Let's talk MCN: Choosing a Cloth Nappy - Modern Cloth Nappies Features
So you’re looking at using MCN - modern cloth nappies. But in your googling you’ve realised there’s a lot of different attributes to each brand. How are you going to work out what’s best for you? Pocket nappies, all in one nappies, or snap in cloth nappies? Natural fibre or Microfiber? There’re so many different answers, but we’re hoping to help clear up your questions and make choosing some cloth nappy types easier.
To begin, let’s look at your child’s size. Are they a newborn or an older baby? Or even a toddler? Each brand will have a general weight range on what they fit. Most one size fits most (OSFM) cloth nappies will fit from approximately 3-16kg. These types of cloth nappies will try to fit from birth to toileting. There are brands who fit a larger child, often going as high as 20kg. These are typically labeled as large one size fits most cloth nappies, or LOSFM, and will sometimes start at a higher minimum weight. Often work at home mums (WAHM) will have a pattern that fits a LOSFM. Newborn MCN - modern cloth nappies - will generally start around 2kg and end around 5kg. Less usability than OSFM, but a better fit for younger and smaller infants.
Gussets, or leg elastics, are another heavily debated feature, do you need single or double? Single gussets work just as well as double gussets, with double having slightly more holding power.
Pocket cloth nappies, all in one cloth nappies, or snap in cloth nappies? Each has their benefits. Pockets cloth nappies are good for new parents, or those with wriggly babies that just will not stay still. Snap in cloth nappies has more insert permanence and can decrease insert bunching resulting in less user error leaks. All in one cloth nappies often have a long snake insert, and are sewn in on one end. This means the shell and inserts cannot be separated, and if you need to sanitise you’re limited in how you can do so. It also means the nappy is a complete nappy and you have less fiddling when it comes to folding and fitting.
Now, pick your inner lining for your cloth nappy. Suede cloth, athletic wicking jersey, or wipeable PUL. Suede cloth is a stay dry layer in pocket nappies, keeping your child’s skin dry while allowing fluid to move through into your cloth nappy inserts. Athletic wicking jersey is another type of stay dry layer, but as it’s slightly more breathable it works better for children with sensitive skin. Wipeable PUL is a popular inner for snap in nappies, if the nappy is used for a short period of time (2 hours or less) and there’s no solid soiling, the cloth nappy shell can be wiped out and used again with fresh inserts. This helps keep costs down for new parents.
Next comes snaps. Or Velcro? Single row or double row waist snaps are the two variants on the market. Double row allows for a more personalised fit, taking into account your child’s waist and hip size. These can leave a small gap at the top, which is completely normal. Single row offer a more snug fit, leaving the top of the nappy closer to your child’s skin.
Velcro is an easier option for those who are used to disposable nappies, or aren’t as strong in the hands as others. Velcro is popular among daycares and grandparents, due to the similarities in fit with disposables.
To tummy elastic, or not to tummy elastic? That is the question. As mentioned, double row snaps can leave a small gap a the top of the nappy. Some parents would rather this gap not be there, and as such the tummy elastic was born.
Side snapping cloth nappies, a little bit different to your average MCN. A lot of them do away with rise snaps completely making them a fitted OSFM. The lack of rise snaps mean there’s less customisation and an ever so slightly smaller weight range. However in saying that, it means there’s also less room for user error, making them an easier nappy for beginners to use.
Time to choose your cloth nappy inserts. How much is your child’s output? Heavier outputs need more absorption. This can be achieved in two ways, boosting your inserts or by using natural fibres. Hemp and bamboo are the two thirstier natural fibre inserts on the market. This also means they’re quite popular and there are many premium brands who sell these inserts. A lot of cheaper brands will sell microfiber inserts, sometimes wrapped with a hemp or bamboo layer. You need to be careful to read the fine print or the insert composition to make sure you’re purchasing the right type of insert for you. Microfibres work for smaller babies, or babies with a smaller output, and will often need to be replaced or boosted heavily with more inserts as your child grows. Microfibres work like a sponge, and when compressed can cause a spill of fluid resulting in leaks.
Fitted all in one cloth nappies are thick inserts shaped like MCN, but require a second nappy cover to make them waterproof. These are particularly useful as night nappies when children are sleeping in longer chunks overnight. That’s not to say they can’t be used as day nappies, plenty of brands offer two absorption types in fitteds for day and night use.
When using fitted cloth nappies or even terry cloth, lanolised woolies are another cover option. Woolies are wool covers and take the place of pyjama bottoms. These come in booty covers, shorties, or longies. Woolies need minimal washing after use, just an air out to help evaporate any leftover fluid. Washing recommendations say that if woolies are retaining smells after airing, it’s time to wash. Once washed, they need to be relanolised with a lanolin solution to become water resistant. This option is not suitable for vegans, as lanolin is sheep sebum.
Picking a type of cloth nappy is a lot harder when you’re still pregnant, or newly making the switch. Cloth nappy stockists often sell multi packs, featuring many different types of nappies for you to use. Many mainstream brands will also sell discounted duo packs of their specific nappies for users to try. These duo packs often come at a “one per household” caveat. This is a great way to build your stash and see what type works for your family.
If you’re not sure what to choose or where to start, try our 5-piece Cloth Nappy Trial Pack. See which style of cloth nappies works for you, then you can return what you don’t need for a 50% refund.
We hope to have covered most types of nappies on the Australian market, and if we haven’t, please reach out to us so we can answer any other questions you may have.
By Morgan Thomas of @morganaveril.mcn