Beginners Guide to Reusable Nappies
Lots of us have thought about trying reusable nappies but it can be hard to know where to start or the prospect can seem a little daunting, especially if a new baby is on its way! So, we spoke to Beth from Reusable Nappy & Zero-Waste Living Shop Real Nappy Life in Crystal Palace, South London to get the lowdown from an expert!
Why should I try reusable nappies?
- Simply put, they make less waste and can cost less money!
- Use just one reusable nappy a day and you’ll save around 900 single-use nappies from landfill or incineration.*
- The average baby gets through 4,000 disposable nappies by the time they’re potty-trained, costing families £400 a year and creating the equivalent of half a tonne of carbon dioxide according.*
How much do reusable nappies cost?
- It's a good idea to find out what nappies work for you before investing, so you can try rented, pre-loved or nappies passed down from friends. If you’d prefer new, there are starter kits available so you can test out different options without a large upfront cost and can try reusable alongside single use nappies.
- Some London Boroughs offer a voucher to get started - find out more here.
- There is a higher initial cost which is an average of £400* if you buy new and go for full time use, but using full time disposables could cost you £1200 so it is a big saving!
- Also, if you do opt for buying new, you can resell your nappies once you no longer need them, or use them again for another child!
How do I get started with reusable nappies?
- There are lots of options to choose from which can be very overwhelming.
- Real Nappy Life offers a free detailed advice page with videos outlining the different fabrics and types of nappies available, or you can get in touch for specific advice based on your family requirements, including height/weight of child, washing facilities, environmental concerns and lifestyle.
- Beth says it’s very much a personal choice for each family and what will work for you so it’s good to trial some nappies before investing.
Which reusable nappy should I choose?
There are three main types:
Flat & Wrap
- This is a fabric wrap that you fold and close with a pin/clasp or cover with a waterproof wrap.
- Cheapest, easy to wash, most versatile, natural fabric/plastic free.
Fitted & Wrap
- 2 part nappies with a water resistant outer shell plus removable insert.
- Most reliable, most absorbent, best for nighttime use.
- Easiest to use, most common, good for childcare, single wash, most expensive.
Birth to potty nappies last longer and come with poppers at the sides and front so you can adjust them as your child grows. As reusable nappies are a little bit bulkier than disposable, all our babygrows and baby trousers up to 3 years are sized a bit bigger to fit cloth nappies.
How often should I change my child?
Inner linings should be changed the same amount as disposable nappies and outer shells can be changed once every 12 hours. Always change as soon as you can straight after a poo! On top of regular changes, our natural Nappy Balm is a great way to keep baby bottoms rash free.
What do I do with reusable nappies when I’m out?
- You can store used nappies in a zipped wet bag. Also, a lot of families opt for a combination of single use and reusable to keep life simple, for example reusable at home, disposable on camping holidays or when you're traveling.
How do you clean off poo from reusable nappies?!
- In the first 6 months all poo is water soluble so you can put nappies straight into the washing machine.
- Once poos are solid, you can shake or scrape them off into the toilet using toilet roll or a scraper.
How often do I need to wash my nappies?
- If you use a nappy with an insert, you’ll need to wash the insert every time, but the outer shell won’t always need washing.
- All-in-one’s will need to be washed every time.
What temperature should I wash reusable nappies & how do I dry my nappies?
- Wash all dirty nappies together on a cool rinse cycle e.g. 30mins/30degrees and then on the longest cycle at 40 degrees or 60 degrees.
- Use non-bio powder (there are detergents specifically aimed at washing reusable nappies, but Beth has found that eco detergents don’t work as well with reusable nappies). In her experience, she’s found it’s best not to use the eco washing setting as it has less water and a lower temperature.
- To keep nappies in tip top condition, bleach occasionally with eco-friendly non chlorinated bleach and to look after your washing machine, do an empty wash each month at the hottest setting.
- Hang dry, but avoid radiators if using plastic or bamboo nappies.
How many reusable nappies do I need?
For full time use you’ll need:
- 15-20 daytime nappies
- 6-10 wraps
- 4-6 fitted nappies for nights
- XL hanging wet bag
- 30 reusable wipes
- Non-bio washing powder
For when you’re out and about:
- Double zip wet bag
- 2+ nappies (any type)
- 1 wrap & a few wipes
You can also try just switching to reusable when you’re at home during the day to see if it suits your family.
How often should I change my child?
Inner linings should be changed the same amount as disposable nappies and outer shells can be changed once every 12 hours. Always change as soon as you can straight after a poo!
When should I start using reusable nappies?
You can start using reusable straight away, there is no right or wrong way to use them! However, many parents will mix and match with reusable and disposable nappies until changes have settled down to 5 to 6 per day, which is often when your baby is around 6 weeks old.
For more info on how to get started, head over to Real Nappy Life!