What nappies did you use back in the ’60s and ’70s, and what was your nappy care routine?
Back in the day, Mothercare had everything a proud mum needed to not only keep her baby’s bottom fresh but also hold her head high as she hung whiter than white nappies out on the washing line.
Terry or Disposable?
Invented by British mum of 6 Valerie Gordon Hunter, disposable nappies first became available in the 1950s, but they weren’t an instant hit with post-war mums who struggled to adopt the idea of throwing things away.
Unlike today’s disposables, early versions were little more than absorbent pads that needed to be held in place by an outer nappy.
Interestingly, the advertising bumf proudly proclaims that they are “easily disposable – just tear in half and flush away” – how attitudes have changed! With or without the disposable pad, the outer nappies were generally made of terry towelling and keeping them soft and white was a matter of pride.
Nappy Sanitising Powder was a product many mums swore by back in the day.
The anti-bacterial and cleansing agents it contained promised to kill bacteria and keep nappies soft against a baby’s skin, thereby helping to prevent nappy rash.
Of course, nappies were generally boiled to within an inch of their lives before being rinsed and hung out on the line to dry, so germs had little chance of survival, but NSP was the product of choice for keeping nappies fluffy and white, wash after wash.
Another option was the ‘Marathon’ one-way under nappy, a product that boldly promised “no more nappy rash”.
Like disposable pads, the one-way nappy was held in place under an outer nappy, with the difference being that it could be boil-washed and re-used again and again. Did you buy into this modern invention?
Blowing in the Breeze!
The idea of disposable nappies perhaps appealed to many back in the day, but the cost was prohibitive for most. Nappy care generally meant an on-going routine of soaking the dirty nappies in a bucket followed by a boil wash in a pan on the stove or, if you were lucky, in a single or twin tub, and then a blow-dry out in the sunshine – or whatever the weather happened to be.
Let’s be honest, Britain is not known for its long hot summer days, so while many look back with nostalgia on the days of soft, fluffy, whiter than white terry nappies blowing in the breeze.
The reality was often many months of damp nappies hanging around the coal fire or on makeshift clothes horses all over the house… and many homes were already cold enough to have ice form on the inside of the windows during the winter months as it was!
If you could afford £10.9.1d and a big electricity bill in a time when the average weekly wage was £20.6s.1d, you could solve the nappy drying problem with a Burcodri: “No more smut soiled linen, no more catching the winter sun between drenching showers…”
Were you lucky enough to have one, or do you remember days of bringing in frozen solid nappies from the washing line?
Thanks to our friends at Mothercare, who allowed us to photograph their catalogue archive from the 1960s and 1970s.