Best nappies for older babies and toddlers – tried and tested by mums
Soft, absorbent and leak-proof – we've tested a whole host of supermarket, name brand and eco-nappies in sizes 3 and 4 to help you find the best for your baby, from budget-busting to premium offerings
Nappies are an everyday essential that you'll become very familiar with as a parent. In fact recycling charity, Wrap, estimates that by the time a baby is potty trained, they will have gone through around 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies. Although reusable nappies are gaining popularity once again, the disposable nappy market is constantly growing with a wide range of supermarket, high street and eco options to choose from.
Trying to find the right nappy for your baby and lifestyle can feel overwhelming, so we've tried to make it that bit easier by testing 15 of the leading nappy brands in sizes 3 and 4. Our home testers looked at a whole range of features including absorbency, fit and value. Our selection ranges from nappies that start at only 5p all the way up to 50p per nappy, and we've highlighted our top 4 spanning a range of budgets.
our best nappy bins and buckets may come in useful for disposable nappies or storing reusable nappies before washing them.
What to consider when buying nappies for your baby or toddler
Fit – Once your baby moves up into size 3 or 4 nappies, it's likely they're going to be more active so look for features such as secure leg cuffs, elasticated waistbands and strong tabs that'll work to prevent leaks. Sizing varies across brands so if one brand doesn't work for you, we'd advise trying another to see if you can get a better fit.
Absorbency – As a standard, disposable nappies are made from absorbent polymers that work to draw moisture away from your baby's skin and into the nappy, which should hopefully prevent nappy rash. This also means you shouldn't have to change your baby's nappy straight away, but we wouldn't advise leaving it too long during the day. Look for extra features that help with absorbency even further including channels that draw liquid in and disperse it throughout the nappy or materials such as wood pulp or moisture wicking bamboo (commonly found in eco-nappies). These can be particularly useful overnight when your baby begins to sleep for longer stretches.
Wetness Indicator – Some nappies have a line on the front of a nappy thaat changes colour when your baby wees. As you move up to size 3 or 4 nappies, you'll find fewer brands include the wetness indicator. While it's very useful when you have a newborn with a tiny bladder (you can't always tell if they've done a wee) as your child becomes older and a full nappy is more obvious, it'll probably become less of an essential feature. If it is something you find handy, it's worth checking before you buy your nappies which brands feature it in larger sizes.
Sustainability – Ultimately, disposable nappies are single-use and will end up in a landfill. While the reusable nappy market is growing and designs are becoming more user-friendly, not all parents can or want to make the switch. This is where eco nappies may offer a good alternative. Many are partly made from biodegradable materials (whether that's in the nappy itself or the packaging) or from sustainably-sourced materials like bamboo. As it stands there is no disposable nappy currently on the market that is 100% biodegradable, however the industry is constantly making strides in that direction, so it's something that could come in the near future.
How much do size 3 and size 4 nappies cost?
Cost can vary widely when it comes to nappies, with budget-friendly and premium options to choose from. The nappies we tested start at about 5p per nappy and go all the way up to 50p per nappy. Supermarket own-brand nappies tend to be more affordable, with eco-options sitting at the higher price point. However many of the eco options come with subscription offers, which give you the chance to make a saving (the most we've seen is 20% off).
It's also worth looking out for multi-buy or discounted offers as a way to save some money, especially on premium branded nappies. Many supermarkets, high street shops and websites like Amazon offer bulk buy deals that significantly reduce the cost per nappy.
The chart below breaks down all the 15 brands we tested and the RRP per nappy, so you can directly compare across the market.
|Brand||Cost Per Nappy|
|Sainsbury's Little Ones||From 5p|
|Aldi Mamia||From 4.8p|
|Pampers Baby Dry||From 14p|
|Mama Bamboo Eco-Nappies||From 35.5p|
|Asda Little Angels||From 5.5p|
|Rascal & Friends||From 10p|
|Nutmeg Ultra Dry||From 4.8p|
|Co-op Active||From 12p|
|Lidl Lupilu||From 4.8p|
|Marks & Spencer Little Smiles||From 8.8p|
|Boots Little Stories||From 16p|
|Mum & You Nappychat Eco-Nappies||From 21p|
|Kit & Kin Eco Nappies||From 24p|
|Eco by Naty||From 28p|
|The Cheeky Panda||From 50p|
How we tested the nappies
Our home testers received enough nappies to change over 600 baby bums, trying out 30 different types of nappy from 15 brands and retailers. Nappies were tested during the day and night, and put through their paces by babies who were breastfed, formula fed, and / or eating solids.
