The History of the Cloth Nappy!

Traditionally, cloth nappies consisted of a folded square or rectangle of cloth, fastened with safety pins.

Today, most cloth nappies are fastened with hook and loop tape (velcro) or snaps.

Modern cloth nappies (MCN’s) come in several shapes, including:

  • All- in-two nappies, a waterproof cover and insert
  • All-in-one nappies with waterproof exteriors
  • Fitted nappy "Stuffable" nappies known as Pockets, which consist of a water-resistant outer shell stitched with an opening for insertion of absorbent material inserts.

Several design features of modern cloth nappies have trailed straight from modernizations initially developed in disposable nappies. Such as:

  • -The hour glass shape.
  • -Materials to separate moisture from skin and;
  • -The use of double inserts, or an inner elastic band for a better fit and control of waste material.

The environmental impact of cloth as compared to disposable nappies has been studied several times. In one lifecycle study sponsored by the National Association of Diaper Services (NADS) and conducted by Carl Lehrburger and colleagues, outcomes found that disposable nappies produce seven times more solid waste when disposed of and three times more waste in the manufacturing process.

Single-use nappies consume less water than reusables laundered at home, but more than those sent to a commercial diaper service.

Washing cloth nappies at home uses approx. 189 to 264 litres of water every three days, which is roughly equivalent to flushing the toilet 15 times a day, unless the user has a high-efficiency washing machine.

Cloth nappy users can reduce their environmental impacts by:

Avoid tumble dryer.

Line drying.

Not washing above 60 °C.

Using baby-led toilet training techniques to reduce number of soiled nappies.

Washing with other clothing (fuller loads).

When replacing appliances, choosing more energy efficient appliances.

Cloth nappies are commonly made of cotton, which is considered an environmentally wasteful crop to grow. "Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically-dependent crops, sucking up 10% of all agricultural chemicals and 25% of insecticides on 3% of our arable land. Cloth nappies are also found to be made of bamboo and hemp. And microfibre,

Another aspect to consider when choosing between disposable nappies and cloth nappies is cost. It is estimated that an average baby will use from $1,500 to $2,000 or more in disposable nappies before being toilet trained; In contrast, cloth nappies, while initially more expensive than disposables, cost as low as $300 for a basic set of cloth nappies, although costs can rise with more expensive options

Also in Cloth Nappies 101

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