What if the first nappy put on your baby by your midwife was cloth?

At the moment disposable nappies are established as the norm by midwives and other health professionals.  Either expectant parents are given a hospital bag list that has ‘disposable nappies’ on it or disposable nappies are supplied on the ward.   Parents do not take the nappy waste home with them.  The establishment procures, at a cost, clinical waste disposal services.

Cloth nappies can be used on maternity wards and washed at the hospital laundry or sent out to a local laundry that deals with incontinence wear.  Hospital staff nurseries could be saving money, reducing waste and changing the idea that disposable nappies are normal by using cloth nappies.

There is procurement legislation that says that ‘all establishments’  should procure according to the waste hierarchy: preventing waste is at the top.  Currently most hospitals are not following this legislation and procuring disposal of nappy waste services instead of switching their establishment to reusable nappies.

If you would like to find out more about using cloth nappies on your maternity ward or in the hospital staff nursery please get in touch.  Indeed, Nappy Ever After has a huge stash of prem cotton nappies that used to be used on hospital wards and could be put back to use.


This is post two of a six part series leading up to Real Nappy Week 2018 (23-29 April.)  Nappy Ever After, a not-for-profit real nappy social enterprise is 15 years old this year. Working in partnership with local authorities and parents, we have tested out the market for washable nappies in depth, through offering a local nappy laundry service and selling real nappies face-to-face. What we know is that recovering the culture of reusable nappies is slow, but a significant level of disposable nappy waste is reduced when a culture of real nappies thrives in local areas.

Children starting school in nappies is a public health issue, but it’s also a waste issue.

Three years ago I watched a report on Channel 4 News about child poverty.  I was shocked to hear a Stoke primary school teacher say that 35% of her September reception children had arrived at school in nappies.   Let that sink in.

A while later, I was at a health conference and met a Danish IT consultant (who uses big data to improve health outcomes.) His response, when I told him that up to a third of children starting school in England may still be wearing nappies, indicated no shock or surprise. “It’s a UK thing right?” he said. “That wouldn’t happen in Denmark. We would find out this is happening and we would spend money on educating the parents. In the UK, you don’t spend money.”

What’s clear is that many children are toilet training later. Schools are installing nappy changing areas.   Children’s education is being disrupted by it. It should concern all of us that reception teachers are spending time NOT teaching because 1 in 3 children in the class are not able to take themselves to the toilet.

Public Health England has noticed this problem. It has made toileting independence one of the ten school readiness indicators Foundation Years has also noticed. Its document, supported by the Department of Education: “What to expect, when?” tells parents your child will tell you s/he needs the potty or to go to the toilet at 16-26 months.

What’s this got to do with Nappy Ever After?   We want to help people who want to use washable nappies.  In so doing, we help reduce London’s nappy waste. We run a nappy laundry service and give expectant/new parents the opportunity to see nappies before they buy.  If a household uses them, that’s one tonne less household refuse to collect and landfill or incinerate per baby.

However even if we reduce nappy waste through encouraging more people to use washable nappies, nappy waste will not go down if an ever increasing number of children are wearing nappies for longer and longer – for no medical reason.

London spends £20 million per year on the collection and disposal of nappy waste. We want to reduce this cost. We can think of better ways to spend £20 million. We need more parents and carers to receive good up-to-date information about potty training. No one wants to be changing nappies of a child who is perfectly capable and happy to take her/himself to the toilet.  Let’s do it!


This post is part one of a six part series of posts leading up to Real Nappy Week 2018 (23-29 April.) Nappy Ever After, a not-for-profit real nappy social enterprise is 15 years old this year. Working in partnership with local authorities and parents, we have tested out the market for washable nappies in depth, through offering a local nappy laundry service and selling real nappies face-to-face. What we know is that recovering the culture of reusable nappies is slow, but a significant level of disposable nappy waste is reduced when a culture of real nappies thrives in local areas.

Real Nappy Week 2018 (23-29 April)

According to the news this morning, today is an  historic day.  Wigan, a second-league club knocked the invincible Manchester City out of the FA Cup.  City manager Pep Guardiola defends his players “It’s the intention that matters, not the result.”

This seems like a great message to increase real nappy culture and reduce nappy waste.  What we need is more people with the intention.

