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Reusable nappies

This week is National Real Nappy Week (apparently).

The aim is to get parents using reusable nappies as a cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternative to disposable nappies.

We have tried reusable nappies on our baby and unfortunately we've gone back to using disposable nappies. I don't think that other parents should be disheartened by our experience, I'm glad we tried the nappies, but they didn't work for us.

We bought the nappies at the NEC Baby show from SmartiPants, who are based in Atherstone, Warwickshire. At the time anyone living in Warwickshire was able to get a free reusable nappy (funded by the County Council I believe), and they had nappies available at a special show price.

The type we bought were adjustable and using poppers the size could be adjusted as the baby grows. They were fastened with velcro, and included a built in lining and used lining paper inside. Once set to the size of the baby fitting the nappy was no different to using a disposible nappy, except that you had to insert a liner inside before putting it on. We put the nappies into a bucket to soak and then when the bucket was nearly full put the whole lot in the washing machine, and washed on a normal wash. They've certainly come a long way from the terry nappies my mother used to use.

Our plan was to use the reusable nappies when we were at home, and supplement these with disposable when we were out. We didn't get enough to use the reusable nappies all the time, either supplementing them with disposable nappies when they were in use, or giving us the option of buying more later.

The initial cost was quite expensive (we paid about £60 for a starter set), but had the potential to save a lot of money in the long run. We were wanting to help the environment more than we were looking at the financial savings.

We tried the nappies at various stages as our baby grew (up to 6 months old), and never got on with them. They were easy enough to put on and change, and even washing them wasn't such a chore (although we were using disposable ones as well), but there were a couple of other problems.

The first problem was that the nappies were really big, and would stick out when being worn. This could have been improved a bit by buying different sized nappies rather than the adjustable nappies that we bought. Reusable nappies do tend to be a bit bigger than the disposible ones.

The other problem was the reason we stopped using the nappies. The nappies didn't fit as well as disposable nappies and therefore leaked. This meant that for almost every-time we changed our babies nappy we had to change her clothes as well, which meant for a lot of washing, and probably out-weighing any environmental saving from using reusable nappies.

These problems were not just related to reusable nappies, we had problems with disposable nappies as well. We found that we didn't like supermarket own brands. Some would leak and some caused a rash to our baby. We tried both of the expensive brands and it was only pampers that we liked (particularly with the smaller sized nappies).

The important thing to remember is that each baby is unique and our experience won't necessarily be the same as you may have. I know of people that use reusable and are happy with them, I also know of people that prefer a different brand of nappies to the ones we use. If you do try reusable nappies (and I'd encourage you to try at least), first see if there is a scheme where you can get hold of a free nappy to try that first (either from a supplier, or through a council run scheme), or only purchase a limited number until you've had chance to try it. I'd also suggest that you buy the correct size for your baby, rather than trying the adjustable ones (particularly for smaller babies).

If anyone has had some good or bad experiences with reusable nappies, please leave a comment, and then we see how peoples experiences differ.