Real Nappies

What is in a disposable nappy?

All new parents worry about the health of their children and do everything they can to make sure that their baby is as happy, comfortable and healthy as possible. We are told not to use harsh chemicals in their baths, and the best option for their skin is just plain water. We are told to put down the biological washing detergents and leave it out of the machines, and we are advised not to use any lotions or potions on their skin, because having healthy skin is far more important than having a perfumed baby.

There are special baby products lining the shelves of every supermarket and corner shop in the country. Brands like Johnsons and Johnsons offer harmless pure cleaning for our babies skin, but inside those bottles is still an extensive list of chemicals that can still irritate and upset the skin of our children. I myself can’t use Johnsons baby bath, because I come out in a nasty rash… and I’m an adult.

But we tend to forget about what is INSIDE of a nappy. You see many adverts on TV, in magazines and plastered all over shop walls and even bus stops. But behind that soft cotton feel layer, hides something quite worrying. Most disposable nappies work like this. Pee and poop travel through the top layer and get trapped by weird little wisps of dust which is just dried jelly. When moisture hits this dry dust, the jelly swells and becomes big sticky balls of p*ss. Have you ever seen a disposable nappy burst? That shit gets everywhere. It sticks to your skin, babies skin, every surface it touches. That jelly made of chemicals, and can cause burns. Which is why many parents have faced the dreaded ‘nappy burn’ on their babies bottoms. Prolonged exposure to urine, mixed with chemicals can literally burn your babies skin off.

I decided to do a little investigating. I wanted to have a look at the UK’s best selling nappies and their websites just to see if I could find a list of the ‘ingredients’ used to make their nappies. I wanted a full list, not just a rough generalisation. I searched Pampers, ASDA’s Little Angels, Aldi’s Mamia and Tesco’s Loves Baby nappies. I wasn’t at all surprised at what I found out.


After scrolling for what felt like hours trying to find a list of their ‘ingredients’ I found… fuck all. Not a thing. Nothing on their site lists their ingredients, all I could find was the repeated phrase “It’s safe”. Reassuring but not what I was looking for, I was also reassured that the gel they use inside was ‘safe to swallow’ (jeeeezus, really?!), “normal” and once again “safe”.

ASDA’s Little Angels

I found very little on their site. In fact I found nothing. The only ‘useful’ information I found was that their nappies had a special ‘Time-to-change’ wetness indicator. Useful… if you don’t know how to common-sense. But again, no ingredients list.

Aldi’s Mamia

Winners of many awards, and well loved across the country with penny-wise parents. Even less on their site than ASDA’s. Oooh, but I did find out that they use ‘fibres from sustainable forestry initiative’. What ever that means, I can only hope its a good thing. And guess what… no ingredients list. What a surprise!? NOT.

Tesco’s Loves Baby

I thought I was onto something here when I scrolled down and saw the word ‘Ingredients’… then cried silently to myself when I spotted the ‘N/A’ after it. Balls. So, yawn, once again NOTHING. NOT A THING. Although I will give them credit, they stock MORE reusable nappy items in their nappy range than they do disposable, so I kinda feel a little better.

I quickly shot over to the Bambino Mio website. Bambino Mio are one of the biggest and most popular reusable nappy brands out there. They have 2 types of reusable nappy available. One that’s an all-in-one nappy, and another that’s a 2 part system which contains a prefold and a wrap (that’s the waterproof bit). I quickly discovered (with absolutely zero investigative skills, I promise you) that their pre-fold is made from 100% cotton. Wait, that was easy.

Why is it so hard to find out what exactly is inside of these disposable nappies? Surely us parents and carers deserve to know what we are putting on our babies bottoms. If it all really is as safe as they claim it all to be, why don’t they just say? Even if it is just a big list of things we’ve never heard of?!

Hazel Newhouse

Hazel is a mum to 3 daughters and a son, she lives in Bedfordshire with her husband, kids and pets. Hazel has written for various publications, and regularly works alongside popular parenting and gardening brands.

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1 Comment

  1. Just doing some research as part of my degree and found exactly the same as you with regards to main brand disposables. However, it is interesting that many of the ‘eco disposable’ brands are far more forthcoming on the ingredients list.

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