#23: Small cost for gains

modern cloth nappy family
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Read Time:9 Minute, 50 Second

Victorian mum of two bubs in cloth, Jill, sums up the benefits of reusable nappies so well: save thousands of dollars, save thousands of disposables from landfill, support small business and dress your baby’s tush in the sweetest designs – all for the cost of an extra load or two of laundry each week. And the added bonus, she says, is that you feel like you’re doing a little good each time you use one.

Jill shares some really sensible advice about keeping your goals small, responding to ill-informed comments about cloth nappies and raising our children to be conscious of their impact on the planet.

Welcome, Jill @jillianncameron

Tell us a little about yourself, your family and where you live.

My name is Jill. I am a single mum with two boys aged 1 and 3. We live in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria (Australia) where I also work part time as a chef.

Can you share your favourite part about living where you do?

It’s super convenient, less than hour from the city, the beach and the country, with all the luxuries of suburban living.

What activities do your family like to do together?  

We enjoy going for nature walks, finding little treasures, spending time at the beach and the zoo, and cooking together.

Can you share what makes your heart happy?

Enjoying the simple pleasures in life with my boys.

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Always chocolate.

What’s on your bedside table?

My journals.

How do you like to relax and unwind?

Writing, Netflix, a good book.

What kind of mum are you?

I am a pretty laidback, baby led attachment kind of mum.

Which moments of motherhood make your heart the happiest?

Seeing my children happy, in particular, seeing them excited about nature, and enjoying time with each other.

If you could go back before being a mother, what would you tell yourself?

Don’t let anyone else try to tell you how to do what comes naturally to you.

Which of your own traits do you see in your children?

In my eldest, I feel he has my temper but also my empathy. My youngest has my curiosity and the carefree nature that I had as a child. I love seeing bits of myself in them and find it helps when I am relating to them on a personal level.

How have you found the transition from one to two children?

It’s been hard; there is always a little bit of guilt that I will never be able to spend as much time with my second as I did with my first. The biggest thing I’ve done differently is cloth from birth. It is so much easier to use cloth on a newborn than I thought it would be.

You are a strong advocate for breastfeeding and babywear. Explain what each means to you.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my motherhood journey. I think I knew it would be almost as soon as I started. To me, it means giving my child comfort and nutrition in the most instinctual way possible for both of us. It means soothing their tired cries and being a consistent source of comfort during times of change. Some days it is so hard but it is all worth it in the end.

Babywearing seemed only natural to me, given that I had a child who wanted to be on my hip every moment of every day. For me, it was just another instinctual thing, to keep my baby close. I do it less so these days, as my youngest prefers to move his body as much as he can, but I still bring my carrier with me so that both of them have the option to be close and secure whenever they need.

Parenthood is full of contradictions. What are some of the contradictions that you grapple with frequently?

Just my own choices that I make every day! Ideally, I would be calm and creative with play and problem solving, but there are many days that I choose a bit of screen time instead. My ideals and my reality often contradict one another, but when I can do better I do do better.

No one and no family is perfect. What is your advice to families concerned about the growing environmental crisis?

Keep your goals small. Reducing one source of waste from your lives is the first step in making a difference. Say no to straws. Take a reusable coffee cup with you. Take your own bags shopping. When you feel more confident, make bigger changes. All of these things will add up and eventually you will be making a bigger difference than you could realise.

It is often quoted that having children is one of the worst things you can do to the environment. How would you respond to this statement?

I would say that children are essential to our future, and that instead of encouraging people not to reproduce, perhaps we should be focusing on the way those children are raised, and bringing them up in a world where it is normal and encouraged to be conscious of their impact on the environment.

Can you talk us through what led you to using cloth with your children?

I had planned to do cloth prior to the birth of my eldest, mainly for cost efficiency. However, I didn’t know where to access the best resources and found it overwhelming, so we used disposables for the first year. Once my eldest turned one, I began to contemplate it again, for cost efficiency but also for environmental reasons. It took me a month or two to find my rhythm, but this time I joined many Facebook groups and found my feet fairly easily.

How have you managed with two cloth bums?

