If you have children, choosing reusable nappies and wipes makes a huge difference to your plastic footprint during their early years. Even a small change will have a big impact: swapping just one disposable nappy a day for a reusable could prevent over 900 nappies going to landfill! When I found out I was expecting my second baby, I knew that using reusable nappies was one positive change I definitely wanted to make.
Nappies and plastic: the facts
Plastic might not be the first ‘P’ that comes to mind when you think of nappies, but in fact a standard disposable nappy is around 50% plastic. When you consider that the average baby will use around 5,000 nappies, it really hits home that your baby’s precious little peachy bum could create a mountain of avoidable plastic waste. Choosing reusable nappies is kinder to the planet and kinder to your pockets too, with the Money Advice Service calculating that reusables could save you nearly £1,500.
What you’ll need: the essentials
Switching to reusables is easy, and you just need a few basic pieces of kit:
- Reusable nappies (also called ‘cloth’ or ‘real’ nappies) – you’ll need around 20-30 of these, and you can build your collection over time to spread out the cost. While many nappies are sold as ‘birth to potty’ they won’t fit skinny babies like mine until they are a few months old, so investigate newborn nappy options for the early weeks if you plan to use reusable nappies from the get-go.
- Nappy bucket and mesh liner – gone are the days of soaking nappies in a stinky pail of water! Dirty nappies can be stored in a dry bucket with a clip-on lid to prevent any smells, and with a mesh liner it’s easy to chuck them in the washing machine with minimal handling.
- Wet bag – a small wet bag makes it simple to use your nappies out and about, storing wet and dirty nappies without leaks or smells until you get home.
- Reusable cloth wipes – reusable wipes are an easy addition, as you can just wash them along with your nappies. You can buy a set, or make your own by cutting up pieces of old towel. They will last for years and can be re-purposed as face wipes or cleaning cloths once your children are potty-trained. Re-use an old tupperware or takeaway box to carry damp wipes around with you ready for use.
Choosing reusable nappies
All-in-one, pocket, pre-fold? Cotton, bamboo, microfibre? The range of nappy types, styles and materials available can be bamboozling for a beginner. Add to that the fact that babies come in all shapes and sizes, and it can be tricky to know where to start. The great news is that all this variety means that you will be able to find nappies that are just right to suit your baby and your lifestyle.
Nappy libraries are amazing services, usually run by volunteers, where you can get friendly expert advice on reusable nappies and borrow nappy loan kits to try different styles and see what works for you and your baby before you start buying. Contact them well in advance of your baby arriving as they often have waiting lists.
If you can’t get to a nappy library or there isn’t one near you, The Nappy Lady offers a free personal recommendations service when you fill out an Advice Questionnaire – and you’ll receive a 5% discount code to use if you decide to order.
One of the most widely-available nappy brands in the UK is Bambino Mio, who offer a range of nappies and accessories in cute prints and patterns. I loved their all-in-one nappies which have a winning combination of good fit on my baby, great leak-proof absorbency, and easy-to-adjust velcro fastenings. They are a winner for childcare settings and grandparents too, as they go on just like a standard disposable nappy. Bambino Mio’s gorgeous roll-top wet bags are perfect for taking your nappies out and about, so you don’t have to compromise when you have a busy day.
Saving your pennies (and the planet too)
You can cut the environmental footprint of your nappies even further, and save even more money, by buying pre-loved nappies via local buying and selling groups (often on Facebook). By buying a mix of pre-loved and new nappies I was able to kit myself out with 25 nappies for around £120. You can use these groups to pick up other bits of kit too, such as buckets and wet bags.
I’m a total convert – and it really is true, there is no more satisfying sight than a row of nappies gleaming in the sun on your washing line! Why not let us know your top tips for choosing and using reusable nappies?