1st February, 2005
Do you want the best for your baby, but don’t want to harm the environment? Then use reusable nappies. Contrary to popular belief, modern reusables are cheaper and more hygienic than disposables, and you won't have to spend hours cleaning them.Reusable nappies
'I don't use renewable nappies because…': '…They aren't as comfortable as disposables.'
If anything, they are more comfortable. Natural cotton and wool allow your baby's skin to breathe, preventing irritation. And because there are many different types and combinations of reusable nappies, you are more likely to find one best suited to your own baby's individual body shape and preference.
Disposable nappy manufacturers promote the fact that their nappies absorb more moisture. But a baby is not uncomfortable in a moist nappy. It is only when the nappy is left on too long that it will make the skin sore. In fact, there are two significant benefits to this feeling of moistness. First of all, the baby learns the basic sensations that will help it to potty train. Second, the carer knows whether the baby is drinking enough, which is incredibly important if your baby has a fever and is in danger of becoming dehydrated.
And finally, it's a myth that reusable nappies leak. If they fit properly, a reusable nappy is no more likely to leak than an average disposable. In fact, a well-fitting reusable will give even better protection than a disposable nappy.
'…They are difficult to use'
You can now buy renewable nappies that are shaped so you don't have to fold them.
Nappy pins have been replaced with Velcro, poppers and elasticated claw-like grips.
Most nappies, wraps and liners can be machine-washed at just 60° centigrade and tumble-dried. If you don't have a tumble dryer, nappies, liners and wraps can be line-dried. If it's raining, a clothes horse, airing cupboard or radiator will do.
In essence, there are two types of reusable nappy: two-part nappies that consist of a nappy and a waterproof wrap to go over it; and all-in-ones consisting of a cloth nappy with a waterproof wrap attached. The latter look similar to disposable nappies, are easier to put on than two-part nappies, but take longer to dry after washing as they are more bulky. Inside each of the two types of real nappy a reusable nappy liner is inserted; these are made from fleece or silk (for sensitive skin).
'…I haven't got time for all the washing'
Once soiled, nappies should be stored in an air-tight nappy bin (costing just a few pounds). This also keeps your house from smelling of used nappies. You can then wash the nappies every second or third day, depending on how many you buy.
The only extra time involved is the few moments each week it takes you to load your washing machine, and just a few more to hang nappies out or put them in the dryer or on the line. And you actually save time by not having to go to the shops all the time to buy more nappies. Or you can send them away to be washed...
If you're not up to the extra washing, you can use a nappy laundry service. At an average cost of £8.50 a week, this is a door-to-door service that will pick up dirty nappies and deliver clean, fresh substitutes. For your nearest reusable nappy laundering service, see http://www.nappyline.com/
'…They need changing more often’
Regardless of whether you are using washables or disposables young babies need to be changed frequently as their skin is very sensitive to prolonged contact with faeces, urine, creams and powders. Paediatricians recommend new babies be changed 10-12 times a day and older babies six times. A good-quality cotton nappy should only need changing every four hours during the day and 10 to 12 hours at night if your baby sleeps through.
'So they are cheaper and easy to use. But why else should I use them?'
1 To protect your baby's health
Disposable nappies contain super-absorbent gel, the effects of which on baby's skin and genitalia have yet to be researched.
Disposable nappies contain up to 200 chemicals. It is still unknown how many are absorbed through a baby's skin.