Real Nappy – Q & A

All your questions on real nappies answered!

Is my baby more likely to get nappy rash?

It is a common myth that real nappies cause nappy rash.  If this were true, all babies wearing real nappies would have nappy rash and all those in disposables wouldn’t, which we all know isn’t the case.  The truth is, nappy rash is caused by a number of reasons such as illness, when trying new foods, or when a wet or soiled nappy is left on for too long. Research has shown that the type of nappy used is not a significant factor in nappy rash. (Getting to the Bottom of Nappy Rash, R. Philip, A. Hughs & J. Golding. British Journal of General Practice, August 1997; pp.493-497).

Nappies should be changed after every feed and sleep and as soon as they are wet or soiled – regardless of what sort of nappy is used. Fresh air is important too – let babies go bare as much as possible!

Do real nappies leak?

All nappies (including disposables) leak at some point. Make sure that the nappy is the correct size – fitting well at the waist and legs and that no part of the cloth is poking out of the wrap.

Isn’t there a lot more washing?

With a baby there is always a lot more washing! Wet nappies can be added to the rest of the household washing, so there is no need for extra piles to build up in buckets. Alternatively, you can get into a routine of washing nappies in a full load every 2-3 days.

Don’t they take up a lot of time?

They will take longer than disposables at first, but you will speed up as you become used to them. However, if you look at changing nappies in the same way as you would changing your baby’s clothes, those extra couple of minutes are not ‘wasted’ time. It may also help you develop your skills in observing your baby’s health and behaviour.

Will real nappies be too bulky?

Some real nappies are more bulky than disposables, however this is not a negative thing as it keeps the baby’s hips apart at the right angle. If you opt for a birth to potty system then nappies may look bulky on a smaller baby, however many parents simply choose to go up a size when buying baby clothes – problem solved! For babies who are toddling, the extra padding can help protect their coccyx.

Do real nappies smell more than disposables?

No – real nappies do not smell more than disposable nappies. You can flush away solid nappy content when nappies are changed. Also, by using real nappies, you can avoid placing soiled disposable nappies into your household bin.

Are real nappies really better for the environment?

Definitely. According to an Environment Agency study (link to study), washable nappies can save up to 40% carbon emissions over disposables

The study examines the environmental impacts of disposables compared to real nappies. While at first glance the report suggests there may be little to choose between them, it shows how a good washing routine can make all the difference. Simply washing nappies in fuller loads in an energy efficient machine and line drying them provides over 40% reduction in carbon. Reusing nappies on a second child saves even more.

On top of this, using real nappies also helps reduce the 8 million disposable nappies that are sent to landfill every day in the UK.

Remember the infamous Newbury Bypass road scheme? There was a public campaign against it because it cut through swathes of woodland and took down 10,000 trees. The UK uses twice that much for disposable nappies every single day, totalling seven million trees a year.

Can nurseries and childminders use them?

They can, and some do. There are no health and safety issues, but many are not confident with them yet and may have (perhaps unfounded) concerns. However, it is always worth asking, especially if you are happy to take your nappies away with you.

Can I use them on newborn babies?

Yes. Some wraps are specially designed with a low cut front to accommodate the navel.

Can I use them at night?

Yes. You can use booster pads for extra absorbency and may find you prefer a different style of wrap and nappy from those that you use during the day.

Don’t real nappies cost a lot to start with?

There is an initial outlay but they might not cost as much as you think.  You can kit your baby out with all the nappies they need for under £80, ranging to £350 – £400 for the more expensive all in one nappy types.  Using real nappies can save around £500 on average (including washing costs) compared to disposables and these savings increase if you can use the same nappies on baby number two….or three!

Devon parents can benefit from a free trial. Click here for more information. If you are on a tight budget, why not gradually build up your collection of nappies or consider buying from a real nappy exchange?