Did you know you can get started with cloth nappies for free? That might sound too good to be true, but in lots of parts of the UK, you really can! Local councils across the country are realising that we are facing an environmental crisis that is partly driven by overuse of single-use plastics like disposable nappies. And not only that, it costs councils a significant amount of money to process and dispose of all that waste.
To try and tackle these problems, councils are doing more to encourage people to try cloth nappies, and are even willing to pay for or gift you free cloth nappies in the hope that you’ll make the switch.
Each council runs their scheme slightly differently, but they mostly fall into three categories: a lending service, a free starter kit, or cashback/voucher (more on those later!) Most councils have eligibility criteria - you’ll need to prove that you have a baby, usually under 18 months of age, and are using reusable nappies. Many councils will ask for the signature of a doctor, midwife or health visitor to confirm this is the case.
Here are a few of the different kinds of scheme out there, and a list of all the different councils that offer incentives.
Some councils provide a service for lending nappies, either through a local nappy library or a separate service. Some lending services will let you choose the nappies you borrow, but more often the kit is chosen for you. Although this might mean you end up with some nappies you don’t like, you won’t have to think about what kinds of nappy to choose for your kit, and you might be surprised by kinds you hadn’t heard of or didn’t expect to like.
Some of these lending services won’t offer accessories like cloth wipes, so if you wanted to try those you’d have to buy them yourself.
The nappies you borrow are likely to have been used by another family before you, but will have been well looked after and sanitised before coming to you.
Although you won’t be able to keep the nappies, borrowing some nappies to try will give you a great idea of what works for you, which will likely save you from spending money on nappies that you don’t end up liking. It’s surprising how often people end up liking a different kind of nappy to what they originally thought!
You can find our nappies at the following libraries:
Hackney Cloth Nappy Network
Oldham & Rochdale Sling Library
A number of councils offer a starter kit of nappies. Like a lending service, you likely won’t have a choice of which nappies you get, but they will be new and you may find that you get more nappies than you’d be able to buy with a voucher. Some councils also include accessories like cloth wipes and wet bags in their kits.
Be aware that a free starter kit will allow you to give cloth nappies a go, but won’t necessarily have enough variety to find the right nappy for you. If you try all the nappies in your kit and find none of them work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you cloth nappies aren’t for you. There are so many different varieties available and it may just be a case of trying a few more to get the right fit for you.
Many councils offer cashback or a voucher towards reusable nappy purchases. Although this is the most flexible incentive scheme, it also has some pitfalls. In particular, it’s quite easy to accidentally spend your voucher on nappies that you don’t end up liking.
To avoid this, we’d recommend going to your local nappy library before you spend your voucher, so you can try a range of nappies and work out what you like. When you’re confident on the kind of nappy you want to invest in, then you can use your voucher knowing that it’s money well spent!
Most of these cashback and voucher schemes will allow you to spend the money on nappy accessories like cloth wipes and wet bags too, but make sure you check the details of your council’s scheme as each one is different.
Cloth Nappy Incentive Schemes in the UK
Bedfordshire - £25 cashback when you spend £50
Berkshire - £30 cashback
Bournemouth - £30 cashback
Bradford - Free nappy kit worth £45
Bracknell Forest - £30 cashback
Brent - Nappy lending service
Broxbourne - Nappy starter kit or £50 cashback
Cumbria - £30 cashback
Derbyshire - £25 cashback when you spend £50
Devon - Free trial kit
Dorset - £30 cashback
Dudley - £30 cashback when you spend £50
Essex - £30 cashback
Gloucestershire - £30 cashback
Guernsey - £35 cashback
Hertfordshire - 15% off with selected suppliers
Hertsmere - £50 cashback or Nappy Starter kit
Huntingdon - 15% off with selected suppliers
Leeds - Free Nappy Starter pack or £30 cashback
Leicestershire - Nappy lending service
Lewisham - £25 voucher
Lincolnshire - Nappy lending service
London - See below
Luton - £40 cashback when you spend £50
Northamptonshire - Nappy lending service
North Somerset - Nappy lending service, advice and demos
Oxfordshire - Nappy lending service
Rutland - Nappy lending service
Selby - £30 cashback
Sheffield - £10 voucher
South Gloucestershire - Discounted Nappy Kits
Stevenage £50 cashback or a Free Nappy Starter Kit
Three Rivers - £50 cashback or a Free Nappy Starter Kit
Wakefield - Free trial kit
Walsall- £30 cashback when you spend £50
Watford - £50 cashback
Wealdon - Nappy lending service
Wiltshire - Nappy lending service
Wokingham - £30 cashback
Carlisle - £45 voucher
Denbighshire - £75 voucher
Flintshire - £75 voucher
Gwynedd - Free trial kit or a £30 voucher
Pembrokeshire - £30 cashback when you spend £50 or £60 cashback when you spend £150
Torfaen - £30 voucher
Swansea - £100 cashback
Powys - £100 cashback
Edinburgh - Free nappy starter kit
Inverclyde - £80 cashback
North Ayrshire - Free nappy starter kit
Belfast City Council - Free two week trial and £30 cashback scheme when you spend £50
Derry City & Strabane - £30 cashback
Lisburn & Castlereagh - £30 cashback
Newry, Mourne and Down - £30 cashback
Real Nappies for London
The Real Nappies for London Campaign provides residents of certain London boroughs with vouchers up to £54.15
Barnet - £54.15 cashback
Bexley - £50 cashback
Camden - £54.15 cashback
Enfield - £54.15 cashback
Hackney - £54.15 voucher
Haringey - £54.15 voucher
Islington - £54.15 voucher
Lambeth- £40 cashback
Southwark - Free nappy starter pack
Sutton - £35 cashback
Oldham - £30 cashback
Waltham Forest - £54.15 cashback
Southwark - Free nappy starter kit