Real Nappies

Save money and reduce your impact on the environment

real nappiesReal Nappies are reusable cloth nappies. 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 60 degree wash, because the solids are flushed away with the liners.

By the time your baby is potty trained, you will have changed as many as 4,000 nappies! This can add up to a lot of money. Go Real (the national Real Nappies information service) estimates that you can save at least £500 with reusable cloth nappies* and more if your nappies are used again with subsequent children.

*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 get a bit confusing. This simple factsheet (pdf format, 226Kb) explains the basic choices.

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

Facts at a glance

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.

A 40 percent carbon saving can be made through using reusable nappies compared to disposables - and that includes the washing.

This information is estimated by Go Real, the national real nappies information service.

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 for a small charge and 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.

To find out more, call Oxfordshire County Council on 01865 816043, email waste.management@oxfordshire.gov.uk

Contact the kit holders direct

  • The Nappy Shed is based in Oxford and covers Oxford and the surrounding area. They can be contacted on 01865 794360 or info@thenappyshed.co.uk or visit the website at www.thenappyshed.co.uk
  • Plushpants is based in Long Wittenham and covers the Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage areas and offers a free trial pack. Visit www.plushpants.co.uk or call 01865 407574. A sister site www.terrynappies.co.uk specialises in traditional terry nappies.
  • Banbury Nappy Bank offers a free trial pack alongside its loan packs. It is run by volunteers and provides a short or long term loan service for real nappies. They don’t sell nappies but do offer impartial advice. Email nappybank@yahoo.co.uk or call 07500 734264.
  • Bicester National Childbirth Trust holds a trial pack for loan to parents in the Bicester area. Contact coordinator.bicester@nct.org.uk
  • The Green Bean Cloth Nappy Library offers a trial pack alongside its loan nappies to parents in the Wantage area. Contact apukabingdon@gmail.com or 07900 342573 / 07808 535203 or on Facebook APUK:Abingdon.
  • The Abingdon Nappy Library covers the Abingdon and surrounding areas, and has kits available for newborn and older babies for a four week loan, as well as example nappies and support on hand at a group in Abingdon. Contact apukabingdon@gmail.com or 07900 342573 / 07808 535203 or on Facebook APUK:Abingdon.

Useful additional contacts

  • Go Real – the national real nappies information service – www.goreal.org.uk
  • The National Childbirth Trust – ante and post natal support through local groups – www.nct.org.uk
  • Number One for Nappies is a nappy laundry service. Contact 07951 687730 or visit www.numberonefornappies.co.uk
  • Water Babies supplies reusable nappies for swimming. Contact 01295 709221 or 01869 325499 or go to www.waterbabies.co.uk
  • The Used Nappy Company – find secondhand nappies or trade your own at www.usednappies.co.uk
  • Easypeasy Nappies – Real Nappies supplier covering Abingdon and Oxford – call 01235 529632, or visit www.easypeasynappies.co.uk
  • Oxford Nappy-Free Baby offers advice and support on how to potty train baby from birth (Elimination Communication). To find where your local group meets, visit www.nappyfreebaby.co.uk
  • Brilliant Nappies are based in Charlbury and are available for nappy advice, nappuccinos and visits to local groups. Contact Jade Morris on 07733 100685 or jade.morris2@icloud.com or visit www.brilliantnappies.co.uk
  • The Little Nappy Tree is based in Banbury and offers a funky range of cloth nappies, Fairtrade toys and handy accessories that are kinder to your baby's skin, purse and the environment. Contact lucy@thelittlenappytree.co.uk.

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.

The Cotton Nappy Company holds demonstrations in Banbury’s Horton Hospital. Contact Anna Leeksma on 01926 430000 or visit www.thecottonnappycompany.co.uk

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