Reusable Nappies: Do you love them?

To reuse? Or wrap ‘em up in the bin and chuck it. That is the question.

I have never used a reusable nappy in my life. So I’ve absolutely no expertise whatsoever  to share with you!

My mum used terry-towelling squares on all her babies. It wasn’t a choice. There wasn’t an alternative.

She said she spent the best part of ten years washing nappies and after I, being her last, grew out of them she put them away and kept them in some bottom drawer – for a grandchildren, I suppose, since she was of the wartime mend and make-do generation.

When I first became a mother, myself, the thought of nappy liners, fiddly pins and learning nappy folds seemed far too old-fashioned  and I dismissed her offer of tired looking 4th hand terry-squares with a certain wrinkle of the nose.  I wasn’t going to waste my time on such an antiquated system,  when there were fantastic, simple to use disposable nappies on every super-market shelf.

My mum, never wasteful, found a way to reuse the terry nappies I’d ditched with total disparagement. They were frugally re-made into bibs for my new baby!

I look back on the attitude I had with a significant amount of shame. Fourteen years ago I barely aware of the nappy-land-fill-issue; but with my next child (thinking he’d be my last) I was doubtful that switching to reusables would be money saving; and by the time I had the ‘accidental third’ reusables were becoming as simple to put on as disposables but I only vaguely knew one mum in all my circle who used them.

Had I known  I was going to have three children, or was having a baby now,  there is no doubt I would have picked the reusable route which were quickly becoming more innovative and simple to use each time I had another baby.

The day after you have cast your last disposable nappy into the bin you look back at the amount of money you’ve thrown away, not to mention that my weekly rubbish bag was suddenly half the size and a third the weight. It isn’t a good feeling.

Reusable nappy technology has undoubtedly come on in leaps and bounds in the last ten or 12 years and in seven years I’ve been coordinating the testing for the Mother & Baby Awards they have gone from ‘fringe’ to ‘mainstream’ in the consciousness of every new mum.

So to start the debate: What nappies do you love or love to hate? I’m handing over to my wonderful testing mums (and anyone else who wants to join in) who offer an expertise on nappies one and all that are second to none.

Here speaks an expert, perhaps in nappy gobbledegook for the initiated such as I, but perfect sense to those in the know, I’m hoping:

Reusable Nappies? Me, I love them!” says Vicki, “We’ve been using them since Arthur was home at about a week old and only use disposables at night and when we’re out and about.

We use Bimble nappies with a nappy nippa – a little gadget which my Dad thinks is a piece of genius and wishes was around 30 years ago as he reckons he stabbed himself and us hundreds of times with the nappy pins!  We went for those as they’re more adjustable round the waist than any with poppers or velcro which is just as well as Arthur is a long fairly thin baby and the tabs on the nappy overlap when we do them up!  They’re also birth to potty nappies so we don’t need to buy any more and came with a booster to go inside when he’s weeing more so they can absorb more…

We love them, they wash really well and weren’t too expensive to buy.  They’re fleece lined as well so soft on little man’s behind!  We use Tots Bots wrappers with them to keep his clothes dry as they have some really funky patterns and a huge range of adjustment.  When he was first born we used Imsey Vimsey wrappers that did the same thing with the same level of adjustment but no pattern.  They’re quite hard to get hold of though whilst Tots Bots are pretty much everywhere!

The one extra that I’ve recently discovered for them, which I love, is boots nappy liners – these little bits of fabricy-paper go into the nappy and catch any poop whilst letting the wee through which means poop is binned and makes the nappy bucket a little less stinky!  I know some people have successfully washed the wet ones and reused them but as our machine is 10+ years old I don’t fancy trying my luck. You also wouldn’t want to flush the liners, as I don’t think they’d do the plumbing any good.

