A personal guide for switching to reusable nappies.

“We throw away eight million single use nappies every day in the UK – over 3 billion a year. As a single use nappy rots, it releases more of those dioxins and bleaching chemicals, as well as its contents; and methane, one of the most worrying greenhouse gases.” (Source: babaandboo.com)

On top of that, it takes 500 years for one nappy to decompose in landfill. 500 years! Around seven million trees are cut down in the UK every year just to make the pulp for single use nappies and it takes a cup of crude oil to make ONE single use nappy. And we haven’t even mentioned the single use plastic nappy bags we pop used nappies into either. Have I got your attention?

This isn’t a post to make anyone feel guilty about using disposable nappies, it’s merely to share my experience and to reassure you that it’s not as labour intensive as you may think. I never used them with my first two children. I just didn’t think they’d be a convenient option and had visions of having to do what my Mum did, when I was a baby; hand washing and boiling Terry towelling nappies in a saucepan! This is a post to tell you that fortunately this is not the case at all.

Why I made the switch

So, why did I decide to switch from disposable to reusable with Willow? I read those stats above and it genuinely hit me hard. I’m on Facebook and see the videos with animals and sea life impacted by our crap, on land and in the oceans. It’s hard to ignore. I’m no eco warrior but I definitely wanted to feel like I was at least doing my bit – however small.

The first thing I did was switch to reusable cotton pads. I was using 4 disposable cotton pads a day and now I don’t use any. These replacements are fab and NO extra effort at all. I also switched to this soap instead of shower gel! Bye bye plastic bottles – hello luxuriously foamy soap! Again, no extra effort.

So how about the switch from disposable to reusable nappies? I’m not going to pretend that it’s no extra effort – especially when your little chunk of love does a little chunk of something nasty in their nappy! Honestly, there is no denying that it is literally shit when that happens! But you know what, it’s over pretty quickly and I just remind myself that I am doing my bit for the sake of all three of my kids and their future on the planet.

I’m going to take you through the pros and cons of the two different types of reusable nappies I use, because it is an absolute minefield choosing which nappies to go with! All-in-one? All-in-two? Nappy liners required? Mind blown! I’ll also take you through what you need to get going, tips on what to pack in a changing bag and most importantly, what to do when the shit hits the fan – quite literally!

reusable nappies
reusable nappy
reusables

The nappies

The two nappies that I use are:

1 Tickle Tots reusable nappy

2 B.I.G. by Bubblebubs with the Keeper Onesize wrap by Petite Crown on the outside

Review: Tickle Tots reusable nappy (as pictured above)

Pros:

  • Super convenient
  • Easier to pack into a changing bag and use when out and about
  • Easier for others to use if they are looking after your little one; it comes in three pieces, you pop them together and they are ready to go
  • Not bulky to wear
  • Easily adjustable with the velcro fastenings
  • Easier to wash out when little one does a poop
  • Dry quickly when hung out to dry

Cons:

  • Not as absorbent, even with both boosters in
  • Personally, I feel I need to change the outer shell every time (though that doesn’t matter as every outer shell comes with both boosters)
  • A little tight around the thighs but my little one does have particularly generous thighs
  • Not sure we’ll be able to use up until potty training as they are getting a bit tight

Review: B.I.G. by Bubblebubs with the Keeper Onesize wrap by Petite Crown on the outside

Pros:

  • Super absorbent
  • Super soft and comfy
  • Better for bedtime
  • If little one has just done a wee, you can use the outer wrap more than once
  • The outer wrap options are so pretty
  • Will be able to use them until we potty train – lots of room for adjustments

Cons:

  • A bit more faff to put on if you’re out and about
  • Not straightforward to use if someone else is looking after little one
  • You also need to buy Nappi Nippas to secure the nappies and you’ll need to buy more than you need as the grippy bit comes off easily and I never seem to be able to find them once broken off
  • You’ll also need to buy nappy liners – I bought these fleece liners and I am really pleased with them
  • Bulkier for little one to wear
  • A lot to clean up if little one does a poop
  • They take longer to dry but that’s because they’re super absorbent

With both of them, the smell can linger in the outer wraps, so I use this gem of an eco friendly Potty Spray to spritz on the outer wraps while they are drying.

