skip to main content

Reusable nappies and wipes

Reusable nappies, also known as cloth or 'real' nappies, are simple to use and have a wide range of benefits for both care-givers and infants in nappies. Many now have beautiful prints and so become a part of your child’s wardrobe as well as being a practical item - some prints have become so popular that they have become collectors’ items!

Find out more by visiting the Real Nappy Network.

Financial benefits - although there will be an initial estimated outlay of £150-£400 for real nappies, they will save you thousands in the long run, even with the washing costs. With up to 5,000 nappy changes up until potty training, that's a lot of money spent on disposables. We are seeing an enormous increase of childcare settings changing to cloth nappies and wipes, as the reduction in expenditure is especially noted in these settings and in multiple-child families. There are many differing opinions on the amount of saving to be made, as this can differ enormously depending on brands and the way you purchase.

Environmental benefits – non-biodegradable disposable nappies take an estimated 500 years to degrade in a landfill site (though they never disappear, but break down into micro plastics). The production and transport of them also has a large carbon footprint. Even with the impact of using your washing machine more, reusable nappies can be 40% better for the environment (Environment Agency report 2008). Many areas in Bucks now have a restriction on how much general rubbish you can place out for collection, and reducing the number of disposable nappies you use will help reduce your waste.  It may not be considered an environmental benefit, but taking the piles of dirty nappies out of your fortnightly collected bin (which heats up in summer) is also much kinder on your nose!

Benefits for baby - disposable nappies are made from plastics, paper pulp, absorbent chemicals and glues which are often considered the cause of nappy rashes. Some very rudimentary research has indicated that the sale of nappy cream has increased at the same rate as the sales for disposable nappies. Many families choosing cloth claim to only need such creams during teething or periods of illness.

Reusable nappies can be made from a number of natural and manmade fabrics including cotton, bamboo, hemp and microfiber. Cloth nappies are fitted to the child and therefore explosive and leaky nappies become a thing of the past. Fitting a cloth nappy is simple one you know how and a simple nappy fitting guide is available from

Cloth nappies, especially the older chunkier styles, are also a good support for your growing child’s hips as they support a deeper ball and socket position - treatment for hip dysplasia can be supported with the use of cloth nappies for this reason.  Some also find comfort in the additional support and padding when babies start to walk, falling on their bottom multiple times must feel better with some padding!

Early potty training - Another benefit is cloth-bottomed babies often potty train earlier due to being able to feel when they are wet and making the connection between feeling wet and their bladder. It obviously varies a lot depending on the child, but on average cloth children train 6 months earlier than those in disposables.

Nappy hire - the initial outlay in buying cloth nappies can be daunting, but to help there are a number of companies that hire cloth nappy bundles. This helps you decide which type you like and they ship all over the UK. Usually you pay a hire charge, plus a refundable deposit (postage will be at your own cost, plus a non-refundable admin charge).  The options vary and the refundable deposit is subject to a timely and ensuring the nappies are in good condition upon return.

Useful sites
Offering fitting, washing, types and acronym guides, the UK nappy network is a great one stop place to find support and there is also a comprehensive list of nappy libraries.