Cloth nappies myths and facts. Baby lying on a rug in a hat

Your cloth nappies myths and facts questions answered!

Myth 1: Cloth nappies are hard work.

Fact: Modern cloth nappies (MCNs) are easy to use, wash, and dry.

Cloth nappies have come a long way in terms of practicality and convenience. Changing a cloth nappy takes roughly the same amount of time as changing a disposable nappy. There’s no need to spend hours of soaking or scrubbing to get them clean.

In fact, there’s no need to soak them at all! Simply remove the cloth nappy from your baby, pop it in a ventilated basket until wash time, load up the washing machine, and hey presto.

While there is some additional time spent hanging out your cloth nappies and inserts, and maybe folding or stuffing them, this is not hard! You’ll already be washing, hanging, and sorting more tiny clothes than seems possible.

Cloth nappies can even reduce the number of outfit changes and washing you need to do due to nappy blowouts due to their better fit.

Myth 2: Cloth nappies leak more than disposables.

Fact: Cloth nappies are designed to prevent leaks and contain messes.

Cloth nappies actually tend to leak LESS than disposables due to the customisable fit and ability to choose the absorbency you need for different situations

Unlike a disposable, cloth nappies are designed to sit low and snug, more like underwear. One size fits most (OSFM) cloth nappies have rise snaps and waist snaps (or velcro) that allow you to adjust the nappy as your baby grows.

Make sure that the cloth nappy covers your baby’s bum crack. That the elastics sit in the underwear line with no leg gaps to get the best fit and prevent leaks. 

With cloth nappies you can add additional inserts (also known as boosters). Or choose different combinations of inserts to ensure there is enough absorbency to last between changes. Popular combinations include a microfibre insert on top with a bamboo or hemp insert underneath, or a bamboo/hemp combo.

Myth 3: Cloth nappies are no better for the environment than disposables.

Fact: Cloth nappies do have a lower environmental impact than disposables if you use them mindfully.

Some people may argue that cloth nappies use more water and energy for washing and drying, but this depends on how they are laundered. Based on washing cloth nappies with 60°C water and mostly line drying. A 2008 UK report found that cloth diapering had almost the same overall carbon emissions as disposables.

HOWEVER, according to the same report, you can reduce the environmental impact by 40% from the base line by reusing cloth nappies for multiple children or passing them on and being mindful of how you wash and dry them.

Long story short, if you want to reduce the environmental impact of cloth nappies:

  • Buy secondhand cloth nappies or keep and reuse cloth nappies for siblings. Cloth nappies that are in excellent condition and cleaned using a strict washing routine such as CCN guidelines are generally also easy to resell.
  • Wash cloth nappies in fuller loads. This also helps ensure the load is bulked appropriately to effectively remove stains.
  • Always line-dry your cloth nappies and inserts.

Myth 4: Cloth nappies delay crawling or walking.

Fact: There is no truth to either of these suggestions and no current medical literature to back up these claims.

Some people say that due to the increased bulkiness of cloth nappies they will delay developmental milestones. But there is no evidence that this is true. Parents were using much bulkier cloth nappies than we have today for hundreds of years. Babies reach milestones on their own timelines.

One study that is often used as ‘proof’ of this claim found thirteen-month-olds fell or mis-stepped on 17% of trials when wearing a cloth nappy (compared to 15% wearing a disposable, and 9% naked) while walking. But these babies/toddlers were already walking and reached this milestone before 18 months.

Giving your baby lots of tummy time and nappy free time can encourage milestones such as sitting and crawling. But, there is no evidence that what type of nappy they wear makes a difference in when they achieve these milestones.

Myth 5: Cloth nappies cause nappy rash.

Fact: Again, there is no evidence to support this claim.

Fact: Again, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The truth is that most babies will get nappy rash at some stage whether they are wearing disposable nappies or cloth nappies.

Babies’ skin is very sensitive and easily irritated which can lead to nappy rash. Some of the common causes of skin irritation are wetness, sensitivity to chemicals, and bacterial infection.

The main cause of nappy rash is often wearing a wet or dirty nappy too long. Regularly changing your baby’s nappy (whether disposable or cloth) every 2(ish) hours, patting baby’s skin dry after wiping, and providing nappy free time can help prevent or reduce the occurrence of nappy rash.

Myth 6: Cloth nappies cost more.

Fact: Cloth nappies really will save you money in the long term!

Sure a cloth nappy stash will cost you more upfront than buying a couple pack of disposable nappies before baby is born, but the long-term cost savings are substantial. Even if you only use cloth nappies, part time you can save money by reducing the number of disposable nappies you need to buy.

Kate Meads from Waste Free with Kate + Co has a great nappy cost comparison break down for cloth vs disposable nappies. The basic cost of using disposables from birth to 2.5 years is $4845.00 per baby. Whereas the basic cost of using cloth nappies (with hot washes, disposable lines, and dryer once per week) is just $2043.71 per baby.

Buying second-hand cloth nappies and always line-drying will bring your cost down further. Reusing cloth nappies for multiple children will bring your cost per baby down too.

Conclusion; cloth nappies myths and facts

If you’re on the fence about starting your cloth journey, we hope this article has removed any doubts or fears you may have about the benefits of cloth nappies. If you have any other questions or concerns, let us know and we’ll be sure to help ease your mind.

Want to start now? Check out our other blog posts for help using cloth nappies and answers to commonly asked questions.

Cloth nappies for cloth nappy week

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