The nappy dilemma – help!


So. I’ve made a decision. But I’d really like you to talk me out of it.

I’ve cogitated and deliberated (and – to get closer both to Lloyd Grossman and the possibility of being craned into my hospital maternity bed – done some digesting too) and I think - I think - we’re going to use disposable nappies in the first few months of the new baby’s life.

I know, I’m sorry. I feel like I’m letting the side down. But this experiment was never about sticking rigidly to rules, less still about setting myself up as some kind of gold standard (snort). It’s about seeing what cost-cutting is really practical in the modern world (our family’s personal experience of it, at any rate) and which modern parenting products were truly superfluous.

Taking the reusable route with a toddler was a snitch. I’ve loved it. I even miss seeing our nappies hanging out on the line now that J’s nappy trained. It was so easy, such a brilliant lazy person’s route to smug self-satisfaction.

BUT. But, but, but. We don’t have a tumble dryer. When we moved to this house (and into to a kitchen that had no washing machine,  ancient nail clippings littering the window sill and – honestly – more mould than cavity inside the oven) we bought a great, basic washing machine from John Lewis. We bought it because a) it was cheap and b) we were broke. But I honestly haven’t missed having a dryer. I hang stuff up overnight and even if it doesn’t dry, a bit of laundry decorating the banisters fits in with our ‘dishevelled elegance’ aesthetic (read: dirty stop outs).

Since we didn’t start our tentative experiment with reusables till Johnny was two years old, it didn’t matter. We were only changing him three times a day so there weren’t, suddenly, whole strings of damp-nappy-bunting festooning the sitting room. It also meant that we only needed to source a dozen nappies in all, which – with freecycle, local networks and kind donations – was totally doable for free.

But a newborn is going to be too small to fit into our current stash of reusables, so we’d have to find a whole new supply for the first few months at least. My memory is foggy (read: wiped totally blank by my subconscious’ self-preservation instincts) but newborns go through a LOT of nappies every day, right? So we wouldn’t be talking about sourcing a dozen this time. We’d need more like twenty-five.

Which would be fine. A big job to find them online for free, but fine, were it not for the dryer issue. This baby is going to be born in the dead of winter. Damp, cold, mouldy, lingering urban winter. A summer baby, I could put the freecycling hours in for. I could devote the hours needed to tracking down this huge number of tiny reusable nappies, even knowing that they would become superfluous in a few months when the baby grew out of newborn sizes and moved into our current stash. I could deal with the extra loads of washing. I could even cart the seepy, sloppy, mustardy things around in my bag as long as I thought I could hang them out to dry outside.

But a winter baby? A winter of sleepless nights and long testing days, waiting sixty-odd for those same nappies to dry out as they pile up around me in my sitting room, like the mad new mother’s equivalent of Miss Havisham’s house?

I can’t face it. That way does not lead sanity. So I’m planning to cop out and use disposables till the baby fits into our current stash, the weather improves, the number of daily changes eases off a bit, or a miracle occurs. Or some combination of the above.

I do have a slightly sinking heart though. I’d love to think there was a practical, easy way of taking the reusable path from the start. I’d much rather see this baby wrapped in soft, natural fabrics, far rather not have her first months be the ones she contributes most heavily (and stinkily) to landfill. Any help? Some ideas? I could use them.

This post is sponsored by John Lewis. Cheers guys!