Disposable or reusable? That is the question new parents ask about their baby’s nappies. They both have their pros and cons, but disposables have taken the lime-light – time for reusables to make a come back?
Can you imagine 3,800 nappies in a heap, a big heap? On average, parents will change their child’s nappy between 3,800 and 5,000 times before they’re potty trained. That’s 30 months worth of disposable nappies, costing up to £700.
Buying a set of reusable nappies and using water, electricity and detergent to wash them for 30 months adds up to less than £500. You save even more if you are able to use the same set on your second child, or buy them second-hand.
Each year 2.5 billion nappies are dumped in landfill sites and space is rapidly running out. Supposedly, it takes a disposable nappy 500 years to breakdown – except we don’t know for certain as the first disposable nappy was sold in 1961.
But surely reusable or washable nappies aren’t as good as disposables? Actually, when we last tested nappies in 2007, we found that the top scoring reusables weren’t far behind our Best Buy disposables for performance and ease of use.
Technologically advanced reusable nappies
The traditional terry towelling and muslin nappies are still available, but they’ve been joined by nappies that are held together with poppers instead of pins.
There are reusable nappies with replaceable cores in pockets, like the ‘Wonderoo’. And then there’s the multi-layer ‘Motherease’ with an outer water-proof layer, a soft inner layer and ‘snap-in’ booster strips that can be added as a thin layer for daytime or a thicker layer for night.
Cotton has been joined by bamboo as a new, more ‘eco’ friendly material for making nappies – although bamboo tends to take longer to dry. A good alternative are fleece-like nappies that dry very quickly.
Are reusable nappies the best?
Financially and environmentally speaking, reusable nappies seem to be the best. Although, it’s not quite that ‘clean’ cut. It all depends on how the nappies are laundered. Save money and electricity by regularly washing them on a 40°C wash and only give them a hotter wash once every two months. Rather than popping them in your tumble dryer, hang them outside in the sun (the sun bleach stains will disappear). And definitely don’t iron them!
Sometimes disposables are more practical – it’s fairly tricky to continually use reusables. For example, reusable nappies can be impractical on holiday, where you don’t have access to a washing machine. Disposables are also more convenient, as it can be a struggle to bring up baby while washing nappies (nappy laundering services exist, but they can be expensive).
Convenience aside, disposable nappies can also be more pleasurable to use, once the dirty nappy is off, it’s straight into the bin, unlike the reusable nappy which will need far more attention before it graces your baby’s bottom.
So, do you go for disposable or reusable nappies? Or do you use a mix of both, such as reusable at home and disposable on the move?