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How do disposable nappies work?
Regular disposable nappies are made of a plastic called polyethylene and filled with absorbent crystals to keep your baby dry. You can find more environmentally-friendly options made of recycled materials like wood pulp, but these tend to be more expensive.
Disposable nappies are typically hypoallergenic, which makes them suitable for a baby's sensitive skin.
What should you consider when buying disposable nappies?
Disposable nappies are more practical for most parents than reusable nappies as they can be thrown away, rather than washed. As they are single-use (and so don't need handling and washing like cloth nappies) they are generally more hygienic too.
While they might be easier to clean and more hygienic, very few disposable nappies are recyclable due to the plastic they are made from. This means that they're less environmentally-friendly than their cloth counterparts – even if you're choosing the more environmentally-friendly options.
While reusable nappies are the most ecological option, those who want both convenience and sustainability but in the form of biodegradable disposable nappies will have to pay a premium.
Nappies come in sizes zero to six, fitting babies and toddlers of all weights between 1 kg and 16+kg. Nappies for younger babies often prioritise keeping the baby dry. As the baby starts to crawl and toddle, nappies are often labelled as 'active' and aim to prevent any leaks.
For a nappy to fit correctly, there should be no leaks around the waist or through the leg holes. Manufacturer sizing will vary, however, so if you don't get on well with a particular nappy brand and need a snugger fit, then do try another.
Wetness indicators, i.e. a yellow line down the front of the nappy, will let you know if the nappy needs changing.
For babies with particularly sensitive skin, regular changing will help to prevent nappy rash.
What types of disposable nappies are available?
These usually have a U-shaped cut-out to avoid irritating or covering the umbilical cord.
These are stretchier nappies that are great for when your baby begins to move around on their own, to prevent leaks and spillages.
Plus nappies are extra absorbent and designed to withstand more moisture so are a good choice for use overnight.
To identify plus nappies, you'll find a plus label on the packaging.
Swimming nappies come in both reusable and disposable options, and are a must for any baby or child, who hasn't been potty trained, to swim in.
How many disposable nappies does a baby use?
While every child is different, expect to use around 70 nappies per week for a newborn baby, 50 to 70 for a child wearing size one nappies, 35 to 50 for size two and approximately 35 for size three.
Recycling charity Wrap estimates that by the time a baby is potty trained, they could have used a total of 4,000 to 6,000 disposable nappies.
Mumsnet's round-up of the best disposable nappies
After trawling the talk boards for recommendations, we've found the best disposable nappies:
1. Pampers Baby-Dry Nappy Pants Size 4, 172 Nappy Pants
The brand leader in the realm of nappies, and with good reason. These are an excellent choice to avoid any leaks or spillages with any super active babies. They're easy to pull up and take off, with tear-away sides for ease of use. They include absorbent micropearls to keep your baby as dry as possible.
“Pampers are the best in my opinion. My son is eight months and we've been using them since birth with no rashes, and he's got eczema and sensitive skin.”
2. Aldi Mamia Newborn Size 1 - 24 Nappies
These award-winning nappies are perfect for newborns, and Mumsnetters love them. They're dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic, so perfect for sensitive newborn skin. They distribute liquid evenly to ensure quicker absorption, meaning your baby stays comfortable and dry as much as possible.
There's also a wetness indicator – a smart colour-changing strip – to make it nice and clear for you when your baby needs a change.
“After four children I've used more than my fair share of nappies and I've definitely found Aldi the best. I've used them from birth with my youngest and they have never leaked and she's never had a problem with nappy rash. Definite value for money.”
“Yep. Best ones for my boys. I would buy them even if they were more expensive than Pampers.”
3. ASDA Little Angels Nappy Pants Size 5
These pull-ups are a great option for any children making the transition from nappies to pants. They absorb up to 30 times their own weight, and stay dry for 12 hours – perfect for wearing through the night. They contain absorbent gel beads, and have leg cuffs to prevent leaks.
“That's all I use for mine. I've tried every brand you can think of and these seem to be the best for my two.”
4. Sainsbury's Little Ones Dry Fit Size 3 Midi
These super-absorbent nappies are uniquely shaped with a stretchy waistband for full comfort. There are breathable layers and a resealable tab to ensure a perfect fit.
“So far I really like Sainsbury's own range nappies. I always found poo escaped Pampers but these have kept even his latest bout of runny teething poo inside and not down his trousers.”
5. Eco by Naty, Size 1
If you're concerned about the environmental impact of disposable nappies, or have a child with a skin condition or sensitive skin, Naty nappies are an excellent option. They're made of plant-based materials, and are free of chlorine, latex and any dyes or perfumes, so minimise the risk of allergies, irritations or nappy rash.
“I used these with all three of my children and they are superb. Unlike many others I tried, we didn't have leaks and I really liked the fact they didn't smell plasticky like normal nappies. I wasn't quite prepared to go down the non-disposable route and these were a good alternative.”
6. Boots Super Dry Nappies, Size 4
These nappies have active dry technology to keep your baby's nappy dry for 12 hours, and have stretchy sides and tape to secure the nappy – reducing the risk of any leaks. To ensure your baby's skin stays soft and free of any irritation these nappies are dermatologically tested and hypoallergenic.
“Please try Boots active – never, ever had a leak.”
7. Mum & You Nappychat Eco Nappies Size 2
These fun nappies are covered in adorable patterns to inspire you to chatter to your baby, and progress their development. They're made of biodegradable wood pulp too, meaning they're environmentally friendly. If that's not enough evidence, they also won a Mumsnet Rated award – so they've been tried and tested by Mumsnet users.
“I really like Mum & You nappies, they are so soft, my son hasn't had any nappy rash at all and they (almost) hold everything in.”
8. Huggies Little Swimmers Swim Nappies
These adorable swim nappies are decorated with Dory and Nemo, and are a great option for taking your baby swimming. They have stretchy sides to avoid any leaks, and are made of a unique absorbent material.
“I use the Huggies ones with some sort of swimming costume / trunks on top and they are fine. Can absolutely guarantee they hold in the poo as well.”
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