October 22, 2012 11.04 am This story is over 133 months old

Lincoln mum: Real vs disposable nappies

Nappie matters: Janie Pengilly busts some myths about real nappies and looks at the advantages.

Real nappies have come a long way since folded terry towels and safety pins, and you no longer have to soak nappies for days before you can wash them.

I never even considered using real nappies on either of my children. In fact, the thought of it made me cringe. But since running Lincoln Mums and the research I have done, my eyes have been opened to many things, real nappies being one of them.

We’re lucky here to have access to the Lincolnshire Real Nappy Network. This is a charity run by a group of volunteers that are passionate about real nappies and it has the backing of the Lincolnshire County Council. They are running a real nappy campaign so if you spend £50 or more on real nappies then the council will give you £30 cash back.

So real nappies, let’s bust some myths!

Using real nappies is practical, they come in funky colours and designs, they’re easy to use and to wash and sanitise, they’re obviously more environmentally friendly and they will save you money.

There are lots of different companies out there that do different designs and systems but there are 3 main types of real nappies:

  • Flat nappies – such as your traditional terry square, folded to make the pad secured with a plastic fastening with a waterproof wrap on top. You can also buy this type of nappy as a pre-fold, to make things slightly easier. This type of nappy is the least expensive and retails from £2.
  • The shaped nappy – this is designed to fit your baby snuggly some sizes go from birth to potty. They also require a waterproof outer wrap. This type can cost anything from £7.50.
  • The all-in-one – this type is the most practical (if I was using real nappies this is what I would choose) these include a cotton liner and a waterproof cover with fastenings. This type retails from £10.

Like all things in life you get what you pay for, the more money you spend the easier they are going to be to use and the less likely they are to leak.

From talking to both the Lincolnshire Real Nappy Network volunteers and some Lincoln mums, it is a lot like disposables, not all nappies suit all parents or babies. Some nappies will leak on some babies, and yet other parents will swear by them.

As for washing there is no need for the nappies to sit a bucket of water to soak like back in the day. You can have a bucket by your washing machine that has a lid on it and a drawstring bag inside. When the nappies are used you then put the nappy in the drawstring bag and then put the lid back on. Once you have a full load or every (2-3 days) you then put the bag straight into the washing machine. Do a cold rinse and then with a new washing powder that sanitises you can wash as low as 30 degrees.

The Lincolnshire Real Nappy Network have trial buckets. These buckets include everything you would need to see whether real nappies are for you, with a range of sizes types and brands of nappies. It means you can try each one out and see what works for you.

There are full sets of instructions and a Facebook page, as well as being provided a telephone number for your local volunteer in case you have any questions or want a general chit-chat about the nappies and where you go from here.  If you are interested in getting more information on the trial buckets then please contact the volunteers via Facebook.

There is also a national real nappy information service available called Go Real, where you can find lots of information on the site about different types of real nappies.

There is obviously the impact that disposable nappies have on the environment. As a country we need to find a way to be more sustainable and by using real nappies we are tackling our county’s waste issues – in the UK alone 8 million nappies are thrown away every day.

So what will you choose? I’d love to hear from more of you trialling real nappies, and also on the Lincoln Mums Facebook page.

Janie Pengilly is a Lincoln mum of two, both under the age of 4, that keep her busy. As well as being a stay-at-home mum, she is also the editor of the new online magazine, Lincoln Mums.