We tested absorbency and fit, as well as looking out for extra features such as wetness indicators. We examined how easy they are to dispose of and – in the case of eco nappies – their biodegradability and environmental credentials.
Finally, we considered price and availability, including any offers, deals, bundles or subscriptions, to find the best nappies in a number of categories.
Our top nappies for babies and toddlers for 2021:
Sainsbury's Little Ones Dry Fit Nappies, £3 per pack (5p per nappy)
– Best supermarket nappy
Sainsbury's Little Ones Dry Fit Nappies truly live up to their name, scoring top marks with our testers when it came to absorption as well as comfort. Home tester Hollie tried out the Size 3 nappies from the range with her 6 month old twins, giving them the ultimate overnight test and said, "We easily got 12+ hours with no signs of any leaks at all, very impressive."
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Their stretchy waistband allows for plenty of movement, so they are ideal for wriggly babies, but the large, strong resealable tabs will make sure they stay firmly in place. Home tester Julie, mum to a 14-month-old girl, particularly rated this feature. "The stretchy waistband looked quite comfortable on her when moving around," she said. "The resealable tabs were amazing at staying on but also not a struggle to pull off. I also didn't have to reposition it much when putting on the nappy."
At £3 per pack they offer excellent value for money and can be picked up as part of your weekly supermarket shop. Home tester Andrea was so won over by Sainsbury's nappies she commented, "When I saw the price of these, I was convinced they’d be inferior. Instead, I’m now considering switching over to these nappies instead!"
Aldi Mamia Ultra-Dry Nappies, £2.69 per pack (4.8p per nappy)
– Best value nappy
When it comes to high quality, affordable nappies, Aldi's Ultra-Dry range proved a hit with our testers. The Ultra-Dry technology works by distributing liquid evenly throughout the nappy, so it stays comfortable against your baby's skin and doesn't sag. Both our home testers could attest to this with Tamsin, mum of 1, commenting, "We had no reactions when wearing these so they seemed really gentle on his cheeks." Tester Rebekah, mum of 1 added, “The nappy is soft on the skin, keeping my baby’s skin healthy and rash free." The nappies have even been dermatologically accredited by the Skin Health Alliance.
Thanks to the slim but flexible design of the nappies, you can be reassured they'll stay secure but still allow for plenty of movement. Tester Rebekah said, "This allows my baby to move freely without leaking." Plus, at just under 5p per nappy you get excellent value for money, with our testers confirming they perform just as well as higher-priced competitors.
Pampers Baby-Dry, from £9 per pack (from 14p per nappy)
– Best premium nappy
Pampers is a household name when it comes to nappies for good reason. Although it comes in at a more premium price compared to its competitors, the brand provides a reliable, high quality nappy that impressed our home testers. Mum Ferne tested the Baby-Dry size 4 nappies with her 15-month-old and said, "They are a dependable choice of nappy – we didn’t have any leaks and at one point my toddler was quite unwell with a dodgy stomach and we had no accidents." This is largely down to the 3 absorbing channels in the nappy, which work to distribute moisture evenly throughout the nappy. The Micro Pearls absorb wetness into the core of the nappy even further, creating a breathable surface against your child's skin.
As well as allowing for plenty of air flow, Pampers has designed its Baby-Dry nappies with stretchy sides and strong leg cuffs to allow for a comfortable fit for your baby. Home tester Marie, who tested the size 3 nappies with her 10-month-old, said, "I like the stretchiness as my baby has a big belly after food, but the nappy shrinks with belly so you get no leaks."
