Your first choice in nappies will be between reusable and disposable types. Most parents prefer to use disposables, though an increasing consciousness of environmental issues and concerns over the length of time it takes for the chemicals in disposable nappies to decompose has let many parents to reconsider the virtues of fabric nappies can be viewed as pollutants to the water supply, and the energy required to wash them might also be regarded as wasteful. While fabric nappies are cheaper than disposables in the long run, you need to consider the increased electricity bills for frequent washing-machine and tumble-dryer runs, and cost in your time.

Disposable nappies

Thereís no doubt disposable make nappy changing as simple as it can be. They are easy to put on and can be discarded when they are wet or dirty. They are convenient when youíre travelling as you donít have to carry wet, smelly nappies home with you to be washed. Youíll need a constant supply so. Never flush disposable nappies down the lavatory as they inevitably get stuck at the S-bend. Instead, put the soiled nappy in a strong plastic bag tied firmly at the neck and place in the bin. You may wish to consider buying a nappy bin which compresses, seals, and stores several daysí worth of dirty nappies hygienically and without smell and which you can empty into your outdoor dustbin every few days.

Towelling squares can be folded in various ways, depending on your disposables-so they are good at night. If you see these youíll also need at least 12 nappy pins and six pairs of plastic pants.

Nappy liners With reusable nappies youíll need nappy liners. Choose the babyís skin, minimizing the risk of a sore bottom. Liners prevent the nappy from getting badly soiled; they can be lifted out with any feaces and flushed away if biodegradable, or if made of fabric, washed with the nappies.

FRABIC NAPPIES AND ACCESSORIES if youíre using the fabric nappies, youíll need to stock up on nappy liners to put inside them. For non-shaped nappies youíll need plastic pants and either safety pins or clips closures.

Cleaning a girl

Always wipe your baby girl from front to back, and donít clean inside the lips of the vulva.

REMOVE URINE Use wipes or moistened cotton wool to clean the genitals and the surrounding skin.

CLEAN BOTTOM Lift up her legs as show, and wipe from front to back. Dry thoroughly.

Changing a nappy

Often parents decide upon disposable nappies, and one of the main reasons for this is how straightforward they are to change once you select the appropriate size. Reusable, fabric nappies allow you to choose the fold that suits you. Tripe absorbent folds with a square base are ideal for

Changing a disposable nappy

    Lay the nappy flat, with the tabs at the back. Slide the nappy under your baby so that the top aligns with her waist.
    Bring the front up between the legs and tuck it around the tummy. Unpeel the tabs.
    Pull the tabs firmly over the front flap and fasten the nappy. It should fit snugly.

Newborns, while parallel or kite folds based on a diamond shape suit a larger baby. Some reusable nappies are shaped like disposables, so they fit around your baby without being folded and fasten with Velcro tabs. Your babyís nappy needs changing whenever itís solid or soiled; in a newborn this will be very often. Itís likely you will have to change him when he wakes, before he sleeps at night, and straight after each feed. So itís important to ensure that you have everything to hand in your changing area. You will need a changing mat; these mats are padded with raised edges and a wipe-clean surface. You will also need baby wipes, tissues, cotton wool, baby lotion (a good alternative to water alone for cleaning), and barrier cream. Itís important to clean your babyís bottom thoroughly at every nappy change to avoid soreness and irritation. Wash your hands first. Lay your baby on the mat and undo his clothing; wipe off as much as feaces as possible with clean corner. For a disposable nappy, wipe off most of the feaces with tissues. Fold the nappy down under him as you lift his legs. Proceed with cleaning (see columns, left and right). Dispose of the soiled nappy and put on a clean one.

Changing a shaped reusable nappy

  • POSITIONING THE NAPPY Begin by sliding the nappy under your baby so his waist aligns with the top edge of the nappy.
  • MAKING IT FIT SNUGLY Bring the nappy up between his legs and hold it in place while you fold the sides in to the centre and fasten with Velcro tabs.

Cleaning a boy

Boys often pass urine when released from their nappy. A tissue laid over the penis will minimize the mess.

REMOVE URINE Using either wipes or moistened cotton wool, work from the leg creases in towards the penis. Never pull the foreskin back.

CLEAN BOTTOM Lift his legs to clean his bottom by holding both ankles as shown. Dry thoroughly.

Making washing easy

If you use fabric nappies washing them will take up quite a lot of your time, so make life easy for yourself by being as organized as you can. These tips are designed to make your washing routine easier on you.

  • Use plastic tongs or gloves for lifting nappies out of the sterilizing bucket; keep them nearby.
  • When you change the nappy at night, keep the dirty nappy in a separate bucket or plastic bag, and add it to the new sterilizing solution the following morning.
  • Drying nappies on radiators makes the fabric hard and uncomfortable. Use a tumble dryer, an outside line, or a rack that can be placed liner the bath.
  • You may like to use an air freshener in the nappy bucket.