Let’s get out there and spread these encouraging words.  It’s your intention to reduce nappy waste that’s important: surely the result wil follow.  Sadly, this didn’t work for Man City but this is not about winning today, reducing nappy waste is a long game!


How to wash cloth nappies

Time has revealed there is not ONE way to wash nappies.  You work it out as you go along.  But here are some general guidelines to help you start out:

Wash nappies before use to make them absorbent.  Once dry pour some water on to the nappy.  If it absorbs the nappy is ready for use.  If it runs off the surface it isn’t!

If you buy pre-loved nappies, wash before use without detergent/laundry soap.  To ensure bacteria are killed either wash at 90 degrees (check label, only nappies such as terries, muslins, cotton prefolds can be washed at this temperature) or use a sanitiser such as MioFresh or Napisan.

Use liners to catch most of the poo.  Bin them, don’t flush them. Then most of your nappies are simply damp.

Store nappies in a bucket with a lid until you have a machine drum’s worth of nappies.  Do not soak.

To get nappies clean you need:

  • Lots of water (sounds obvious but HE machines tend not to use much)
  • soap (but not too much, follow the instructions)
  • biological or non-biological?  You probably already know whether or not biological works for you.  The important thing is for enzymes to work they need a temperature of 40 degrees
  • agitation (don’t over or underfill machine – look at laundry to see laundry is being agitated)
  • to kill harmful bacteria use either heat (60 degrees wash) or sanitiser such as MioFresh or Napisan
  • no fabric softener – it reduces absorbency of the nappy
  • in London we have hard water.  You may need to use a detergent that cleans well in hard water such as the Hard Core formula of Rockin’ Green
  • line dry if possible.  Sunshine is magic: it makes stains disappear.

Modern High Efficiency (HE) machines use less water.  The simple way to overcome the lack of water in your washing machine is to do a pre-rinse cycle, then a wash cycle with detergent.  This may seem like a lot of water but just remember, flushing the toilet after every pee and long showers are a waste of water.  Getting nappies clean isn’t.  Also, remember the production of disposable nappies uses a lot of water too.  Plus when disposable nappies are incinerated they are heavy with urine/water – so it’s okay to do a pre-wash.

Modern fabrics, such as microfibre and bamboo have a stem like structure.  This makes  them more absorbent than woven fabrics but with a catch: they are difficult to get clean.  Dirt can accumulate deep inside the fabric.  At Nappy Ever After we still sell terry, muslin and 100% cotton prefolds because they are easy to clean.  The benefit is also that you can wash at 90 degrees if necessary to zap bacteria.  Two part nappies, where you can wash the absorbent part and the waterproof wrap separately (if necessary) are still popular options.

When nappies come out of machine, smell them.  If they don’t smell clean they probably aren’t.  If they smell of mould your washing machine needs a clean (run wash cycle at 90 degrees with a little detergent and no laundry in it.)   If they smell of detergent, you need to do an extra rinse.  If they smell of ammonia you need to read this.

As I said at the start, you learn as you go along.  Washing nappies is great preparation for parenting.  You need to keep observing because things change, teething or weaning, for example may make pee stronger and require a slight adaptation to your normal laundry routine.  Enjoy the challenge!  Using washable nappies gives you a great feeling.









Brazelton UK: celebrating 20 years

Yesterday I attended a day to celebrate 20 years of the Brazelton Centre in the UK.  Having booked on some months ago, I found myself wondering why I had decided to attend.  What the real nappy industry knows child development expert Dr T Berry Brazelton for is endorsing the size 6 Pampers nappy with the mantra “Let the child decide when the time is right to potty train.”

What I discovered yesterday is there’s much more to Berry Brazelton than this.  He radically changed attitudes to the new born.  It was Berry who really championed the idea that babies are born individuals, that whilst babies may not speak their first word for a year, they are born ready to communicate.

Something else struck me deeply at the conference yesterday.  We also heard a talk by Professor Dieter Wolke who made the case that babies who find it difficult to ‘self-regulate’ are more challenging.  They make the life of her/his parents much harder.  The message was, be careful not to judge those parents who are having a tough time. Parenting is significantly more challenging for them.  These parents need support to understand how they can help their babies to self-soothe.  Their baby may need more regular routines.

I guess this is all common sense to to most of us now.  However, it feels important to understand that it hasn’t always been so and we have Berry Brazelton and the Brazelton Centre UK to thank for this.

