Wealden District Council

Real Nappies - Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the issues that people often consider when deciding on washable nappies:

  1. Are Real Nappies complicated to use?
  2. How many Real Nappies do I need?
  3. Are Real Nappies affordable?
  4. How many Real Nappies do I need?
  5. How do you wash Real Nappies?
  6. Do they smell?
  7. Do they leak?
  8. How often should I change Real Nappies?
  9. Can I use Real Nappies at night?
  10. Can I use Real Nappies at night?
  11. Is it a problem that the inner is wet?
  12. Do Real Nappies cause nappy rash?
  13. Can/do nurseries and childminders use them?
  14. Are there laundry services available?
  15. My child is used to disposables, is it too late to convert?
  16. What about potty training?
  17. Where can I get second-hand nappies?

 Happy Real Nappy Baby

Are Real Nappies complicated to use?

Real Nappies have come a long way in the last 30 years. Using washable nappies is far easier than many parents believe. There is no soaking, fiddly folds or pins. Most cloth nappies now come with popper or Velcro fastenings. Use a liner and solids end up in the sewage system and not your machine, making it less messy too. And with many choices of both colour and print you can choose the nappy that co-ordinates nicely with your baby's outfit!

How many Real Nappies do I need?

Using Real Nappies from birth

18-24 nappies for a newborn means you have 8 clean nappies for that day and 16 in the wash, 4-5 waterproof wraps in each size.

Starting when your baby is over 7kg, around 6 months

15-20 nappies for about 5 changes a day and you can wash every third day, 4-5 waterproof wraps in each size.

If you use shaped, sized nappies you will normally need three sets - small, medium and large - as your baby grows. However if you use one size, birth-to-potty nappies, one set should be enough, although you may need a smaller set to start with.

Are Real Nappies affordable?

Yes! The costs will depend on the nappy type chosen; whether all-in-one or two-part systems, sized or one-size. All-in-one nappies are generally more expensive than separates; sized nappies are more expensive (overall) than one-size nappies.

However, you can kit your baby out with all the nappies they need from the high street for under £80 (the cheapest Real Nappy option), add £1 per week to wash them and you'll still save £500 compared to the market leading disposable nappy.

You might also want to consider buying your nappies second hand to reduce the cost even further.

How do you wash Real Nappies?

Store in a lidded bucket without water or soaking solution prior to washing (dry-pailing). Then straight into the washing machine and wash with a very small amount of detergent and NO softener (softeners coat the fibres and makes them less absorbent). Line drying will help the softness. They can be washed at 40 °C, although many people prefer a 60 °C wash. Paper liners that have not been soiled can be washed in the machine and reused several times. Remember you do not have to wash the waterproof wrap every single wash. Only if it is soiled.

Do they smell?

No. If you store the used nappies in a lidded bucket and wash every 2-3 days, there should be no problem.

Do they leak?

Not if you choose the right style and kind of nappy for your baby and make sure it is fitted correctly! Due to the added protection around the waist you might even find you get a better result with Real Nappies than disposables.

How often should I change Real Nappies?

Regularly, as with a disposable! In practice, this usually means every 3-4 hours or sooner if soiled. You might need to boost nappies or use the more absorbent types for a heavy wetter. Remember too that until you have pre-washed your nappies several times they will not absorb well, just like with new towels and tea towels etc. Fabric conditioner will also reduce the absorbency of nappies so should not be used.

Can I use Real Nappies at night?

Yes. Real nappies can work really well at night but you might need to boost your normal daytime nappies or use thicker ones at night. You can buy special booster pads, improvise with terries/pre-folds as extra padding or buy a couple of thicker nappies. There are some nappies that are specifically designed for use at night.

Is it a problem that the inner is wet?

This does bother some people and the thing that is most often quoted as the hardest thing to get used to if switching from disposable to washable nappies. Cloth nappies absorb wee without chemical gels therefore the material does get wet. This is normal and doesn't do the baby any harm, or cause nappy rash as long as the nappy is changed on a regular basis. Wee is sterile when it comes out; it is when it comes into contact with poo that the bacteria are activated. Hence, change your baby immediately you are aware of a poo, whatever type of nappy your baby is wearing. Nearly always, familiarity with using washable nappies sorts this problem.

Do Real Nappies cause nappy rash?

It is a common myth that Real Nappies cause nappy rash. Independent studies have shown that "the type of nappy used is not a significant factor in the incidence of nappy rash" (Getting to the Bottom of Nappy Rash, R. Philip, A. Hughs & J. Golding. British Journal of General Practice, August 1997; pp.493-497). The major causes of nappy rash were found to be infrequent nappy changing and ill heath of the child. The best thing to reduce the likelihood or severity of nappy rash is to follow a good nappy change routine and make sure you clean the entire nappy area thoroughly. Ensure that real nappies are fully rinsed to avoid any sensitivity caused by build-up of detergent.

Can/do nurseries and childminders use them?

Most childcare providers are familiar and more than happy to use washable nappies. It actually saves nurseries money as they won't have to pay to dispose of any clinical waste from your baby. Indeed, some nurseries in East Sussex have changed to using Real Nappies themselves! If your child carer is less familiar then give them a demonstration and leave them with a waterproof bag in which to store the dirty nappies for you ready to take home for washing.

Are there laundry services available?

Laundry services supply, deliver, collect and wash your nappies for you. Once a week all the used nappies are collected and a freshly laundered set delivered. They are washed to hospital disinfection standards and thoroughly rinsed to protect your baby's skin.

Cheekies are a cotton nappy laundering service covering the 'BN' postcode area of Sussex and offer a service in Eastbourne, Hailsham and surrounding villages. Please contact them for further details.

Telephone number: 01903 784291 or 07766 555019

My child is used to disposables, is it too late to convert?

It is never too late to convert to cloth and it will even help to potty train your child quicker, saving you even more money.

What about potty training?

Today children are potty training 6-12 months later than they did prior to disposable nappy use. Real Nappies have the added benefit that children are often potty trained months earlier, so reducing your financial costs. This is because disposables are sometimes too efficient. They can conceal dampness so the child doesn't form the mental link between passing urine and the uncomfortable sensation of a damp nappy. Real Nappies help to create this link which encourages progress to the next stage in toilet training.

Where can I get second-hand nappies?

The initial cost of purchasing real nappies can be quite expensive, although you won't be spending continuously as you would with disposables. There are a number of sites that specialise in selling second-hand real nappies, which are a much cheaper alternative. Listed below are some of these sites, which can help to make the changeover to cloth even easier.

It is also worth going to a local NCT sale, having a look in your local newspaper or trying one of the internet-based reuse sites such as; Freegle (external link) .