If you’re a woman, I’m sure at some point you’ve been told, usually by an older, female family member, to always wear nice underwear incase you get hit by a bus. I was. Many times. Over the years I began to love wearing this ‘nice’ underwear. Particularly as my salary increased and I could buy ever more lovely pieces. It became not so much about potentially getting hit by the bus, as about how great it felt to be wearing such a luxurious necessity. So it makes sense why I have an insatiable curiosity to the ultra bright and cute MCNs for my daughter.

MCN (or modern cloth nappies for those not in the know – like me!) are back in fashion. It seems a little ‘two step backwards’ for the ‘one step forward’ but I am really curious about cloth nappies…

Did you know, cloth nappies started out being made from seal and rabbit skins? Eww! During Elizabethan times cloth nappies, a little more like the ones my mum used for me, were used… although they weren’t changed all that frequently. In fact several days could go by before the little babes had their nappies changed. No wonder nannies and wet nurses were so popular – who would want to be around those nappies! By the mid-1900s disposable diapers had come into existence. However, disposable nappies didn’t really reach their height until the 80’s. But by the 90’s their environmental impact began to come into question. To date, the contents of disposable diapers still aren’t regulated… The naive part of me would like to think that their really can’t be anything that terrible in that chemical concoction that keeps my daughter’s bottom dry.

I am not going to go into the cloth vs disposable environmental, etc debate. I’m just going to explore cloth…

To add to this whole new cloth nappy world, there is a whole new subject specific vocabulary. Just incase you weren’t confused enough! I will endeavour to explain these as I discover them. For the first task – option A or B???

Snap or Hook and Loop

MCN ‘do up’ with either snap tabs or by hook and loop (velcro).

Snap are supposed to more challenging for your baby (when they’re older) to get off… From my husband’s point of view – it snap would take the stress out of wondering if the nappy is too tight or too lose – he could just ask what ‘button’ we are up to and he would know he has it right every time. (One night my daughter woke up screaming, a half hour after she’d had her dream feed. This she never does… I couldn’t work out what was wrong. She’d been fed, I’d burped her, her nappy had been freshly changed… Hmmm… the husband had changed the nappy… I thought I’d just check… Oh  my  goodness – this nappy was done up so tight it was like it was trying create a muffin top where one didn’t exist. As soon as I undid the nappy the crying stopped. I could almost see the relief on her face.) The ‘velcro’ style way of doing up nappies, similar to disposable nappies, would give my husband no end of grief as he’d battles between the nappy being loose enough that it doesn’t strangle her, but tight enough that it doesn’t allow for accidents.

However, Velcro allows for more flexibility in that you don’t have to ‘jump’ a snap leaving potential pee/poop escape routes. They also avoid the fiddling when you’re trying to get the snap to ‘snap’ shut, while battling little legs that won’t stop kicking or babies that wriggle and squirm.

All in One or All in Two

All in Ones (AIOs) take a while to dry as you can’t take the soaker fabric out. The plus for these are that they are easier for the novice to put on as they ‘put on’ just like a disposable – well as close as you’re going to get. Easier for those not so used to nappies, or not nappy inclined – such as child care workers and husbands. Some have snaps or pouches so that you can add booster soakers if you wish.

All in Twos have removable inserts. I really don’t see these as having a negative. Although sometimes the inserts can be fiddly to put in. The plus for these are that you can remove the inserts for drying, allowing you to dry the nappy quicker, therefore use it again sooner (especially if you have additional inserts). You can also add additional inserts, or boosters, a lot more easily. I have found to date that most inserts and boosters are interchangeable – i.e. it doesn’t matter which brand of nappy you have, you can interchange most nearly all of the inserts.

Sized or One Sized

Sized tends to fit more snugly, without the bulk at the belly – which means they fit better under their clothes when your baby is smaller… Especially good for tummy time. I’ve found that the bulkier nappy tends to bring things up at tummy time. Not such a surprise really, if you consider what it would be like for yourself, lying belly on the ground with a bulk of fabric digging into you. On the not so great side – they aren’t that much cheaper and you will have to buy a lot more nappies, as sized nappies usually go through three sizes from birth to toddler.

One sized nappies – a ‘one size fits most’ approach, have the bonus of lasting from baby to toddler without having to change them. This is also great if you have more than one child (of different ages) using the nappies. No

checking for sizes! Accidentally trying to put your toddler into a new born nappy! But, as hinted above, they tend to be a little bulky around the belly. I’ve also found that the inserts struggle to fit in the smallest size setting. Although, the Happy Heinys nappy has two different sized inserts that come with the nappy – but I’m yet to try these. I’ve used two boosters inst

ead of the standard insert but then that leaves a gap on the side and I have found that sometimes a little pee trickles out without being captured by the soaker.

How Many?

Websites suggest six for part time use (i.e. using disposables when you go out) and 12-18 for full time use, washing every second or third day.

Storage Until Washing

You are supposed to store the MCN in a nappy pale and store them dry. If they are soiled with the No2s, you are meant to rinse that off first. My Little Miss’ bowels run like clock-work, most of the time! Which has meant that I generally know when the No2 will happen and I use a biodegradable nappy liner at those times. However, twice I’ve been caught with a No2 in a nappy without a liner. One rinsed off relatively easy but the other just wouldn’t budge. I couldn’t bear to have a stained nappy – yes… as sad as it sounds I’m quite attached to my new nappies! So I used some stain remover to get the yellow colour out. The suggestion for removing stains without stain removers, is good old fashioned sunlight. Unfortunately, with the terrible weather of late, sunlight was in short supply.

I haven’t yet tackled the whole storing a soiled nappy while you’re out scenario. I’m not sure if I want to be carrying around a soiled diaper just yet. The cloth diapers also don’t roll up as small as the disposables which makes fitting them in a nappy bag a little trickier. If you are this brave, you can purchase a ‘wet bag’. This is basically a water proof bag that you can then throw in the wash, together with the soiled nappies.

Next MCN chapter:

My thoughts on different brands that I have tried – Itti Bitti, Grovia, Baby BeeHinds and more

Going out and about with MCNs

Different websites selling MCNs

Written by Nadia

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