My Experience of Using Real Nappies: A Case Study
Liz has just started using reusable nappies for her daughter. She told GreenUsesForWaste about why she started using them and her experiences so far.
“We started using reusable nappies when Lois was three months old – she’s five months now. Initially, we had discounted using reusables as we are aware that there have been studies done which show the carbon footprint difference is not much different when you factor in the environmental cost of washing/drying etc. However, once we got started using disposables we became more concerned about the landfill implications, and having done a bit of research found that you can cut the carbon footprint of using reusables quite significantly if you don't tumble dry them and if you use them on a second child.
"One of my main concerns about shifting to reusables was whether they would perform as well as disposables - and they really do.
"We've not yet made the leap to reusables at night for Lois as we didn't want a wet nappy to disturb her sleep and as she still feeds (and therefore wees) during the night we didn't want to have to change her. You need to be strict about nappy changes with reusables- changing every 2.5-3 hours during the day and so at night we still use disposables. Once she starts sleeping through, though, we plan to have her in reusables at night too.
The cost of reusable nappies
"Another factor in our decision was cost - with disposables costing up to £6 a packet it mounts up, even when compared with the relatively large outlay for reusables.
"Prior to having Lois my husband and I had looked into the possibilities of reusables but had decided to opt for disposables at first and we did buy eco-disposables. When we switched the main reason was environmental but cost was also a big deciding factor. The savings made from the switch to washable wipes alone can cover the cost of a real nappy system.
"We were lucky in that we had been given some reusables in larger sizes, but these didn't fit Lois to start with so we bought various different nappy types to try and find what worked best for us in terms of size and ease of use/washing etc. They will definitely be cheaper in the long run. Some councils also offer incentives for people to buy real nappies as it saves the council huge landfill costs. We've bought some "pre-loved" nappies from ebay which has saved us money too.
Washing reusable nappies
"The nappies are surprisingly easy to wash. I basically have to do a nappy wash every other day - there's no need for soaking or boiling like our parents had to with real nappies. You just bung them in the machine on 60 with a small amount of detergent and that's it. We don't have a tumble drier so we've opted for faster drying fabrics for the nappies - cotton and microfleece. We also have some bamboo ones which take longer to dry but are more absorbent.
"To make up a full washing load we'll often stick sheets or towels in with the nappies to wash. We use a nappy sanitiser powder also in the wash which kills all the bugs.
"Now the weather's picking up it's great to hang out the nappies on the line - they look really cute plus sunlight acts as a natural bleaching agent to help shift any stains!
Tips on using reusable nappies
"My main tip for other parents would be to try a few different types of nappy to see what works for you and fits with your needs. There are some great websites which will give you advice on what to choose and most nappy companies offer trial packs. I've also found forums on parenting websites useful for asking questions about using reusable nappies from people with experience.
"One concern a lot of people have about reusables is nappy rash, we've had no problems with this at all and from what I've read there's no evidence to suggest that reusables are more likely to cause nappy rash than disposables."