I’ve mentioned a stinky nappy bucket – we dry pail them which means they go into an empty bucket with no liquid in it.  Some people wet pail them so that they soak in water and something like Nappisan before they’re washed.  As we do a load every other day it doesn’t get too whiffy although there’s definitely been a change in smell since he started weaning (sorry if TMI!) so I’ve started putting a piece of fleece in there with a few drops of lavender oil on it which keeps the smell down and is also a natural antibacterial.  The bucket is also lined with a mesh bag so all we do is pull the bag out and put it in the machine so we don’t have to pick up fistfuls of wee soaked nappies :o)  Biggest thing is don’t use fabric softener – it reduces how much the nappies can absorb!  And Vanish and drying them outside keeps them white whilst a quick blast in the tumbler means they’re fluffy (not something we do very often…) if you want them to be.

One final thing, having a baby with a reusable bum (as we call them) on means they’re a lot easier to hang on to as it does make their bum bigger, plus there’s a bit more padding for the inevitable crash landings whilst he’s learning to stand (as long as he lands on his bum!).”

Bex says:

“I have so far tested 4 lots of reusable nappies which has had interesting results.  The first I tested were the Bambino Mio reusable nappy system and although not my favourite type of reusable I was actually pleasantly surprised at how easy they were to use, unfortunately I have a heavy wetter so we had leaks.  I think these would be better for a younger baby, rather than a very active 16mth old.

The Hipphipp baby – real easy all in ones – I was very, very impressed!!!  They are so soft inside and out and my little man seemed very comfortable in them, we had one that leaked but then he had had it on for just over 2 hours.  I love the way these can be made smaller for a newborn baby as well.

The next to test were the Tots Bots S-T-R-E-T-C-H, now I am a great fan of Tots Bots but on inspecting these was a little worried that they would not fit my rather ample little boy. But I put one on him and it actually did stretch, I don’t think that I washed them enough though as they weren’t that absorbent (I think it said to wash them 10 times?  A little impractical really, maybe they should prewash a couple of times before dispatching).   I still like these though and hoping that they will become more absorbent as they are used and washed.  They are also nowhere near as bulky as my original cotton Tots Bots, which is nice, as I tend to have to buy his clothes a little bigger to accommodate reusables!

Then came Charlie Banana, oh my, they are THE cutest nappies I have seen, my little boy was so impressed that he even tried to put one on himself which was very sweet, again, not too bulky but am unsure of the disposable liner that comes with them.”

Kelly adds:

“I’m loving testing the reuseable nappies 🙂 I have received my Charlie Bananas today and so far I am finding them fantastic! The colours are really bright and funky, the fit is great and, even though I was too impatient to pre-wash one of them (I wanted to try it on straight away, while the others pre-washed it’s not had any leaks at all. Indiana seems to like them too!

Krystie’s take, “I’m glad I am testing One-Size reusable nappies. My 2.5yr old is almost out of nappies and once I got the deliveries of the Reusables I stopped buying ‘sposies. The day after I got the One Size BumGenius, Evie came down with a bout of the runs.

Yeah, nasty and as our bathroom is downstairs! I didn’t want to risk her making a mess in her room overnight.
So on went a One Size nappy. Covered Butt, Contained Poop, Clean Room, Happy Mum. Yeay for One Size nappies!”

I’d love to add your thoughts either with a comment or send me  photograph to add to the blog.

  • What’s your take on the best nappies to use?
  • Are you a Reusable, or Disposable, fan and why?
  • Reusables sound so complicated, so how do you work out what’s the best ones to use?
  • How many mums choose reusables? Do most of your friends use them or just one or two?

24 thoughts on “Reusable Nappies: Do you love them?

  1. I have used reusables on all 3 of my children, I still have 2 in them, i also tested them for the M+B awards one year when my oldest was small and loved them then!!! Some of those nappies are now on their 3rd child and doing well!!!
    With my daughter (8.5 months) we’ve also got into wool covers and she has some adorable wool shorts (ice-cream colours with frills on the bum), Skirts, trousers and soakers that go under skirts and stuff and just look adorable. It’s not itchy superwash wool either, it’s gorgeous hand died, 100% wool, all soft and snuggly, and does all the warm in winter cool in summer stuff too. She wears it to bed at night, we co-sleep and I know with wool and a tee shirt should she go in her (bedside) cot, she’ll remain snuggly warm, if she’s in with me, she won’t overheat!
    She’s my first girl after 2 boys and being a girlie kinda girl myself i get to indulge in all this GORGEOUS fluff that’s around, she has nappies with butterflies embroidered 0n, cheatta spots and hot pink drangonflies prints, oogga boogga prints in pinks and purples, love hearts you name it, all gorgeous and decedently girlie! I get to match her nappy to her outfit, or have it different and on show!
    What mother wouldn’t want their child to be a talking point at the baby groups? Everybody always comments on her gorgeous wool and nappies.

