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Making the switch to reusable nappies

Updated: May 22, 2019

In the UK each day 8 million nappies are sent to landfill, and are estimated to take over 500 years to break down. The average baby will get through over 5000 disposable nappies in their first 2-3 years. Conversely, a baby could use as few as 20 reusable nappies.

In my last blog post, I said that my husband and I would be trying to parent sustainably, following our resolution last year to give up plastic. As part of this drive to parent sustainably, we have been experimenting with reusable nappies.

I thought I would share our "findings" from our experimentation with cloth nappies for any parents who may be interested but unsure where to begin.

There are many different types of cloth nappies on the market, which can be confusing, but they are fundamentally the same - an absorbent nappy part, made from cotton, bamboo, or microfibre, and a waterproof outer layer. The way these two parts "come together" varies:

Firstly, 2 part nappies - these consist of an absorbent inner (shaped like a disposable nappy) and a waterproof wrap. We really liked Little Lambs for this, and this is our favourite type of nappy - the outer wrap means containment is excellent and these are very absorbent, though bulky. These nappies come in two sizes, so you need to invest in the next size up after 9 months or so.

All-in-ones - these have the absorbant inner attached to the waterproof outer, which hangs out like a "tongue" (to speed up drying) and can be stuffed in. We tried the popular Bambino Mio Miosolo and the Tots Bots Easyfit Star. We didn't find the containment on these as good as the 2 part system as there isn't the "double layer" of protection, however they are convenient and are suitable from birth to potty as they have poppers to make them bigger or smaller, so are a cost effective solution.

All-in-twos - these consist of an outer wrap with inner pads which clip in. These are similar to a two-part system but less bulky; and they also last from birth to potty. Our favourites of this type are Close Pop-Ins. Again, the separate wrap gives an extra layer of protection, though they are less absorbant than the 2 part shaped nappies. We also tried the Tots Bots Peenut system but didn't find the containment as good as the Pop-In.

Pocket nappies - similar to an all-in-one, these nappies have the wrap integrated with a fleecy nappy, which is "stuffed" with the absorbent pads. We tried Little Lambs pocket nappies and Babo + Boo pocket nappies, but found that neither had the containment we needed - again, due to the outer wrap being integrated into the nappy.

With all the nappy types, you can add extra absorbent pads make the nappy last longer. We usually change every 3-4 hours, and need more absorbency in the mornings and less in the evenings.

Getting started

I think it's very much a matter of trial and error as to which nappies will work for which baby - our little girl is rather lanky, so our favourite nappies may not work for shorter babies. We bought one or two of each type of the above nappies to try out, and have now invested in a larger stash of our favourites (Little Lambs 2 part nappies, and Close Pop-Ins). Other brands include Tickle Tots, Bumgenius, Grovia and MotherEase - and there are probably plenty more I've not even heard of!


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