If you’re starting a family, you’ve probably given plenty of thought to the larger items, making sure you’re getting the best cot, the best pram, the best changing table, the best car seat and the best travel cot. But often it’s the small, everyday things, such as finding the best nappies, that make the biggest difference to your baby’s comfort.
Different sized and shaped babies will tend to get on better with some nappy brands than others, so try a few to see which fits most comfortably around your baby’s tush.
Other things you might want to consider when choosing the best nappies are ease of use, impact on the environment and handy features such as moisture-locking and wetness indicators to help you know when your young charge needs a change. To get you started, we’ve picked some of our favourites below.
How to choose the best nappies for your baby
Disposable or reusable?
The biggest decision when deciding on the best nappies for your baby’s bottom is between single-use disposable nappies and washable reusable nappies. Reusables have come a long way since our own terry-towelled childhoods and can now be purchased in a range of colourful, machine-washable and easy-to-fit styles. While reusable nappies are not completely lacking in environmental impact – the energy involved in washing itself needs to be taken into consideration – washable nappies certainly avoid the problem of non-biodegradable materials sitting in landfill for centuries.
The debate is a fierce one in some circles and can cause anxiety and guilt among the more eco-leaning parents. In 2005, there was uproar when the UK government published research claiming “it was no more environmentally friendly to use reusable nappies than disposables”. A similar report three years later reversed these claims. Then a report found that, yes, biodegradable nappies do degrade, it can take up to 50 years and such products have been found to produce more methane, which is bad for the environment.
Fit to prevent leaks
A correctly fitting nappy should allow no fluid leaks either through the leg holes or up around the waist. If you find that leaks are a recurring problem, try a different size in your current brand, or check out another brand as one manufacturer’s sizing can differ significantly from another’s. For example, Tesco nappies come up larger than most, while Pampers are a little on the snug side.
Some nappies are designed to withstand more moisture than others and are good for use overnight or on long journeys. As a rule, anything labelled extra or ultra-dry has been designed to absorb more moisture. You can also look out for the plus symbol next to the nappy number to give an indication of absorbency and fit. The plus symbol does not represent a half size.
Absorbency and moisture-locking
Most disposable nappies contain superabsorbent polymer beads embedded into the nappy material. These beads can absorb many hundreds of times their weight in moisture, allowing babies to wander around with a “wet nappy” without the skin being in contact with the moisture. It’s not impossible for a baby to get nappy rash from a wet nappy, but as most of the moisture is locked away it’s less likely and you won’t be doing your baby any harm if you accidentally leave a wet nappy on for longer than intended. It’s just not a good idea to make a habit of it, though.
If eco-friendliness is important to you, note that the natural materials used in biodegradable nappies are less moisture-wicking than these superabsorbent polymers (which take hundreds of years to break down in landfill), so you will need to change the nappies more often to keep baby’s skin dry.
Many of the best nappies for newborns have a yellow line down the front of the nappy that will turn blue when the baby wees. It doesn’t always change colour for poos, however, unless the baby has urinated at the same time. As some nappies are bulky to begin with, this wetness indicator can let you know when the baby has peed without having to strip him or her off.
Newborn babies, on average, pee every 20 minutes so bear that in mind in both how many nappies you’ll be using as well as when to check for changes.
Rashes and skin reactions
The leading cause of nappy rash is delicate baby skin left in contact with a soiled nappy, so if you’re using reusables (or plastic-free nappies made of natural materials) you will need to keep on top of changes in order to prevent stools irritating the skin. Sometimes the nappy itself can cause a mild allergic reaction, so if you’re changing regularly but baby is still getting rashes, try switching to another brand to see if the condition improves. Leaving baby out of a nappy for while (on a towel or other absorbent surface) and avoiding perfumed wipes and soaps can help. Your health visitor can recommend a course of action if rashes are frequent or severe.
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The best nappies to buy
1. Pampers New Baby: The best nappies for beginners
Price: From £4 for 24 nappies / 17p per nappy | Buy now from Boots
Recommended for newborns by the Briti