Reusable Nappies Guide

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What impact does using reusable nappies have on the environment compared to disposable nappies?

The reason many parents are switching to reusable nappies – the reduction of the use of single-use products can’t be denied. The average child will go through 4,000 – 6,000 nappies in its lifetime, resulting in 3 billion nappies being thrown away in the UK each year, making up 2-3% of all household waste. The benefits of reusable nappies are obvious in this regard but what about carbon emissions associated with production and all that extra washing?
The Environment Agency produced a report comparing the environmental impacts of both types of nappies and concluded that reusable nappies are up to 40% better for the environment than disposables. To clarify, the study only assessed disposables up to the point of purchase (therefore excluding the effects of transporting the refuse and sending to landfill or incineration) but did include the manufacturing and washing impacts of the reusable nappies.

Do reusable nappies cost more than disposable nappies?

Although an initial investment is required if you choose the reusable nappy route, you can expect to make a substantial long term saving over the time your child is in nappies. With disposable nappies costing around 8.7p per change and reusables costing around 0.03p per change, you can save up to £750 when you factor in additional expenses such as the extra accessories required and washing costs. Savings will increase even further if you use your existing reusable nappies on any siblings.

How many reusable nappies will I need?

Based on washing every other day, a baby aged between 8 weeks and 6 months will need 20 nappies. From 6 months, the number will likely go down to 15 nappies.

How long do they last?

If well looked after, they will last through to your 2nd 3rd or even 4th child so you might only ever have to buy them once!

What do I do about poo?

There’s no avoiding poo but dealing with it couldn’t be easier. Before putting the nappy on, fit it with a liner. When it’s changing time, simply remove the liner, pop the poo in the toilet and throw the liner in the bin.

Are they as absorbent as disposables?

As many parents know, the occasional leaking nappy is unavoidable. However, reusable nappy users tend to experience less leaking thanks to the addition of extra ‘boosters’ when needed, for example during the night.

What do I do with used nappies?

Unlike in days gone by, modern reusable nappies don’t need to be soaked before washing. Simply remove the liner and pop the nappy in a nappy bucket. If you’re out and about, it’s a good idea to take a wet bag with you to keep used nappies separate from the rest of your changing bag.

How do I wash the nappies?

On a 60-degree wash (or lower if you like) with any non-bio powder. You can also use an antibacterial washing powder to get your nappies hygienically clean at 30 degrees. Liquid detergents and fabric softeners aren’t recommended as they can affect the nappy's performance.

Can they be tumble dried?

TotsBots nappies can be tumble dried on a cool setting but drying outside in the sunshine isn’t just better for the environment, it also does wonders for stains!

Can they be used from birth?

The majority of TotsBots nappies are one size fits most – from birth to potty training (8-35lbs) – but smaller sizes are available for tiny babies.

Can they be used at nursery?

With reusable nappies becoming more popular, most nurseries are happy to use them especially if you pre-line them to save time, but do check with them beforehand.

Should I choose 1-part or 2-part nappies?

1-part nappies are really simple to use and the most like disposable nappies, making them ideal for newbies, childminders or grandparents. For night times or a particularly heavy wetter, go for a 1-part style which provides an extra layer of protection. Whichever style you choose, you’ll need to pop either a disposable or reusable liner inside for added protection – you might find you don’t need to change the nappy each time, just the liner.

I’m nervous about switching from disposables – any advice?

You don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach when it comes to doing your bit for the environment – making small changes can mean more success in the long run. Start by just using reusable nappies whilst you’re at home until you feel confident enough to use them when out and about. If you’re pregnant or have just given birth and find the idea of reusable nappies too daunting, it might be worth holding off for a few weeks while you adjust to life with a new baby and nappy changes are a little less frequent!