Nappies: A Review

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These nappies will never look this good again. Not a bad gift option from Bella’s Baby Cakes, though.
  • When preparing for Cub to arrive we planned out a lot of decisions in advance to attempt to avoid the opinions thrown at us from all sides. We figured that if we were sleep-deprived we would probably fold to popular opinion rather than actually thinking about the options. We were right, it was more difficult after Cub arrived but we discussed nappies specifically a lot. Below you will find all the pros and cons I could think of, from experience, for disposables, eco-disposables, and reusables.

    Reusables

    Pros:

    • Cost; reusable means exactly that: you can use a small number of nappies again and again with no problems. This means that although the starting costs might be higher than seems fair, once you’ve stretched out the cost per use over years and years it is so much cheaper. If you get second-hand sale items they can be even cheaper, for example we got all we might need (and a lot more that we gave away) for £70.
    • Surprising variety; although a little more research is needed there are large number of types of reusable nappy out there. Different brands will have different advantages including absorbency, fabric, waterproof covers, ease of washing, etc. Reading the reviews and blogs will give you the basics to figure out what you want.
    • Ease; reusables would be going nowhere if people found them complicated. Sleep-deprived doesn’t mix well with confusion. Velcro and poppers tend to be the most popular forms of attachment, and the shaping of them is often pretty self-explanatory.
    • Supply; once you’ve got them you don’t need to shop, just wash. You will probably feel better about that at 2am when you’re chucking a bag in the washing machine rather than getting dressed to go to that 24-7 shop down the road.
    • Eco-friendly; very little ends up in landfill, the production doesn’t require harsh chemicals, and nor does the cleaning. You can use them for more than one child which means if you have 3 kids you will have stopped approximately 23,000 of them turning into mountains of rubbish.
    • Hygiene; although nappy-producers would like you to buy their variety which absorbs moisture, all it means is your child won’t necessarily feel uncomfortable as quickly. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t sitting in urine which can cause nappy-rash in the long run. In reusables you tend to get told pretty quickly that they are wet, you change and clean them up, and they are fine, meaning less chance of rashes. I also have a feeling it may help with potty-training too as my little one will already know the sensation.

Cons:

  • Mess; for the squeamish it may be difficult to think of handling a *confetti*-laiden nappy more than to simply get rid of it. This is unfortunate. You may want to soak the stained ones a little more to make the wash easier, you may store dirty ones in a small laundry bin and find taking the bag to the washing machine to be a bit yucky. All true but necessary.
  • Access; sadly disposables are the norm and therefore reusables can be a little harder to find and get hold of. It can be accomplished but takes more effort in the planning stage.
  • Perception; both sets of grandparents were sceptical, both suggested we’d give up on them really quickly, that they’d be smelly, unhygienic, time-wasting, expensive, and difficult when travelling or going out. Whether people turn out to be wrong or right about your situation, you may find yourself having the same conversation again and again. (On the other hand, parents who use them too are often amusingly excited to see you using them and will encourage you to the ends of the earth!)
  • Confusion to start; as previously said it can be a little harder to find out about the varieties, and starting out I’d recommend using the simplest option you can find. Learning which one you want in long-term and the lingo can feel tricky though.

Disposables

Pros:

  • Easy to use; they have sticky tabs, some even come with moisture indicators to tell you when your mess-machine has actually done something in it.
  • Disposable; pretty obvious but it is so easy to just throw poop away isn’t it?
  • Cheap; or at least as cheap as baby-related products can be nowadays.
  • Variety; there are so many brands, types, sizes and colours that you are spoilt for choice.
  • Access; due to these being the most used type of poop-containment out there (at least in Europe/Americas) it is pretty easy to get hold of a pack at short notice.

