Thursday, 8 November 2012

Can I be an Eco-Mum?? Modern Cloth Nappy Discussion

I knew even before I was pregnant with Jack that I wanted to use cloth nappies. I must have come across a webpage or maybe an article in a magazine about the concept of 'modern cloth nappies'. A little further research and I was hooked. Gone are the days of pins and huge squares of terry-towling. Modern cloth nappies are user friendly and oh so trendy. I was also very interested to learn that with today's water efficient washing machines, washing a cloth nappy for the two or so years a baby will wear them, still uses less water than is used in the fabrication of one disposable nappy.

I would never call myself a 'greenie', but I do like to do what I can to be environmentally friendly. I always recycle and having grown up in Australia, I have a good appreciation of water conservation. Having said that, the thought of nappies buckets and having to soak smelly nappies everyday in smelly bleaches gets a massive thumbs down. So, with a bit of help from my mum, we hit the forums and internet sites and came up with a great pattern, some excellent fabric and ultimately - a really great product. Also, by sewing them ourselves, the price worked out to be about $5.50 per nappy - a lot cheaper than some of the commercial brands. The patterns are available free on the net and with a bit of hunting, you can get a good deal on the materials and notions.

Here is the pattern and instructions:

We used velcro rather than press studs as we thought it would be quicker. We got fabric and other supplies from a few sites. These two were the best in Australia.

How they work
The outside shell is made of PUL which is a coated, water tight fabric that comes in all sorts of awesome designs.
The inside shell is microsuede which doesn't hold liquid so there is no moisture touching the baby's skin, preventing nappy rash.
We made the absorbent inserts from Bamboo/organic cotton. The bamboo has natural anti-bacterial properties and washes up really well.
You need to use environmentally friendly washing liquid and NO FABRIC SOFTENER.


  • The cost of disposable nappies can be quite substantial over the life of a baby. To make enough nappies to get me through two children cost about $350.
  • No soaking - it ruins the integrity of the fabrics. Nappies come straight off baby and go into the washing machine (with some rinsing if a particularly dirty nappy). I thought they may stain, but even really yucky baby poos wash out, especially if you can rinse them relatively quickly.
  • Much nicer on Jack's skin, especially as he is prone to eczema. 
  • Not smelly - I hate, hate, hate how disposable nappies smell - even if they're just wet.
  • Makes me feel good that I'm doing something to stop putting hundreds of disposable nappies into land fill. 


  • Leakage - up until the 8 week mark, Jack was just a bit too small for the nappies. We worked out different ways of folding the insert to fix any leakage and have made booster panels for nighttime etc. 
  • You have to be disciplined with doing washing every day. I have no problem with this, especially with all the other things that need washing with a baby. It became routine very quickly.

All in all, I'm very happy with my decision to go down the modern cloth nappy route and am happy to offer any advice to people considering the same. There's a great picture of Jack in a bright red nappy taken the other day during his very active play session in my Happy Baby blog.

So all that's left is to ask the questions: Can I be an Eco-Mum? What else can I be doing in my day to day house keeping to help the environment? Let me know your ideas!


  1. I make my own baby wipes. They are nice and soft, smell great & are lobely on his skin.Jo

    1. Oh fantastic! I've been using sorbelene cream and cotton squares. Would love to learn more about what you do!

  2. I have cut flanellette material (& old sheet) into pieces to fit a "click-it" type container. Pour over solution (below) and ready to go.
    The system is easier than I thought.
    Use wipe (for a quick wipe or a filthy mess), then I pop it in the small pedal bin (from ikea).
    When the bin is on the full side (5 days-ish) I throw the wipes into a bucket of warm water (to loosen anything) and 12-24 hrs later run them through a quick wash. then pile them up ready for the next cycle. I have cut up enough so I can have a load in the wash, a load in the bin and another ready for use!
    Recipe: (these measure are approx...I just guess)
    ■300ml cup of warm water
    ■1-2 tablespoon of natural baby shampoo
    ■1-2 tablespoon baby oil
    Mix / swish in bowl and pour over container of wipes.
    If wipes are too wet, less liquid or more sheets....whatever works.

  3. This is great. I'm not a mum yet, but I already know I want to use natural cloth nappies. I didn't even think about making them! What a great idea! Thanks so much for blogging about it.