Modern reusable nappies are much better than they used to be, and there are more types of reusable nappy than ever before.
In this guide, we will list the advantages and disadvantages of reusable nappies and compare them to disposable nappies.
Modern reusable nappies are available in a wide range of designs, types and colours.
The four main types of reusable nappy are:
Pins are a thing of the past, and we think babies will probably breathe a sigh of relief! All modern nappies use either plastic clips, velcro fastening or poppers nowadays, so there is no change of accidentally jagging your baby in the bottom. Most modern nappies are also shaped now, making them easier to put on.
It may be worth trying various types to find out which ones work best for you and your baby. Opinions vary.
The Benefits of Cloth Nappies
Another advantage of modern reusables is that it is no longer necessary to have poo-stained nappies soaking in a bucket of water in your house. Most nappies have a biodegradable liner which can be flushed away, and most parents definitely prefer that to storing soiled nappies in a nappy bucket until there are enough for a load in the washing machine.
If you do choose to use reusable nappies, you'll need a stock of around 20 nappies and it's a good idea to wash the new nappies a few times before using them on your baby. Some parents use a combination of reusable and disposable nappies, which are obviously much handier when travelling.
Nappy manufacturers almost universally recommend using non-bio washing powder, and advise against using fabric softener which reduces the absorbency of the nappies. Some manufacturers also recommend an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the detergent is rinsed away from the nappy before it comes into contact with your baby's skin.
The Benefits of Disposable Nappies
Are cloth nappies better for the environment?
On balance, cloth nappies are probably more environmentally friendly than disposables, but it's worth remembering that reusable nappies also come with an ecological footprint.
The main environmental benefit for choosing cloth nappies is that it results in less waste being sent to landfill sites.
Approximately 8 million disposable nappies are thrown away every day in the UK, and experts believe they will take hundreds of years to decompose. It's a huge amount. Disposable nappies account for 4% of all landfill in the UK. It’s estimated that if parents with one child used cloth nappies instead of disposable, it could reduce landfill by 874kg.
Reusable nappies, however, need to be washed and dried, which uses a lot of energy, particularly as they need to be washed at 60 degrees. Just washing and drying reusable nappies for one child could add over 600kg of carbon emissions to the planet. Whilst it's not recommended by health experts for hygiene reasons, you could reduce this amount by using a more energy efficient wash-cycle.
Cloth nappies are definitely cheaper than disposables.
Most babies are in nappies for at least two and a half years. Using disposables for that time will cost around £600.
Buying an average amount of reusable cloth nappies will cost about £250, and an additional £80 to wash and dry. Some local councils offer vouchers to encourage parents to choose certain reusable nappies. Washing cloth nappies over a two-and-a-half year period will cost about £80. Tumble-drying reusable nappies could add an extra £100 to your bill.
Further savings can be had if you end up having more children, as using the nappies again can massively reduce the costs.