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Baby & child.

22 June 2021

How to buy the best disposable nappies

We explain the pros and cons of using disposable nappies, how many your baby will get through and how much they cost
Rebecca Marcus
Baby in disposable nappy

With so many brands of disposable nappy to choose from, finding the right one for your baby can involve some trial and error.

The nappy size, fit and cost are all factors to consider when deciding which nappy to buy.

Nappy sizes range from newborn all the way through to potty training pants. You can check the nappy’s size guide to help you pick the right size for your baby's weight.

Most disposable nappies are designed with easy-fastening Velcro tabs, an elasticated waistband and elasticated leg holes to give a snug fit. You might need to experiment with different brands to find one that best fits your baby.

The cost of nappies can vary depending on the brand you choose. Supermarket own-label nappies are generally cheaper than big brands such as Pampers.

Just want to find out which disposable nappies we recommend? Head straight to our reviews of the best nappies.

How many disposable nappies do babies use per day?

It's likely that your baby will use between six and 12 disposable nappies a day in their first few months, with this decreasing as they get older.

This adds up to a lot of nappies. If your child went through eight nappies a day until they were two years old, it would total more than 5,300 nappies.

How much do disposable nappies cost?

Disposable nappies can cost anything from 5p to more than 20p each, depending on which brand you choose.

While this may not sound too pricey, costs can quickly add up. Opting for cheap nappies is likely to set you back around £15 a month, while choosing more expensive options could bring your monthly nappy spend closer to around £50.

But spending more doesn’t guarantee a better nappy. In fact, our survey results have uncovered a top-rated nappy brand that offers some of the cheapest nappies around, as well as expensive nappy brands that left parents dissatisfied.

Read our guide on the best disposable nappy brands to find out how parents rate Pampers and supermarket own-label nappies from the likes of Aldi, Asda, Lidl and Tesco.

Disposable nappies: the pros

  •  Convenience Unlike reusable nappies, which need to be washed and dried, disposable nappies can simply be thrown away after use.
  • Availability They're widely available in supermarkets, so you can pick them up on your weekly shop.
  • Easy to transport Their slim, light design means you can easily carry several around with you when you're out and about.
  • Absorbency They contain sodium polyacrylate, which traps liquid inside the nappy by turning it to gel, absorbing many times its own weight in liquid.
  • Fit Disposables tend to be less bulky on a baby than reusable nappies.

Disposable nappies: the cons

  • Environmental impact Disposable nappies can’t be recycled in the UK, so most will end up in landfill.
  • Cost They need to be continually restocked, making them more expensive in the long run compared to reusable nappies.
  • Chemicals Some disposable nappies contain chemicals such as chlorine, perfume and dyes.
  • Potty training Disposable nappies could prevent toddlers from being able to feel wetness, which some argue makes potty training more difficult.

Which are the most eco-friendly disposable nappies?

Each nappy can take hundreds of years to naturally degrade, so the sheer number of disposable nappies thrown away presents serious problems to the environment. This is particularly true when you consider that each baby could use more than 5,000 nappies before they are fully potty trained.

While most disposable nappies are recyclable, the UK doesn’t currently have the facilities to process them in the right way.

However there are more eco-friendly disposable nappy options available, with some brands offering nappies made using sustainable wood pulp or packaging sourced from renewable materials. Head to our disposable nappy brand guide to find out how parents rate eco nappy brands such as Eco by Naty, Kit & Kin and Rascal + Friends.

Disposable nappies vs reusable nappies

While disposable nappies are convenient, reusable nappies could be worth considering if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option.

Reusable nappies are more expensive to buy initially, but they’re cheaper in the long run as you won't have to continually buy new packs of nappies. Some councils offer incentive schemes with benefits ranging from a free starter pack to vouchers that you can put towards the cost of reusable nappies.

However, reusable nappies are less convenient as they have to be washed and dried after use.

Some parents decide to use a mixture of both, opting for reusable nappies at home and disposable nappies on days out or holidays. Others use disposables during the night and reusable nappies during the day.  

Find out more about the pros and cons of reusable nappies in our guide on how to buy the best reusable nappies.