Things for baby: Cloth Nappies

For as long as I have been thinking about the possibility of having a baby, which has been off and on for quite a while, I have always assumed that we will at least attempt to use cloth nappies rather than disposable ones. Highest on my list of reasons for this is that a disposable nappy takes, so I read, over 500 years to decompose in landfill. Bearing in mind that one child might wear over 7000 disposable nappies over the course of their life time, that’s a lot of nappies in landfill waiting for half a century to decompose.

Other reasons that evangelists for cloth nappies quote as cloth being better are cost, environmental impact and being better for the baby.

As far as the environmental impact is concerned, my reading leads me to believe that (aside from the landfill issue) cloth nappies come out marginally better than disposables, but not hugely. Climate Change Challenge says :”According to a report commissioned by the Environment Agency, a reusable nappy is responsible for 560kg of greenhouse gas over the baby’s first two and half years of life, whereas a disposable nappy is responsible for 630kg. (That’s equivalent to an average car driven 1800 miles)”. So a bit better, but I am not sure whether that takes into account using a tumble dryer to dry nappies in the winter.

As far as cost is concerned, I understand from some basic internet research that cloth nappies will cost between £200-400 for the first year, depending on how many you buy, brand and washing costs, and then only washing costs from then on. So perhaps up to £600 for the first child. Disposable nappies on the other hand will cost about double that. Obviously I anticipate we will need to use some disposables, but over all, it ends up a saving, especially if you have more than one child. The only obvious caveat is that you need to put over half the cost of the nappies up front, rather than splitting the costs over the course of the child’s nappy wearing life.

As far as being better for the baby, I haven’t done much reading on this yet. But given that the washable nappies come out better environmentally and better in terms of costs, I am pretty much sold.

My question to you guys though is this: have you used them, what advice do you have and what brands would you recommend?

Also, what do you think about buying cloth nappies second hand on ebay? Is that just a no?



  1. OK! I got a lot of help from other bloggers so I will give you my full 2 cents:

    here is what WE did:

    used disposables the first couple of weeks. meconium is pretty gross, and you have enough other stuff to deal with.

    at a certain point you have to bite the bullet and DIVE IN.

    we knew we wanted to go with one size pocket diapers. fuzzi bunz. one size because they have adjustable straps, BUT in reality they don’t fit newbornws very well… SO for the first couple of months we did a diaper service and used the “prefold” diapers with covers. we did the service because it didn’t seem that much more expensive than just buying a few dozen prefolds, but mostly because i made a stupid math mistake. so anyways we started using the prefolds and covers. a lot of people use these exclusively, but personally we hada lot of trouble keeping the poo in. but that doesnt seem to be a problem for most?

    now that he fits into his fuzzi bunz it is a dream. they are so easy to use, super cute to. we have about 18 and do a load of laundry every other day or so right before bed and let them line dry over night. we have been using one disposable at night but now that he is sleeping on his side they kepts leaking. after getting LOTS of advice we are going to buy some fitted cloth dipes (they have snaps like the fuzzi bunz, but still need a cover) with a thick wool cover.

    sorry no links, but i am at work and dont have too much time. i figure a comment without links is better than none at all? if you need more i can fwd you some emails i got to help me when i was choosing….


    1. thanks Jamie, your input is much appreciated.

      I think we will plan on using disposable nappies for the first few weeks and then hopefully move onto to the washable ones.

      Would love you to forward me more info if you have it, if you ever get a chance!

  2. Oh boy. Once you jump into cloth diapers it seems like you can talk a out them forever. Le me know if you have more questions.

    We use the Flip hybrid diapers and LOVE them. They have an inset and cover that are separate pieces so if they just pee make a small poo you can reuse the cover. If its really messy you get a new insert and cover. I also like the BumGenius pocket diapers. (wondering if the Flips will work well for a wiggly toddler or if we’ll use more of the others then. Sounds like these will be fine but haven’t gotten there yet) I didn’t like the fuzzibuns

    1. Thanks Kristi. I will definitely be posting more questions soon I think.

      I will have to have a look at the different brands you’ve mentioned. I haven’t heard of the Flips ones – perhaps they are not available in the UK? I’ve only read good things about the fuzzibuns so far – what didn’t you like about them?

  3. Oops, sorry…

    Like I was saying, I didn’t like those, but I know others-like Jamie-really do.

    We wash every other day, for the most part. I should line dry more, but have been a bit lazy and use the dryer quite a bit.

    Also, I think you could buy them used. I looked on Craigslist a lot but ended up getting these on sale anyway. Lots of people seem to buy them and not like them, or find hey didn’t fit, or whatever, so many of the used ones are mostly new.

    Anything I can help with, just ask!

    1. that’s what I figured about “second-hand”. Plus I can machine wash them hot with some bleach/nappy-san or whatever it is to sanitize… :)

  4. I’ve got a blog on here too I’ve been writing about how I’ve found/am finding cloth. Hope it’s useful! You have to really go for it with cloth – its really easy and strangely addictive! Good on you for thinking about it x

  5. Oh and second hand is great, there’s a whole world of preloved nappy sites where you can get good deals and try out diff types without spending a fortune. Most of my nappies are preloved and are marvellous!

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