Disposable Nappies

Nappies can be a very confusing and bewildering subject for new parents-to-be and there are many different types, makes and styles to make decisions about.

Before we discuss the types of disposable nappy available for your baby or toddler, it is important to remind ourselves of the good and bad points of using disposable nappies.

The Pros

  • Convenient
  • Absorbency
  • Energy Use

Convenience: Disposable nappies are extremely convenient as they are available for purchase from many places including supermarkets, small convenience shops, chemists as well as online. The nappies are simply thrown away after use and therefore do not add to your already never-ending washing pile. They are also very light to carry and quite slim so that they can easily be carried around in your bag.

Absorbency: Disposable nappies are extremely absorbent and many advertise that they can keep your baby’s bottom feeling dry for 12 or more hours. Disposable nappies are made using a very absorbent material called polyacrylates which is layered into the nappy. The polacrylate turns any wee into a gel to stop your baby from feeling wet and can absorb a lot of wee.

Energy use: Using disposable nappies will not add to your washing or drying and therefore will not affect your electricity or water bills and usage like a reusable nappy does. However, it is important to remember that disposable nappies are sent to landfill sites after use.

The Cons

  • Expensive
  • Waste

Expensive: Although one disposable nappy may sound very cheap, the cost soon escalates and therefore this is a big disadvantage to using disposable nappies. In the first few weeks you may find that your baby needs up to 12 nappy changes a day, although this number soon falls as your baby grows, it is likely that your child will need 5 or 6 nappies a day which is approximately 40 a week.

Waste: Each disposable nappy that you use will be sent to landfill. This means that you and your child will send around 5,000 nappies to landfill during those nappy-wearing years.

If you are still planning on using disposable nappies, here are some things to consider when choosing which ones to buy for your child.

  • Brand/Price
  • Size
  • Style/Fit

Brand/Price: There are many different manufacturers of nappies and these can vary in price. Branded nappies are usually more expensive than supermarket own brand nappies. There is no proof to suggest that one brand is better than another and it is therefore advisable to try several brands out on your baby to find the make that suits your baby.

Size: Most disposable nappies are sized using a simple number scheme. A size 1 is usually the smallest size and suitable for small new-borns, your baby will then progress onto size 2, 3, 4, 4+, 5 and possibly size 6 depending when your child potty trains and how your baby grows. The packaging on the nappies will also state for what weight the nappy is recommending for and this is usually expressed in both pounds and kilograms. These sizes are usually only to be used as a guide and therefore you may find your baby needs a bigger nappy even though their weight has not increased. If you are changing between brands, it is advisable to check the number scheme as well as the weight recommendations as these can vary between different brands.

Style/Fit: It is likely that you will soon discover that a particular brand, size and style of nappy fits your child better than others.  Most disposable nappies have an elasticated waistband as well as elasticated leg holes to help fit your child well. They usually have easy fastening tabs which also help to tighten the waist to fit your child. These tabs are sometimes re-sealable which allows you to retighten should you not to in order to ensure a good fit.  However, as well as these features to help ensure a good fit, there are also different styles of nappies. These can vary between brands and manufacturers but usually include the following categories:

  • Newborn: These are designed for those early weeks or months and are extra absorbent to keep your baby’s early poos (meconium) from causing your baby’s bottom to become sore. They are extra light and soft for use on your small newborn. Newborn nappies also tend to have a fold down flap at the front of the nappy to allow your baby’s belly-button to heal and space for the clamp.
  • Baby: These are shaped more to allow your baby to begin to move or crawl more easily. They sometimes have easy to tear sides to allow for quick removal for particularly messy changes. They are still very absorbent and many claim to be suitable for use overnight as they can keep the maximum amount of moisture from your baby’s skin.
  • Toddler/walking/crawling: This type of nappy is designed to allow your child to move freely without having a bulging and awkward nappy on. They are shaped to fit well between the legs and around the waist and have extra stretchy elasticated waistbands and leg holes. These nappies are still extremely absorbent and usually still suitable for wearing overnight.
  • Swim nappies: These are designed specifically for use in a swimming pool, paddling pool or in the sea. Unlike an ordinary nappy these do not fill and swell with water so allows your child to walk and swim without a full, bulging nappy to cope with but still contain poo to avoid embarrassing accidents. These are usually pulled up onto your baby (like a pair of pants) and have easy tear sides to allow for quick, easy removal.
  • Potty training nappies: Sometimes these are referred to as pull-ups as instead of using elasticated tapes around the waist of the nappy, your child can pull these up and down like a normal pair of pants. They are still absorbent in case of any accidents and still contain any poo accidents but are great for those early stages of potty training or if your child refuses to lie down for a nappy change. They usually have easy to tear sides to allow you to remove the nappy easily if necessary.

by Jenny, mum to William and James

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