Disposable nappy manufacturer's use so many different chemicals to
make them absorbent, whilst still remaining thin. When using cloth
nappies you are guaranteed not to expose these chemicals to your
Some of the chemicals found in disposables are as follows:
TriButylTin - otherwise known as TBT was found in disposable nappies
by the Women's Environmental Network (WEN) and Greenpeace. WEN found
levels of 3.6 times the recommended level. TBT can be absorbed by your
baby's skin and is a toxic chemical, which is a known endocrine disruptor.
It is known that TBT causes sex changes to occur in shell fish.
TBT is found in the plastic of the disposable nappy.
Sodium Polyacrylate is a super absorber. This chemical was considered to
contribute to Toxic Shock Syndrome and the use of it in tampons was
banned in 1985. Sodium Polyacrylate gives the illusion that your
baby's skin is dry and actually it isn't. Sodium Polyacrylate when
found in a disposable nappy looks like small crystals. Anyone who
has used disposable nappies, know that as the nappy gets wet it
expands and turns to a gel like substance. Sometimes this can leak
from the nappy onto your baby's skin.
As disposable nappies have only been around since the late 1970's and
early 1980's, there has not been any long term studies on all the
chemicals found in the disposable nappy. A German study back in
2000 found that disposable nappies increased the scrotal temperature
of boys, and whilst new born baby boys testicles are still developing,
this is a major concern. Increased scrotal temperature is known to be
associated with infertility in men. The German study also examined
fertility rates in Men. The research found that the average sperm
count in these men had decreased by some 25% and showed that the
number of men being treated in fertility clinics has increased over
the last 30 years.
How practical are real nappies?
- Modern real nappies are really practical and offer parents a real choice.
- Most real nappies consist of a soft, absorbent nappy, liners and waterproof, breathable covers (also known as wraps).
- New designs fit snugly and nappy pins are no longer needed as Velcro and popper fastenings are quick and easy to use.
- Real nappies are available in over 30 different types and patterns.
- Made of lightweight, fluffy materials, usually cotton or wool making them easy to wash and dry.
What are my real nappy options?
- There is a growing range of funky products available.
- There are 3 main types of real nappies:
Flat nappies, such as the traditional terry square, need to be folded,
secured with a plastic fastening and covered with a wrap. There are
also pre-folds which are flat rectangular multi-layers of cotton.
These are used by most laundry services. Prices start at a very
The shaped nappy is designed to fit your baby snugly and some sizes
go from birth to potty. They require an outer wrap and prices start
from around £8.00 each.
All-in-ones include a cotton liner and a waterproof cover with fastenings,
starting from around £10 each.
What do I need to get started?
- All you need is nappies, liners and wraps.
- The nappy itself is the absorbent part and you will need around 20 - 30 of these.
- The inner liner catches solids and helps keep moisture away from the baby's skin; these can be made from paper so that they can be flushed down the toilet if soiled or thrown into a household bin if just wet. Alternatively reusable, washable pads are available.
- The outer wrap or cover is the fun part with a funky range of cool styles and bright colours; these are made in a range of materials for example wool, flees or waterproof PVC. The wrap sizes alter as your baby grows. Initially you will need at least 3 wraps.
What is the cost?
- An initial outlay to equip you with a number of nappies is necessary; but this is a one off payment and means you are not constantly paying for single use disposable nappies on a weekly basis.
- From birth to potty each baby goes through an average of 6000 nappy changes.
- Basic real nappies cost less than £2 each, with more sophisticated products costing around £4-10 each.
- Disposables cost on average 17.4p each
- Approximate cost of purchasing and home laundering real nappies for 2.5 years ranges from £185 to about £380 depending mainly on the nappy you choose.
- The minimum cost of disposables for 2.5 years is £840, but could cost as much as £1000.
- You can achieve further savings by using the same real nappies for your second child.
- Home washing costs as little as £1 per week.
- Laundry services range on average from £8.50 -£11 per week. With a laundry service you do not need to purchase the nappies as they are provided for you within your weekly charge.
Won't my baby get nappy rash?
- Nappy rash happens to most babies at some point in their time in nappies. Some babies seem to be very susceptible to it.
- Your baby is no more or less likely to get nappy rash from real nappies than from disposables.
- Nappy rash is actually caused by bacteria in the nappy area creating ammonia which burns the skin. Your baby's urine is normally sterile, but there is bacteria on their skin and in their faeces which cause the nappy rash.
- Other causes of rashes can be heat, chemical irritation, eczema etc…
- Frequency of nappy changing is the important factor to avoid nappy rash.
- Changing your baby more frequently ensures your baby's skin is dry as much as possible.
Do they leak?
- It's important to select the right size for your baby's shape to avoid leakages and there is a wide choice of products available.
- Ensure the nappy is completely covered by the outer wrap, which helps prevents leakage.
- You can also use booster pads to increase absorbency if needed.
What about washing and drying real nappies at home?
- Real nappies don't need to be sluiced, boiled, scrubbed, soaked or machine washed at 95°C. They can simply be placed in a separate laundry container and washed at 60°C along with other whites.
- Biodegradable nappy liners can be flushed down the loo with any solid waste. Washable liners can go in the wash with your nappies once sluiced.
- Modern washing machines wash so well that real nappies do not have to be sterilised.
- Most real nappies can be line or tumble dried or simply placed on an airer in a warm room to dry.
- Collect and Wash laundry services are available
Where do I get real nappies from?
- Check out our web-shop, alternatively some retailers such as Mother Care stock a range of real nappies