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decoding nappies: the best nappies for you and your baby

Let's talk about the 1980's... The hair was big, shoulder pads were even bigger and new (sometimes romantic) parents still required a degree in origami to fasten their baby's nappy. Fast-forward thirty years, and using nappies has never been easier thanks to an array of fits, fabrics and fastenings. Choosing the right nappy, however, has never been more daunting! Your new arrival will be filling those early nappies up to twelve times a day, after all. So if you don’t know your disposables from your reusables, here’s a handy guide to help you get to the bottom of the big nappy debate.

best nappies for you and your baby - reusable or disposable nappies?

what you need to know about disposable nappies


Since the first model was mocked-up from parachute fabric in the 1940's, disposable nappies have been flying off the shelves. Readily available in supermarkets at penny-saving prices, they keep bottoms bone dry thanks to super-absorbent gels and come with wetness indicators to alert parents to leaks. Ranging from size 1 for newborns to size 6 for toddlers, disposables are sized by weight rather than age. Some also feature + symbols on packaging to indicate added absorbency. Once they reach potty training age, usually around 18 -24 months, it's time for pull-ups. With stretchy fabrics and perforated sides that simply tear away, perfect for poonamis that need to be disposed of post-haste!

throwing away used nappies


Most disposables come with a sticky strip on the back so that you can roll the nappy up and secure it neatly for hygienic disposal. When it comes to nappy duties, try to leave a few minutes in-between changes as there may be more to come... And always ensure your little boy's equipment is pointing downwards or covered with a muslin cloth to avoid unwanted showers!

NOTE: Nappies and baby wipes should NEVER be flushed down the toilet, as they may clog up your toilet or local drainage system.

what you need to know about reusable nappies


Reusable nappies are now back in fashion thanks to their eco-friendly credentials. The different varieties may take a little while to wrap one's head around, but are better for the environment and have never been easier to use! Simply throw into the washing machine with the weekly wash, and leave to dry. Reusables come in an array of colourful prints and are crafted from breathable fabrics such as hemp and bamboo that are free from chemicals. Though more expensive than disposables in the short-term – you'll need to invest in wraps, liners, booster pads and inserts to customise the size and absorbency of the nappy. They will work out cheaper in the long-term, particularly if passed down to a sibling. Nappies and wraps are available in individual sizes or can be bought in one-size-fits-all to see little bottoms through to potty training.

a reusable nappy with liner

We’ve unwrapped the three main types of reusable nappy so that you don’t have to...

all in one and pocket nappies


All-in-ones feature simple Velcro and popper fastenings, with a waterproof layer and integrated absorbent insert meaning no extra boosters or wraps (a waterproof cover that is placed over the nappy). Pocket nappies also have an integrated absorbent lining to keep bottoms dry and can be customised with removable inserts for added absorbency.

unwrapped...

...great for novice nappy changers, but take longer to dry thanks to integrated layers.

flat nappies – terry and muslin squares, prefolds


Many of us would have worn these as babies, each of which requires a wrap. Terry and muslin squares are ideal for younger babies and fasten with a snappy – a plastic safety pin. Prefolds are flat pieces of fabric that are folded into thirds, topped off with a disposable liner and popped inside a wrap – as simple as that!

unwrapped...

...the least expensive and quickest drying of the reusable nappies.

fitted nappies


Featuring elasticated waists and legs for a snug fit, similar to disposables and complete with Velcro or popper fastenings. Fitted nappies require a wrap over the top, and often come with booster layers to increase absorbency, although these may need to be bought separately.

unwrapped...

...super absorbent for leak-free nights, but do take longer to dry.

the bottom line...


Phew, that's a wrap! Who knew choosing the right nappy could be such hard work?! Much like parenting, finding the right nappy comes down to a little trial and a lot of error! A popular compromise is to mix and match, choosing reusable nappies during the day and disposable nappies at night. Ultimately, you must opt for whichever nappy makes the roller coaster ride you’re about to embark on less terrifying! Oh, and one more thing before you go - enjoy! Yes, really! No matter how smelly, explosive or baffling the contents of all those nappies, they won’t last forever – thank goodness!

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