During a child’s first few years of life they’re going to go through an obscene number of nappies. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 3 billion nappies are thrown away in the UK every year – that’s roughly 8 million nappies a day.
Of course, this is going to have an effect on the environment, and the Environment Agency estimates that some components of disposable nappies can take up to 500 years to biodegrade. But, by switching to reusable nappies you’re not only going to help the environment, but you’re going to save money too.
Made from comfortable, super-absorbent fibres, reusable nappies are no more hassle to change than a disposable one. But there are two different types to choose from.
All-in-ones have the nappy and wrap parts built together into one item, much like disposable nappies. Whereas two-part (often referred to as all-in-twos or pocket) nappies come with a flat pad as the nappy which can then be inserted into a pouch/pocket in the waterproof cover. You can add liners and boosters to improve the absorbency, though it’s not essential.
They do cost more upfront but could save parents around £200 to £500 over more than two years for their first baby, and even more if re-used for any subsequent children.
Plus, while a baby goes through around 5,000 disposable nappies before being potty trained, they only need around 20 to 30 reusable nappies. Even if you only used them part-time – whether that’s just at home or even as little as two changes a day – that’s about 700 nappies a year you’re not sending to landfill.
Cleaning is easy too. “In order for reusable nappies to be a clear winner for the planet, they should be washed at lower temperatures – always air drying, never tumble drying,” says Helen Bird, strategic engagement manager at sustainability charity, Wrap.
So, we decided to test 32 different nappies across three weeks on a set of twins. We totalled more than 250 nappy changes to find the best reusable and eco-friendly disposable nappy. We wanted them to absorb any mess without restricting our babies movement and, more importantly, were easy to change, wash, and reuse.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism acrossThe Independent.
Pop-In single printed reusable popper nappy + bamboo
An all-in-two nappy that’s an absolute dream to use, with loads of nifty design features to make life easier. Pop-In nappies come with a bamboo soaker and a booster, which attach with poppers inside the waterproof shell. This allows you to adjust the absorbency for your child’s needs. As the nappies can be separated into parts, they can be dried separately which we found dramatically reduced the drying time.
The shell itself has a double leg gusset meaning there were absolutely no leaks – even overnight and with the heaviest of soiling – and has its own absorbent core too, which most other reusables don’t seem to have. Pop-In also make special overnight soakers (sold separately) that work to give you even more peace of mind. We found the poppers at the front really gave a comfy fit, while the adjustable tabs inside gave even more adjustability.
Bear Bott all-in-one nappy
We absolutely loved the range of prints available on these all-in-one nappies. This product definitely feels like it’s been made with love, with Bear Bott having been set up by a mum who used the nappies on her son – it very much feels like a small business with lots of love and care poured into each order.
The nappies themselves are designed for daytime use only, and we found them the quickest drying nappies of the lot, as well as the easiest to use by far. The stay dry insert is made up of layers of microfibre and bamboo for speedy absorption and effective liquid retention. These nappies are ideal for parents new to “real” nappies, or part-time users, as they feel as easy to use as a disposable.
Eco by Naty eco friendly disposable nappies
These disposables have seriously impressive eco-credentials. We loved that all the materials that touched our babies’ skin were “nasty” free, with the majority of the nappy being made from plant-based fibres. The nappies are very plain in print on the outside, which not only feels more natural but also reduces the number of metals and chemicals used on them too. We found these the best disposables we tried in terms of effectiveness – no leaks on our active of toddlers, and bums felt dry even after hours of wear.
Little Lamb microfibre nappy, pack of 3
A very traditional-style reusable nappy, this one is fluffy and definitely looks cute on our babies – but they are a little on the bulkier side. Made from microfibre, fluids are held between fibres meaning that during the spin cycle the liquid is spun out more easily and it dries more quickly. This is ideal if you don’t have many nappies or much space and need to cut down on drying time. However, this does mean that they are not so absorbent and we found they were sodden quite quickly.
With this nappy, you will need a waterproof wrap, which are sold separately. We found they didn’t keep our babies dry all night. These nappies only go up to Size 2 so aren’t suitable for older toddlers.
Blueberry simplex all-in-one nappy
The Blueberry simplex is on the pricer end of the scale. However, they’re a one size, all-in-one meaning in theory you have all you need in one nappy from birth to potty. The design is slim cut, meaning it’s not too bulky and we found our babies were able to move freely in them.
