What are Modern Cloth Nappies?
Modern Cloth Nappies (MCN) are, well, modern cloth nappies! You may remember the old-school white terry cloth squares your Mum probably used? Then along came the advent of disposable nappies –woohoo! Well, there’s been a huge shake-up in the nappy industry the past 5-10 years and cloth nappies are BACK!
Gone are the boring white terry cloth squares and in their place are ‘disposable-shaped’ cloth nappies in a plethora of colours, patterns, styles and fabrics which are a breeze to use and clean. No more stinky nappy pails, soaking or bleach! MCN can be a little confusing at first as there’s so much information out there and it’s easy to get lost so the purpose of this article is to cover the very basics in an easy to understand way for the uninitiated.
Why use cloth nappies?
People usually switch to MCN for one of two reasons (or maybe both) – cost and environmental responsibility.
Research reveals the average cost of one baby in disposable nappies from birth until toilet training at 2.5years of age is around $3,339.70. This cost will obviously be more or less depending on toilet training age. The average cost of MCN for the same amount of time is just $1395, including the upper cost of laundering . That’s a whopping saving of around $2000!!
Did you know that it is estimated that just one disposable nappy can take up to 500 years to decompose ? 500 YEARS! YIKES! That’s a VERY long time. Not to mention the environmental cost of manufacturing the raw materials required to make the nappy in the first place.
There are other reasons people switch to MCN including health reasons (nappy rash from disposables, concerns over chemicals contained in disposable nappies in close contact with reproductive organs), Mini ‘fashion’ (there are a lot of REALLY cute nappies out there!), some people don’t want their bins overflowing with smelly nappies etc.
There are different types of modern cloth nappies
There are 4 main types of MCN – AIO, Fitted/covers, pockets and AI2
AIO (All-in-one) – These are cloth nappies that look and operate exactly like disposables. They are the same shape and do up with either snaps or Velcro.
Fitted/covers – Fitted nappies are like AIO however they contain NO waterproofing materials around the outside and require a separate water resistant cover over the top. The separate cover can be made of PUL (Polyurethane laminate, a breathable water resistant fabric which is much kinder than the old-school plastic pants), wool or fleece.
Pockets – Pocket nappies consist of a generally water resistant outer shell with a stuffable pocket inside. Absorbent ‘boosters’ are placed inside the pocket. The purpose of this is to create a customisable nappy (put more inner layers in for naps or overnight) and also the separate parts dry faster after washing, particularly in the winter months with limited sunshine.
AI2 (All-in-two) – AI2 are similar to AIO however the absorbent inner core snaps on and off for customising and faster drying time. It’s different to a pocket nappy in that the absorbent layer sits on top of the ‘cover’, not stuffed inside.
Do modern cloth nappies force you to do more laundry?
Guess what? You don’t need to! What if I told you MCN can be washed in the same load as your ordinary washing? Some people choose to wash their nappies separately and that’s ok, but it is perfectly acceptable and OK to throw them in the wash with everything else. There is no need to soak them, bleach or scrub them or anything like that. In a nutshell all you need to do is remove any solids (flush them down the loo) and throw the nappy into a dry bucket.
Some people prefer to rinse the nappy out first to prevent urine sitting in the nappy for longer than is necessary. When it comes to washing day (don’t leave it more than 2 days max) put the whole lot in the washing machine, run it through a quick rinse and spin cycle then either add your other clothing or wash the nappies on their own if you prefer.
Line drying in the sun is recommended as the sun is a wonderful natural germ killer and does a great job removing stains. It’s worth noting here that different nappy manufacturers may have their own specific washing instructions so PLEASE check them out before you wash for the first time but this general routine worked personally for me for many years when I had young children in full-time MCN.
MCN is fun (and addictive)!
Once you start exploring the world of MCN you will come across a whole range of fun and exciting nappies (did I just say that?). I’m sure the well-seasoned users know what I mean, it’s fun and addictive to start collecting and using MCN and once you get into a groove it’s really not any more difficult than using disposables. Sometimes it can be a matter of trial and error to find ‘the perfect fit’ for your baby as they do come in all shapes and sizes and what works well for a chubby baby won’t necessarily work for a long skinny one, even if it gets amazing reviews and your best friend swears she will never use anything else.
The most valuable piece of advice I can give you, from a financial point of view is to not bulk buy any one nappy until you’ve had a chance to try it out first on YOUR BABY. If you are pregnant and wanting to use MCN go ahead and buy a few different types to see what you end up reaching for first, then once you know what works for you go and stock up as there’s often great bulk deals around. And yes, MCN do have a good resale value.
MCN use really has taken off and for good reason, if you liked this article and would like more information there is LOADS out there in the land of Google. I’m also happy to continue on and write about more specific issues if there’s any interest or questions, just leave a comment here and I’ll do my best.