Choice Australia surveyed hundreds of online parents in late 2012 to find out their thoughts on, and experiences with, different types of nappies. Here's what they found:
Of those it surveyed, 18% said they currently use MCNs: 16% in combination with disposable nappies (including eco disposables), and around 2% use MCNs exclusively (and a few in combination with traditional terry cloth nappies).
“I used disposables for the first few weeks with my newborn (legs too skinny for MCNs to fit without leaking). Now I use MCNs at home, and disposables at daycare, on holidays and occasionally as spare nappies (e.g. if the MCNs aren't dry.)”
The main perceived benefits of cloth nappies are their lower environmental impact, the long-term cost savings, their appearance and the fact that they are gentle on babies’ skin. For many, there’s also an evangelical joy in using them.
“Besides all the other benefits – easy to use, no chemicals against baby's skin, easy to wash, better for the environment – cloth is just fun! I love my nappy stash, I love the way it looks on bubs, and I have so much fun with it!”
“With my third baby using the same set of modern cloth nappies, I now delight in how much money I have saved in nappy purchasing after that initial outlay for the cloth nappies.”
There are a number of variables involved in costing cloth nappies against disposables.
DisposablesIf you estimate a baby using about 6500 nappies from birth to toilet training (based on six nappies a day for three years), Huggies, the most popular brand of disposable in our survey, will cost around $3000 (when bought in bulk packages). A cheaper disposable, like Aldi’s Mamia, the second most popular brand in our survey, will cost you around $1900 all up.
Cloth nappies cost about $30 each - but at KindyNews eco-shop- they cost $16 for a top quality nappy! on average, plus boosters and liners. You’ll need about 20-24 to get started, which will allow you to wash every two days and still have a set to use on laundry day. However, the number required will vary depending on washing and drying habits, climate, season etc. That’s an upfront cost of around $600-$700.
Costs of laundering have to be factored in as well, and these will depend on your particular washing machine, whether you use warm, hot or cold water, your brand of detergent, and whether they’re tumble-dried. Still, with one set of nappies, cool water washing and line drying, you’ll be up for less than half the cost of disposables.
It's worth to note that if you buy sized nappies rather than one-size-fits-most, you’ll have to buy another set or two later on, which will add to the expense. But consider also that if you can use your MCNs on more than one child, your cost savings will add up.
Which brand?There are many, many brands of nappy out there – respondents reported using a total of 248 different brands. Most people use more than one brand, with 3.7 brands used on average and one-third of people using five or more brands. Many brands are supplied by small cottage industry enterprises, or WAHM (work at home mums), creating their own distinctive and/or custom designs and selling them online. However, of the top 12 most popular brands, very few strictly qualify as WAHM – apart from the out-and-out large-scale commercial companies, a more typical scenario is that a WAHM operation became a small family enterprise and then further expanded to become a full-blown business operation.