Over the last year or so, we’ve used a combination of disposable nappies and cloth / reusable nappies for Toddler L. This has included premium disposable nappies like Pampers, supermarket own brand disposable nappies such as Tesco, and a range of cloth / reusable / hybrid nappies like Tots Bots, gNappies, Close Parent, Charlie Banana, Daisybirds Kids and Piriuki.
I’ve been meaning to write about our experiences of reusable nappies for some time now and give our views on the different brands that we’ve tried. Why? Well, before becoming a dad, I didn’t know anything about using cloth nappies and assumed that disposable was the only option. I’ve since learnt though that reusable nappies are a useful addition and / or viable alternative to disposables in your bum-changing armoury.
Let’s start with the basics. Reusable or cloth nappies do exactly what you’d expect – the clue is unsurprisingly in the name. Rather than disposable nappies which you throw away after single use, reusable nappies can be worn over and over again – you simply stick them in the washing machine when they are a bit pissy or crappy. This means that they can be used for months, if not years on end.
We’ve tried a lot of different brands over the last year – some of these were sent directly to us from companies for review, some were sent to us for free by our Local Council as part of a real nappy scheme and others were provided as samples because I was a tester for the Mother & Baby Awards 2016.
What I’ve learnt is that a lot of reusable nappies are quite similar in terms of what they do, the difference is obviously how they do it. For instance, some brands use Velcro around the waist, whilst others use poppers, or some will be all-in-one with the liner attached, whereas others will have a removable liner.
We’re not full converts to cloth nappies, rather we use them alongside disposables. We always use a disposable during the night, but then mix it up with cloth or disposable during the day depending on where we’re going and what we’re doing. As such, we’re probably split at about 50/50 between disposable and real nappies at present.
In our experience, some of the positives and negatives of cloth nappies include:
- Reduces waste – As they can be used thousands of times, there is less of an environmental impact when compared to disposables which are used once before thrown on the landfill
- Kinder to the skin – Cloth nappies use fewer (no?) chemicals when compared to disposables, which make them better for your baby’s skin
- Looks nicer – Reusable nappies come in loads of different colours and designs, making them much more aesthetically pleasing than your standard scabby disposable nappy
- Cheaper – They have a higher cost up front, but over the long term (particularly if used on multiple babies), can save you money compared to disposables
- Worse performance – Typically, we’ve had more leaks in reusable nappies and they need to be changed more often when compared to disposable
- Messier – Dealing with pissy and crappy cloth nappies is a little vom-inducing, particularly when scraping a soft toddler turd into the toilet
- More hassle – It can be a bit of a faff to store dirty nappies, then wash and dry them compared to just throwing away
- Bulkier – Cloth nappies are more padded and less streamlined than some of the disposables we use
I’m far from an expert when it comes to real nappies, but as a regular user – that’s Toddler L, not me – I reckon I’m in a decent position to share my thoughts on the different brands we’ve tried out. Here goes…
TotsBots EasyFit Star Reusable Nappy
The new TotsBots Easyfit Star is an update of the Easyfit V4 nappy. It is an all-in-one cloth nappy, featuring an ultra-absorbent bamboo core (super soft on babies bum!), and has been fitted with new features such as the waterproof tummy zone (to keep baby extra dry), seamless leg stitching and “no escape” buffer zones around the bamboo core, which ensure no leaks. One size fits most from 8lbs – 35lbs.
The Easyfit Star nappies are the newest addition to our bum-changing armoury – they are also hot off the press as TotsBots only launched them on 24th March, but we were given advanced samples so have been making use of them for the last few weeks.
Obviously, we’ve not had that long to try out these nappies, but from what we’ve experienced so far, we’re really impressed. They are all-in-one, by which I mean that the soft liner is attached to the nappy. To use, you simply fold the liner in half and underneath itself into a hidden pocket, thus doubling the protection. You then just put them on like a normal nappy using the Velcro tabs around the waist. You also have the option of making the nappy smaller using the adjustable rise snaps on the front.
The Easyfit Star is actually an upgrade on the V4 Easyfit, which we also own and have used for a year. On the surface, the nappies look quite similar, however some improvements – such as the waterproof tummy zone and ‘no escape’ buffer zones – have been made. We really like the V4s, but have experienced leaks on multiple occasions which lets it down – for instance, just today the V4 nappy leaked after just one and a half hours of use.
Although we’ve not had the Easyfit Star that long, we have noticed a difference in absorbency and the nappies are lasting much longer. We’ve had one leak in the new nappies after five hours of use, however I’ve put this down to the fact that the nappies are new and will get more absorbent as they are washed. Still, five hours is much better than one and a half.
