Ditching disposables and going real…

Article by: Lexi Healey, Work at Home mother of 2,
co-owner of Little One Lane


The Why?..

When I was pregnant with my son Noah, who’s now 14 months old, we stocked up on the usual essentials… vests, sleepsuits, bibs and plenty of disposable nappies!

Almost 6 months after my gorgeous bundle of joy was born the topic of real nappies came up with a mum from one of my parenting groups. She was using them for her little one and had been asked for some advice from a few other mums who all seemed so keen, I couldn’t understand it… with a new baby I don’t have time to learn how to use real nappies let alone deal with all of the extra washing: Boiling terry towelling sheets and fiddling with safety pins. No thank you!

Slowly but surely more Mums from the group were converting to cloth. What was I missing? They all have new babies just like me, how do they find the time? I couldn’t help but take a peek and I was in for a shock. They looked so, well… normal! Modern, like proper versions of disposable nappies, even with the sticky tabs and they were so colourful . The fashionista in me aside, I still wasn’t convinced, neither was my hubby: ‘too much washing, too much mess, too fussy, too expensive’, but I couldn’t stop the niggling feeling inside every time we threw away yet another disposable.

I did my research learning that real nappies are better for babies skin as they contain no chemicals (naive of me perhaps but I didn’t know that disposables did, no one thought to tell me!) and that from birth to potty one child will produce almost 1 ton of landfill waste.

Image courtesy of Go Real

Before I knew what I had done I had actually bought one (in a green camo print to help win hubby round to the idea of giving it a try!).

Noah in his 1st Real Nappy

I was amazed by how soft it was and when we tried it out it lasted roughly 3 hours, the same as we would get from a disposable. Result.

Getting Started

Using the fabulous advice that I received from other mums I bought a small plastic bin with a lid for our nappy pail and a mesh drawstring bag, that and the nappies were all I needed.

There are a few different types of real nappies, the majority of ours are ‘One Size Pocket Nappies’, a 2 piece nappy with a nappy outer and an absorbent insert. The nappy has a pocket opening with a waterproof liner that you put the insert into and it’s ready to go. The reason we like this type of nappy is because you can add extra inserts for more absorbency when needed. It’s also very simple to use (I will share some info on real nappy types later in this article).

A Day In The Life

We use anywhere between 5-8 nappies a day and to give a truthful account of a day in cloth I kept a little diary for you.

Firstly, after a nappy wash has dried, we stuff the inserts into the nappies so they are all made up and ready to use when needed, this takes no more than 10 minutes maximum. So grabbing a nappy for a change is as simple as grabbing a disposable out of the packet. Our nappy pail is kept in the laundry area with the mesh drawstring bag inside it. We dry pail, so no water. To keep it fresh I also place a muslin square with a few drops of essential oil taped to the inside of the bin lid, this is just my personal preference and not a must do.

“6.25am – First nappy change of the day after 12 hours wear. The nappy is heavy, as expected, but Noah isn’t wet. Being able to add extra inserts for night is very useful.  Noah has chosen his pirate nappy to wear next. I take the inserts out of the worn nappy and place both nappy and inserts in the nappy pail.

9.12am – Noah had his poo face on! It’s a little runnier than usual as he is teething. Normally his poos are quite solid and can just be shaken gently from the nappy into the toilet and flushed away. In this case, I hold the nappy under the strongest part of the flush to remove the poo and place into the nappy pail.

12.03pm – After a little nap we’re ready for another change, Noah loves helping Daddy pick the one he wants to wear next. This time it’s dinosaurs! No fuss change, just a wee this time, so nappy off, nappy on, worn nappy in the nappy pail.

2.17pm – Out and about at Baby Clinic where Noah is getting weighed.  We always bring a change of nappy as he gets stripped down. Our Health Visitor loves to see what he’s wearing and the other mums often ask us about them too! It makes me feel a bit proud as I love showing off his nappies and knowing that we’re helping the environment too. We pop the worn nappy into a nappy sack ready to put in the pail when we get home.

4.53pm – Another poo, back to normal, so pop into the downstairs loo, gently shake it off into the bowl and flush it away. Nappy and inserts into the nappy pail along with the one from the clinic earlier.

6.49pm – Noah is getting ready for bed and takes his owls night nappy to Daddy, ready to get changed. I love that hubby is all on-board with the real nappies. Once he knew there were chemicals in disposables there was no turning back for him and he finds them very easy to use.

7.21pm – Little man is fast asleep and it’s nappy wash day. We simply take the whole mesh bag out of the nappy pail and put it into the washing machine, using ½ the recommended
dose of washing powder on a 60degree cycle with an extra rinse. Whilst that is washing, we clean the nappy pail out. The whole process doesn’t take long at all. During the summer we do a nappy wash in the day and hang the nappies out in the sun to dry, during winter we do the wash at night and pop them onto an airer. By morning they’ll be dry and we’ll put the inserts in so they are ready use.”

So all in all, it has taken about half an hour more time than using disposables would have done (this covers putting the load into wash, hanging them out and putting the inserts in once dry), the modern and simple design means they are just as easy to use so have been no fuss at all.

10 Months On

We have switched from disposable nappies to real nappies full-time and have quite a collection of designs including fluffy animal prints, plain colours, cars, monsters, stars and even a few custom made with embroidery, which are always a talking point!

Some of Noah's collection of cloth nappies

We never get stuck in a panic realising we are about to run out and the One Size nappies that we use with their adjustable sizing will last from Newborn all the way through to potty  training, so it’s easy to see where the savings come in as now we have enough nappies we don’t need to buy anymore whereas before we were buying 1-2 packs a week.

Our journey with real nappies has been a learning curve, there are different types, some simpler than others and it’s all down to personal preference and what works for your little one. Looking back to my pregnancy, it’s surprising that no information was offered to us about an alternative to disposables. Had I not have received help from the lovely ladies in my parenting group then I’m sure my preconception of real nappies as old-fashioned and hard work would still be the same today. I’m really pleased that we made the switch and even work with real nappies now! I love being able to offer advice and guidance to others who are thinking about it too.

Daddy Says:

“When Lexi first suggested trying real nappies I wasn’t too keen as it seemed like it would be more work than necessary to change Noah. I was quite surprised when she told me about the chemicals in throw-away nappies and having the option to use something natural on his skin was an easy decision for me, I wouldn’t dress him in clothes that contained them so why nappies?  I thought we’d be over-run by piles of dirty nappies but we have our own little system going that keeps everything in place. And, yes, although she does the nappy
shopping, I do like to see them, my boy’s gotta look good after all!” 

Different Types of Cloth Nappies 



Little One Lane aim to provide all of your baby essentials in one easy place. From toys and clothing to nappies and cots.

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  1. Tamsin Rowles says:

    I am really interested in finding out more about these nappies… where to buy, how much etc… u can either email me, (although sometimes our hotmail decides not to work) or contact me thru facebook.. either by my name or my salon Funky Cutz.

    Thank youuu… xx

    • Hi Tamsin,
      You can contact me on our Facebook Page or via email (info@littleonelane.com) with any questions you might have and I’ll be more than happy to advise in any way I can :)
      Lexi x

  2. Hi Tamsin,
    You can contact me on our Facebook Page or via email (info@littleonelane.com) with any questions you might have and I’ll be more than happy to advise in any way I can :)
    Lexi x

  3. Thank you for the insight will look into cloth nappies for my second child due in may as disposables we’re so ezxpensive