The Great Nappy Debate

and my thoughts on it……

Cloth nappies, along with breastfeeding and natural childbirth have always seemed the natural thing for me to do. I am still surprised however by how rare cloth nappies seem in our country, such an environmentally aware nation. I have changed a lot of nappies over the past nine years. I have have struggled with my conscience, my baby’s health, environmental concerns and my bank balance. These are the facts I’ve come up with:

The truth about disposables:


  • They’re expensive- 1 disposable nappy can cost 25p*. Over the average amount of nappy years that can amount to £2000 per child!
  • They’re convenient-true, they’re easy to buy and use.
  • They’re “disposable”-yes, they get thrown away so you don’t have to deal with used nappies.
  • They contain absorbing chemicals that draw moisture away from his skin (including his own skin’s moisture)-the transparent “jelly beads” you may notice on your child’s skin after changing are made from the same chemical that was removed from tampons for it’s link in causing Toxic Shock Syndrome. Tear a nappy that’s been wet and you’ll see the stuff. No studies have been done on the long term effects of this chemical on our children
  • They are scratchy-imagine wearing one, now imagine your skin was as delicate as a newborn’s.
  • They take at least 200 years to decompose-every disposable ever used is sitting in a landfill somewhere near you and will outlive your great grandchildren.
  • Chlorine, cancer-causing dioxins, solvents, heavy metals and other chemicals used in their production causes major pollution in our environment.
  • They leave untreated human waste in our environment which spreads diseases like polio.
  • Higher risk of nappy rash possible- due to the absorbancy and “lock-away core”, you are prone to change the nappy less often, which is a major cause of skin irritation.
  • Prolongs toilet-training-because your baby can’t feel when he’s wet himself in a disposable, he’s less likely to want to go on the toilet.
  • The leading disposable manufacturer issued a major international advertising campaign illustrating a seedling plant growing in healthy soil with the caption “A few days ago, this was a disposable diaper”. The company was forced to withdraw the ads when it was exposed that disposable nappy recycling facilities did not actually exist. But not before millions of parents had seen (and believed) it.
    *cost based on Junior size 24 pack of premium disposables at local supermarket.


The Natural Alternative:


  • Cloth Nappies will typically cost less than £200 for 4 dozen cloth nappies and 10 wraps-these will last several children.
  • You won’t spend all your time doing laundry-1-2 extra loads a week is no big deal.
  • They don’t need a special care-a 60 degree wash is adequate. Use a gentle powder and you can add distilled vinegar (to destroy odours), lemon juice (for stains) or a little bleach if you wish (non-chlorine).
  • Your baby will be changed more frequently-this means her skin will be exposed to more air which is the best prevention of nappy rash.
  • They are softer on her skin-which equals more comfort
  • Whatever disposable “researchers” say, pollution from washing nappies is NOT as harmful as untreated human waste sitting in a landfill for several hundred years
  • Your toddler will feel when she’s wet-prompting her to know when she needs to use the toilet.
  • Organic cotton nappies are available-the best alternative all round-no pesticide pollution.
  • If you’re out and about, simply take a cloth nappy sack-a washable, waterproof bag that neatly carries used nappies until you get home.
  • To store at home until laundry day, you can use a special nappy bucket (available from most baby stores & supermarkets) or any bucket with a lid.
  • It’s easy to learn how to use cloth nappies after a little practise-give wriggly babies a toy to distract them at changing times.
  • With all the different styles of nappies available-you’re sure to find one that you prefer. Most companies offer single nappies for you to experiment with or in bulk by the dozen once you’ve decided on one.
  • Leaks are rare if the nappy fits correctly-your baby should be changed approx. every two hours.
  • If you want the benefits of cloth nappies with the convenience of disposables, look up nappy services in your area. They will deliver a bundle of clean nappies to your door every week and collect your dirty ones. Prices are usually the same or slightly less than disposables.


Nothing compares with the satisfaction and peace of mind of putting your precious baby in one of her own cotton nappies. It really is the best choice for you, your baby and the environment.
For all your cotton nappy needs visit our Online Shop for our tried and tested style recommendations, easy online ordering and fast service.

For more environmental information on disposables vs. cloth visit The Real Nappy Assn.