On the topic of nappies

Earlier this month there was an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Japan (one man died and others were injured) - this particular factory supplies 1/5 of the global market in disposable nappies. It has raised concerns about our dependency on disposable nappies (diapers for those in the USA).

In Britain alone, 3 billion nappies are thrown away each year*. Australia currently uses around 1 billion per year.  However, the USA uses 16 billion per year** with India and China overtaking the USA as they move to disposable nappies at a rapid rate. Considering that they are not bio-degradable and take many, many years to decompose, this is not good news for our environment or land-fill.

Approximately 90% of Australian parents use disposable nappies - I didn't for our first child, but I did with our second as it was easier and more convenient, especially during the monsoon season (when cloth nappies didn't dry very quickly) and when going out.  

Could we all live without disposable nappies and switch back to cloth nappies that our mothers once used (they managed ok!)?  With some struggle I would suggest. 

I read an interesting article on how disposable nappies nappies is changing behaviour: 

But possibly the biggest fallout from single-use nappies is the delaying of toilet training to the stage where many toddlers are now three-and-a-half, even four before they are nappy-free in daylight hours. This trend is not purely anecdotal but is supported by some recent findings. There is a body of research from North America and Europe strongly indicating that the age for the completion of training has been extended by about a year. In Australia Sydney researcher Anna Christie's research strongly supports a similar situation here. Anecdotal reporting by childcare workers who have been in the business for decades, concur with Christie's findings. (source)

Interestingly, the article goes on to say that pull-ups have extended the length of disposable nappies way longer that necessary and is now considered to be one of the causes of delayed toileting.  We didn't have pull-ups when my sons were little, but I would have liked them for my youngest at bedtime - very useful and would have saved many loads of washing and changing sheets in the middle of the night.

Are you a cloth or disposable nappy/diaper mum?  It's no longer an issue for me as my children are now all grown up, but it will be something for the next generation in the family to think about. 

* UK Women's Environmental Network
** US Environmental Protection Agency


  1. I used a mix ~ as much because the chemicals in disposables can cause an allergic reaction as anything else. I kept disposables for when we went out but mainly used cloth just round the house.

    Re the training: perhaps [just perhaps] the delay in training is because so many mums now work & are not around to do the on the spot training necessary to deal with a toddler & the toilet?

    1. I don't know - I know childcare centres are very keen to get toddlers out of nappies but I do wonder about the pull ups and what affect they are having (and costing).

      Its been such a long time since I toilet trained, I can't really remember when mine where toilet trained. But we lived in Darwin and that made it SO much easier as neither of my boys wore much clothing:)

  2. Cloth here. The modern cloth nappies are miles and miles better than the old cloth were. And there are so many varieties available. So far as I know they are cheaper too. I understand the convenience of disposables, but the cost is a concern - bringing up children is an expensive business as it is!

    1. And those cloth ones are SO HANDY once you no longer need them. They are great for polishing the car (no lint), mirrors, general cleaning/dusting. Very useful. And I still have the nappy bucket I used 20 years ago and going strong. I use it to soak all my hand washing in.

  3. I used both. I started out with old fashioned cloth ones, but they didn't soak up the moisture well enough and even when I changed them really frequently, both children got rashes from the moistness... So then I changed over the disposables and never had rash troubles again.
    As for the training, as far as I can tell, a lot of mothers don't seem to have a clue HOW to toilet train their children effectively - and yes, they use nappies or pull-ups and so the child doesn't have any consequences when they wet themselves... And so it takes longer to train. When I was ready to train, off came the nappies and pull-ups altogether (except when going out, at first)... So when they wet themselves, they KNEW about it.
    I also used Brolly sheets on the children's beds - kind of like a little protector sheet you put over top of your fitted sheet, under the child's bottom, so at nights you just whip it off and tuck another one in. SOOO much easier than changing all the bed linen!! :)

  4. Part of the delay in potty-training has to do with the fact that disposables diapers absorb the liquid and draw it away from the child. The child does not encounter the discomfort in wearing a wet diaper like with less absorbent materials.

    We used purely disposables but if I were a stay at home mom, I would have gone the cloth route.

    1. Couldn't agree more - they need to "feel" the consequences of what happens.

  5. I used disposables only as we lived in an apartment and washing and waiting for them to dry would have been a night mare!

    1. It was a like living in Darwin and trying to dry nappies in the wet season - it just didn't happen and made everything smell damp.

  6. This blog is really a great source of information for me.Thank you for sharing such a useful content.
    Disposable nappies


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