Mention cloth nappies to older generations and they’ll describe soaking pails of smelly nappies, boiling them, folding towels, and accidents with safety pins. Nowadays reusable nappies can be as simple to put on as disposables – they’re shaped, elasticated, fastened with velcro or poppers, and come in a dazzling choice of prints. And they’re easier to care for too: there’s no soaking or boiling; all you have to do is chuck them in the washing machine.
Truly, we are living in a golden age of reusable nappies.
Why use them? To save money and reduce rubbish. Most toddlers are out of nappies by the time they’re aged two and a half. Over that timespan, if you were to replace just one disposable nappy a day with a reusable one, you’d save around 900 nappies from going to landfill (where they would take hundreds of years to decompose), and save yourself some serious cash in the process. Using reusables full-time, you might use 20 nappies instead of thousands.
Specialist seller Wendy Richards, founder of The Nappy Lady, says that sales of ‘natural nappies’ are rising sharply, thanks in part to the growing awareness of the environmental impacts of plastic: “We’ve definitely seen a post Blue Planet effect. It’s gone mad. We’re on track for a 100pc growth in sales this financial year and we’ve more than doubled our staff”. Other customers are motivated by concerns about the chemical make-up of disposables, highlighted by a recent report that “detected a number of hazardous chemicals in disposable diapers that could migrate through urine, for example, and enter into prolonged contact with babies’ skin.”