  2. I bought some resuables for my son when he was born 2 years ago and tbh didn’t rate them at all. They were so bulky, I know this could’ve just been the brand I used etc as all different but all the ones I looked at looked the same so went back to using disposables…. I’m a pampers girl through and through BUT last year got to test disposable nappies and wipes and my now favourite are tesco’s own brand, they fit perfect and absorb really well. Hoping only going to have another 6 months of nappies and he’ll be potty trained 😀

  3. We have always used disposables on our 2 boys and never tried the reusable ones. Most of the time we buy Tesco own brand nappies as they are just as good and half the price of Pampers etc. I have tried Pampers and Huggies when they send you money off vouchers. Huggies I found were shapped funny not very big or stretchy enough. Pampers were great fit well stretched well did the job but are just so expensive. Tesco are a perfect alternative to Pampers because when you get through so many cost is the biggest factor. I do wish someone would bring out a better pull up tho. My 3 yr old has pull ups at night and weve tried them all even the new Pampers pajama pants and they are all really big and bulky. I no it is only at night for him but I am the only one that thinks the pj pants are just like huge nappies.

  4. Yeay-re-usables every time here !! Wee beasties now aged 26,21,12,10 & 5 !! Terry squares with first two,then the washable market really got going with different shapes & sizes. We sent off for them from everywhere.Most still have to be purchased by mail order-grrrr !
    From Boots own brand all in one washables to Bumkins-which we loved-& finally settled on Bambino Mio squares & wraps in a multitude of designs.
    We never minded the rinsing/soaking/washing/drying,even going so far as to take them on camping holidays with us ! We could never see the point in lugging huge expensive bags of disposables home from the supermarket & clogging up the bin & landfill sites.
    Skip ahead a few years to a new grand-daughter. Our now 21 year olds first child. She’s in disposables despite her mums hopefully environmentally friendly upbringing & the fact that our loft is heaving under the weight of all those carefully saved washables !! Why ?? Because daughter & her partner are on a very low income & therefore thier electricity is on a card meter. The washing machine literally devours expensive power making it cheaper to buy supermarket disposables for their little treasure than to run a couple of extra loads a week !!! So….washables the domain of those with a higher disposable income (pardon the pun !) It does seem so. The initial outlay for a lot of lower income families is prohibitive, as is the laundering of the nappies. Add in winter drying costs if you tumble dry & the fact that they’re effortless to use,& it’s easy to see why disposables are so popular ! We do still use washables when they visit-disposables are still banned in this house 🙂

      • We are on a key meter, and use reusables on 2 children.
        The washing machine uses 2p a cycle. If their meter is using that much they are being billed wrong, or something is wrong with the machine.
        Get the electricity company to come and have a look or change to another supplier!

  5. As much as I love the idea of being mother earth and reusing as much as possible, the thought has passed my mind more than once; when I use my reusable nappies I have to do a load of washing everyday to keep on top of them. If the weather is bad I then need to put the heating on or use my tumble dryer to dry them. I need to use throw-away liners as William does the most amazing ‘parcels’ for me. I do all of this for the what exactly?
    My sister-in-law is the biggest champion of reusable nappies going, she says she ‘loves to use them’. That is great, I am really pleased for her. I, on the other hand have grown to loath the things and the nearly £300 they set us back (for 15 nappies and wraps in size 1 and 2). I hate the fact I invested so much money in them and I know I will never see the value added. I also hate the guilt of the in-law comments. Oh well, you live and learn!

