Washable nappies

Please note the Cambridgeshire Reusable Nappies service is currently on hold due to Covid19.

Real nappies

Modern washable nappies are easy to use and easy to wash. They can save you hundreds of pounds compared with disposable nappies and can have a huge impact on the amount of waste your household throws out.

Where do you start?

There are so many choices, it can be hard to get started. This is intended as a ‘quick-start guide’ to de-mystify real nappies. You’ll need to get further information, but hopefully you’ll feel more confident about what you’re looking for.

Every little helps

First of all, it’s important to say that you can use real nappies ‘part-time’. Many families use washable nappies at home, and disposables when out and about, at nursery or at night time. Do what works for you. Switching just one nappy change per day to a washable nappy will save 365 disposables in a year.

Try before you buy

All babies are different, and all parents have different preferences. You may be able to borrow some different styles of nappy to try out before you buy, which will help you decide what works for you. Contact Cambridgeshire Reusable Nappies to enquire about borrowing a trial kit. Some nappy retailers also offer trial or hire kits. Friends or family who have used real nappies may also have some they could pass on or lend to you.

If you can’t borrow, aim to purchase one or two of a few different types of nappy to try out before you decide which to buy more of.

Types of nappy

There are many different brands, styles and complex-sounding names of real nappy, which can be overwhelming. However they mostly fit into the following categories, and you’ll see these terms used on retailers websites.

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Nappy type and example brands

What is it?

Pros

Cons

All-In-Ones (AIO):

For example, Tots Bots Easyfits, BumGenius Freetimes and Bambino Miosolos

The absorbent part (the nappy) and the outer waterproof layer (the wrap) are attached together, all in one piece.

Most similar to using a disposable.

Quick and easy to put on.

 

Tend to be most expensive.

Can take a long time to dry.

The wrap has to be washed every time, so can wear out.

 

Pocket:

For example, Close Parent Pop Ins, GroVia O.N.E’s and Tots Bots PeeNuts

A separate absorbent pad is inserted into a pocket in the wrap lining.

Can remove the absorbent pad to speed up drying.

Easy to put on.

Can wash wrap separately to reduce wear.

 

Can be fiddly to assemble.

Containment depends on getting a good fit.

 

 

Fitted or shaped:

For example, Little Lambs fitted nappies, Ellas House Bumhuggers, Tots Bots Bamboozles and  SnuggleBlanks Superwetters

The nappy, shaped like a disposable, is separate from the wrap.

Can wipe or rinse wrap if not dirty to minimise wear from washing.

Drying is quicker as wrap separate.

Good containment as 2 separate barriers; nappy and wrap.

 

Requires a bit more know-how to prevent leaks.

Takes longer to put on, as 2 parts.

Flat:

For example, Bambino Mio Soft (prefolds) and Bright Bots (terry squares)

A flat cloth square or rectangle is folded, with a separate wrap over the top

Cheapest type of nappy.

Fastest drying type of nappy.

Can fold differently to fit different shapes.

One size fits all, so lasts until potty training.

Can wipe or rinse wrap if not dirty to minimise wear from washing.

Requires a bit more know-how to prevent leaks.

Takes longer to put on, as 2 parts plus folds.

Need to use separate fasteners, as no poppers or Velcro.

Nappy glossary

Here are a few common terms explained.

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Term

Definition

Birth-to-potty system

A one size fits all or adjustable nappy, that your baby won’t grow out of, so can be used until they are potty-trained. This has obvious pros in terms of cost, but can sometimes mean a bulkier nappy.

Sized nappy system

In contrast to the above, you’ll need to buy a larger size when your baby grows out of the nappy.

Wetbag

A waterproof zipped bag to put wet or soiled nappies in when out and about. Can be turned out into the washing machine and washed with the nappies.

Booster

An extra absorbent pad added to the nappy for night time, older toddlers or long journeys.

Vest extender

An ingenious low-cost bit of cloth with poppers, which extends your baby’s vests (generally designed to fit over disposables) to fit over a bulkier cloth nappy. Also just extends the life of their clothes; win-win!

NappiNippa

Another ingenious modern contraption used in place of safety pins for fastening a flat nappy before adding the wrap. Made of rubber with little teeth which grip the fabric.

All-In-Two / Snap-In-One

Like an All-In-One, but the nappy part snaps in to the wrap with poppers, so can be separated.

Prefold

A type of flat nappy which has a thicker more absorbent panel sewn in. They are simple to fold (generally just by folding both edges towards the middle).

Wrap or outer

The waterproof cover which keeps moisture inside the nappy.

Washable wipes

Washable wipes are like mini flannels that you use instead of disposable baby wipes, then wash them with your real nappies. Even if you decide not to use real nappies, it’s worth giving these a go as they actually work much better than disposables. Baby wipes contain plastic and are a major source of pollution on beaches.

You can make cloth wipes from old towels, or many nappy brands sell them too, and you can find them on most nappy retailers (see below).

Cheeky wipes is a brand which specialises in cloth wipes and sells a range of different types.

Find out more

  • Cambridgeshire Reusable Nappies is the local volunteer organisation providing impartial information to parents about real nappies. Normally they offer in-person demonstrations and trial kits, but at the moment are providing email support, and have videos on their facebook page.
  • The Nappy Lady is an online nappy retailer which is currently offering booked video demonstrations, and has advice videos and recommendations on their website.
  • Fill Your Pants is an online nappy retailer which has advice online and provides personalised recommendations.
  • The Nappy Gurus is an online nappy retailer which has lots of video guides on their website.

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