Reuseable nappies – the facts

Reuseable nappies have the potential to save you £500 per child, but what types are there and what are the other advantages of using them?

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Made from natural fabrics, reuseable nappies are just that – nappies that you wash and use over and over again. There are many advantages to reuseables, from reducing your shopping bills to the impact on the environment but using them may require a bit more work than popping on a disposable.

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The Facts

Most reuseable nappies come in two sizes; 1 (0-20lbs), and 2 (20-30lbs), as well as ‘birth to potty’ packs that adjust as your baby grows.

Dirty ones are stored in a bucket (with a lid!). “But they actually don’t need to be soaked before washing,” says Bec Thomas, spokesperson for Go Real – The Real Nappy Information Service. (www.goreal.org.uk).

What’s more, there are nappy laundry services that will pick up your dirty nappies and provide you with clean, laundered new ones on a weekly basis. The used nappies are kept in a deodorised bin with a biodegradable bin liner which is also provided by the nappy laundering service.The service costs around £10 a week. 

Pocket nappies

These nappies come as an outer wrap with pouch inside. You pop a pad into the pouch to absorb your little one’s waste. “These are perfect for childcare as they can be prepared before you leave,” says Bec.

Flat nappies

Flat nappies are rectangular pieces of absorbent fabric that are folded into waterproof nappy covers. “They take a little longer to put on but dry quickly,” says Bec. The nappies, outer wraps and liners can all be bought separately. Some of the wraps are patterned.

Shaped nappies

These are handy as there’s no folding needed and they tend to fit slightly better than other types. Before use, all you need to do is lay in an extra layer of fabric (if your brand requires – some don’t), that’s sized to fit the nappy. On the downside, they take the longest time to dry and also need a waterproof outer layer.

All-in-one nappies

These are generally the easiest to use as there’s no need to insert pads. “The cost is higher to start with because you pay for everything in one go,” says Bec. “Extra drying time will be needed too as you can’t take them apart to wash.”

The Pros of Reusables:

  • Although the initial cost of nappies will be more, the long-term savings outweigh this. It’s estimated that you can save around £500 per child.
  • Many parents prefer natural, unbleached nappy materials because fewer chemicals are in contact with your baby’s skin.
  • They don’t go into landfill, and can be used for more than one child.
  • They’re available in eco’ varieties, made from organic cotton, for the really environmentally-minded parent.

The Cons of Reusables:

  • It can be hard work as they require storing when dirty until you have enough for a load, then there’s the regular washing, and they can take time to dry.
  • They don’t go into landfill and release greenhouse gases, but damage can be done in other ways – through the electricity used to wash and dry them, or the car miles racked up by using a laundering service.

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