The Easyfit Star comes in a range of cool colours and patterns – we have Sweet Pea, Sugar Plum, Pumpkin, White and the awesomely funky Treasure. These nappies start at £14.99 and go up depending on the design.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Charlie Banana “2-in-1” Reusable Diapering System
Charlie Banana nappies are a one size nappy with organic cotton lining and hemp inserts which fits most children birth to potty. It’s a cloth diaper but with a smart front panel that gives you the option of tucking in a disposable pad for those special occasions. The nappy size is adjusted through altering the elastic setting at the legs. The elastic is pulled tight for small babies and gradually released as babies grows.
I’m a big fan of the Charlie Banana nappies. Well, I say nappies, but we only own one so I should probably say ‘nappy’. In contrast to the TotsBots, these nappies come with separate reusable liners (disposable are also available) that you insert into a hidden pocket of the nappy, much like a panty liner.
They then use tabs with poppers to attach around your child rather than a Velcro waist band. Although this is more fiddly, we’ve found that it stops Toddler L being able to open the nappy like she sometimes can with other brands. It also means that the nappy grows with your kid as you have various places to ‘pop’ the waist tabs.
From a performance perspective, I can’t remember a time when the Charlie Banana nappy has leaked. I should point out that I use two inserts which gives great absorbency, although this does make them bulkier when under clothing. It also continues to feel very soft, even after multiple washes.
As you’d expect, a number of colours and designs are available – ours is yellow as you may have figured out from the photo – and cost £15.99.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Close Parent Pop-In New Gen V2 Reusable Nappy
Pop-in’s have stretchy tabs just like a disposable nappy for a snug fit around baby every time with a soft waterproof shell that lets baby’s bottom breathe. There is a clever absorbent panel in the outer shell which helps hold the wetness in the middle of the nappy to get extra dry time between changes. The award winning V2 Pop-ins have hidden wash tab and greater flexibility in sizing and fit. The specially designed night time booster pops into the nappy to keep them dry overnight once they are sleeping through.
The Pop-Ins were sent to us by the Council as part of a reusable nappy scheme and we’ve used them a lot over the past year. They come with cloth inserts which, wait for it, pop in to the nappy using poppers, which I assume is where the name comes from. The nappies come with a Velcro waistband and adjustable rise snaps, meaning that they are quite similar to the TotsBots apart from the all-in-one element.
You then also have the option of adding in another liner on top which attaches by a popper – this increases the absorbency but does mean they are quite bulky. You can also use a night time booster which should get your kid through the night, however we’ve not used these.
We have found that the Pop-Ins leak after a number of hours of use. As such, I tend to use these when I know a reusable nappy is only needed for an hour or so, e.g. when we are going swimming or if she’s had a crap just before we’ve got her ready for bed.
Unlike some of the other nappies, I think that the Pop-Ins may be coming to the end of their time with Todder L. They still do the job, but the Velcro waistband can’t really be relaxed that much more and the sprog is left with a few marks on the legs and waist after she’s worn them for a few hours, which suggests that they are now a little tight.
The nappy costs £15.99 and is available in multiple colours and patterns – we have the purple, yellow and green.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Piriuki Easy One Size All in One Diaper
With 2 different inserts made from super absorbent bamboo and resistant microfiber to hold the wetness. The perfect hybrid diaper, to be used for both parents who value the stay dry effect or prefer to use natural fibers. If you prefer bamboo super absorbency just put the bamboo insert up and if you prefer stay dry softness just put the microfleece side in direct contact with your baby skin.
The pocket opening in the middle transform this AIO diaper, thin and easy to use in a perfect solution for nighttime or heavy wetters. Just insert a microfiber, bamboo, cotton or prefold in the pocket opening and your diaper we’ll become the perfect nap time diaper. Piriuki Easy is also perfect and practical for boys and girls. Do you want to add extra absorbency where your baby will need the most?Just fold in 2 or 3 at front if you have a little boy or on the back if you have a girl and you’ll add extra absorbency where your baby will need the most.
I’m including the Piriuki Easy nappy in this review, however I’m afraid that I don’t have many nice things to say about it and can only use a stock photo as we no longer own it. After only a few uses and washes, we had to throw it away because it had started to come apart – quite a few of the seams on the nappy had started to untangle and it looked a mess.
From memory, it was an all-in-one nappy as the liner was attached to the inside of the nappy. It also closed through the use of poppers on the tabs, which allowed it to be tailored to the size of your baby. I really can’t remember how well it kept in liquid or whether it leaked because we weren’t able to use it that many times.
The one good thing about the Piriuki was the print – a really funky design called ‘Into the Jungle’. However, with something like this, looks will only get you so far. Considering that we had to throw it away after less than a dozen times and that it is the most expensive nappy in this review at 23.99 EUR, I’d have expected a lot more.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 1 out of 5 Stars
Daisybirds Kids Bamboo Hybrid Nappy
The Daisybirds Kids nappy has a hidden layer of thin, breathable PUL (polyurethane laminate) under the soft bamboo velour outer. This water-resistant layer means that the DBK can be used as an all-in-one nappy, with no wrap/outer cover during the day. For overnight use, add a wrap or fleece soaker and the DBK will easily last all night.
