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beginners guide to nappies

real nappies

Making the decision to try real nappies requires commitment, a belief that it's worth protecting the environment, and an up-front investment in nappy paraphernalia.

You'll be surprised how far things have come since the old days. You can forget squares of terry towelling, folded into impossible origami shapes, secured with a frightening pin, then rendered waterproof by crunchy plastic pants.

Now, towelling squares have been replaced by washable nappies which behave just like disposables. With a flushable liner inside, you simply whip out the liner (and any contents), flush the lot down the loo and put the nappy in a bucket ready to wash.

Another washable option is 'pre-folds' (rectangles of absorbent fabric with a padded bit in the middle) with a shaped, waterproof but breathable 'nappy wrap' over the top, all secured with poppas or Velcro.

But remember that it needn't be all or nothing. Why not use real nappies at home, and disposables when you're out and about? Or real nappies during the day and disposables at night? Because every single real nappy you put on your baby is one less disposable nappy to clog up a landfill site.

disposables

There's no quicker, more convenient method of dealing with baby poo than disposables. But be prepared to see your housekeeping bill go up because they're not cheap (from 13p to well over 20p each) and you'll get through 30-50 a week.

There are many brands available and nappy companies continually fight for your custom by introducing some exciting new feature that your baby simply MUST have.

Certainly the really expensive brands look and feel nice (softer on the outside, with fabric-like touches), and some hi-cut ones give a 'no-nappy' silhouette. Cheaper brands can leak if you don't change them as often as you should. But to be honest, you baby probably won't notice the difference.

There are also different cuts (some suit babies with long bodies, others skinny babies, or chubby babies) so it's worth experimenting to find a brand that suits your baby best. Keep an eye on sizings too – a couple of growth spurts can put your baby in a different size category, and a too-small nappy is more likely to leak.

To do your bit for the environment, why not try biodegradable nappies? For their full eco-benefits, they would need to be properly composted, but at least they are usually made without damaging chemicals.