The verdict?

I am happy that I have both types for all of the pros mentioned above. When we’re popping out (remember when you could?) or Willow goes to my Mother-in-laws, I chuck in the Tickle Tots nappies into the changing bag, but the Bubblebubs will last until she’s potty trained.

One thing you do need to consider is that they are bulky. Willow can’t wear some of her jeans and trousers with the reusable nappies, so if you are going down this route, definitely size up with their more fitting clothes – or scrap jeans altogether! Stick to leggings and joggers!

Accessories

Of course, if you’re starting on this journey, it’s not just the nappies you need! There’s the laundry bin! This Junior Joy one is great value and does a remarkable job of keeping the smell in and you can open it one-handed. I also switched to reusable wipes – much kinder on baby’s bottom too! I love these Cheeky Wipes! Great value and we use them over and over again. I bought the container too. I add a few drops of lavender essential oil in the container with the water.

Travel

It’s much easier than you think! I have this cute Tickle Tots Wet Bag to pop dirty nappies into. The best part is that the mesh liner zips out and and goes straight into the washing machine. There’s also a separate zipped pocket for dry nappies. Same with the Cheeky Wipes Mucky Wipes bag. I grab a handful of wipes out of the tub, chuck them into a waterproof bag and once I’ve used them, pop the dirty ones into the Mucky Wipes bag. Get home, unzip both bags, chuck them into your nappy laundry bin. Easy peasy! You also need far less of the reusable wipes each time than you do of the disposable ones.

Tickle tots wet bag

The Shit Bit

Urgh! It really is the worst part. I mean let’s face it. You can’t predict what it’s going to be like, can you? The truth is that it doesn’t just roll off into the toilet – it sticks and spreads…and it stinks! Just keep telling yourself that it’s one less nappy into landfill – you are doing your bit! Haha! I keep a mini spatula in the bathroom. I unravel the nappy, hold it over the loo and use the spatula to clear as much as I can down the loo. Then I rinse out each individual part of the nappy and the reusable wipes in the sink before popping them in the laundry bin. I obviously spray down the sink with disinfectant and wash my hands thoroughly. Honestly, it’s not that bad 😉

Washing

Obviously, reusable means more laundry = more use of the washing machine = more energy use + detergent. I do empty the nappy laundry bin into the washing machine every evening, once Willow is in bed. As it’s only a small load I wash them on a 30 minute 40 degree cycle (it’s recommended that you use 60 degrees if your baby is 3 months or under) using a natural detergent. No fabric softener as this can make them less absorbent. I then hang to dry overnight. I have popped them in the tumble dryer a couple of times, if I’ve forgotten to put the laundry in the night before, but keeping in mind that I made the switch to be more environmentally conscious, I try to use the tumble dryer as little as possible.

Costs

In total, I have 6 full sets (3 of each) plus 2 extra bubblebums and a box of fleece liners, and for me, this is enough. You’d probably need more if you are starting from newborn. I spent a total of £230 on everything. Given we were spending £50 a month on nappies, they’ve more than paid for themselves. My only regret is that I didn’t start sooner! But even if I broke even, it’s worth it when I think of the number of nappies we are saving from landfill!

Over to you

I hope this goes some way to show you that reusable really isn’t the faff the generation before us remembers and had to deal with. I’ve actually come to enjoy the process and do not miss the smell of dirty nappies in plastic bags! If you have more than one little one in nappies, making the change could feel really overwhelming; so maybe you could start by using just one a day or choosing to use at the weekend? Even just using one reusable a day would be 365 nappies that don’t go to landfill. Every little really helps! 🙂

Reusable nappies

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Huge thanks to Nicki for writing our guest blog all about her experience of switching to reusable nappies, we hope you find it helpful if you’re contemplating making the change but aren’t sure where to start! Nicki is an experienced PT and has three children, she lives in the Cotswolds and runs a PT business Fit Inside Out. Nicki specialises in women’s fitness and has been offering online classes throughout lockdown, you can find out more about these here. She’s a pregnancy and postpartum specialist and teaches strength training. You can also find her over on Instagram to find out more about her and what she offers her clients.

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