Nappy logistics

Confession. Until recently, I have largely managed to avoid all things baby-related. These unknown little-entities always seemed too fragile, too breakable. Facebook posts by worn out mothers terrified me. Now that I live in close proximity to several little babies, I’ve been forced to conquer my fear. I’m happy to report some progress. This morning I entertained baby Paul for several hours and calmly dealt with two ‘accidents.’ Nevertheless, I’m in awe of these mothers.

This is what I see every morning when I walk out my door:


That’s right. Over 25 pieces of lovingly hand-washed cotton. Some are for carrying the baby, most are for nappies. General protocol here is that you wash clothes with soap twice, then rinse once. However nappies are washed at least 3 times- the first wash is basically about removing the deposit. As an aside, who knew that babies poo is yellow? Is this universal, or a result of the local diet of Gulu mothers? Anybody?! Naturally, all this extra washing requires a lot of water. So while I only need one jerry can from the borehole per day, my neighbour fetches five. That’s a lot of work. On the other hand, these mothers have two key advantages over NZ mums:

  1. Free babysitters everywhere. While I was initially dubious about seven year olds carrying babies, so far I’m proven wrong. These kids are pros.
  2. Constant company. I’m yet to meet any isolated mums. Spread out your mat in the shade, put the babies in the middle, and yarn away.

On balance, I think I’d take the company over a washing machine or disposable nappies. On the other hand, if we hacked down a few fences in NZ, mothers could probably achieve both!

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7 Responses to Nappy logistics

  1. Mum and Dad says:

    Hi Tessa, so good to hear you are part of a support network! yes, breast fed babies have yellow poo, the colour in NZ is given the moniker Karitane yellow, after the Karitane nurses who were trained (last century) specifically to look after babies. Although I am not sure it ever made the Resene or Dulux paint charts as an official shade, everyone in my era and before would know what you meant if you said Karitane Yellow! keep up the good work and love reading about your adventures, with love, Sharyn.

  2. rose pearson says:

    HI Tessa –

    Always interesting to read your posts. I think reusable nappies are still alive and well in NZ (perhaps not by the majority.. but definitely in significant numbers). I was brought up on 2nd hand cotton nap pies which had already made the rounds in Opoho, Dunedin and continued to after I was potty trained. I know my cousins in Chch decided to use fancier reusable nappies when they became parents 5 yrs ago as it was cheaper on the whole (even factoring in the increased electricity bills from all that washing)

    • ntlaing says:

      Thanks Rose, yeah I think there are plenty of eco-savy mums in NZ keeping up the reusables… another thing mums do here is to just put a t-shirt on the baby sometimes and no pants, that way if who ever is holding them is fast enough, the deposit can go straight on the floor/ground, which is much easier to wash than the nappie! Hope you are recovering 🙂

  3. Matt Watts says:

    Luke and Katrina both decorated their nappies with yellow before they started solid food. We used reusables for Luke but life got v stressful when Katrina arrived so we resorted to disposables.

  4. Interesting observations. Some more info for you. Vanuatu experiences. The subject of nappies. We used reusables for our boys. We could buy them in packets at the chinese stores. Six In one packet, mix of colours-pink, blue, yellow and green. After several rounds of village washing the colours seemed to blur into a more general off white colour. A packet of all white ones did the same. Well water carried in a bucket to a large basin-apply lots of scrubbing. Deposits rinsed off in the sea nearby. And yes, when really small, sometimes our boys were seen in minimal clothing which does save the washing.
    That was island style. Vila style was washing machine and running water and more wearing of clothes.
    Local wandering toddlers often with bare bottoms in the villages. Not so much in the towns.
    In PNG babies carried in a bilum, the string bag carried on the head. Bilum hung over a tree branch while the mother worked in the garden. No nappies often, so the baby just peed onto the ground.

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