Some parents find that disposable nappies are the most convenient option for them, while others prefer to use washable nappies. There is no doubt that washable nappies are kinder to the environment as they don’t take up landfill space or take years to rot down.

Choosing nappies

You may find that a good compromise is to use throw-away liners with washable cotton nappies.

Disposable nappies

If you use disposable nappies, you’ll find a wide choice of brands available, including supermarkets’ own brands. Prices vary and there are options to suit most budgets. It’s worthwhile trying out a few different makes to see what suits you and your baby – the most expensive option isn’t necessarily the best.

Remember to dispose of soiled nappies carefully. You can buy a special nappy bin which you’ll need to empty 2 or 3 times a week – or you can wrap each dirty nappy in a nappy sack and put it in the bin. It’s more hygienic to put it straight in your outdoor bin. To reduce risk of choking keep nappy sacks out of reach of children.

Washable nappies

If you use washable nappies, you can wash and dry them at home yourself or, where available, use a nappy laundry service which you pay to take away dirty nappies and swap them for clean ones.

Many councils have schemes to support the use of reusable nappies. The Real Nappy Helpline on 0845 850 0606 gives callers details of their local cloth nappy contacts, whether they want to buy them to wash at home or use a laundry service. For more information on real nappies, visit Go Real.

Changing your baby’s nappy

All you really need is a changing mat or clean towel and you can change your baby on the floor. Some mums prefer changing stations which allow you to stand up when you’re changing your baby’s nappy. If you do use a changing station, remember never to leave your baby alone on it, in case she rolls and falls.

Time for a change?

You’ll soon know when you need to change your baby’s nappy – wet nappies will feel warm and full on her bottom and dirty nappies – you’ll be able to smell them:

  • make sure you have a clean dry nappy, a bowl of warm water, cotton wool and a small soft towel to hand
  • lay your baby down on her back on the changing mat or a clean towel
  • unfasten her clothes from the waist down
  • unfasten and remove the dirty nappy
  • hold your baby’s legs and feet up
  • wipe her bottom and genitals clean with cotton wool balls soaked in warm water (remember to wipe baby girls from front to back to avoid infection)
  • pat her dry with the small soft towel
  • apply nappy cream if she has any red or sore skin
  • put on a clean nappy
  • wash your hands.

Hand hygiene

Washing your hands is important for both you and your baby’s health. It will help to stop you and your baby from getting tummy bugs and other illnesses.

Of course, as well as taking extra care to make sure your hands are clean, with a new baby in the house you’ll want to make sure that other children’s hands are as clean as possible when playing with the new baby. And don’t forget to be extra vigilant about wiping down surfaces and cleaning up after your pets.

Here are some examples of when you should take care to wash your hands:

  • before feeding yourself or your baby
  • before making up your baby’s bottle or expressing your breast milk
  • after going to the toilet or changing your baby’s nappy
  • after touching objects that could contain germs (for example a bin or mop)
  • after touching pets or anything that belongs to them (food bowls or cages).
Last Updated: 02 September 2013
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