      • That is a shame. We find it’s always good to recommend a trial pack or a few different ones to try so you can get a feel for them before all the ones you need. Chances are you’ll need a few different ones for different times, ages, situations, etc. Sorry it didn’t work out Louise.

  6. Our 13 week old twins are on reusables. We have tried a few different ones and have stuck with bambino mio ones. We had the mother care system now the wraps were fantastic but the nappies or liners themselves were rubbish, better of buying the wraps and using with another prefold liner such as bambino, the mothercare ones have raised edged which catches everything so no leaks. Also had tots bots aplix, didn’t like these either, felt the weren’t very absorbant, my newborns were soaking wet within 1 hour requiring full changes as they had leaked through the wraps ( the wraps are good though lol we have a few of these, just the nappies i found were rubbish). We have some sandy’s and motherease to try out when they are a bit older.
    We have had comments about the funky designs we have for the wraps and also about drying them so far we have found the bambino folds dry quite nicely overnight on a clothes horse so in winter it will be even quicker with the heating on. I’m so glad we decided to use these as with 13 week old twins i have saved already with them

  7. When I had my son (now 2 1/2) I was a pampers girl but then I had my little girl (now 15 months) and when she was approx 6 weeks old I worked out how much it was costing in nappies for both my kids and nearly passed out so I asked a friend about re-useables and she couldn’t praise them enough so looked into them and decided to get some to try them out. Well 14 months later and we now have a very healthy stash of funky nappies everything from the old style totbots bamboozles right upto some very pretty gro baby ones in bright red flowers. Yes I still used easy ups on my son upto a few weeks ago during the day but since he has potty trained we only use them during the night for the ease of “mummy toilet” screams around 11pm.

    Personally I would say reuseables are great yep I’ve bought some which were less then top marks but others are the backbone of my stash. Plus there is nothing cuter than seeing a bum wiggle past you with a dog and flappy ears on its bum in pink.

    I know the washing bit deters people from trying them but I do a load every other day, keep the used nappies in a net bag in a dry bucket. Hang them out if its dry or by the fire over night then if I want the fluffyness then tumble them for 10 mins to do the job.

    Alot of friends think I’m bonkers for using them and still prefer disposables but that is their choice and when they complain about how much money nappies cost these days I point out that mine paid for themselves months ago. I only wish I’d used them on my son as well rather than just looking at the price and thinking of the hassle with the washing etc how wrong could I of been.

    Oh well maybe if my partner lets me have another (which I doubt) I can use them again or just use them till they are thread bare on my daughter and her teddies at a later time. which reminds me I have seen some lovely new ones which have my name on them hehe

  8. What’s your take on the best nappies to use?

    We’ve tried nappy+wrap systems and pocket systems, and the pockets win out. They’re much less bulky than 2-parters, you can stuff them s much or as little as you need, they dry fast and there’s none of the fiddy tucking-in-all-round-the-legs business you have to make sure nappies are tucked into wraps.

    Are you a Reusable, or Disposable, fan and why?

    Both have their place. Undeniably, the average cloth nappy needs changing more often than a disp, and prolonged sitting (eg long car journeys or sat in the buggy for a long while) does make cloth more likely to leak, so I use disp for those situations. I’ve not found a pocket that can last the night for my son, and I can’t use 2-part on him as the elastic on the wraps irritates his legs, so he wears disp at night. My parents have him one day a week and don’t like changing him (he’s a wriggly 20 month old, I understand their reluctance!) so I put him in disposables that day, and and I’ll put him in disps for nursery too from Sept. Needs must, I’m not going to be a Luddite about it.

    I vastly prefer cloth though. I love it that if they poo in a nappy 2 mins after you’ve put it on that nappy isn’t wasted, it just gets washed; I love having everything I need to hand and not worrying about running out (as long as you keep on top of the washing); I love not contributing nappies to landfill; I love reducing the amount of chemicals that my son’s vital parts are exposed to; and lastly, cloth nappies are beautiful things and it feels so right to see him toodling around in them. I don’t use tissues, kitchen roll or disposable san-pro, all a result of using cloth nappies on my daughter eight years ago, instead using cloth alternatives, so disposable nappies go against the grain for me despite having their uses.

