Category Archives: Nappy Ever After

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.

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.


Beating new mothers with sticks, really?

“The terry nappy brigade (or washable nappy brigade) like the breast feeding brigade is  just another stick to beat new mums with,” said actress and mum of triplets, Jackie Clune on Jeremy Vine’s lunchtime BBC2 radio show, last Thursday (20 Oct 2016.)  I’m really sorry that Jackie* (who is currently playing Julius Caesar in an all female cast at the King’s Cross Theatre) feels like this.

For the last 20 years I have been watching parents spend far too much money on disposables and struggle with getting their 3 and 4 year olds out of them.  In 2003 I set up a business, Nappy Ever After to help people use washable nappies and find out if they worked for them.

It hasn’t been easy to get the message out there:  there has been a virtual media blackout on talking about washable nappies and potty training in an informed way because the disposable nappy companies spend big money on advertising space.  Even the BBC doesn’t like to say anything that does not reflect public opinion, even if that ‘public opinion’ has been bought by huge multi-national corporations.

But this nappy news item, despite what Jackie Clune said above, turned out to be different.  What was supposed to be a story celebrating the life of Valerie Hunter Gordon, the ‘inventor’ of the “disposable” nappy, became an item about the benefits of the modern washable nappy and the problem of nappy waste in landfill.  Hunter Gordon’s daughter even called the programme to correct the view that her mother was the inventor of the modern “disposable” and thus responsible for the nappy waste nightmare.  Hunter Gordon’s invention, the Paddi was a bio-degradable pad that sat inside a washable nappy cover – a very different product to the single-use nappy that contains super-absorbent material from polymers known as sodium polyacrylate.

You can hear the Jeremy Vine show nappy item here, fast-forward to 1 hour 9 mins.

For the record, the real nappy industry is  a small percentage of parents who have enjoyed reusable nappies and who want to share their knowledge.  We give information  and sell washable nappies because we have found them better for us, our wallets and most importantly for our children.

*Jackie, you asked on the show, what’s the point of giving up the convenience of disposables when wars are being waged around the world.  That thought has occured to me, but sadly, there is nothing I can do to stop the wars.  However I can help reduce nappy waste.    I can understand that real nappies may not work for you, but please don’t disrespect us with ill-informed cliches:  the other London nappy laundry company, Number One for Nappies was started and is still run by a father of twins (black and not middle-class.)

As people who are privileged to live in a land of peace it’s our responsibility to act in ways that work for us.  We can also try to increase the demand for single-use nappies that do not contain SAPs and could be composted locally.  I talk about this here.  That could be the best solution we know about for now, along with better knowledge about potty training as publicised by Kandi Burruss.  Humanity is at stake as shown by another theatre company, Complicite in its ground-breaking show, Encounter.

And Jackie Clune, if your triplets are still in nappies I’d be happy to give you a set of gNappies to try out on one of them.  Even if you only use washables some of the time you’d be reducing waste and you may even discover that you love them.  Actually they can be used with disposable inserts and are not unlike the product invented, so long ago, by Valerie Hunter Gordon.


Engel and Disana pre-order service

Every Autumn, Nappy Ever After puts in orders for organic woollen clothing to Engel Natur and Disana. This year our ‘Wool Event’ at the shop is on Saturday 15 October from 4 to 5pm. Preorders are due by Tuesday 18 October.

At our instore event, you can see and touch samples of  Engel Natur and Disana clothing.

Disana's new 'Melange' range of knitwear – jumper and hat

We keep down the price by taking pre-orders and pre-payment. This way you get high-quality organic merino wool and silk clothing (for babies, children and adults) at about 50% of the cost you would pay normally in a shop. Looked after properly these clothes are an investment; they last for ages, and baby and children’s clothes can be passed on.

For those of you who have a fear of washing wool there’s one simple rule: wool must be washed and rinsed at a similar temperature or you shock it.   If you do this they remain as good as new. We will have samples to show you.

Disana's new 'Melange' knitwear range

We do this event because we want to give business to the companies that continue to make these truly magnificent products but also we want your babies to have the experience of wearing them. We can also order for children and adults.

In the past, customers have ordered natural wool/silk vests for babies, sleepsuits with feet (for babies who kick off the blankets), colourful sleeveless and long sleeve vests and leggings for kids as well as adults . From Disana, we have ordered many boiled wool baby jackets and overalls.  The knitted jumpers (311), leggings (332) and trousers (331) are just so gorgeous and practical too.

If you know what you want send us an email and we’ll let you know the prices (No price list as we can never predict what you want to order and there are sometimes differences in prices according to size).  If you decide to order pre-payment is required.

After the event, you have until 21 October to choose, make orders and pre-pay. Engel products usually arrive within 10 days.  Some Disana boiled wool items may not arrive until December as they are made to order.

