Nappy FAQ

Here I try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about reusable nappies.

Why reusable nappies?

The answers to that question are numerous!

    • Financial reasons – You could save yourself around £500 per child by using cloth, and that doesn’t take in to account the money that you could get back from selling your cloth pre-loved (2nd hand) once you no longer need it (depending on condition you can get from 50-75% of the cost back when selling pre-loved cloth).
    • Environmental reasons – Less raw materials are used in the manufacture of reusable nappies, meaning that leave less of a carbon footprint. You would also be reducing the amount of nappies in landfill sites. Currently 3 billion nappies are thrown away every year in the UK! That’s a lot of nappies very, very slowly rotting away in landfill, yuck! It also means no more nappies festering in your wheely bin for up to 2 weeks.
    • The cute factor – There is a lot to be said for a big cloth bum! Which also provides great padding while your Little One is learning to walk.
    • Style – Modern cloth nappies come in so many gorgeous fabrics, prints and designs (as you can see from the amazing nappies right here on FBB!).
    • They’re comfy – Soft, natural materials are so much nicer next to your baby’s bottom, with no nasty chemicals either. For example bamboo nappies benefit from the anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that bamboo has.  Also, believe it or not, despite the layers of fabric in cloth nappies, those with all natural fibres are actually cooler for your baby during the warmer months of the year than disposables, which create their own heat from the chemicals that they contain.
    • They’re easy to use – Many cloth nappies are as convenient and easy to put on as a disposable, so even Dad won’t have an excuse to avoid changing nappies. It also means that they’re Grandparent, Childminder and Nursery friendly too.
    • Potty training – Studies have shown that babies who wear cloth nappies tend to potty train up to 6 months sooner than those who wear disposables. This is because they are more aware of being wet.
    • Less nappy rash – With natural materials and no chemicals, cloth nappies help to prevent nappy rash.
    • Making new friends – Cloth nappies make a wonderful talking point, and there are many Nappuccino’s being held all over the country every day, as well as many online communities where you can ‘meet’ and talk to other cloth bum Mums.
    • Cloth Nappy Libraries – There are several around the country, and they work by allowing you to try before you buy. For a small, refundable fee you can borrow various types and brands of nappy to find out which work best for your baby.
    • Local Council Incentives – Many local councils offer incentive schemes to encourage you to use cloth. It’s worth checking with your local council to see if they do this.

The below infographic by Close Parent also offers some more great reasons to use cloth.

What modern reusable nappies offer parents today... - infographic from

How many nappies will I need?

Based on baby being in full-time cloth and doing a nappy wash every other day, the recommended number of nappies is around 25 (times that by 1.5 for twins!). If you’re using a 2-part system (i.e. flat or fitted/shaped nappy with a waterproof wrap) then you only need half the number of wraps to nappies (so for 25 nappies you would need around 12 – 13 wraps).

Apart from nappies, what else do I need?

There isn’t much that you need for cloth nappying, but below is list of the things that you will need, with a couple of other suggestions :-

  • Lidded nappy bucket or extra large wetbag for dirty nappies – If you decide to go for a bucket then I’d recommend getting at least a 16ltr one which will hold around 2 days and nights worth of nappies. I made the mistake of getting a 10ltr bucket when I first started out and it barely held a days worth. Wetbags can be a good alternative to a bucket, especially if you’re short of floor space as they can be hung from hooks or door handles.
  • Wetbags – For out and about. You’ll need one for storing dirty nappies and a small one to keep wipes in (if you’re using cloth wipes).
  • Re-usable fleece/minky or flushable paper liners – To keep baby’s bum dry and catch poo. Make sure you check that the paper liners you buy are flushable because not all are.
  • Cloth wipes – These are so easy to use and make sense if you’re already washing nappies as they just go in to the nappy bucket with the dirty nappies.

Will my baby get nappy rash, and can I use nappy rash creams?

All babies get nappy rash at some point (especially when teething), and studies have shown that incidents of nappy rash increased dramatically alongside the increase in use of disposable nappies. NHS advice for nappy rash is to change baby frequently, and immediatly when they have a pooey nappy. Ensure you gently clean and dry the area before putting another nappy on.

Nappy rash creams can clog up cloth nappies, however aqueous creams are safe to use on cloth, and there are also some specifically cloth friendly creams on the market these days. If you have to use any other type of nappy rash cream then we advise using a paper liner to avoid transfer on to the nappy.

Are cloth nappies bulky?

There is no escaping the fact that cloth nappies are bulkier, however a cloth nappy may be bulkier when it first goes on, but they are no bigger than a full disposable when they come off (and won’t become saggy like a full disposable does).

My baby’s nappies are leaking, why?

Just as not all disposable brands of nappy suit every baby, the same applies to brands and types of cloth, because every baby is a different shape and build. If any nappy, whether it be cloth or disposable, isn’t a good fit on your baby, then it is more prone to leaks. However, before you decide to class a nappy as ‘not a good a fit’ and give up on it due to leaking issues,  there are a few other things to take in to consideration and rule out first.

  • Is the nappy fairly new? – It may be that it hasn’t reached full absorbency yet so you may want to add extra absorbency with a booster, or just change more frequently until it has had a few more washes.
  • Is there enough absorbency? – If the nappy/inserts are totally sodden when you remove the nappy then you need to increase absorbency or do a bit of trial and error with different combinations of inserts. If the nappy/inserts have dry areas then the below may apply.
  • Could the nappy need a strip wash? – A build up of detergent can cause nappies to become less absorbent, which is a problem that a good old strip wash will easily resolve (for advice on strip washing take a look at our Nappy Care section). A good way of telling whether the nappy/insert is absorbing liquid effectively or not is to drop some water on to it. If the water soaks in straight away then it’s ok, but if the water beads on top for a while then a strip wash may be needed.
  • Have you had the nappy a while or bought it pre-loved? – If the leaking nappy is a pocket, AIO or AI2 and you’ve either had it for a while or it was bought pre-loved, then it could be that the PUL (the waterproof bit) needs resealing. This can easily be done by giving the nappy shell a quick 5-10 minute blast in the tumble dryer, or with a hairdryer.
  • Are your baby’s clothes too tight? – If your baby’s clothes are too tight then it could be causing ‘pressure wicking’ which is simply where the liquid ends up getting squeezed out of the nappy by the pressure of the clothes. This can also happen when baby is strapped in to a pushchair or carseat if the strap in between their legs is too tight, or while they’re in a sling/carrier.
  • Is your baby newly hatched? – If you’re using birth-to-potty nappies then it’s worth bearing in mind that very few of these size nappies are truly birth to potty, and they tend not to fit until babies are bigger (usually around the 12-14lb mark). So, if your BTP nappies are leaking on your newborn then it may be worth putting them away to try again once your little one has grown a bit.

If there are any questions that you have that I’ve not covered here or anywhere else in the Nappy Care & Advice section, then please feel free to contact us and I’ll be more than happy to answer your questions.


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