In case you live in a hole - or, more likely, you’re reading this in the future - it is really, really hot in the UK right now. And lots of us are struggling to keep our babies cool.
The grandparents of today - who, when they were young, were subjected to huge marketing campaigns to persuade them that reusables were inferior - are telling some of you that you should put your babies in disposable nappies because they’ll be cooler.
It’s a question that nappy libraries get asked a lot during the hot weather, so we decided to go beyond the ‘maybes’ and ‘possibles’ and look at the hard facts and evidence.
And we have good news: anyone who says your baby will be cooler in a single-use nappy is wrong.
Take a minute to think about it. During the hot weather, what do you prefer to wear - a plastic bag or a natural, breathable fabric like bamboo or cotton?
It’s actually quite surprising how little research there has been. There’s a theory - that hasn’t been proven or disproven - that disposable nappies may be responsible for the drop in semen quality of young men. (The generation with the lower sperm counts are also the first generation to have worn disposable nappies.)
A study that was published in the respected medical journal Archives of Disease in Childhood was undertaken because clinicians had noted extremely high scrotal temperatures of boys with a fever who wore plastic nappies. The study found that boys in disposable, plastic-based nappies had significantly higher scrotal temperatures than those in cotton nappies. (It’s worth being clear that the study doesn’t say what kind of waterproof wrap was used over the cotton nappy.)
And that is pretty much the only research by independent academics that we could find.
What’s clear is that breathable fabrics are always going to be more comfortable than non-breathable fabrics in the heat - so while your reusable nappy looks bigger, it’s far better to have breathable fabrics and PUL than the ‘plastic bag’ effect of a single use nappy.
(Note: when we first discussed this subject on the Time For A Change Facebook page, we also mentioned a study that found temperatures in disposables and reusables are the same. However, we have chosen not to include this study, undertaken by a company that does clinical testing for beauty and pharmaceutical products, as the study results were not available for analysis.)