Please let us know if you’re coming so we know how many people to expect. or call 020-7014 3006

PLEASE NOTE: Discounted prices are only available on pre-ordered items, not our usual stock lines. Prepayment is required. All orders are taken at the customer’s risk however we can advise on sizing. There are no returns or refunds on pre-ordered goods.

Soft merino wool bonnets by Engel

Soft merino wool bonnets by Engel


Popping the Weasel

It’s 1999,  I’m on a radio journalism course and for an assignment I put together an item about nappy waste for Real Nappy Week and pitch it to ‘You and Yours,’ the popular mid-day BBC Radio 4 consumer magazine programme.  At the time I had no plans to set up a real nappy company … I was hoping for a career in radio journalism!

To liven up the item and punctuate the piece I made up a song and recorded some boys singing it at our local park..  Or to be more precise I put new words to the tune of the nursery rhyme ‘Pop! goes the Weasel’ which contains a verse “Up and down the City Road, In and out the Eagle, That’s the way the money goes, Pop! goes the weasel.”  I can’t remember all the words of the nappy waste version now, but there were lines like “That’s the way a disposable’s filled, pop it in the landfill.

By coincidence, the company I founded almost 13 years ago, Nappy Ever After, moved last year from Camden to Hackney to premises just off the City Road, indeed very very close to the Eagle pub.  So, to find us, get a bus to the City Road and get off at the Eagle.  Or take the tube to Old Steet station, walk up the City Road and turn right at the Eagle pub on Shepherdess Walk.  (Your phone will show a quicker route.)  We’re more like a warehouse than a shop and don’t have normal shop hours.  We’re open every Tuesday 2-6pm and by appointment.


A real nappy item was aired for Real Nappy Week 1999 on Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ programme.  They used my idea and research but remade the item themselves.  The show’s producer said I’d included too much about nappy waste and this was not relevant as it was a consumer choice programme!  We think differently now, right?

To replace the nappy waste content they gave 2 mothers some real nappies to  test for a few days.  Would the consumers like them?  They were disappointed that both mums found they worked really well and intended to switch from disposables!  However as it was all so late in the day they had to run the item like that.

I was on the radio again recently.  BBC Radio London called me to ask me to talk about nappy recycling on Eddie Nestor’s drive time show.  The mic was closed on me when I wouldn’t shut up about 35% of children arriving for school in nappies.  Eddie Nestor didn’t ask me what relevance this had to the topic of recycling disposable nappies, he just told me it wasn’t relevant and closed the mic.

This is the sort of silo mentality that fed the financial crisis.  We need to connect issues.  Just as 17 years ago what happened to disposable nappies after you’d thrown them in the bin wasn’t supposed to concern consumers, now 35% of children arriving at school in nappies in one of the most deprived schools in the UK has nothing do with whether or not £20million should be invested in a new Knowaste nappy recycling plant.  How about spending a little bit of a public health budget on giving parents good information on how to potty train their children?  It could halve the amount of disposable nappy waste Londoners generate and then, work out whether you need the nappy waste recycling plant or not.

PS Pop was cockney for pawn, and weasel, coat.  There’s a metaphor in that nursery rhyme about nappy waste and the planet that I didn’t see at the time; if we waste all our finite resources on single-use nappies (which aren’t of course disposable at all, such a clever name, like clean diesel) our descendants may find themselves wihout a coat/protection from climate chaos.






Potty Training this Summer?

If your toddler is not already wearing cotton nappies in the run up to potty training (ie taking away nappies during the day) I suggest you start using them.   Cotton nappies get wet and this may stimulate your child to start experimenting with holding and releasing the bladder out of curiosity.  “When I do this my nappy gets wet.  When I do this it stays dry.” That kind of thing.  Then when you take away nappies during the day your toddler has already been experitimenting with developing the bladder muscles.

It’s also a good idea to buy a potty before you start potty training.  Give your child the opportunity to sit on it once a day.   You can also play at potty training a favourite doll or teddy.  The idea is to help your child understand where poo and pee goes so s/he can take the lead when ready.  For more about this see the link at the end of this post.

We have special potty training kits available for just £20 for children over 12 months.  You can pick up from our shop or if you buy online please pay £3.90 for package and postage.  The nappies look similar to this.  simply lite with prefold LR

The kit comprises 10 cotton nappies, 5 booster pads for nights (they take longer to dry) and 2 waterproof wraps.  Add a roll of disposable liners if your child still poos in the nappy.

Yes, it’s an amazing bargain.  How can we do this so cheaply you ask?  What’s the catch?  The stock is unused remaindered stock.  However, our margins are still low, or zero but it’s marketing.  We believe you will find out how practical prefolds are and tell your friends and perhaps use them for your next baby.

One more tip.  Get a bucket with a lid from the pound shop for storing the nappies until you load the washing machine.

Enjoy this step towards your child no longer needing nappies!

For more info on potty training visit the blog at Real Nappies for London: New Thoughts ….