When you are expecting a baby, life can turn into a seemingly endless list of crucial decisions. Thankfully, more and more of us are trying to make choices that are environmentally conscious, and one of those choices concerns the most basic of all baby items: the nappy. So, if you are torn between using disposable or reusable (sometimes referred to as cloth nappies or washable nappies), then stay right here. We have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of reusable and disposable nappies and compared the two in terms of convenience, skin tolerance, cost and environmental impact.
The convenience offered by disposable nappies is obvious as they don’t require any washing. This ease of use is the main reason why many parents prefer this option. But are reusable nappies really as difficult to use as people think? The truth is, they have come a long way.
Reusables can take a bit of practice at the very beginning, but a lot of parents who try them find them completely manageable. Have a look at online forums and social media and you will find that there is a lively cloth community out there to find advice on what types of cloth nappies other mums prefer and why.
Once used, washable nappies are usually placed in nappy bins until laundry day. If your baby is on solid foods, any poo is lifted out via the nappy liner and flushed down the toilet before putting the nappy away for washing. Some parents line their nappy bin (a simple bucket with a sealable lid to eliminate odours) with a big wet or mesh bag instead of a disposable liner to minimise mess. This means you will be able to wash the bag along with its contents.
When out and about, a wet bag is indispensable; it will make it super easy to bring your baby’s business back home.
Once baby moves on to solid foods, most mums also like to use disposable nappy liners to neatly catch the poop and flush it down the toilet.
Reusable nappies are a safe choice for babies with skin sensitivities. They might require more frequent changing but you can add boosters to increase their absorbency and prolong wear between washes. Ours are slimline, super thirsty and 100% plant based. Many disposables available on the market however contain chemicals that can irritate the skin, cause sensitivity, allergies and even eczema. Here at Kit & Kin, we always knew we wanted to change this. When we created our disposable nappies, it was extremely important to us to eliminate those chemicals and make environmentally friendly disposable nappies that you can trust to protect your baby’s skin. That’s why the majority of our nappy is from plant-based materials derived from sugar cane and it features a part natural absorbent core.
Photo credit: @mybeautifulnowphotography
The main reason why you are comparing reusable and disposable nappies is probably because you want to be as kind as possible to the planet as a new parent. So, are reusable nappies more eco-friendly? And do environmentally friendly disposable nappies exist? Anything we consume has an environmental impact, so our choices are really important. We want to help you keep your nappy footprint to a minimum.
The fact that they can be reused for many years and even on multiple children makes them an incredibly eco-conscious choice. While they will of course require water and energy to be produced and to keep them smelling like roses, the following tips will help you keep your dirty laundry as green as possible:
- Always wash them on a full load, on either 30 or 40 degrees when possible.
- Line dry.
- Use an energy efficient washing machine.
- Using the nappies on a second (or third) child drastically reduces emissions linked to production.
- If you are concerned about your cloth nappies releasing microfibres when being washed, make sure you choose natural fibres rather than synthetics. The core of the Kit & Kin reusable nappy is made entirely with soft, plant-based fabrics. Hemp and Tencel, a material derived from sustainable tree pulp, are kind on your baby’s skin and up to 50% more absorbent than cotton. This unique blend makes our nappy not only particularly thirsty but also especially eco.
You can find our reusable nappies here.
While it is true that even plant-based disposable nappies end up in landfill, changing this is a long-term effort and a change that we all need to fight for as consumers. We would encourage you to contact your council to ask for better ways to dispose of plant-based products. In order to find a truly eco disposable nappy, you can look out for:
- A carbon-neutral production process
- Plant-based materials against baby’s skin
- No chlorine or other nasty chemicals
- Keep it simple – non-essential nappy features such as wetness indicators contain plastic and chemicals
- Bio-based absorbent core and FSC certified wood pulp
All of these features and more make our nappy the most accredited eco disposable on the market.
If you are a first-time mum researching both disposable and reusable nappies, you are probably asking yourself one of life’s great questions: How much will my baby’s ‘business’ cost me?
According to the Environment Agency, 95% of children are out of nappies during the day by the age of 2 and a half years. So, how many nappies will your little one actually go through in the meantime?
The answer of course depends hugely on the child and parents. Our experience has shown us that you will require around 6 nappies per day. Single use nappies do not require any washing, but you will need to factor in nappy sacks.
So, how do reusable nappies compare financially? Besides convenience, the big up-front cost is the main reason why parents shy away from reusable nappies. Is this a justified concern? Yes and no. You only need about 12 nappies to get you started. Around 20 nappies plus some additional boosters will comfortably see your baby’s bum through to potty training whilst ensuring you get a full load of nappies on laundry day.
Speaking of laundry day, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that a 90° wash will set you back about 30p. We would recommend washing at much lower temperatures when possible, which would decrease the cost of washing. Even if you factor in disposable liners for when baby is a little bit older, the ‘running costs’ of washable nappies are comparatively low.
While reusables undoubtedly mean a higher upfront cost than single-use nappies, they begin to pay for themselves the longer you use them. This is especially true if they are used on more than one child. You can also bundle up to benefit from discounts.
Combining both reusables and disposables at night or when out and about means spending approximately the same as parents who purely purchase single-use nappies.
Now that we’ve had a look at the advantages and disadvantages of reusable nappies and disposables, which option do you prefer? If you still can’t completely make your mind up, don’t worry! You’re not alone! Combining disposable and reusable nappies is what works for a lot of environmentally conscious parents. Reusables are a great option when at home, while disposables are often preferred during the night or when out and about. Our customisable nappy subscription allows for this flexibility. Ultimately, the answer is simple: Do what feels right for your family.