More parents are switching to reusable nappies – and you don’t have to be an eco warrior to see the sense, as M&B discovers
‘You’re brave,’ a friend tells me. I tap Nell’s little bottom – wrapped for the first time in a real nappy – and smile. ‘It really isn’t as bad as you think,’ I say. ‘And no nappy pins.’
For some parents, the idea of ditching disposables in favour of an overflowing, pungent nappy bin seems barmy, but many of us are changing to the real thing. Disposable nappy sales are down by £1.3million since 2012, according to Mintel. Senior analyst Charlotte Libby says that local campaigns play their part: ‘EU recycling targets have influenced councils to encourage people to switch to cloth nappies.’ For me, it’s the cash savings that prompt action.
Before starting my own real nappy challenge I have visions of failed origami attempts with towelling sheets, soggy parcels in my handbag and (shudder) poo-scraping.
I go for the ‘try cloth for £10’ offer from real nappy retailer Fill Your Pants – a challenge I knew my 12-month-old daughter would happily take on. I’m instantly relieved when I realise how high-tech these pants are.
If you opt for an all-in-one nappy there is no folding to do and no absorbent inserts to master. You simply adjust the poppers or Velcro to the correct size for your baby (one size takes you from newborn to potty training) and then fit it as you would a disposable. As Nell is a wriggler, I find it easier to fit the BambinoMio Solo I’m trying, than to fit her usual disposables. The substantial fabric means I secure the Velcro first time.
I am unprepared for just how cute my daughter’s bottom looks in a real nappy. The fabric has a cool apple print and the nappy is so soft that I am sure it is more comfortable for Nell. The extra padding will certainly come in handy when she tumbles over.
“I am unprepared for just how cute my daughter’s bottom looks in a real nappy.”
I pull on her tights but don’t feel confident that they will remain dry for long. I’m wrong. The nappy stays on for four hours, although I annoy Nell by repeatedly checking her. It is easy to see when a disposable is full but with the real nappy I can’t tell. Dealing with a wee is easy – I happily throw the nappy in the laundry basket and whip on another.
I next try a GroVia all-in-one. It is a great fit and holds in a poo. But while I am busy scraping, a nappy-free Nell wees on the carpet.
As the day wears on I realise that using real nappies does involve more mess and work. I sling the used nappies in the machine to wash overnight and pop Nell in a woolly night-time nappy. She looks like a little lamb, but by 5 o’clock she is crying and soaked through.
A month on, I’m still using real nappies in the daytime but I stick to disposables overnight. And that is my biggest revelation – it is possible to be a cloth convert part time and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Should you try real nappies?
Save up to £1,000 using real nappies rather than disposables for one child. And they can be kept for a second child.
Initial cost outlay is high and your electricity and water bills may rise as you put on more loads of washing.
It costs £32m to dispose of the 355,000 tonnes of disposable nappy waste created in the UK each year.
If you’re always on top of your laundry, don’t mind scraping and scrubbing and want to save money, then real nappies are worth trying.