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24th April to 1st May 2022 is Reusable Nappy Week but what does that mean? Do people really have a week dedicated to terries and pins?

Definitely not! Modern cloth nappies, or reusable nappies as they are also called, have come a long way since the days of pins, terry squares and boil washing. Reusable nappies are now very similar to a single-use nappy, except they go in the wash and get reused.


Reusable Nappy Week is a time to learn all about the benefits of cloth nappies – and usually find a discount or two as well!

Aren’t reusable nappies worse for the environment? They must take a lot of water and energy to wash…

This is a really common concern and you can be reassured that using cloth nappies really does have a lot of environmental benefits. The headlines will have us believe that cloth nappies take so much water and energy to wash and dry that it cancels out any of their benefits, but what isn’t often talked about is the resources used to produce single-use nappies to begin with.

Did you know that…?

  • Each year, more than 1 billion trees are cut down to make the wood pulp used in single-use nappies worldwide.
  • Over 300 lbs of wood, 50 lbs of petroleum and 20 lbs of chlorine are used to make single-use nappies for one child, for one year.
  • Washing 3 loads of nappies a week uses about 220 litres of water, but producing enough single-use nappies for a week uses approximately 1,550 litres.
  • Not one single-use nappy has ever biodegraded. In fact, if Henry VIII had been in single-use nappies, they’d still be here today.

By swapping out just one single-use nappy a day for a reusable, you could save over 900 nappies from landfill by the time your little one is potty trained.

Are all reusable nappies the same?

Not at all. Reusable nappies come in a variety of types, shapes and sizes. While this may first seem confusing, it ultimately gives the user more choice and puts them in control of choosing a nappy that suits their baby and their lifestyle.

Some families may need a nappy that dries faster, some might need something very absorbent, others may prefer a very slim nappy. There really is a reusable nappy for every baby.

What are the main types?

  • All In One – This is probably the closest to a single-use nappy. In an all-in-one nappy, the absorbency and waterproof layer are attached into one piece. At nappy change time, you simply take the whole nappy off and replace it with a fresh one.
  • Pocket Nappy – A pocket nappy has one or two flat absorbent pads (‘inserts’) which are inserted into a pouch/pocket in the waterproof cover. At nappy change time it works just like an all in one, taking off the whole nappy and replacing it with a clean one.
  • All In Two – An all in two nappy system falls somewhere between a pocket nappy and an all in one nappy. The inner absorbent pads pop on to the outer wrap and, once poppered, form a one piece nappy. The pads can be unpoppered for washing and to speed up the drying process. Unless soiled, the outer wrap can be used again.
  • Fitted Nappy – A fitted nappy is part of a two part nappy system. The whole fitted nappy is the absorbent part, and then needs a separate waterproof wrap to go over the top. Most nappies and wraps are interchangeable between brands. A two part system is the most reliable and is perfect for night time.
  • Flat Nappy – A flat nappy can also be used in a two part system. The flat nappy needs to be folded before putting on the baby – this can be simply folding into 3 or into a nappy shape, before fastening with a nappy nippa. Not a pin in sight! The flat nappy is the absorbent part and then needs a waterproof wrap to go over the top.

 How do I choose?

Choosing nappies is very much like buying a pair of jeans – just because something fits perfectly on your friend, doesn’t mean it will fit you perfectly too. We are all different shapes and sizes and so are babies.

Friends can be wonderful in helping to share their knowledge and experiences so by all means ask all the questions, but it’s always worth bearing in mind that their favourite may not be the best choice to suit your baby.

Have a think about what might be important to you in a nappy. What are your drying facilities like? Do you have a super pooper who needs excellent containment? Do you like a slim fit to go under clothes and what sort of budget do you have in mind? Starting your research with a bit of a plan can help focus your thinking.

The Nappy Lady has been advising parents for over 22 years and has designed a questionnaire to help you choose. The questionnaire asks lots of questions about what’s important to you in a nappy, then you will be emailed a tailored recommendation on the best nappies to suit your personal requirements. 

Another great way to choose which reusable nappy will suit your baby is to try them first. This can be via a hire scheme like a nappy library or via us at The Nappy Lady. Our website has a selection of hire kits and trial packs which allow you to try out a few to see which you prefer.

Choosing cloth nappies can save you money over the time your baby is in nappies, as well as the obvious environmental plus points they offer. Not to mention they look really cute! It absolutely doesn’t need to be all or nothing though: maybe you use them just at home, just at night or once a day. There really is a nappy for everyone, so give them a try and see for yourself!