By BRIGITTE ROZARIO
What sort of eco-friendly products can greenies get when it comes to their babies? Well, how about cloth diapers, baby carriers and glass bottles?
Cloth diapers come in various colours and cute designs today. Gone are the days of the ordinary thin white cloth. Today, cloth diapers look just like disposable diapers and they come in a variety of colours and designs. They're kept in place with snap buttons or velcro.
|Cloth diapers today come in cute designs.
What's the big deal about cloth diapers?
For one, you can use cloth nappy inserts so that you don't have to keep washing 10 cloth diapers every day.
Secondly, they're so much more attractive than disposable diapers because of the various colours and designs.
Thirdly, they're reusable and thus environmentally friendly. Plus, there's a resale value. So, instead of throwing your money out with each disposable diaper, you can sell the cloth diapers and get some of your money back.
Li Chan, proprietor of Tiny Tapir (www.tinytapir.com), says it's all good and in the long run cloth diapers cost less than disposable ones.
“You might think that it's expensive to cloth diaper but actually it's more expensive to use disposable diapers over the long run,” she says.
But, isn't it a lot of work and a lot of washing and how about having to wash an icky cloth diaper?
“Actually it is not a lot of work if you take into consideration the time you need for disposable diapers like the time that goes into buying the diapers and throwing them away and dealing with diaper rash.
“Another misconception is that with cloth diapers you have to clean up more. But actually with disposable diapers you have to clean up more because especially with newborn babies when they poo it's very explosive and it can mess up the whole crib because disposable diapers don't have elastic at the back. It's just a piece of plastic that doesn't stretch. So the poo shoots up the back because there's nothing stopping it from coming out the back. So in the end you may have poo all over your baby's crib.
“With cloth diapers it's totally different; you don't get that at all because there's an elastic at the back,” says Li.
According to her, many Malaysians are not aware that they're not supposed to throw away the disposable diaper with the waste inside.
“It's very toxic. It's printed very clearly on all disposable diapers that you are not supposed to throw the diaper away with the poo inside. You are supposed to take the poo diaper to your toilet and wash off the poo before throwing the diaper away.
“This is because when the poo is contained inside this plastic casing and you put it in a landfill it doesn't biodegrade because there's no air. So what you get is a lot of little toxic packets of poo all over your landfill.
“There are actually countries which fine you if you throw away a diaper with poo inside it. It's a very high environmental cost to pay just for convenience. Most parents don't even realise it because who reads the packaging, right?”
There is a way to wash the cloth diapers so that you don't have to deal with anything smelly and sticky. First you wash off the poo or throw it into the toilet. Then, put the cloth diaper into a dry pail with either baking soda or a deodorant disc to control the odour. Every second or third day you just put the diapers into your washing machine.
“People always ask me but how can you put it in the washing machine, it's so dirty and then you wash your other clothes. There are women who have done studies on it in the United States. They took some bacteria samples from washing cloth diapers versus washing normal clothes and they found that there's no difference in the bacteria found in the washing machine,” says Li.
According to her studies have also found that cloth diaper babies potty train faster because the wet feeling makes them feel uncomfortable.
|Some of the cute cloth diaper designs that Tiny Tapir stocks.
Li recommends that parents use a pre-fold diaper when diapering a newborn. The pre-fold is just like a normal piece of cloth. It's like a regular old fashioned cloth diaper but it's already all sewn together. So, you just have to pin it on for your baby. On top of that you can used one of the diaper covers.
While it might seem that all those layers makes it warmer for baby, Li says the opposite is true.
“Actually it's a misconception that if you wear a cloth diaper you feel warmer. Natural fibre allows your skin to breathe so a cloth diaper is actually more breathable than a disposable diaper.
“I know mothers whose kids used cloth diapers and when they were put in disposable diapers later, they complained that it was very warm,” she explains.
According to Li parents seem to like the cute and fluffy cloth diapers which come in all colours and several patterns. Tiny Tapir also stocks the normal cloth diapers which are not as thick.
She explains that cloth diaper designs are very innovative now and you can use the same diapers from the time the child is newborn or two months until they potty learn. So if you want to you can use the one size design or you can buy the different sizes which might fit better.
|The baby carrier makes it easy for mum and baby to bond. Stuffed toy for demonstration purposes only.
Baby carriers is another eco-friendly way to go. Instead of using strollers, some mums go for baby carriers which allow them to carry their baby and bond with the child while leaving their hands free to do other tasks.
“The reason why we promote baby wearing is because it actually helps children to become more independent faster. There is this misinformation that if you breastfeed your baby and always carry them that they will be spoilt and clingy and not independent.
“The truth is when mothers co-sleep, cloth diaper, carry their babies and spend a lot of time with the children, the kids actually feel very secure because they feel like they already get a lot of emotional support from their parents and they feel very safe and secure. So they end up pushing the parents away a bit and being a bit more independent.
“I know of parents who baby wear and they say that when their kids turn two they don't want to be carried.
“Baby wearing is also a good way for parents to bond with their children versus a stroller where you're pushing the child and the child can't even see you,” says Li.
Tiny Tapir is as eco-friendly as shops get. Besides cloth diapers and baby carriers, there are also baby bottles made of glass. Plus, all the baby feeding products are BPA (Bisphenol A) free.
“We also stock a lot of natural baby products and we try to keep it as chemical-free as possible because babies are very susceptible to chemicals. All these products have been tested in the United States by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and they're all produced by established companies,” she says.
According to Li, a lot of research was done before she stocked up Tiny Tapir. This was to ensure the shop only sold products that parents liked and which were safe for children and eco-friendly.
The baby carriers start at RM180 and the diapers start at RM40 or RM50 and go up to about RM110 per diaper.
“There are many reasons to cloth diaper. Environmental reasons are just one of them. The other reasons are the health of your baby and money,” says Li.