I thought seeing as I have a competition running just now in order to win some nappies, I thought I should share with you my reasons for using washable nappies and the thought process that led my family to go down the washable route...
When I was pregnant with Naomi there were lots of things we had to make decisions about, one decision was about the kind of nappy to use. I am quite hot on environmental issues and the idea of using lots of disposable nappies didn't sit well with me and so it was from this point of view that I started to explore the idea of using cloth nappies.
At the time I started looking into this I lived in the North East of Scotland and with Naomi being due at the end of January, so drying lots of nappies on the line would not really be possible, I started to think about the environmental impact of using a tumble drier as much as would be necessary, everyone knows that babies produce a lot of washing, however you chose to deal with their rear ends! I'll be honest, I haven't looked properly into the energy it takes to make a disposable nappy but I came to the conclusion that I would rather use a bit more electricity rather than have lots of nappies sitting in landfill sites not decomposing and as it happens, we found ourselves moving to the Midlands before Naomi was born and as a result I am able to dry the nappies on my washing line most days.
Another consideration was to do with cost. Disposable nappies are obviously and ongoing cost where as cloth nappies are expensive to begin with, however you then (in theory) need never buy another nappy ever again! The advice we seemed to be able to find was that if planning a family with two children then cost would be about the same, with one, disposables would be cheaper and with three or more then cloth nappies would be the way to go. Sandy and I would love (all things going well to have 3 or 4 children) so there was a lot to be said, purely from a financial point of view of going down the cloth nappy route. As it happens though we had some friends who had a complete birth to potty set of nappies and they kindly gave these to us for nothing, so going down the cloth route has definitely been cheaper for us!
Let's be honest though, I'm not going to pretend that Naomi has never had a disposable nappy on her bottom! Everyone we knew who had made cloth nappies work had told us to use disposables for the first few weeks. Ignoring the fact that the yukky muconium from the first few poos would probably ruin your lovely nappies, it is just not fair on yourself to expect you to do anything that is more work than it has to be when you are dealing with a newborn baby with limited sleep! So Naomi wore disposables until she was three weeks old and also wore them for all of our two week holiday and has occasionally had them for a day if we have been travelling far from home. We also increasingly use them at night time (she goes to bed in a washable which we change for a disposable if/when she wakes) as we found she was waking up often in the early hours of the night and we also found she was soaking through her nappy and sleeping bag every night.
I will definitely keep using cloth nappies and I hope to use them for any future children we have too, I love knowing my impact on the environment is less than it might otherwise be and I love knowing I don't need to keep money back in the budget for disposables, but I increasingly realise that with all things in parenting, being relaxed about your decisions and about the alternatives seems to be the best way to make sure it happens!