It is no harder to do cloth for two children. In some ways, I’ve found it easier. Previously, I would have a hard time bulking out my nappy load enough when washing, but now there are always enough nappies to put a load through when I need to.

Can you describe what has surprised you most about using cloth?

How addictive it is! They are softer, cuter and just so much nicer to use. Plus, you feel like you’re doing a little good each time you use one.

What has been your biggest challenge as a cloth family and how have you overcome it?

We didn’t have a lot of disposable income for the initial cost of cloth, so I had to build my stash very gradually.

Have others supported your decision to do cloth?

No one has actively discouraged me from using cloth but my (ex) husband would struggle with the idea of it and was not comfortable changing cloth nappies – primarily because he wasn’t sure how.

What is the most uninformed comment you’ve received from someone not supporting reusable nappies, and how did you respond?

Mainly just comments that is unhygienic and that we are going backwards with how we toilet our babies. I have just calmly told them that provided that you wash the nappies well it is actually kinder on their skin, and asked them to consider that perhaps the creation of disposables was, in fact, a step backwards for our planet.

How would you describe to non-cloth families all the benefits of reusable nappies?

I always like to emphasise how easy I’ve found them, how they don’t smell the way that disposables do, and that they’re just so stinking cute.

Can you explain what it means to be doing your bit for the planet?

It’s satisfying to know that each little change in life can make a huge difference down the road. Switching to cloth has also lead to switching to other reusable products.

What style of nappy do you use & why do you like it?

Primarily all in twos. I also have one brand that is a pocket nappy. I like all in twos as I hate stuffing and find them easier to wash/dry and boost.

What is your favourite nappy print style and why?

I love any nappy with some Australian native flora on it.

What does your cloth nappy change station look like?

We currently don’t really have one. I use the children’s storage unit from Kmart to store/display my nappies, and have a container of reusable wipes on the kids’ chest of drawers. I just wet them as I go.

How do you manage cloth while out and about. Any tips?

Make sure you always have a wetbag handy! Otherwise, it’s as easy as changing the nappy at home.

What are your time management tips for cloth?

If I’m stuck for time during the day and don’t have a chance to scrub soiled nappies then I will sometimes leave them by the laundry sink until I get a chance, then scrub all of them at once before putting them in the machine for pre-wash. Apart from the poo nappies, though, washing takes very little of my time. Every second night, I put the nappies in for a prewash, then in the morning I bulk the load with face washers/baby clothes and do the main wash. Washing/hanging up/folding time probably only adds an extra half hour or so of laundry each week.

How do you approach dressing with cloth?

So long as the clothing is stretchy, it hasn’t been an issue for us. Very occasionally, I’ve had to go up a size in bodysuits, but otherwise it’s been fine.

What issues have you dealt with in regards to nappy time?

I’ve dealt with my share of little crocodiles when it comes to nappy time. I usually just make sure I have my nappy ready to go, then attempt to distract said wriggly baby while I quickly do the nappy up. All I can say is that it takes practice. Apart from that we haven’t really had any issues. Very occasionally a nappy rash, in which case I have stripped and sanitised all of my nappies – and not had an issue after doing that.

What advice do you have for parents considering the move to cloth?

Don’t overthink it, just establish a good wash routine from the start and make sure you have somewhere to ask all the questions that you need to.

If you could go back in time before beginning cloth, what tips would you give yourself?

Join Clean Cloth Nappies from day dot.

You’ve got one minute to convince a pregnant mother to use cloth – go.

Consider saving thousands of dollars by not buying disposables, saving thousands of disposables from landfill, all while having the option to  support small businesses and dress your baby’s tush in the sweetest designs – and all it will cost you is an extra load or two of laundry each week (plus, breastfed newborn poop is water soluble)!

Do you have any other tips to share?

Be open to learning, watch a lot of fit videos, read a lot about washing nappies, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. 2.

Time in cloth. 2 years, 3 months.

Number of nappies. 35.

Full or part time. Part time – four days a week.

Nappy style. All in two.

Stuff or snap. Snap.

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Ideally pre-stuff but I usually end up laying as I go.

Line or tumble dry. Line dry.

Favourite cloth related product. Cloth wipes – I use them for everything.

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Uncomplicated.

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