Disposable nappies review 2007

Our readers and their babies give us the verdict on which nappies rate the best.
 
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  • Updated:24 Feb 2007
 

01 .Introduction

Disposable-nappies

User trial of 11 disposable nappies priced from $0.25 to $0.47 per nappy

We asked our trialists to assess:

  • Leakage and dryness
  • Shifting of the nappy material
  • The effectiveness of the nappy fasteners
  • The size of the nappy
  • Each nappy brand overall and tell us how likely they would be to buy it.

Please note: this information was current as of February 2007 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Disposable nappies review 2010.


Almost 100 volunteers and their babies trialled disposable nappies, each rating 10 'daytime' nappies from seven different brands.

CHOICE tests are different. We buy the products we test — no freebies from manufacturers. Companies can't buy ads on our site and our work is funded by people like you.

Findings:

One nappy brand was far and away the favourite with our trialists and their babies.

Brands trialled

  • BABYLOVE Crawler #
  • BABYLOVE Ecobots Crawler #
  • BABY SOLUTIONS Medium
  • BEBES Medium
  • BLACK & GOLD Medium
  • COSIFITS Crawler #
  • HOME BRAND Medium
  • HUGGIES Crawler #
  • MAMIA Crawler
  • SELECT Crawler
  • SNUGGLERS Crawler #

# These products have changed since our test. Prices for all the tested products remain unchanged (as per manufacturers advice in July 2008).

What you'll get in this report

  • Trialists' ratings of 11 types of nappies.
  • Price per nappy for all brands.
  • Information on disposables and the environment.
 
 

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What to buy

Price is per nappy

  • HUGGIES Crawler # - $0.47
  • SELECT Crawler - $0.38
  • BABYLOVE Crawler # - $0.40
  • HOME BRAND Medium - $0.29
  • BABYLOVE Ecobots # - $0.45
  • SNUGGLERS Crawler # - $0.30

# These products have changed since our test. Prices for all the tested products remain unchanged (as per manufacturer advice in July 2008).

The babies have voted

  • HUGGIES Crawler was the overwhelming favourite by a large margin — they scored 93%. Our testers found that HUGGIES were the least likely to leak, kept a high level of dryness throughout use, had little shifting of material or disintegration and fitted the best.
  • SELECT Crawler from Woolworths, while scoring quite a bit lower than HUGGIES (75%), was also rated significantly higher than average overall and is much cheaper than HUGGIES at just 38 cents per nappy, compared to 47 cents for HUGGIES.
  • Some of the other nappies with a good score are a lot cheaper if you need to save money.

Results table

  Results
Product Number of testers: Overall score (%) Leakage score (%) Dryness score (%) Price per nappy (cents)
Huggies Crawler # 54 93 97 94 47
Select Crawler (a) 55 75 88 78 38
BabyLove Crawler # 58 74 86 76 40
Home Brand Medium (a) 58 72 90 78 29
BabyLove Ecobots Crawler # 58 71 78 74 45
Snugglers Crawler # 53 71 83 77 30
Mamia Crawler (b) 55 66 86 79 29
Cosifits Crawler # 54 64 76 71 26
Bebes Medium 55 61 78 65 47
Black & Gold Medium (c) 54 58 80 68 32
Baby Solutions Medium (d) 56 52 66 58 25
 

Table notes

# These products have changed since our test. Prices for all the tested products remain unchanged (as per manufacturer advice in July 2008).

(a) Available at Woolworths

(b) Available at Aldi

(c) Available at IGA

(d) Available at Kmart

Scores: The overall score is a separate score given by the trialists — it’s not a combination of other scores.

Price per nappy is based on the recommended price for the largest pack size, except for the BLACK & GOLD, which is based on the average of what we paid in September 2006.

How we tested

  • Almost 100 volunteers and their babies took part in this test. The babies were a mix of 65% girls and 35% boys, and weighed between 5 and 10 kg (‘medium’ or ‘crawler’ version of most nappies).
  • Our Home Testers were sent 10 ‘daytime’ nappies from each of seven different brands. We repackaged and labelled each brand with a number, although as each has a different design and some label their products with their brand name, some of our testers may have recognised some or all of the brands they tried.
  • Our testers were asked to use each brand for two days during the day only. They rated the nappies for leakage, dryness, shifting of the nappy material, the effectiveness of the nappy fasteners and the size of the nappy. They were also asked to rate each nappy brand overall and tell us how likely they would be to buy it.

Product profiles

Nappies in the What to buy list are profiled in rank order.

HUGGIES Crawler #

Price per nappy 47 cents

This nappy was hands down our Home Testers’ favourite. It rated significantly better than average for all the survey questions — and 88% of trialists said they’d already used this brand even though it’s the equal most expensive nappy tested. It’s also the only one in the trial with a separate design for girls and boys.

Trialist comments

  • “Nice, snug, secure nappy. Held a lot of moisture.”
  • “The fasteners were more like Velcro rather than sticky — not sticking properly was not an issue. There was no stickiness to lose.”
  • “Love the ‘material’ feel of the nappy. It fits my baby really well, not too baggy or oversized.”
  • “They work very well, but I’m not keen on all the extra pictures and colours. Disposables are wasteful enough without all the extra effort and materials to manufacture them.”

SELECT Crawler

Price per nappy 38 cents

This nappy rated significantly higher than average overall and is quite a bit cheaper than HUGGIES. It’s a Woolworths brand and only available in those supermarkets.

Trialist comments

  • “Love the design of the fasteners! So easy to grab and do up!”
  • “Very happy with this nappy. Would use these instead of what I currently use.”
  • “Liked the fit — especially the high back and wide grip tabs.”
  • “It’s a very basic nappy but if the price was good it would still ‘do the job’. ”
  • “We found this nappy as good as the HUGGIES we normally use, which have the market perception of being the best.”