    Reusables sound so complicated, so how do you work out what’s the best ones to use?

    This is the downside with cloth as fit is a personal thing. The usual advice is to buy a variety of nappies second or third hand (there are plenty of selling forums) and try them out. Usually I advise a small size for a newborn as one-size are normally just far too big on them, but to go for a one-size from about 6 months.

  9. I’ve beent thinking about it.. shall I change over.. shall I stay with huggies. I think with the next baby I may give it a go. When I get a dirty nappy I just want to fling it straight into the bin not have to worry about the washing etc.. !

  10. I love my reusable nappies, I started off with what was around in the days, tots bots and soon moved onto the pocket nappies BumGenuius V3’s, in fact these still are my trusty nappies which make up the bulk of my nappies.
    It took a while to get used to the reusable nappies, and I stopped one my second was born, trying to breastfeed, sort out a toddler and deal with real nappies was hard, but we were soon back on them and had two in them.
    Now it comes as second nature to me and I couldn’t be with out them. I love the girls in pretty dresses to show off some of the gorgeous nappies I have.
    Sure I have spent £600 on the reusable nappies, but so far since just 1st April 2010 both of my girls have saved 1300 nappies from landfill, they have save more, this was just the first day they both went in them fully, day and night.
    So working out the costs of disposables (which do not look pretty) I am nearly at breakeven. So I will definitely get my monies worth, plus they have good re-sell value too!
    I run a successful forum with some other mummies, we have a cloth bum corner, and there are quite a lot of us there using cloth.
    To work out the right reusable to use, buy trial kits, samples, hire some or buy pre-loved/used nappies at cheaper prices, what works for one child doesn’t for the next.

  11. What’s your take on the best nappies to use?

    It really is personal choice but pocket nappies are the easiest to put on and dry quickly. Birth to potty are fab from an economical point of view but they are bulky on smaller babies.

    Are you a Reusable, or Disposable, fan and why?

    Reusable. Why put a pretty little girl in a pretty little dress and an ugly paper nappy. I just don’t get it! How can anyone with good concience put that much extra rubbish into the ground, not to mention the fact poo belongs in a sewer not the bin!

    Reusables sound so complicated, so how do you work out what’s the best ones to use?

    Reviews and forums are great but nothing beats being able to touch, feel and even try out some nappies. It’s why I started offering a hire pack of reusables to try.

    If you go to you can search for a nappy agent in your local area. They should be more than happy to visit you and show you a range of nappies no obligation.

    How many mums choose reusables? Do most of your friends use them or just one or two?

    50% of my NCT group use them and I’m working on coverting the rest!

    Seriously it’s more widespread than people realise.

  12. What’s your take on the best nappies to use?

    It really depends different babie suit different nappies but I use mainly pocket nappies they are the easiest to put on/off, fit perfectly, no faffing and dry really quickly. Most are birth to potty too, Dont need lots different sizes

    Are you a Reusable, or Disposable, fan and why?

    Reusable by far.. Cute, fluffy and saving money and enviroment!

    Reusables sound so complicated, so how do you work out what’s the best ones to use?

    Try find a local nappy meet and get to know all you can then buy a few different ones. Most councils offer incentive schemes so check that out too

    How many mums choose reusables? Do most of your friends use them or just one or two?

    I’ve got a few of my friends into them and once tried most people are hooked..

