Thinking about reusable nappies?

If you're considering the eco-approach to nappies, here's what you need to know about reusable nappies.

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It’s estimated that every baby gets through 5,000 disposable nappies . That means around THREE BILLION disposable nappies get thrown away every year in the UK. And that’s a lot of landfill.

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It’s also a large outlay over the 2+ years when each of your children will be wearing nappies.

If eco- or cost matters are a concern to you, perhaps you’re considering reusable nappies for your baby.

Fabric nappies have come a long way since the bulky terry-towel version your mum or gran might have used. Now, reusable nappies are softer, pre-folded or shaped to fit, and many fasten with poppers or Velcro.

The basic choice is between a two-piece and a one-piece (or an all-in-one).

A two-piece consists of the nappy itself and an outer cover (wrap), which keeps the nappy in place and has a waterproof layer to prevent leaks.

One-pieces are similar, but the outer waterproof layer is incorporated. Both are more efficient when used with a liner. For extra absorbency, try a nappy booster pad, which is shaped like a sanitary towel. They are especially suitable for night-times and heavier wetters, but also come in handy if the nappy’s too big.

If you opt for resuables, there is more washing involved. In fact, the Government’s Environment Agency concluded in July 2007 that, because of the amount of water and energy used in laundering reusables, especially if you use a tumble drier, the impact on the environment is roughly the same as using disposables.

But you are not contributing to landfill and, after the large initial outlay, you will save money over disposable nappies.

You could always use a nappy laundering servce if you don’t want to deal with dirty nappies yourself. Contact the National Association of Nappy Services (www.changeanappy.co.uk) to find out if there is a scheme in your area.

If you are looking for reusable nappy supplies, the best place to go is online. Little Green Earthlets, for example, has been going for 10 years now and specialises in cotton nappies.

It also offers a good choice of environmentally friendly nappies for parents who don’t want to go the whole way with reusables but do want to green-up their act. There’s wiona, a luxurious perfectly white bio disposable and Moltex, the eco disposable. No harmful chemicals or bleaches have been used in the making of the wiona bio nappy. The waterproof cover is full of tiny pores, allowing air to circulate freely around the nappy without compromising containment.

This system can help reduce the chances of skin irritation making it ideal for a baby’s sensitive skin. The innovative packaging, made from renewable and recycled materials, is also eco-friendly.

Mothercare has the Smart Nappy system, which consists of a reusable nappy outer with the choice of inserting either a reusable or a disposable nappy pad.

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Reusable pads are ideal for general use, with disposable pads for when you require more convenience, for example if you are travelling. The disposable pads are more lightweight than traditional disposable nappies, so there’s less waste to get rid of.

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