DRYING FABRIC NAPPIES Hang fabric nappies to dry outside if you can; the sun bleaches out any stains.

Nappy hygiene

Itís important to wash reusable nappies thoroughly; any traces of ammonia from urine will irritate your babyís skin, and feacal bacteria could cause infection. Strong detergents and biological powders can also irritate your babyís skin, so always use pure soap flakes or powders. You might even like to consider using a nappy laundering service, available nationwide, except in very isolated areas, for a weekly fee. You store dirty nappies in a deodorized bin that has a biodegradable liner and the nappy laundrering service takes away your dirty nappies and replaces them with fresh nappies. You may need more nappies though.

Washing routine for reusables

Establishing a routine will make life easier, especially if you aim to wash the nappies in large loads. Youíll need a large supply of nappies-at least 24-and a similar number of liners if using fabric ones. Youíll need two plastic sterilizing bins with lids and strong handles: one for soiled nappies and the liners, and one for wet ones. Any good-sized bucket with a lid will do. They should be enough to hold at least six nappies, with lots of room for solution, but not so large that you canít carry them when full. Fill the bin with sterilizing solution each morning. Rinse each nappy before adding it to the bucket. Wet nappies should be rinse in cold water, wrung out, and added to the solution. With soiled nappies, remove as much faeces as possible down the lavatory and hold the nappy under the lavatory and hold the nappy under the lavatory spray as you flash it. Squeeze out the excess moisture and put the nappy in the ďsoiledĒ bucket. When the nappies have been soaking for the required time, wring them out. The urine-soaked ones should be rinsed thoroughly in hot water and the dried; the soiled ones will need to be washed on the hot programme, then rinsed, and dried. Sterilize, wash, and dry fabric liners with the nappies.

Plastic pants will become hard and unusable if you wash them in water that is either too hot or cold. Wash them in warm water with a little washing-up liquid, then pat them dry and leave them to air. If they do become hard, you can soften them in a tumble dryer with towels.

Nappy rash

If urine is left too long in a nappy or on the skin, it is broken down to ammonia by bacteria from your babyís stools. The ammonia then irritates and burns the skin and this is the most common cause of nappy rash. A mild nappy rash will appear as small red dots on your babyís bottom, but if it becomes more serious, youíll see an inflamed area of broken skin and possibly pus-filled spots. The bacteria that produce ammonia dermatitis (nappy rash) thrive in an alkaline medium Breastfed babies are less prone to nappy rash than bottlefed babies. If your baby does develop sore bottom, check the chart below to see if he needs treatment. If not, continue your preventive measures (except for the use of barrier cream), as well as the following:

  • Change your babyís nappy more often.
  • Use a disposable pad inside a toweling nappy for extra absorbency at night, especially if your baby sleeps through the night.
  • Once your baby has nappy rash, it is important that his skin be aired (see chart below). It is important that you identify rash correctly so that you can take appropriate action.

Identifying nappy rashes


General redness that starts around the genitals rather than the anus. You will notice a strong smell of ammonia. In severe cases it may spread to the bottom, groin, and thighs, and can lead to ulceration if not attended to.

Small blisters all over the babyís nappy area in addition to rash elsewhere on the body.

Redness and broken skin in the leg folds.

Brownish-red, scaly rash on the genitals and skin creases, especially the groin, and anywhere the skin is greasy- the scalp, for instance.

Spotty rash that starts around the anus and spreads to the buttocks and thighs. You may also notice white patches inside your babyís mouth.


Ammonia dermaititis, caused by irritation from ammonia. If the treatment outlined above and right doesnít work, check with your doctor.

Heat rash. Stop using plastic pants, and leave your babyís nappy off at every opportunity. Cool your baby down by using fewer clothes.

Inadequate drying. Dry your baby meticulously and donít use talcum powder.

Seborrrhoeic eczema your doctor will prescribe an ointment for the rash, and lotion for an affected scalp. Rare in babies.

Thrush, caused by a yeast infection. Check with your doctor. Sheíll probably give you anti-fungal treatments.

Preventing nappy rash

The essentials are to keep your babyís skin dry and well aired, and to make sure that nappies are always thoroughly washed and well rinsed.

  • Start using a nappy rash cream at the first sign of broken skin. Ones that include titanium salts are especially good. Stop using plastic pants, too, if you are using them, as they will prevent the urine evaporating.
  • Donít wash your babyís bottom with soap and water, as they both defat the skin.
  • Use one-way nappy liners, or disposables with a one-way lining, to keep your babyís skin dry.
  • Use a fairly thick barrier cream, applied generously. Donít use this with one-way liners or disposables, however, as it will clog the one-way fabric.
  • Make sure all traces of ammonia are removed from the nappy by thorough washing and rinsing.
  • Never leave your baby lying a wet nappy.
  • Leaving your babyís bottom open to the air whenever you can.

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