An estimated three billion disposable nappies are thrown away every year in the UK alone. Disposables are made mainly from plastic, which ends up in landfill (and each one takes 500 years to decompose). Not to mention the carbon-heavy, polluting and wasteful production methods of these throwaway commodities that almost every parent will find themselves buying at some point during their lives.
These shocking statistics seem very much at odds in 2020, at a time when with the majority of people have a desire to live greener and more sustainable lifestyles and make the effort to recycle, carry their own shopping bags and use reusable coffee cups. But what’s the alternative?
Cloth nappies have been around for a long time, but they have come on a long way since your granny’s day. Now available in a multitude of different fabrics, styles and designs; cloth nappies are a more stylish, green and cheaper option than disposables. We have the lowdown on the best styles and accessories to make cloth nappying a breeze for any parent looking to make the switch.
The best “all-in-one” nappy
All-in-one nappies are the most similar in style to disposables in terms of fastenings and shape; the only difference is that instead of throwing them away after each use, you pop them in the washing machine to be used again (like all reusables). The benefit of all-in-one nappies is that they are idiot-proof (even sceptical partners and fussy nursery staff will find these nappies easy to manage.)
West London Living loves the Charlie Banana brand for all-in-one nappies. Every nappy is certified as climate-neutral and if you opt for the “one-size” option the nappy will grow with your child (from as little as a few weeks old, all the way up to potty training). The nappies look slim under clothing and make for an extremely quick and fuss-free change.
They are available in a range of gorgeous prints such as the Sophie le giraffe one pictured.
Charlie Banana all-in-one nappy, €29.88. Available from www.charliebanana.com
The best “pocket” nappy
Pocket nappies differ from all-in-ones in that they have the same waterproof protective outer “shell”, but they have a removable insert that you stuff into a “pocket” for absorbency. The benefits of pocket nappies are that they are quicker drying (once you separate the shell and the insert) and the absorbency can be customised depending on your needs by using inserts made from different materials (bamboo and hemp inserts are widely accepted as the most absorbent) or by doubling up on inserts/boosters. The downside of pocket nappies is that they are a bit more fiddly than all-in-ones as you have to stuff/unstuff the pockets.
West London Living loves the pocket nappies by Baba+Boo, which are kind to little bottoms and to the planet. 10% of every sale of it’s ‘Waves’ nappy goes to City To Sea, a charity committed to fighting plastic pollution. Each nappy comes with 2 x reusable bamboo mix inserts (meaning you can start off with one, and when your baby grows and produces more wee you can double up). Like the Charlie Banana all-in-ones, these nappies are one-size meaning they will fit your child from a few weeks old all the way up to potty training.
Baba+Boo pocket nappy, £16.50. Available from www.babaandboo.com
The best night time nappy
The nappies above will be fine for anywhere between 2-4 hours depending on the age and size of your baby and whether or not they are particularly heavy wetters. For night time though, you’ll want something a little bit more substantial to make sure that your baby (and its bed) stays as dry as possible and to avoid having to change nappies at night (this doesn’t apply to newborns who will generally need changing every couple of hours day or night.) Enter the night nappy: a super absorbant (often quite bulky) option.
Night nappies generally come in two parts, an inner absorbent layer and a waterproof outer shell (PUL). However, a popular option for night time is to use a wool cover instead of the PUL cover. Wool has the advantage of being temperature regulating and is generally considered to be a more comfortable option. There are rave reviews on many cloth nappy forums about using wool covers for night time: they don’t need to be washed after every use, just aired out, and have excellent approval ratings when it comes to keeping baby dry all night.
One of the best night nappy and wool cover combinations on the market is the Baby Beehinds nappy and cover. Voted Australia’s Best Night Nappy this nappy is hard to beat with up to 23 layers of customisable absorbency in the wet zone, it’s made for Olympic wetters!
Baby Beehinds Night Nappy, 38 AUD; wool cover 49 AUD. Available from www.babybeehinds.com.au (Shipping to the UK available)
The best reusable nappies for newborns
As mentioned elsewhere, most reusable nappies come in birth-to-potty (BTP) size which means the nappy is adjustable and grows with your baby. In reality, though, most nappies will be too big for the majority of newborns, and will only be useful from about 7-8lbs. Reusable nappies are available in newborn sizes, the only downside is that your baby will outgrow them fairly quickly but for anyone who wants to use reusables from birth, this is a great option.
We love the Close Parent Newborn nappies for their irresistible designs. The nappy is designed specifically for those high-frequency changes over the first few months and shaped to fit better from birth: the front section is contoured to fit around baby’s umbilical cord and the nappy itself is much slimmer, intended for the lower wetting, high frequency changing those first few months bring.
The waterproof outer shell isn’t lined so you can simply switch out the inner and wipe clean and re-use cover if it’s not soiled. There is a leak-proof double leg gusset to cope with explosive newborn poo’s and the soaker is slim but absorbent, made using 5 layers of super-soft bamboo terry. There is also a top layer of fast-wicking polyester to keep baby’s skin drier in use making them perfect for your little one’s delicate skin.
This particularly gorgeous Puffin print uses innovative bio laminate which uses 20-30% renewable plant-based ingredients which helps to conserve precious non-renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse emissions.
Single printed newborn nappy, £10.50. Available from www.closeparent.com
Another option for newborns is to use good old-fashioned muslin cloths. These have the advantage of being exceptionally fast-drying, and their fit can be completely customised to suit your baby by experimenting with one of the numerous ways to fold them (a quick google search will pull up multiple instructional videos). They are also one of the most affordable options. Muslin cloths will need a waterproof cover over the top of them (either PUL or wool).
We like the MuslinZ brand muslins which are made from 70% bamboo/30% organic cotton. They make perfect trim-fitting newborn cloth nappies and come in very cute designs or this classic unbleached option.
MuslinZ 3 Pack Bamboo/Organic Cotton Squares, £11.99. Available from www.merrygorounduk.co.uk
The best reusable wipes
It’s not just disposable nappies that are causing an environmental disaster, baby wipes are thrown away in the millions and pollute waterways and clog up our water treatment systems. Reusable wipes work in much the same way as the nappies, simply use them, wash them and reuse them. Simple.
The Cheeky Wipes all-in-one kit comes with everything you need to get started. In the kit you get 25 x wipes; a container to store wet clean wipes ready for use; a separate box for storing dirty wipes; two waterproof travel bags for when you’re out and about (one for clean and one for dirty wipes); two bottles of essential oil to keep things smelling fresh, and a large mesh bag to wash your wipes in the machine with. Genius.
Cheeky Wipes Premium All-In-One Kit, £45.95. Available from www.cheekywipes.com
So there you have it, everything you need to get started on your reusable nappy journey. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning of 6 Charlie Banana all-in-one nappies then please email firstname.lastname@example.org telling us in 3-5 sentences how you try to live a greener life.