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Choosing nappies: reusable or disposable?

Sarah Horrocks
by Sarah Horrocks Published on 9 July 2008
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Should you go for disposable or re-usable nappies? Here's our guide to choosing which type of nappy to use.

A baby's nappy needs changing on average 6 to 7 times a day until potting training begins around the age of 2. That's a lot of nappies! Choose which type to use wisely!

Eco-friendly?

Disposable nappies take 500 years to decompose and are a massive source of pollution, mainly because of the chemical products used to increase their absorbability. So washable nappies, especially organic cotton ones made with natural materials, can be a smart option. However, to clean them you'll need to use a washing machine which also uses up a lot of energy. An interesting compromise for environmentally conscious parents is biodegradable disposable nappies, but these are more expensive than the rest.

Cost-effective?

Reusable nappies are clear winners when it comes to cost, even if the initial investment is greater. By the time baby is 3, washable nappies will have cost around 60% less than disposable nappies (close to £400) but you need to anticipate an investment of around £150 in reusable nappies to start with.

Disposable nappies

Disposable nappy brands fight like cat and dog for your money, and it has to be said: they usually keep their promises to keep baby dry. Choose nappies for your baby's weight to get a good fit. For maximum comfort, opt for patented hypoallergenic nappies and choose the thinnest, most adjustable ones.

Reusable nappies

A quick look on the internet will show you the multitude of choices out there. Reusable nappies generally consist of a cotton panty to keep it in place, with extendable bands to fit the baby, then an absorbent layer and paper for number twos. When you change baby, you need to throw away the absorbent paper if it has been used, if not then you can wash it two or three times in a machine, then wash the wet nappy and air the impermeable panty until the next change.

Good to know:
- You'll need to wash a machine-full every two or three days.
- A nappy does not absorb best until it’s been washed 2 or 3 times.

by Sarah Horrocks

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