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The nappy wrap


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Mention cloth nappies and most people imagine buckets overflowing with Napisan, endless washing, plastic pilchers, pin pricks and nappy rash. This is certainly what came to my mind before I saw for myself the revolution that is the modern cloth nappy.

Modern cloth nappies (MCNs) are easy to use, perform better than even the premium disposables, look great and, best of all, save you thousands of dollars. And there’s a good case that they’re a better choice for the environment. Plus, MCNs are actually better than disposables at protecting bub’s clothes and bum. After six hours in our first MCN, my baby’s bottom and clothes were bone dry.

MCNs are really easy to use, too. Even my eight-year-old has no trouble putting one on her baby brother. Washing is easy. It’s really no big deal to tip the contents of a cloth nappy into the toilet, give it a quick rinse and throw it in the wash.

Disposable nappies are said to account for roughly 5 per cent of landfill. An average baby uses around 2190 nappies a year. Over two-and-a-half years, that’s a whopping 5500 nappies. Picture that piled up in your backyard!

The bottom line is, all nappies impact on the environment but, after extensive research, I believe that using cloth nappies is the better choice. The environmental impact from the manufacture, transport, sale and disposal of a nappy occurs just once for a cloth nappy and you are replacing thousands of nappies with 15-25.

You can minimise how much your cloth nappies impact on the environment by washing in cold water, using energy-efficient appliances, line drying, using eco-friendly washing powders and recycling for multiple children. The financial savings, at least, are indisputable. Premium disposable nappies cost roughly $3200-$3800 per child. A good stash of quality MCNs will cost between $400 and $800 and can be used for multiple children.

There are three types of MCNs to choose from: the all-in-one, the pocket nappy and the fitted nappy with cover. Each has advantages and disadvantages. All-in-ones are easy to use (both Dad and daycare preferred the AIO) but take longer to dry on the line, while pocket nappies are easier to wash and dry but require stuffing before use. Fitteds are great if you are happy to use a cover and prefer natural fabrics. Wool covers are fantastic but take time and effort to care for.

MCNs are available as either OSFA or sm/med/lg. There are also a few almost all-in-ones, which are essentially a cover with a snap-in absorbent insert.

Fabrics used for MCNs include bamboo and hemp, both ultra-absorbent and from eco-friendly crops. Organic cotton and microfibre are also used for absorption. Polyester fleece, wool and PUL (polyurethane laminated cotton, or polyester) are all used for outer layers and covers. PUL is waterproof and both wool and fleece will repel water. Microfleece or suedecloth used in liners wick moisture away from baby’s skin and into the inner layers of absorbent fabric, keeping bums dry and free of nappy rash.

For me, the hardest thing in converting to cloth was choosing which nappy to use, so I have road-tested a bunch for you. In the end, your choice of nappy will come down to what features are most important to you. I like AIOs for childcare, pockets for long car trips and out and about, and soft, natural fitteds when we’re at home.

Brand Absorbency Fit Ease of use Dry time* Cost Cute factor Distributor**
Green Kids: one-size pocket nappy in a range of colours or the cute Funtimes prints. PUL outer, suedecloth inner and bamboo, hemp or microfibre inserts to customise absorbency. Made in Australia. Choose for easy to use, locally made and reliable nappy. ***** **** **** *** $24-34 **** www.greenkids.com.au
Cheeky Butts: all-in-one with clever design that allows you to turn the nappy inside out, ensuring fast drying. Also allows for stuffing with extra boosters if required. Choose for easy to use, fast drying all-in-one. *** **** ***** **** $29.95 **** www.cheekybutts.com.au
Mother-ease Sandy’s Fitted: a comfy fitted nappy made from either unbleached cotton terry or bamboo available in xs/s/lg/xl. Boosters can be added for extra absorbency. Requires a cover. Choose for affordable, natural fabrics. **** **** *** *** $20-$27 *** www.nipnaps.com.au
Baby Beehinds bamboo fitted nappy: colourful, soft fitted nappies. Can be used with PUL or wool cover and can be boosted. OSFA. Choose for colourful, soft, bamboo fitted. ***** **** *** *** $26.50 ***** www.mpvw.com.au
Cute Tooshies: luxuriously soft bamboo fitted nappy. Use alone or team with wool for an all-natural overnight cloth nappy. Snug on baby but small on a toddler. Choose for luxurious, natural fabrics. **** *** *** ** $26.50 ***** www.mpvw.com.au
Baby Greens: a certified organic cotton/hemp fitted nappy from a US company committed to ethical business practice and sustainability. This unbleached nappy is incredibly soft and absorbent but will need a cover. Choose if you like organics. **** **** *** ** $25 *** www.nurturenappies.com.au
Mums n Bubs: all-in-one handmade by work-at-home mum. Soft fleece outer and flannelette inner. Hidden layers of hemp, cotton and waterproof PUL. Choose for easy to use, reliable handmade product. ***** **** ***** ** $25.90 **** www.mumsnbubs.com.au
WomBots: SNAIO handmade, night-time all-in-one. Minky outer with waterproof layer, flannel inner with layers of bamboo and microfleece. Can be made to order with your choice of fabrics. Choose for excellent night-time or long-haul car use. ***** **** ***** *** $34-46 (inc postage) ***** www.wombots.com.au
bumGenius: OSFA, clever snap-down front adjusts to fit newborn through to toddler. Removable microfibre insert dries fast and holds loads of wee. Choose for great fitting, easy-to-use pocket-style nappy. ***** ***** ***** *** $28 *** www.nurturenappies.com.au
Itti bitti d’lish: soft, fluffy waterproof outer with snap-in liner. Easy to use and fast drying design is really soft and cuddly. Itti bittis are designed to be ultra trim but upsize if you have a chubby bubby. Choose for a very trim soft and fluffy AIO. ***** **** **** **** $29.95 ***** www.ittibitti.com.au or www.nurturenappies.com.au
Jam tots berry plush: gorgeous minkee outer lined with PUL can be used as a cover or as an all-in-one with well-designed snap-in soaker. Choose for super-soft quick-drying cover or AIO. ***** **** **** ***** $25-$37 ***** www.nurturenappies.com.au