With all the pressures of our busy lives perhaps it’s even more important to spread the Berry Brazelton message that we need to tune into new borns.  Suzanne Zeedyk is carrying on the work, showing just how important and enjoyable nappy changing can be when we ‘tune in.’  Watch this short film ‘Dance of the Nappy’ (on Youtube.)







Nappy Ever After Trial Kits explained

So you’re interested in using real nappies – you’ve heard great things about them.  But why are there so many different types?  How is it possible to make a choice?

Different nappies suit different babies AND different parents.  And you may find the nappy that works well at home during the day doesn’t work at night or when you’re out and about. You need to start using real nappies to find out for yourself what works for you and your baby.

Sounds daunting?  We can help you learn through your own experience for a minimal investment.  We sell an 8 nappy trial kit which will form the basis of your nappy stash.   Those 8 nappies will last about 24 hours.  While they are in the wash and drying you use disposables.  You will soon find out what you like best and you can work out what else you need.

Our trial kit consists of

Six small pre-fold nappies: these work from new born through to potty training.  They form the backbone of any real nappy wardrobe.  A pre-fold is a flat nappy with a central extra absorbent section – you do still have to fold it!   This short video shows how.  Pre-folds tends to be the preferred option for when you’re at home.  They are simple and durable and cheap meaning you can bulk up your stash for a very low cost.  They also make great cloths on the changing mat when your baby is having bare bottom/nappy-free time.

One birth-to-potty all-in-one nappy (most of these have a pocket which you stuff with the absorbent nappy insert, so also called pocket or stuffable nappy.)  This tends to be the preferred option for out and about.

One birth-to-potty shaped nappy – which tends to be the preferred option for nights.

Two waterproof wraps: one sized with Velcro and one birth-to-potty with snaps (both go over prefold nappies and your shaped nappy)

A roll of liners to catch the poo so minimal poo gets on the nappy and thus into your washing machine.

There are 2 sizes, one from new born, the other from 6 months. You can buy the pack here.

NB You may have heard about high and low-rise nappies (not unlike high and low-rise jeans.  Some fit round the waist others below the tummy.)  This pack allows you to try out both so again, you find out which suits your baby better – if it makes any difference at all.

The main thing is to see changing time as enjoyable contact time with your baby.  Watch this short film on YouTube by baby brain guru Suzanne Zeedyk.  It shows that a nappy change can be very important stimulation to the development of your baby’s brain.


What can we do to make London air cleaner for our children?

As a London cyclist I am very aware of air quality.  So when I set up Nappy Ever After’s nappy laundry service in 2003 I was very keen to find out whether we could do our collections and deliveries without tailpipe emissions.  I attached a trailer to the back of my road bike to do the first delivery and collection.

Since then we’ve acquired a bike with a motor.  We’ve tried an electric van and a vehicle with a diesel engine.  We’re back doing our deliveries by cargo bike with batteries charged on Good Energy – because it’s far more efficient.

It’s great to know our nappy laundry service deliveries are not contributing to air pollution.  However London’s air is bad and it’s getting worse.  Yes, we now have a mayor who understands the urgency (unlike Boris) and is going to do something immediately – replacing diesel taxis with cleaner taxis and putting less polluting buses on routes with the worst air quality.

But what can we do?  Afterall,  we are the traffic.

1   When you buy on the internet choose companies that don’t deliver to your door but drop off at collection points within a mile of your home.  This reduces diesel emissions in your street and is being considerate to others. (To be honest this is something we have not organised yet – although where possible we deliver by bike.)

2  Support more space for cycling.  Segregated cycling lanes are important to increase the number of people cycling.  They encourage people who are nervous of cycling in traffic to have a go.  This is especially important if you want to carry children on your bike or have your children cycling,  with you or independently.

3  Cycle with your kids.  Tomorrow, Sunday 5 March sees the launch of the Family Cycling Library.  This is a great initiative to help parents experiment and find out which bike is right for them and their children.

4  Ditch your car – if you are one of the few Londoners who still own one.  You are wasting money.  You will save money and stress by not owning one.  Take taxis and join a car club so you can hire the right vehicle for your journey when you need it.  If you think that’s more expensive than owning one, do the maths!

Most importantly have fun!  Being on two (or three) wheels is one of life’s pleasures!  We need to work to make it safer so more parents feel confident to ride with their babies (and kids) on bikes as is the norm in Amsterdam.