If one thing is true about babies, it’s that they take a lot of keeping clean. Mostly down below. So the question of what you should use to swathe that tiny bottom is really fairly important – especially since the average baby gets around 4,000 nappy changes before they learn to use the potty!
Here’s what you need to know to make this big, bottom-line decision (pardon the pun).
Today’s reusable nappy systems are a far cry from the white cotton and safety pins your nanna used to use! Instead, the modern versions usually boast a colourful, waterproof outer cover that fastens with press-studs or velcro, paired with an inner layer that’s easy to wash and quick to dry. If you’re heading away on holidays, or just can’t bear the thought of all that washing, there are also disposable pads that fit inside the outer covers. Reusable nappies are also considerably cheaper than disposables – between £70 and £250 for a set, plus around £1 a week for the energy it takes to wash them.
Environmentally, the impact reusable nappies have isn’t always smaller than disposables, but they do save on landfill – a recent UK government report estimated that 2-3% of our household waste (that’s up to 400,000 tonnes a year) consists of soiled nappies! Another environmental point to consider: if you’re planning to expand your family in the future, reusing the washable nappies for your next child will cut their impact considerably.
Most parents choose disposable nappies, largely for the convenience factor – instead of soaking, washing and drying, you can just bin them when you’re done. The opposing factor, of course, is cost – at between 13 and 17p per nappy, the average baby’s disposables will end up costing somewhere around £800 in total!
The comparable environmental impact of disposables depends largely on how you would plan to launder cloth nappies if you were to use them; if you usually tumble-dry your laundry and own low energy-rated appliances, the carbon footprint of disposables might be quite close to the reusable variety. If you’re keen on green living, however, and you’re prepared to minimise your energy usage, you may find cloth nappies the better choice.
In the end, like most baby-related decisions, the type of nappy you choose is really up to you, and there are pluses and minuses to either option.
Which sort of nappies are you choosing, or have you chosen, for your baby? We’d love to know how you made your choice – come join the discussion on our Facebook page or in the comments section below!