Inside the DBK, a layer of luxurious bamboo velour tops the tongue and is super soft against the skin, with two really absorbent layers of bamboo fleece underneath it. Then the optional snap-in booster is another three layers of bamboo fleece, and the inner of the shell is yet another layer of bamboo fleece. If fluid gets through these 7 really absorbent layers, it then comes to the hidden PUL barrier.
Now, I’m quite torn with the Daisybirds Kids nappies and I’m not really sure why. Actually, scrub that, I think I do know why – because I really dislike their appearance (no offence to the designer). I know that looks aren’t everything – hell, if that was the case, I wouldn’t be married to the missus – but the outer just reminds me of a chav wearing a velour tracksuit.
Functionally, the nappies are very good and I have no complaints about performance. Inside the nappy is an attached bamboo fleece liner which you position to soak up any number ones. You then also have the option of adding another bamboo liner to sit on top, which can be attached with press studs – this obviously makes it bulkier, but means it’s more absorbent, e.g. if using at night (although we’ve never tried that). As the liner is attached, this means that the entire nappy needs to be washed, unlike some other brands (like the Pop-In) where the inners can be removed.
The nappy has cross over waist tabs instead of Velcro which fasten around the front, meaning that they can be adjusted to the size of your baby. They also have adjustable rise snaps – aka press studs – that allow you to fold up the front of the nappy for a snugger fit when your baby is smaller.
We’ve found the nappies do a really good job – I can’t remember a time when they leaked, which is testament to how well they absorb. They are also really, really soft – both inside an out – although over time I’ve found that they are a little harder to the touch now which I assume is due to use and washing. I use these quite frequently as I know they do a good job, I just personally wish that they looked different.
The DBK comes in a rainbow of colours – we have orange, yellow, green, red and blue – and retails for a pretty cheap £9.99.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
gNappies gPants with Biodegradable Disposable Inserts
gPants are soft cotton nappy covers which come with one waterproof pouch that pops in and out for added convenience and less laundry. The waterproof pouch is made with gBreathe technology which means less rash for baby. gPants are perfectly sized for a trim fit, from newborn to toddler. gPants are 92% cotton, 8% spandex for a gentle stretch and trim fit. gPants fasten around the back, away from little hands.
Use gPants with 100% biodegradable disposable inserts that you can compost (wet ones only) or bin to reduce baby’s footprint from day one. The disposable inserts tuck inside the gPants and are made of cellulose, fluff pulp and super absorber. When the nappy is soiled, simply remove the disposable insert, dispose, and tuck in a new insert for a fresh change. Use the same gPant through multiple changes.
If you’re not ready for the whole cloth nappy experience, then gNappies is a great alternative. I personally found these a happy medium in the early days when we started experimenting with cloth nappies – they got me in the habit of reusing, but meant that I could still throw away dirty inserts as I wasn’t quite ready to deal with crap on cloth.
The idea of gNappies is pretty simple. You have biodegradable, panty liner-esque disposable inserts which you put into the waterproof pouch within the gPants nappy covers. They fit onto your sprog like a normal nappy, but the Velcro fastens around the back in order to stop your kid taking them off.
If you have a pissy insert, then these can be composted, whilst a crappy insert is thrown away just like a normal disposable nappy. You then put a fresh insert into the same gPants, then wash the nappy cover after multiple uses, which gives the benefit of reducing waste as you’re throwing less away.
I really like the gNappies system and have often preferred to use these to ‘proper’ cloth nappies because of the aforementioned worry about crap on cloth. Although I have a very positive view of gNappies, I have occasionally found that the liner moves when in the nappy which means that wetness isn’t contained, plus the gPants sometimes rub which has left a mark on Baby / Toddler L.
The gPants come in a range of different colours and designs – we have Gumdrop Purple and Good Morning Sunshine – they’re available in four sizes and start at £14.95 each. The disposable inserts cost £8.95 for a pack of 32 and come in two sizes.
The DADventurer Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
So that’s our experience of using cloth nappies. As I say, we’re not 100% converted, but are definitely enjoying the benefits of reusable nappies alongside disposable. Have you used reusable nappies before? What’s your experience? What brands do you like / dislike? Let me know below!
N.B. This review was written by me (Dave) and represents my honest opinion of the products. All of the nappies have been provided to us as samples – a combination of directly from the companies for review, via our Council’s reusable nappy scheme and as part of the Mother & Baby 2016 awards – however I was under no obligation to review each of the different brands as part of this post.
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