Review: Alva reusable nappies

Warning: unless you are currently invested in the nitty gritty of parenting a baby, or have a extraordinary interest in eco-products, absolutely skip this post! It is about nappies. The pre-baby me would have skipped it for sure! 😬

At least 1000 nappies per year per baby, apparently. That’s how many you get through. And I know that nappies are classically one of the things that parents-to-be dread the most about their upcoming offspring, but it wasn’t until we were a couple of weeks in and emptying the nappy bin practically every other day that it really started to get to me.

So. Much. Plastic.

The actual changing of the nappy wasn’t particularly offensive (indeed “plenty of wet nappies” is something you aim for in the early weeks of breastfeeding, so the sight of each blue stripe actually triggered a bizarre yet positive “reward” feedback loop), and with twins it’s so rare you have a baby on her own that you find yourself considering even a bum-change as “one-to-one time”… anyway, all that aside, it wasn’t the grimness of the nappies themselves that prompted the change.

It was the Poo Sausage. From the nappy bin once full. The very long, cumbersome queue of single nappies encased in semi-see-thru plastic coiled within a nappy bin, that had to be Walk Of Shame’d to the dustbin multiple times per week. It felt horrendous!

So in the midst of newborn sleep deprivation we researched Reusable Nappies, literally ad nauseum. It was the most boring research ever.

A non-scientific summary of my findings: reusable nappies are more expensive (initial outlay), and more labour intensive (over time), and a bit more disgusting (on average), than disposables. But they provide an alternative to chucking >2000/year into landfill. And they are much cuter than they used to be!

So we used our vouchers from London council (approx £110 given aforementioned 2 babies) to buy the most cheap and cheerful looking reusables on the market.

And… we love them.

Piano bum


What did you get?

20 Alva nappies, £6.50 each

Biodegradable Bamboo liners, £5 for 200

Laundry SmartPail £12.95

Do they wear them exclusively?

Nope! Not at night and rarely if we’re out and about. Even so by my conservative calculations we used at least 10/day for over 6 months, ie saved around 1800 nappies from landfill. Pretty good!

What’s the laundry like?

We do a wash every day anyway, because, twins. So laundry is already a sizeable chore.

The nappies go straight from the baby to the washing machine, then when they’re clean the inner liner comes out and dries separately. So there’s minimal contact with the contents.

The only issue is if errant poo has escaped the inner liner, which does occasionally happen, and whilst it isn’t more frequently than with disposables, it is a more onerous task because you can’t just throw it away and wash your hands. You have to wash it, and your hands, and then probably spritz it with stain remover for good measure.

When I first thought about reusables, my mental image was of dismal 1940s-style washing lines of grubby stained white flannel. I am pleased to report that things have come on a lot.

This is about as bad as it’s got:

Washing line

Do they leak?

Depends on the velocity of the poo! 💩🌪

…but really, no, not more than Pampers seem to if you get the poppers done up properly.

Do they smell more than disposables?

Not more than, but they do smell different when wet. They smell of wee whereas disposables smell of chemicals.

I really notice now when I change their Pampers (or whatever) in the morning that the chemical odour of the gel stuff is very powerful. Didn’t notice before.

Without the gel though, don’t the babies get terrible nappy rash?

Actually no! We have had a couple of episodes of nappy rash on each baby, for about 3 days. It cleared with nappy free time and using nappy cream. The majority of the time we don’t use nappy cream, just make sure they’re nice and dry before doing up the clean nappy.

Overall I’m sold.

Downsides are: extra laundry effort, extra having to actually deal with poo sometimes. Can take ages to dry if it’s a cold day and the heating’s not on. So boring to research.

Upsides are: fewer Poo Sausages! …I mean, er, more ecological. 😉 Also much cuter, and ultimately much cheaper, than disposables.

I would definitely recommend it if you have the energy! Not least because calling “Oi! Piano bum!” at your offspring has non-zero entertainment value…

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