Readily available across supermarkets and the high street, the nappies are easy to get hold of. They are at a higher price point, but it's worth keeping an eye out for discounts and multi-buy offers to make a saving on them.
Mama Bamboo Eco-Nappies, £9.95 per pack (35.5p per nappy)
– Best eco-nappies
Of all the disposable nappies we tested, our testers found Mama Bamboo's offering to feel most similar to cloth nappies. Home tester Natasha, who tried out the size 3 nappies with her 7-month-old who has eczema, made this comparison in her feedback and commented, "They felt really nice and soft and not like others where they actually feel like plastic. They were very natural and felt like they wouldn’t aggravate his eczema area." Tester Anna, mum of a 5-month-old, also added, "They felt silky soft to the touch rather than the usual artificial feel. I think my little one liked the feel on his skin much more than ordinary nappies." The soft feeling is also helped by the addition of breathable bamboo fibres, which have anti-bacterial properties that can reduce any potential irritation or nappy rash.
The 7 layer design works to lock moisture into the core of the nappy, plus they're free from alcohol, chlorine, preservatives, phthalates, latex and PVC. They're certainly a premium offering, but there is the option to save 20% when you subscribe to the nappies. You can choose to have them delivered every 2, 4, 6 or 8 weeks depending on how frequently you want to use them.
Supermarket nappies for babies
Asda Little Angels Comfort & Protect Nappies, £2.99 (from 5.5p per nappy)
Our home testers rated Asda's Little Angels nappies highly for their slim and light feel which made changing a doddle. Home tester Andrea tested the size 3 nappies with her 16-week-old and said, "These nappies are super lightweight so very easy to put onto a wriggling baby and due to their small size, were easy to dispose of too."
The supermarket has designed its nappies with SmartFlo absorbency, which evenly distributes moisture across the nappy for a comfortable fit. Home tester Anna found this feature particularly useful with her 5-month-old baby, though discovered it didn't perform as well overnight. "My little boy is a heavy wetter and they did seem to keep him dry and comfortable in the day," she said. "However, he did become uncomfortable in the early hours of the morning."
All of our home testers also praised the handy addition of a 'size-up' indicator, where each nappy comes with a marking where the tabs do up to help you recognise when it is time to move to the next nappy size – ideal for avoiding those accidental leaks!
Rascal & Friends Nappies, £5 per pack (from 10p per nappy)
Made with no latex, fragrances or water-based inks, Rascal & Friends' nappies – sold in Tesco stores – have been designed to be kind to your baby's sensitive skin. This was a big selling point for home tester Siobhan who found the size 3 nappies to be a great fit for her 7-month-old. She commented, "He seemed very comfortable and dry even when in them all night, sometimes if you put the tabs too high they can rub his belly so had to be careful to make sure they are placed correctly.
With features including a deep pocket to reduce overflow and double leak guards around the legs, the nappies have been carefully designed to contain any potential poonamis. When it came to absorption the nappies achieved mixed results amongst our testers, but ultimately performed well on most occasions. Home tester Sami, mum of a 9-month-old, said, "Nappies lasted overnight – they went on at bedtime (7/8ish) and lasted around 12 hours with no problems." While tester Leanne, who also tried the size 4 nappies with her 13-month-old, added, "I did have one night where it leaked but his nappy was heavier than usual and it wasn’t really bad, just a bit in his sleepsuit."
Morrisons Nutmeg Ultra Dry Nappies, £2.69 per pack (4.8p per nappy)
After testing Morrison's Nutmeg Ultra Dry size 3 and 4 nappies, our home testers found they performed better during the day compared to long stretches overnight. Home tester Hollie tried the size 3 nappies with her 6-month-old twins and said, "They occasionally leaked after a long night, so possibly a 10-12 hour sleep with no change, and only a slight wee leak on one side at the top/back. They would be perfect if i did a change after 6-8 hours." Tester Tenisha tried the nappies in a size 4 with her 7-month-old and added, "We had one accident during the 11/12 hours that he sleeps at night. And we go for maximum 3 hours during the day."
