An Engineers Guide to Reusable Nappies

This is a post I have been meaning to write for the last two years; mainly because I have a two year old boy (the dude) and have wanted to write down my experiences.

Ok; so before the dude was born my partner and I discussed a lot of stuff. One of the things we decided on was to use reusable nappies.

There were three main reasons for this; one was financial reusable nappies are much cheaper over time then the disposable kind. One analysis done by The Nappy Lady put the cost at ~$5,500 over the first two years of life; assuming that you use disposable nappies and disposable wipes purchased from the supermarket as needed rather then in bulk, the costs would be lower when buying in bulk, somewhere between 20 - 40%. Reusable nappies tend to have a high initial cost but very low ongoing costs.

The next reason is environmental; there are various stories and documentaries stating how much of an environmental disaster disposable nappies are and will continue to be into the future. Also “flushable” wipes are a major component of fatburgs which are amazingly disgusting and strangely interesting at the same time.

The final reason (before the birth) was we like a challenge; we were told by a few people that we wouldn’t be able to stick to it.

So onto the main part of this particular post.

Since both my partner and I are engineers, we did a significant amount of research about the types of reusable nappies available. We looked at all of the features and costs of each type; considering the expensive brands vs getting a bulk lot from AliExpress. Many hours were spent on this research; we looked at performance and reviews of the different types from the fully old-school flat nappies to the most modern “all in one” styles.

All of this research was informative but ultimately flawed; we were both assuming that there was one “best” nappy and that we just had to find it. It turns out that there is no “best” nappy; there are a bunch of nappies that will work in many situations. We use a range of nappies for different situations; and when going away for the weekend or longer we do use disposables.

We had “settled” on a type of nappy that we though was the best at approx 6 months into the pregnancy; but we were also booked to see a talk by The Nappy Lady so we decided to see what she had to say before jumping in and ordering some admittedly expensive nappies. This was a great decision; I’m not going to reiterate all that she said but two things are super important so I will repeat them; firstly don’t buy any nappies until you know how big your baby is, if you have a very little baby a lot of nappies will be too big; and use disposables until the meconium is all done.

The dude had very skinny legs when he was born this meant that none of the “birth to potty training” nappies fit correctly and they leaked because of it. I’m sure that some babies fit those nappies but from my experience sized nappies are much better. Also just a note there is a lot scare mongering around the fact that reusable nappies leak; this is utter bullshit; once you have nappies that fit they leak at a much lower rate then disposables.

A note on reviews of reusable nappies; in general we found that reviews tended to be about convenience (how easy to use); ease of washing / ease of drying; look / ascetics and fit. It seems that mostly the reviews are written / researched by women this obviously makes sense as the primary users of these products are women. Not once did I read on a review of a pocket nappy or an all in one that said “hey these are a little skinny so repacking these is going to be difficult for men or women with wide hands”.

Ok so this is getting a little long; next post will be about nappy sprayers.