Persuading Partners & Real Nappies
Friday, 1 August 2014
For starters, I shall make the admittedly sexist assumption that it is usually a woman attempting to persuade a man that real nappies are a good choice. I know there are other situations out there, but the bulk of this section is written on that assumption. Apologies in advance to anyone who is offended by this. Also, I must stress that I do not want this section to be interpreted as patronising: that is not my intention at all.
There are two levels of persuasion needed: firstly, to use real nappies instead of disposables, and secondly that nappy changing will be a shared task.
Stage One: Getting Used to the Idea
Know your partner and raise the subject in a way that will make him listen. For instance, if finances are a major worry for him, especially if you have now given up a second income, then the cost benefits of real nappies may well be the way to approach this one.
Obviously, your partner will worry that this will be a large one off expense at a time that you can't afford it, even if he can see the financial benefits in the long run. You have a bigger obstacle on this one if you have a bit of a history of starting things you never finish (I am a paid up member of the same union). Stress that it is both possible and indeed desirable to get advice first and then buy only a trial quantity before committing yourself to the expense of a full kit. You know where to come for both those things!
Ironically, I find it counterproductive to try to win people round to real nappies by telling them all about the frightening chemicals in disposables - it seems to make them more intractable. I therefore usually keep the details of the chemicals for after they have made this decision, and to act as a spur to actually get started. However, for some people, this approach will work well.
If your partner is an internet addict or someone who likes to read up on everything in great detail, you could mention this site to him and let him look it all up for himself - he may even start thinking it was all his own idea! (but don't let him find this page!)
This one is to the men (and I know there are some out there reading this). If your partner wants to use disposables "because all her friends do", you have to persuade her that using real nappies is not going to make her look silly. There is absolutely no point in buying her a pack of terries as a "surprise". Trips to Paris count as a surprise; terries do not. You have the rather tricky task of selling real nappies to her from the "fashionable trend" angle, and that means getting the cutest, easiest real nappies there are on the market. The upside is, if she converts, so will all her friends, because they will not want to miss out. It's a clique thing.
I have heard many women say "I would like to try real nappies but my partner isn't interested". When I have been to see these couples with my bag of nappy samples and information, I often actually find just as much interest from him as from her. The thing is, you may have been reading about real nappies for ages, but to him "real nappies" means piles of terries being boiled and scrubbed for hours, maybe based on his Mum's experience many years ago. The very first thing to do is see if you have someone in your area, who can bring round nappies for you and your partner to see and hold. Preferably someone who just uses them rather than sells them, so that you can rule out any concerns about motives.
If you live in an organic, recycling-friendly household, I doubt you even need to read this section. Lucky you. Many women envy you.
Stage 2: Sharing the Nappy Chore
I am aware that this is simply not an issue in many of today's households, including my own: many men change whatever nappy is used, be it a disposable or a real nappy. If you don't even need to ask whether your partner will be doing his bit, then I must congratulate you both. This section is to give a few thoughts to those who have more of an uphill battle on this front.
In my experience and observations, women usually have the advantage with child rearing in that they are doing all this stuff day in day out for months on end (at least until they go back to paid work), and so adapting to real nappies is pretty easy for them. Pretty soon, you cease to go yuck at anything your child produces, and just take it in your stride - whether this is because you are his/her mother, or simply because this is something genetically programmed into women I don't know, but it is certainly true that smelly nappies barely even register after a while. After all, it's a chore that needs to be done so there's no point making a fuss about it.
Your partner, who probably does not spend as much time dealing with your child's needs because he's out at work, does not have this advantage. He has the further disadvantage (and I apologise in advance for this being a sexist comment, but I think it holds generally true) that men do seem to be more squeamish about anything like poo, vomit or blood. It is therefore unsurprising that some partners may make the perceived difficulty of real nappies the excuse for getting out of nappy changing.
Only you can tell the best way to persuade your partner that real nappies are easy once you know how, but you may want to try the following steps:
Real nappies have their own jargon, and he needs to know what is a nappy, what is a wrap, what is a liner, how they fit together etc. Explain everything clearly, but don't insult his intelligence!
Get him to watch you change the nappies. Don't slap everything together so quickly that he can't see what you have done. Make a point of checking around leg and waist openings to see that nothing is sticking out of the wrap - even if you are confident that it is not, you want him to do this check when his time comes to change the nappy.
Get him to put together a nappy, for you to put on baby, and give him guidance if he needs it. Be careful to correct mistakes positively - remember, you were baffled once, too!
His turn to put the nappy on, with you to hand to advise or help as necessary. Again, tread carefully with any criticism - if the nappy achieves what is needed, even though it might not be the way you would do it, then it is good enough. But if he's making things hard for himself, enlighten him: you don't want him to think real nappies are difficult, and retreat to step 1.
He's an expert changer of nappies on his own, while you drink a G&T.
I don't want you to think all these steps are necessary for all partners, but they are a good guide for those who need breaking into it gently. Show him all your tips for making it easier (like a toy to keep baby busy, wiping the poo from baby's bottom with the liner etc) and maybe he'll develop some of his own to show you. If your partner is supportive of your move to real nappies, you are both likely to move to the Congratulation stage very soon.