Starting from £2.69 for a pack of size 3 nappies, these are competitively priced compared to other budget nappy brands on the market with similar features including absorbent channels and snug, anti-leak leg cuffs. Our testers also appreciated details such as the "large tabs making them easy to find in the dark".
Co-op Nappies, £4 per pack (from 12p per nappy)
Upon first impressions home tester Ama, who tested Co-op's size 3 nappies with her baby boy, thought they'd be "too thin to be absorbent." After a few days of testing she was pleasantly surprised and found them to be "very absorbent." She added, "His bum is still dry for the most part. On the few occasions that it leaked in front, the back was dry." Home tester Laura also found the design of the nappies meant they spread moisture evenly. She added, "They seemed to hold wetness well, and distributed well from front to back. I felt much more confident leaving these on my baby for longer periods, and they performed well overnight."
When it came to the stickiness of the tabs the nappies achieved mixed results with tester Laura saying "The tabs on these are strong (once you figure out which way they go, and the tab is the only way of telling!) and they stick well." Home tester Aimee, mum of an 11-month-old, commented, "They were a little tricky to put on as the tabs tended to rip. This happened with around 2 or 3 nappies out of the whole pack of 27." It's also worth noting compared to other supermarket nappies, Co-op's range sits at a more premium price point.
Lidl Lupilu Nappies, £2.69 per pack (from 4.8p per nappy)
Lidl's Lupilu range is popular for its purse-friendly price point that doesn't sacrifice on quality. The nappies are designed to be thin as well as soft and stretchy around the legs, allowing for plenty of movement. Home tester Aimee tested the size 4 nappies with her 11-month-old and found this to be the case. "I would say my daughter looked more comfortable in the Lupilu nappies," she said. "They seemed a great fit around her legs and at her back. I would definitely invest in the Lupilu nappies again." Tamsin, a mum of 1, also added, "They didn’t leave red marks so I can imagine my baby was super comfy."
On the downside, Lupilu nappies weren't the most reliable with our home testers when it came to absorbency. For instance mum Laura tested the size 4 nappies with her 1-year-old and commented, "The longest we used these for was around 4 hours while we were out and he then fell asleep, and a leak woke him." With this in mind we'd suggest they're better to use during the day rather than over a long period of time overnight.
M&S Little Smiles Ultra Absorbent Nappies, £3 (from 8.8p per nappy)
With fast-absorbing channels, M&S's new Little Smiles nappies performed superbly over a long period of time but our testers did note they'd probably be better suited if your child is on solids and has less runny poos. Home tester Lavanya found this to be the case when testing the size 3 nappies with her 5-month-old and said, "I was very happy with design, but the top half off nappy was not lined so stools leaked through quite easily. It's a shame the padding did not extend up to the top of the nappy to prevent poonami explosions."
When it came to overnight use, our testers remarked on how well the nappies lasted over a prolonged period of time. "They still feel very secure in the morning and not too puffy which must mean they are great at absorbing wetness," said tester Zahari who tried out the nappies with her 9-month-old. Mum Maria also tested the nappies with her 10-month-old and added, "I was surprised a wet nappy did not feel bulging, it was neat and thinner than usual nappies to feel when full." As a bonus the nappies are also fairly thin, so Maria found she could fit more into her changing bag.
Available in-store from: M&S
Best eco-nappies for babies
Boots Little Stories Bamboo Nappies, £4.50 per pack (from 16p per nappy)
Boots has designed its nappies with sensitive skin in mind, thanks to the addition of bamboo fibres that should help to keep any potential rashes or reactions at bay. Tester Leanne, mum of a 13-month-old, found the size 4 nappies to be quite thick and said, "It was sometimes difficult to tell how wet the nappy was and if it needed changing, but the wetness indicator helped with this." As you go up in sizes it's not uncommon to find no wetness indicator on the nappy as there's less need for it as your baby grows, but in this case it our testers found it to be useful considering the thickness of the nappy.
