How many nappies do I need? This depends on how often you wash, type of fabric of nappy and drying facilities.
- If using a two-part nappy with the absorbent part separate to the water proof layer, you may need 15-20 nappies and about 4 wraps. You don't need to machine wash the wrap every time, just if it is soiled. You can rinse a merely wet wrap, and it will dry over the back of a chair in a couple of hours. You will need more wraps if using a prefold system as they get more soiled.
- With an all-in-one where the waterproof is attached to the absorbent section possibly with an additional pad for added absorbency you may need 15-20.
- It is better to start off with a few less than you think to allow you the room to buy more, than to buy too many and have spent money unnecessarily. It is also wise to have different nappies of different styles and fabrics to suit different occasions, i.e. thick bulky nappies for night-time and thinner neater ones for day wear.
- You'll need more in early days than after weaning
- Either a machine load plus enough to keep you going until they are dry, or - rinse-cycle a few dirty nappies and then add other washing before putting on the wash cycle to fill the load.
- If you are going to do a wash every day you will need less nappies (say 15), and if you are going to save up the dirty nappies until your bucket is full, and do a wash every 2 days you will need more (say 20).
- Buying real nappies and washing them at home costs from £182.50 to £359
- Buying disposable nappies costs from £615.16 to £922.74
- Stored in a lidded bucket without water or soaking solution prior to washing (dry-pailing).
- Then straight into the washing machine, washed with a very small amount of detergent and NO softener (softeners coat the fibres and makes them less absorbent). Line drying will help the softness.
- They can be washed at 40 degrees, although many people prefer a 60 degree wash. Paper liners that have not been soiled can be washed in the machine and reused several times.
- Absorbency. You can do this with extra boosters in your normal nappy or go for a specialist nappy. Both will be bulkier but for night time no-one will see! Lighter weight nappies such as fleece are a good idea to try too as they don't get so weighted down when full. Stuffables / pocket nappies allow you to easily add extra absorbent layers - try using bamboo squares as a pad.
- Stay-dry layer. Look for a nappy that has a good coverage from the fleece lining as more of the nappy will get soaked through.
- Breathable wrap? Some people prefer a fleece or wool wrap allowing breathability as the waterproof ones can 'sweat' a little. But any wrap must fit well around the legs and waist to avoid leakage.
How often do I need to change a Real Nappy?Regularly, as with a disposable! In practice, this usually means every 2-3 hours or sooner if soiled. Newborns may need changing up to 12 times a day, which can be quite a challenge in terms of having enough nappies! Sometimes, with heavy wetters, you might need to boost nappies/use the more absorbent types. Remember too that until you have pre-washed your nappies several times they will not absorb well, just like with new towels and tea towels etc. Fabric conditioner will also reduce the absorbency of nappies so should not be used. Finally, there will come a point where some nappies wear out - in practice this is only likely to happen if you have inherited some old nappies or have bought second-hand nappies which turn out to be rather well-worn.
Do Real Nappies work at night?Real nappies can work really well at night but you might need to boost your normal daytime nappies or use thicker ones at night. Initially, with small babies, this won’t really be an issue if they are waking regularly for feeds and nappy changes anyway. As children get older and sleep for longer periods they need nappies that absorb more. You can buy special booster pads, improvise with terries/prefolds as extra padding or buy a couple of thicker nappies. There are some nappies that are specifically designed for use at night. Some parents like to use breathable fleece or wool wraps/covers over night nappies as they let a little moisture evaporate and may be more comfortable for baby when his/her nappy is not going to be changed until morning.
Are Real Nappies really environmentally-friendly?All nappies, disposable and cloth, have an impact on the environment. Disposables are a single use item which cause a major problem when they need to be disposed of. Real nappies can be used over and over again and avoid the landfill problem. Please see below for suggestions as to how to minimise the impact of using real nappies:-
- use washable liners & wipes to reduce waste further
- wash nappies at 60ºC and wraps at 40ºC to 60ºC - do not boil wash
- use A-rated appliances to reduce energy and water consumption
- use more environmentally-friendly washing powders, soaking solutions etc
- don't use fabric conditioner - it is unnecessary and it reduces absorbency
- use real nappies for more than one child
- buy second hand nappies where possible
- use organic (non-bleached) products and/or those made from materials like hemp which require less pesticide use than conventional cotton
- don't iron nappies!
- try potty training early - from around two years of age! There is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence of cloth-nappy wearing children being potty-trained earlier than their disposable-wearing counterparts
- recycle your washable nappies once you have finished with them - you can pass them on to a friend, sell them second hand and if they are past selling/handing down, they can often be sent overseas in collections by organisations for disaster relief. The final option, for really worn out/stained items, is the clothing/rag bank at your local recycling centre.