    Didn’t state what we use but I LOVE…

    Bumgenius V3
    Bumgenius AIO
    Bumgenius flips
    Itti bitti
    Issy bears
    Monk en bear
    Close pop in’s

  13. Now on my third child, I can’t believe how much things have moved on in just 7 years – with my first daughter, I realy wanted to use reusables and opted for a laundry service which was great, delivery every week of clean nappys, removal of stinky ones in return. Downside was that you had to store a weeks worth of stinky nappies before collection but to be honest once the bag was sealed, they really didn’t smell. I chose this as it was supposed to be the best for the environment ( the costs of the laundry is supposed to be minimised as they do so many in each load). However it really wasn’t best for our wallets at over £10 per week and they were really bulky, meaning that by 18 months, my lovely little girl needed clothes a size bigger to fit over the nappies. So, then my son arrived at that point and money was tight, we moved onto disposables and how I hated using them but by then, we had discovered Lidl’s own brand which are just fantastic and were often on offer so we’d stock up saving loads of £££’s.
    Fast forward 5 years and our second daughter has arrived. She was initially on disposables – out local shop only sold Pampers and I really hate the smell they make once they are wet ( this seems to be personal to me as everyone I know looks blank when I say this – maybe it’s the smell of hypocrisy!)
    So, an advert with my close sling promoted me to look at the pop ins and explore the latest reusables. I tried a pop in and tbh, found them a faf as you seemed to be washing more than you needed too. I also tried the Bumgenius Flip and my little girl now is the proud owner of a set of these lovely nappies which she wears most of the time. As she is small for her age and only 3 months, there is a bit of a gap round the legs and so, I don’t trust them yet at night ( tescos own disposable instead). They will last her 4 hours at a time, don’t leak and I only need to wash them every three days. We also dry pail using a cover of a lavender oil muslin and so have no smells yet ( expect weaning will change this) and best of all, they only cost £120 and should last her to potty training. I plan to continue with them when back at work but am being a bit more relaxed about disposables – sometimes, it is just easier to be able to throw it away ( the Flip disposable insert will be used when she’s bigger). Obviously drying them will be much harder in winter but we have a low energy electric towel rail that is on 24/7 and they will dry on this overnight ( yes, I’ve timed it!!)
    I love the fact that my little girl has a lovely fleecy cotton liner next to her, she’s doing hjer bit for the environment and we are saving money.

  14. I used disposables on my first son. I hated them and we were always running out. When my daughter was born just a year after him I decided there was no way I was buy double lots of disposables, and told hubby we’d be using terry squares. Then I went into mothercare and spotted their own ‘smart nappy’.
    here begun an obsession. I now have at least one of every type and brand, and I love love love them.

    The best things about them is I will get at least half of the money back when we go to sell them on, and 90% of the money back on the second hand ones. So when you do the maths, even if you spend £1000, you will get at least £500 if not alot more back. So cloth is ALWAYS cheaper.

    my husband is infact doing a documentary on them, which we are going to try and plug to channel 4 and other channels that like to run alternative type docus.

    wish us luck!

  15. Hi

    We used bum genius, which were really easy to use. Sometimes I had to soak them, or bleach them to keep them clean but the 5 we bought did us for a while. We used them whenever we were at home. The only criticism is that they said they’d do us until our boy was a toddler, but he grew out of them pretty fast. They also didn’t fit into some of his trousers – so we had to put him in a bigger sized pair due to the bulk!
    I would use them again though.

  16. I think I was about 8 weeks pregnant when I started buying cloth nappies for my third baby. I decided to give them a bash as I would soon have two in nappies with just 17 months between them. About 38 weeks pregnant it dawned on me I’d soon actually have to use them…..what had I done. Turned out what I had done was set off a chain of events that would see me move both my children to reusables, turn me into some crazy nappy geek/addict and inspire me to turn my own cloth nappy invention into a work at home mum business.
    Cloth nappies are fabulous. I find them to be more effective than disposables and my babies haven’t had sore bums unless they have been put back in a disposable for some reason. For some reason still unknown to me, the best nappies seem to be made by Australian mums! Itti Bitti, Issy Bear, Cushie Tushie and Monk n Bear all different and all firm favourites…and all Aussie brands! Mums clambering to get their hands on the latest version or print like it was the latest ‘It Bag’! I was sceptical before I started but now my only regret is that all of my kids weren’t in them from birth. Between the nappies and my cloth wipes I’m saving a small fortune. Easy to use, reliable, pretty and with the ability to make you feel warm and fuzzy about doing your little bit for the planet. Try them.

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