In steps to make its nappy offering more sustainable, Boots has also used 40% plant based materials in its packaging plus the packaging can be 100% recyclable depending on your local recycling facilities.
Mum & You Nappychat Eco-Nappies, £8.99 per pack (21p per nappy)
An excellent all-rounder when it comes to eco-nappies, Mum & You's Nappychat range performed well with our testers when it came to absorbency, comfort and eco credentials. At 21p per nappy they're certainly not a budget-friendly purchase, but as home tester Aimee found you do pay for excellent quality. "The nappies lasted great overnight, and we used them regularly for this," she said after testing them in size 3 with her 8-month-old. "They were no leaks and we had them on about 13 hours! I could notice a difference between these and cheaper brands that I have used."
Home tester Joanna experienced one leak when testing the size 4 nappies with her 15-month-old but commented, "Apart from the one night she leaked and it felt huge these nappies actually usually felt smaller, less bulky and less heavy than the other brands I use when full. They didn’t sag even in the morning having been on all night."
Mum & You has created the Nappychat nappies to be perfume, lotion and latex free so they're suitable for little ones with sensitive skin. Plus the packaging is fully recyclable, in the same way you can recycle carrier bags and soft plastics at larger shops like supermarkets.
Kit & Kin Eco Nappies, £8 (24p per nappy)
Co-founded by radio presenter and former Spice Girl, Emma Bunton, Kit & Kin has become a popular brand for nappies that are eco-friendly and kind to sensitive skin. The brand is allergy certified amongst its many credentials, so is worth trying if you've had problems with irritation or nappy rash.
As well as channels in the nappy that absorb liquid, the brand has also added a quick drying layer that instantly locks away moisture to keep your baby's skin as dry as possible. Our home testers found these absorbency features worked well, with mum Julie, who tested the size 4 nappies with her 14-month-old, commenting, "I am amazed at how dry my baby's bum was after a full overnight nappy. I was surprised that it felt noticeably lighter than on the first couple of days of trying, I wasn't sure if she had actually wee'd much and it was in fact that the nappy was super absorbent! It also kept the odour in quite well."
Although they're a pricier option, Kit & Kin does offer a subscription service where you can save just over 15% on 4 packs of nappies with free delivery included.
Eco by Naty Eco Nappies, £8.31 (from 28p per nappy)
Eco by Naty's uses FSC certified wood pulp in the core of its nappy, which is not only a sustainable material but is also highly absorbent. Our testers found them to last well overnight with Aimee, mum of an 8-month-old, saying, "I had this nappy on for 14 hours one night without a leak! Babies skin was still dry, and the moisture clearly soaks into the nappy. If anything, there was a slight fullness concentrated at the front of the nappy but this wasn’t really an issue." Home tester Emma, who tested the size 3 nappies with her 9-month-old, echoed Aimee's praise and said, "They lasted well overnight and baby felt dry in the morning. During the day we changed baby’s nappy every 4 hours but found that the nappies were still light and not too full."
In order to make its range kinder to sensitive skin, Naty has also done away with oil based plastics in its eco nappy, which can commonly be found across the nappy market. Plus like many eco offerings, the brand has a subscription service that gives you 10% off plus free shipping.
The Cheeky Panda Bamboo Lined Nappies, £8 per pack (from 50p per nappy)
Because they've done away with many of the moisture-wicking synthetics found in other disposable nappies, Cheeky Panda's bamboo-lined nappies achieved varying results with our testers when it came to absorbency. Home tester Andrea tried out the size 3 nappies with her 4-month-old and commented, "When very wet, the nappy started breaking up/disintegrating however if not left on for too long, this didn’t happen." Home tester Kim who tested the size 4 nappy pants also found this to be the case over time, and said, "We did notice that the nappies started to almost disintegrate with fluffy lining sticking to him." With this in mind we'd suggest using them for a few hours, but perhaps not over an extended period of time such as overnight.
The nappies are easy to get hold of online from Amazon (handy if you don't have time to pop to the shops) and with the subscription offer you can vary delivery from every 2 weeks all the way to every 6 months.