Our cloth bum journey (which we started in October 2016) may have now come to an end (*makes a sad face*), since our not-so-little Maxi is now potty trained, but I will be continuing to promote the advantages of reusable nappies to help other parents on their own journeys. So in this post, I want to share my 5 reasons for choosing reusable nappies.
Disposable nappies are, thankfully, getting some extra attention these days due to the waste they create in landfills so let’s hope more will be done to minimise their impact.
Real Nappies London claims:
“Britain throws away nearly three billion nappies a year. That’s around eight million a day. 90% of disposables end up in landfill, where they can take more than 300 years to break down. If they do eventually breakdown in landfill, disposable nappies produce methane gas which adds to global warming. Using real nappies means less waste. Even if you just use them sometimes, you are still making a difference. By using just one real nappy in place of a disposable every day could save a staggering 730 nappies from landfill – all from just one baby!”
So here are my own 5 reasons for choosing reusable nappies:
1. Reusable nappies are better for the environment.
- Three billion disposable nappies are thrown away each year in the UK (that’s just over eight million nappies every single day!!) and 90% of these are landfilled (source: Real Nappies London)
- More disposable nappies are found in UK household waste than anything else. It is thought the plastics in disposable nappies could take hundreds of years to decompose.
- The Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) says that by using 24 nappies and laundering them in an energy-efficient washing machine at 60C, parents can reduce global warming by 24 per cent.
2. Reusable nappies are cheaper than disposables.
- On average, a baby requires 2,000 disposable nappies for every year they are in them (source: Real Nappies London). That’s approx. 5,000 nappies over their nappy-wearing life. That produces a mountain of waste equivalent to 130 black bin-bags full.
- The cost of disposables is approx. £1,600 (based on two and a half years in nappies and an average cost of a nappy at £0.20 – source: Cloth Nappy Tree). The cost of disposable nappies doesn’t end with them though – you also need nappy bags, wipes, etc. which hikes up the overall cost. There is also an indirect cost that councils incur to dispose of the nappies. Reusable nappies, on the other hand, will cost you, on average, £300-400 over their lifetime. According to WEN calculations (source: The Independent) based on three popular brands, using home-laundered reusable nappies for two and a half years will cost around £350, including all laundering and energy costs.
- So overall, you can save up to £1,250 when switching to reusable nappies (source: Cloth Nappy Tree). The savings can be even higher if you re-use cloth nappies on future babies.
- Some local councils offer financial incentives (such as free trials, laundry services and cashback) to help parents to switch to reusable nappies and to help reduce the environmental impact of disposables. Check Nappy Lady’s website for information on each council participating in the initiative.
- You can save even more money by shopping second hand. The pre-loved nappy market is booming these days so shopping around is definitely worth it. In fact, I’ve recently sold all of our nappies and I pretty much recouped 80% of our initial investment into reusable nappies which I had brought brand new.
3. Reusable nappies are healthier to your baby’s skin.
- Disposable nappies contain variety of synthetic ingredients and chemicals, paper pulp, plastics and adhesives. Whereas, reusable nappies are mostly natural. Organic cotton, hemp, bamboo and wool are most commonly used materials to make them.
- Bamboo in particular is a great material for cloth nappies as it’s naturally anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and up to three times more absorbent than cotton. It is also one of the most sustainable materials as it is self-seeding, meaning it doesn’t need replanting.
- So no more nappy rashes and sore bums! Although I do believe this is also because we don’t use any conventional nappy creams, instead we opt for natural balms and oils.
4. You can use the same reusable nappies from birth until potty training.
- BTP (birth to potty) nappies are expected to last up to the point when your little one is ready to be potty trained. All brands that make BTPs state that one size fits most babies rather than all babies, as BTPs may not be suitable for some babies on either side of the percentile growth chart. So how can one nappy fit babies for up to two/ three years, I hear you ask? Well, simple – as your baby grows, you adjust the size of the nappy by changing the setting of the poppers as well as the fastening of the Velcro across the front of the nappy (see picture below). If you want to find out more about the different types of reusable nappies, check out The Nappy Lady as the website has some useful advice as well as informative step-by-step guide videos.
5. Reusable nappies can speed up the potty training process.
- There is some evidence that, on average, children in cloth nappies toilet train around six months earlier than their peers in disposables. The rationale for this is that a toddler in cloth nappies will physically feel the wetness more than their peer in disposables which are designed to feel as dry as possible, and this newly-discovered connection between bladder release and a wet nappy is the first step to potty training. My personal experience is very reflective of this evidence as my little boy Max started getting annoyed with the nappies at around 2 years and 3/4 months and at 2 years 4 months we started potty training. Within a month he mastered it so was out of the nappies at 2 years and 5 months which I think is pretty impressive for a toddler that age (in the Western world, anyway!).
And my final reason (although I can’t possibly count it!) is that the designs are so super cute!!! That was definitely what enticed me towards trying them out.
So whether that’s the planet, the money or pretty colours that are making you think: “should I choose reusable nappies for my baby?”, it is honestly worth giving them a go.
If you’re unsure which nappy types or brands to start with, check out my post Cloth nappies: All in ones vs. All in twos.