Reusable vs. Disposable nappies... which to choose?

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It's all about the pants...

Over the last 4.5 months (plus 9 months of pregnancy) I have quite literally become an expert in nappies, diapers, pants or whatever you want to call the number 1 and 2 catchers. We have trialed reusable, disposable (of varying brands) and swimming pants (yes... there are pants for every experience.

The Disposable
These are the typical nappy that 'most' people will use at some point during the first 2 years of their child's life. These happy go luck nappies have a limited life span and can typically hold up to 12 hours of wee and 1 poo-nami/polsion (all being well).

The Pros of the disposable are in the name. They have a limited life, can do the job at hand and then be thrown in the 'black' (non recyclable) bin to create yet another land fill. They are relatively cheap per unit (6p-20p), come in sizable packs in varying sizes for good fit and absorbencies (from size 1 for newborn - to size 5 for potty training children).

Now the cons I've already touched on, they aren't very environmentally friendly. Even if you aren't the mother earth kind you might be interested to think more about the chemicals in these nappies which are coming into very close contact with your childrens' delicate skin. From personal experience my son experienced some light nappy rash in his first few days of disposables. My biggest bug bear of the disposable is simply the chemical smell when wet.

The types of disposable you can get vary largely. You have the standard 'Pampers' which many new parents opt for. A typical large pack of 76 (remember you will probably need 6-8 nappies a day) is £12, but are regularly on offer. Some of the supermarkets have their own brands which are recommended; Asda Little Stars and more recently Aldi Mamia which has won numerous awards over the last few years (size 1 - 24 for £1.49).

I believe disposables have a purpose. For me it is convenience; typically opting to use these for camping trips, visiting family, long days out... and swimming. Now yes, there are swimming nappies. Swimming nappies typically 'Huggies' or own brand are used under a catch all swim nappy to contain number 2's. They aren't particularly absorbent for a number 1 but that makes logical sense if they are always submerged in water, they need to have a limited absorbency. Now if you have a number 2 escape; this instantly resulted in pool evacuation and full clean up so it really is better to keep these at bay.

The Reusable
Now this is going back a little to the territory of many of our parents and the terry towels. Based on the same basis there are an updated version of these which come in a number of types from; 1) 2 part systems 2) All in One 

The 2 part system is a toweling basis and a waterproof top layer. These are considered 'bomb proof'. The All in One systems are a single nappy that has an already fixed water proof layer. Key brands to look out for are; Totsbots, Gnappies

Now these differ from the old terry toweling and huge nappy pin as they are shaped to fit your baby and use a mixture of applique (velcro) and poppers to remove any danger.

The pros are that there is little cost (following the initial outlay cost) as they can be washed in the washing machine for the cost of a 60 degree celcius cycle and a little washing powder ever 3-4 days. It is arguable that over 2.5 years before a child is potty trained you will save hundreds of pounds. Many people use EBay to sell on nappies meaning you can re-coop a large amount of the original cost once you've finished - or use them for any further babies. Many of the popular brands work on a one size fits all, with poppers to adjust and offer a simple day or night-time nappy making it very easy. Due to the differing overnight nappies, there is less need to change overnight. Mother Earth types will love the fact its very natural, no landfills etc are impacted as the parts are reused.

The cons; the initial outlay of a nappy can be pricey from new (£20 per unit, and you'll typically need 20-30 for a 3 day wash) depending on the brand but you can pick them up for half of the price on EBay. The washing can be a drawback for many. Its really simple that you just throw them in on a 60 degree wash. There is a storage drawback in that it is essential to have a lidded bucket to dry pale (i.e. store) the wet nappies. I've found they aren't quite as absorbent as disposables but i see this as a good point for potty training as a baby learns when to tell you they are wet very quickly.

So there you go, two key types of nappy. I'm a cloth bummer (i.e. reusable) in general but have a number of occasions I fall back to disposables.

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