and styles, different levels of suction, nighttime diapers, swim diapers, and other waterproof covers, I set off from home wondering what I had let myself in for. Such a minefield. I think by that point I had already decided it was going to be a quick try, and I'd say, "Well, we did it!"

Here's what I learned ... There seem to be 3 parts to a reusable diaper, the waterproof / outer layer called the wrap or cover. It is mainly wool or fleece. Then the absorbercy layer, also known as the insert or booster. These can be microfiber, cotton, bamboo, hemp or zorb (bamboo & cotton) and finally the liner. Liners are designed to wick away moisture, trap solids, and prevent staining of the cloth diaper itself. You can get disposable or reusable liners. The single-use, single-use items I tried were made by Little Lamb. However, these can also be washed and reused several times. The reusable liners are made of microfleece, fleece, suede or silk.

Reusable diapers come in the traditional terry diaper style, muslin style, but also pre-folded or assembled diapers (sorry to all of the diaper experts out there if I miss any). You can also get the all-in-one diapers that have the absorbency attached, just insert them into the liner. Then there are the pocket style diapers, which usually have a built-in liner, but you have to tuck the absorbent layer into the pocket.

The two main sizes are "Newborn" and "Birth to Potty", commonly referred to as (BTP).

I hope this doesn't sound too confusing ..... I think at this stage of the explanation is where I started breathing pretty quickly and feeling slightly dizzy !!

My very helpful friend (and excellent teacher) also told me the ideal would be to use a wet bag to hold dirty diapers for a day or two before washing them. You don't really want to have wet or soiled diapers around the house, but the wetness bag seems to hold back the smells and dirt completely. In addition, you can simply put the wetbag in the laundry yourself, excellent!

You can clean the diapers with organic or non-organic washing powder, whichever is best for you and your family. We have some allergies in our family and my baby has eczema so we're sticking to non-organic. Powder also seems to work better with diapers rather than liquid, and it is advisable not to use fabric softener as this will make the diapers less absorbent. During the winter months it can be difficult to dry clothes and diapers indoors. So if you need to use the tumble dryer, be sure to set it on a low setting so that you don't shrink the diaper in. The materials can shrink easily. There are also special reusable diaper cleaners that you can add to your laundry to make the diapers extra clean.Bambino Mio Miofresh diaper cleaneris a great option. It is gentle on your baby's sensitive skin, has antibacterial agents, is 100% biodegradable and chlorine-free.

After a first day or two of "AHH, I can't!" He moves around too much, he doesn't like those diapers, they're too bulky, I don't have time to put all the pieces together ... I have things to do! “We started to dig into a groove a little and it just got easier as we figured out how it all worked. I'm not going to lie, there are still uncommon times when we use disposable diapers. Especially in difficult situations when we are on vacation or occasionally at night when we cannot find the right parts for the night diapers and the toddler asks for a book to read. BUT I am very happy that it was nowhere near as tricky or time consuming as expected. You don't feel terribly guilty every time you toss a disposable diaper in the trash can. You know exactly what gets on your baby's skin and you wonder why you didn't try it when baby # 1 was born. It's 100 times easier than I expected.

The brand and style that we got on best with, and that seemed the easiest in general, were those Everything in one Easyfit Star. They are very absorbent, easy to put on and make changing diapers a pleasure!

Gina Purrmann of the Real Nappy Association told BBC News Online, "When I was pregnant, my main concern was the cost of single-use items." Then I wondered if I wanted to sit in something made out of chemicals, plastic, every day and paper existed. And I decided I wouldn't.

“Disposables have a place in our modern lifestyles, but with cloth diapers you win in every way.” I try very hard to avoid diapers that contain sodium polyacrylate superabsorbent.

"It's crystalline, but turns into a gel on contact with water, or in this case urine. It was associated with toxic shock in tampons and was removed from them in 1985."

Here are some interesting facts about diapers:

  • Says the Women's Environmental Network (WEN), "Disassembly of disposable diapers releases harmful methane gas. It takes 200 to 500 years for a disposable diaper to decompose and leave a legacy for your children's grandchildren.
  • The manufacture of single-use items uses 3.5 times more energy, 8.3 times more non-renewable resources and 90 times more renewable resources than real diapers.
  • They produce 2.3 times more wastewater and 60 times more solid waste than real diapers.
  • WEN continues, "Tributyltin (TBT), a chemical compound known to interfere with sex hormones, has been found in disposable diapers sold in the UK." TBT shouldn't be found in any household product, let alone anything else that is worn next to the skin of babies. "
  • More than nine million Disposable diapers are disposed of daily in the UK.
  • It is estimated that the annual cost of eliminating more than One million tons of consumables is £ 40 million.
  • Says WEN: "The cost of disposable diapers for a first child can be reduced by up to £ 600. This increases with the second and subsequent children who can reuse the diapers."
  • WEN is concerned that single-use diapers use up large amounts of raw materials and could endanger the health of babies.
  • Currently, almost all parents in the UK are shown how to put a disposable diaper on an infant instead of a washable diaper.

I think the answer to the original reuse or disposal question is clear. Reusable diapers are a little more hassle-free, but overall they are a lot easier on your wallet, are 40% more environmentally friendly than disposable items, and far safer for your baby than if they are in contact with such harsh chemicals day and night, which can significantly affect their health. It really is a no-brainer!