BABYLOVE Crawler #

Price per nappy 40 cents

It’s around the same price and has similar scores as the SELECT Crawler but should be available at a range of supermarkets.

Trialist comments

  • “A rare 5–10 kg nappy that actually fits a 9 kg baby! Most are small.”
  • “Elastic front and back was great. I also really like the wide, flat extension pieces either side of the fasteners.”
  • “This nappy was much slimmer between the legs than others I have trialled so far. I thought it was more comfortable with the elastic back and front.”
  • “A perfect fit!”
  • “Allowed baby to become a little damp. However, it fit very well and maintained shape.”
  • “Gel ‘beads’ oozed through to baby’s bottom twice”.

HOME BRAND Medium

Price per nappy 29 cents

While it rated 72% overall, it scored 90% for not leaking, second only to HUGGIES. It’s a very good price at 29 cents per nappy, but only available at Woolworths.

Trialist comments

  • “Very happy with this nappy — just a bit big.”
  • “Great — would be better for babies at the larger end of the weight range. I liked the elasticised back.”
  • “There seemed to be a fair amount of absorbent material in the nappy which kept baby dry. The tabs worked well.”
  • “In the crutch the nappy was far too wide, causing it to bunch and appear uncomfortable”
  • “The between-the-legs part moved too much, so that there was only thin material left.”

BABYLOVE EcoBots Crawler #

Price per nappy 45 cents

This nappy is claimed to be better for the environment than other major-brand disposables (see EcoBots biodegradable claims). Although the two BABYLOVE brand nappies didn’t rate significantly differently from each other overall, the EcoBots are a little more expensive than the regular BABYLOVE nappies.

Trialist comments

  • “I am considering using these nappies instead of HUGGIES. We had no crystals on the baby and I was very impressed with it.”
  • “No leaks at all — even after a big sleep.”
  • “I thought this nappy was very good. It was dry, compact to dispose of and fitted well.”
  • “These worked really well and over long periods of time between changes.”

SNUGGLERS Crawler #

Price per nappy 30 cents

Another of the cheaper products on test that trialists quite liked — it rated about the same as HOME BRAND, costs a similar amount and should be available in more supermarkets.

Trialist comments

  • “I think the nappy was very good. I didn’t notice any crystals on my baby. They didn’t leak.”
  • “This was a great nappy. Comfortable fit, very absorbent and very secure.”
  • “I like the wide fasteners, but I would say that maybe having an elastic band front, back or both would definitely help secure it better (so it won’t) ride down.”
  • “Overall good. Although the absorbency was good, I didn’t feel it would be great for long-duration use.”

# These products have changed since our test. Prices for all the tested products remain unchanged (as per manufacturer advice in July 2008).

04.Nappies and the environment

 

Disposables the popular choice

The debate about cloth vs disposable nappies has been raging for years but it looks as though the decision is very firmly in the direction of disposable.

  • Currently about 95% of parents in Australia use disposable nappies — up from 89% in 2001.
  • The average baby using normal disposable nappies can create over 700 kg of solid waste.
  • This waste will probably go into landfill and take up to 400 years to break down.

No clear environmental winner

Old-fashioned cloth nappies don’t necessarily hold all the solutions. There’s plenty of issues around energy and water consumption when washing them.

A recent study conducted by the UK Government Environment Agency assessed the entire lifecycle of the environmental impacts of disposable nappies, home-laundered cloth nappies and commercial cloth nappy services. This study found there were no significant differences between any of the environmental impacts, and that overall no system clearly had a better or worse environmental impact.

An independent Life Cycle Assessment of nappies under Brisbane conditions was conducted by the University of Queensland. This study found:

  • Cloth nappies use more water.
  • Disposables use more energy and create landfill.
  • There’s so much variation in how nappies are used by parents that the environmental impact is almost impossible to determine.

With water shortages in Australia and different climates zones that may or may not be suitable for air-drying cloth nappies, it seems the jury is still out on the best way to go. It may be different in different areas.

New nappy products

Just to make any new parent’s head spin even more, there are now all kinds of new products on the market:

  • Fitted cloth nappies that look and fasten like disposables but can be washed.
  • Biodegradable pads that can be fitted inside washable pants.
  • Disposable nappies that claim to be biodegradable.

EcoBots biodegradable claims

BABYLOVE EcoBots claim to be a “premium-quality environmentally sensitive nappy”, and it’s the only disposable nappy endorsed by environmental lobby group Planet Ark.

Planet Ark says that while it’s traditionally encouraged parents to use cloth nappies, it’s now accepted this is unrealistic due to the continued growth in popularity of disposables and the time required to wash and line-dry cloth nappies. Planet Ark is now supporting disposables that can biodegrade. Currently it’s working with BABYLOVE EcoBots and hopes to develop a 100% biodegradable disposable nappy in the future.

Swinburne University conducted independent tests of the EcoBots and found that:

  • In a controlled compost environment they began to biodegrade within a week.
  • Up to 70% of the material had broken down within several weeks.

Although Swinburne says it’s very pleased by the results of these tests, it hasn’t tested how well the nappies would break down in landfill at this stage.

How they rate in our trial

Our Home Testers rated BABYLOVE EcoBots equal fifth overall of the 11 nappies tested (scoring 71%), and they’re included in the What to buy list. However, they’re nearly as expensive as HUGGIES, the top-rating nappies.

The manufacturer says a new version of this nappy has been released since our trial that’s more biodegradable and has improved absorbency and fit.

If you’re concerned about the environmental impact of disposable nappies, EcoBots might be worth trying out next time you’re at the supermarket.