A booster is sewn into the nappy, which folds into a pocket – you can add extra boosters for added absorbency, but the nappy doesn’t come with any extras. The core of the nappy is made from organic cotton, making it soft and breathable for our baby. We found the Simplex very easy to use and a great introductory nappy. There were no leaks in the daytime but these are not suitable for overnight use. It’s worth bearing in mind that these nappies are made in the USA, so if you want to lower your carbon footprint these might not be quite right for you.
Baba & Boo one-size cloth nappies, bundle of 3
These two-part pocket nappies are super soft against delicate skin. They have space to insert two liners for older babies, and yet still don’t feel bulky. Our active babies didn’t find these cumbersome, and crucially there are no leaks even after a few hours of wear.
The elasticated gusset helps prevent leaks while the popper closing is great for growing babies and helps the nappy stay in place. These nappies are really easy to use and dry quickly, meaning they’re perfect for those who are new to real nappies.
Mum & You nappychat ecofriendly disposable nappies
These disposables take being eco-friendly to a whole new level. They’re made from certified sustainable forestry, chlorine-free wood pulp, and are free from dyes, lotions and latex meaning they’re gentle on your baby’s skin. Even the packaging is made from renewable sugarcane.
While the nappies have quite vibrant prints on them, designed to provide inspiration for songs and stories during nappy changes – but we didn’t find that being realised with our babies. The nappies themselves are decent enough for a few hours but sometimes struggled with heavier and soiled nappies, especially around the legs on our active toddlers.
Bambino Mio miosolo all-in-one nappy
Probably the most widely available reusables on the market, Bambino Mio is one of the bigger “real nappy” brands. This product comes in a wide range of lovely prints, making nappy changes a bit more fun and varied. They are secured by Velcro-style tabs (or Aplix). We found the tabs chaffed our sensitive, slightly chunkier baby. However they were fine on our less sensitive, slimmer baby so these nappies are probably best for less chunky thighs.
The booster is sewn in and pulls out in the wash for improved washing and faster drying. Indeed, they were one of the quickest drying nappies we tried. However, they were prone to leaks if worn for more than a few hours. Miosolo nappies are one size, which means you won’t need to buy new ones as your baby grows. We recommend these nappies for occasional use, but bear in mind that they probably will need to be changed quite frequently.
Kit + Kin eco nappies
A highly cute disposable eco nappy, Kit + Kin come with adorable animal faces printed on the bum. They also pack a punch with their eco credentials too – they’re made from sustainable, plant-derived materials, are chlorine free and the cores are made from wood from sustainably managed forests.
They’re good for your baby too, as they’re hypoallergenic and have a flash-dry layer to keep bums dry. We certainly found these did the job well on our active toddlers – they were dry for hours and they held their own with dirty nappies too. Something that especially appealed to us was the subscription service Kit + Kin offer, so you can have your nappies delivered in bulk at a discounted rate – ideal for busy parents.
Little Lamb bamboo nappy, pack of 3
Don’t worry you’re not seeing double, like the microfibre nappy listed above these are also from Little Lamb. However, this nappy is made from bamboo for ultimate absorbency. It definitely felt like it lasted longer on our babies, but it was still quite bulky. They come with a microfleece liner, which none of the other brands provide. We liked this extra touch and it felt more in keeping with the ethos of reusables to use a fabric liner than the disposal ones – it also felt softer on our baby. Happily these nappies go up to size 3, which is 16kg – so they’re suitable even for older toddlers.
Little Lamb onesize pocket nappies, pack of 5
A two-part design that feels more like a traditional reusable nappy. The waterproof shell with popper closer has a microfleece lining to wick away any moisture from your baby, and a double-leg gusset makes them fairly leak proof. A bamboo booster also slides into the inner pocket of the shell.
We found this nappy more basic than others on the market, and the insert took a long time to dry. However, once on your baby it offers plenty of absorbency and we found it lasted a good three hours on our toddlers. These nappies last from birth to potty, making this bundle of five nappies a really cost-effective option.
The verdict: Reusable and eco-friendly nappies
We absolutely loved the Pop-In nappies – they are so thoughtfully designed and really will see your baby through their nappy-wearing days (and nights). From an eco-conscious disposable point of view, we also rated the Eco by Naty nappies for both their commitment to sustainability and being kind to babies’ skin.
For more sustainable kids alternatives check out our best kids’ eco-friendly plates that are good for the planet too
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.