Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness
PARENTS of children in nappies are one of the groups likely to have reacted with dismay to the bin charge changes announced last week. With emphasis on rewarding those who recycle, plastic nappies in the waste bin are likely to add a hefty whack to household costs. The changes may not be introduced for a while but it is something for parents to be aware of.
One possible solution that is increasing in popularity is a return to cloth nappies. Forget endlessly boil-washing terrycloth, reusable nappies have got a whole lot easier.
Fans of cloth nappies point out that there are now a number of varieties. You can choose from all-in-one versions that can be machine-washed to two-parters that have a sturdy outer wraps protecting an inner nappy. There are also flushable liners that can be used with an outer wrap, so you can flush the contents away rather than having to fill the bin. Fastenings have also come a long way — an array of Velcro ties, snaps and clips mean you don’t have to worry about stabbing your baby with an old-fashioned nappy pin.
The financial argument for cloth nappies is persuasive. Five nappies a day, 365 days a year adds up to more than 4,500 nappies in two and a half years. That is a lot of extra weight going out in the weekly rubbish. And aside from bin charges, all those nappies cost a considerable amount. Upfront costs for cloth nappies are higher but advocates believe they will pay for themselves long before your child is potty trained.
How much you can save varies depending on the disposable nappies you are replacing and the type of cloth ones you choose. If you want to work out exactly what you can potentially save, check out www.clothnappylibrary.ie.
Cloth Nappy Library Ireland was established in 2012 by four mothers who met online and wanted to support families starting out using cloth nappies. It has since grown into a community of hundreds operating throughout Ireland.
Their site has a detailed calculator. It takes into account everything from the type of disposable you want to replace to the amount of extra electricity it takes to wash the nappies. Enter some values and it will give you a strong idea of how much cheaper cloth nappies will be for you.
And that is just based on one child, the savings become more pronounced if the family grows as the cloth nappies can be reused for younger siblings.
If you are concerned about committing to the cloth nappy costs without knowing if they will work for your family, Cloth Nappy Library Ireland provide a handy lending service.
Their mixed trial kit will allow you to try out a variety of nappy types. They say: “Some nappies will be easier to change, some easier to dry, some more or less absorbent and prices will vary when you look to buy. Borrowing a mixed bag allows you to see what works best for you and what fits your baby well.” The cost is €25 if you borrow online with postage but they have local lending libraries which meet once a month. If you can borrow from one of those a trial kit costs just €15.
If you decide to take the plunge, you can buy cloth nappies in shops but there is a much wider variety online — www.earthmother.ie, www.fluffybums.ie and www.hipbaby.ie are just three of a multitude of sites catering to the Irish market.
If the setting up costs are a factor, Cloth Nappy Library Ireland also provide long-term loans. Their Newborn Nappy Loan allows you to borrow 20 nappies for six weeks for €45, including return post. As your baby grows you can move on to the Long Term Nappy Loan for €30, which comes with 20-24 nappies for nine months. When the nappy days are coming to an end the Library offers Potty Training Loan Kit with training pants. They also have kits to help with bed-wetting in older children.
Parents in recent decades have embraced disposable nappies wholeheartedly. But with a rising cost to both buying and binning plastic, it may be time to go back to the future for baby care.
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