Cons:

  • Not disposable; even if you’ve got them out the house, bins fill up, landfills pile up, and they take forever (or near enough) to actually decompose.
  • Chemicals; so many hard-to-say substances are used in the manufacture and structure of a nappy. You don’t get one of those super-absorbent layers without a lot of stuff. This is often not really that good for your childs’ skin.
  • Price; even if you get them cheap, you could be using between 8-12 a day. That means that 74-pack that looked like it would last forever… well.. won’t. It could barely last a week. With a very quick look at Tesco this will cost you £12, and over a year (not even close to potty-training age) that will be around £624… if the price doesn’t go up.
  • Leakages; in my experience I have had more of what we term “explosions” in disposables than other options. The flat surface which suggests comfort also leaves a nice smooth surface for… ahem… *confetti* to explode up your child’s back and onto clothes, blankets, hair, etc.
    and finally, at a push:
  • Confusion; the variety can be great but any new parent can feel overwhelmed by it. Which size, which type, which brand is best, are all terrifying when you’ve got the sleep-deprived media-pressured desperation of a new mum or dad.

Eco-Disposables

Pros:

  • Disposable; in the proper sense these can be disposed of in the normal way, but will also actually decompose far quicker than the basic nappies you can buy. This is due to what they are made of: no plastic and much more natural.
  • Easy to use; unfold, put on, sticky tabs wrap round the front, use, take off, wrap up and throw away. Done. Just less (but not no) guilt.
  • Natural; because they use natural materials and a lack of chemicals you are less likely to have allergic reactions, rashes, and asthma issues with the fabric of the nappy. All this and they are still pretty good at absorbing the liquids produced.

Cons:

  • Cost; sadly these are not the cheap option. If you go down this route it will eat a few more of your pennies away than normal disposables and so the likelihood is you have to have a real passion to save the world, or just hate the nappy-companies.
  • Access; these are possibly even harder to find than reusables.. possibly. So far we have found one supplier of one brand. Luckily they have all the sizes we will need and we only tend to use them for going on long journeys, so it’s not too much bother, but you might want to stock up (to be fair if you do this you may also grab a bargain if you get them at the right time/location).
  • Variety; as said above, there doesn’t seem to be many options out there but we can hope this gets better as more parents are made aware of the options.
  • Leakages; I’ve found these have the same problems as normal disposables in the *confetti* explosions but that’s down to the common shaping so hardly surprising.

Personally, after all this I was adamant that I did not want to keep adding to the landfill sites around the world, and could get past the initial complications of reusables. After some research we decided to aim for the Bambino covers which are a simple two-piece (exc. liner) of a cover and folding nappy. The aim is the fabric absorbs, the cover protects. We even managed to get a great deal on a massive second-hand box and they are doing us very well, especially as first-time parents and first-time users. We may supplement it a little for future children but seeing as it came from a 3-child household, they have done very well!

We have, however, at times folded and in emergencies used disposables, but finding the eco-disposables was amazing and made us feel much better about the travelling aspect of these lapses. Cub is now 4 months old and we are doing well. Grandparents have been pleasantly surprised and none of it has been as smelly or messy as any of us expected from a small baby.

That said I try not to judge parents decisions when made in the best interest of their child. If there are any questions or comments I am very happy to answer. Just write in the comments below!

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mim says:

    Hi, I’m pregnant with my first and starting to research into cloth nappies. I’m pretty sure we’re guna go for it, but can I ask how you decided which brand to go for? There seem to be so many out there and even buying a trial pack from different ones would add up cost-wise.
    Thanks, Mim

    1. EKMCronin says:

      Good question! I did a bit of research and found that Bambino Mio seemed to be getting pretty decent reviews. As I said in the post, we also tried to find something relatively simple – you don’t want to be sleep-deprived and literally be putting the nappy on upside-down. A great source of information (although American I think so pinch of salt needed here and there) is http://www.alphamom.com/ She’s very level-headed, has some information on clothe nappies that I read through.
      Reusables tend to have a bit more of a following in the States simply due to having many more people.
      If that’s no good, let me know!

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