Real Nappies

Save money and reduce your impact on the environment

real nappiesReal Nappies are reusable cloth nappies. You can give them a go with one of our free trial kits! They come in a fantastic range of gorgeous colours and designs and are really easy to use.  You can see our latest information leaflet here.

They are almost identical to using disposables – the nappy change is the same, but instead of putting a disposable into a rubbish bin you put the nappy into your washing machine. Real Nappies only need a 40- 60 degree wash, because the solids are flushed away.

The majority of babies born in England and Wales each year use disposables - that's a staggering 3 billion disposable nappies! This amounts to over 355,000 tonnes of waste, and an annual disposal cost to local authorities (and tax payers) of £32 million. Go Real (the national Real Nappies information service) estimates that parents can save at least £500 with reusable cloth nappies* and more if your nappies are used again with subsequent children. You can also switch to reusable cloth wipes to save more money and reduce waste!

*Go Real’s research is based on Environment Agency data, standard energy costs and market prices (2009).

There are various cloth nappy options, which can be a bit confusing. This simple factsheet (pdf format, 238Kb) explains the basic choices.

You can also read an article written in The Guardian called "Nappies: which are best – disposables or reusables?"

Try Real Nappies with our loan scheme

If you live in Oxfordshire and would like to give cloth nappies a try, you can borrow a trial kit for two to three weeks with no obligation to buy.

Each kit contains a good range of styles and brands of nappies, with all the necessary accessories. They are held by local nappy suppliers and community groups, who will explain how the nappies work before you get started.

Contact your nearest kitholder directly to arrange your trial

Useful additional contacts

Demonstrations and events

Some of the trial kit holders hold Nappuccinos – coffee mornings where you can see demonstrations of how to use real nappies and chat to other parents.

The Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital holds real nappies demonstrations as part of its ante-natal sessions.

Your questions answered

Will my baby get nappy rash?

Your baby is less likely to suffer from nappy rash in a cloth nappy, because everything is breathable. Changing the nappy regularly is more important in keeping nappy rash away than the type of nappy you use.

Aren't they more expensive than disposables?

To give you an idea of the costs of cloth nappies against disposables, we have compared the basic cloth option against the leading brand for the first six weeks of a baby's life. 10 changes a day comes to a total of 420 changes, costing around £58.80 in disposables against £47.90 for 24 cloth nappies. So that’s a small saving even in the first six weeks if you use the basic cloth option. The nappies will take a little longer to pay for themselves if you choose the more expensive styles. The nappies you buy could last from 8lb to 35lb, depending on the style you choose, so once bought there is no more outlay, apart from the liners.

Further savings can be made by buying second-hand, and using the nappies on a second baby. This information does not take into account washing costs, which will vary from one household to another but average £150 a year, and disposables users will also have to buy nappy sacks.

(This information issued by Oxfordshire County Council is correct at February 2013).

It’s just too much hassle

Real nappies have never been so easy! With no folding or pinning needed, they go on and come off like a disposable nappy in seconds. A warm wash is all that's needed, and many nappies made from modern fabrics come out of the washing machine almost dry.

Are they really better for the environment?

Real nappies can be up to 40% better for the environment than disposables. This was the finding from the 2008 update to the Environment Agency's Life Cycle Analysis Report on nappies. Unlike disposables, Real Nappies put parents in control of the impact they have on the environment, with the carbon savings directly related to how you choose to wash your Real Nappies.

How are other mums getting on with Real Nappies?

Local mum Rachel, has a real nappy blog where she talks about her experiences of using real nappies.

Case studies