Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Our journey to find the right modern cloth nappy (MCN) style

I found trying to figure out what style of modern cloth nappy (MCN) to use on Turtle a bit of a nightmare. There were so many choices and so few places to see, touch and try options that I stressed a lot about where to start. As mentioned in why I like to use cloth nappies I was pretty committed to using cloth or else I might have just given up. Since MCN are not cheap to buy upfront it feels like a big commitment. I was also very sleep deprived when I was looking to buy them, which made the experience so much more fun.

Photo Source: Owl Baby

Sixteen months on and I guess I am pretty much a veteran MCN mum now. I have tried quite a few different styles of nappy, figured out pretty much all of the jargon associated with them (that was possibly the hardest part!), joined "buy and sell MCN" Facebook groups and bought and sold nappies through them, and through Gumtree.

Here are some of the things that I struggled with and learned. I hope it helps anyone who is in the same boat that I was in. Remember, however, that every baby is different and you might really like a style that another parent doesn't find works for them ("working" of course meaning, "contains pee and excrement" and fits nicely). So in the end it is a bit of trial and error until you find what works for you.  

As soon as I started looking in the stores for reusable nappies I realised that my original expectation of using white terry towel cloth nappies was a bit outdated. I remember my mum using cloth nappies with my younger sister, 12 years my junior.  Mum used a stork nappy service that took all the dirty ones away each week and left clean new ones ready to go. I could find no reference to nappy services when I researched it online in Perth.  

I could only find disposable nappies in the baby stores and struggled to find pilchers or plastic pants to cover the folded terry towel style of nappy. There were also no nappy pins in stores. I felt like I kept coming across barriers to using the basic white terry towel option that I thought was the only option available. Little did I know.

After doing some research I realised a whole new world of modern cloth nappies or MCN was available.  The problem was that barely any baby stores sold them and I couldn't understand what the differences in styles were. I didn't know whether the nappy needed a pitcher style cover or if it was designed to contain the "business" itself.

I went to the Perth Baby Expo specifically to look at a few different styles of MCN. I fully expected the Expo to be the most awful experience of my life - I make a point of never going to those kinds of events. I'm not the best shopper at any time and I was way out of my comfort zone looking at nappies at the Expo. I struggled to tell the styles apart except for the outer covers and whether they had a million snap buttons on the front or velcro. I honestly had no idea where to start with choosing a style and how to be confident if it would last. I also didn't know how to tell if the nappy needed an outer cover or not.

In the end I decided to just jump in and buy some nappies online through Gumtree and see how it went.  I was just starting to buy the odd nappy style to try (which, with a 6 week old baby was quite difficult to do - driving to various places across the metro area) when one of the mums in my mums group told me she was selling some MCN.  She offered to lend me some to try (bless her heart!). I tried a few styles and immediately decided that having a separate outer layer and nappy was way too bulky for Turtle.  I also started to see that each brand offered various different styles (separate nappy and pitcher, an all in one, different designs). This didn't simplify things but it made me more confident about what was available.

I saw a bulk lot of cheap pouch nappies on Gumtree at around this time. I had tried one of the same brand that was bought secondhand but it was practically brand new and worked well for Turtle. I decided to buy the bulk lot and hoped that they might last for all of Turtle's nappy wearing days. My friend from mums group was also using them at night because they were quite absorbent. I was sure I was onto a winner. They lasted pretty well for about 3 months and then Turtle outgrew the small size and was into the mediums. I'm still not sure if it was because the medium size was more worn or if Turtle started wetting more at this age (6 months old) but the nappies just weren't coping. I cut my losses and started looking for other styles.

We stuck with the all in one design (rather than a separate nappy with a pilcher) and tried a few styles before deciding what fitted Turtles frame. She is long and varies between being thin and filling out as most babies do. We bought some sized nappies (mediums and large) to see if the fit was good for her. We also tried some one size nappies with press studs to change the fit as Turtle grew.  We decided that the one size nappies are the way to go for us - they can accommodate in-between sizes and we don't need to keep buying and selling as Turtle grows. Another bonus is that if we have another baby we can use this set from birth until potty training.

The style we chose was mainly selected because it was compact (not too bulky), easy to use, simple and reasonably priced. We have a full set of the one size nappy (24 of them) and we use them all of the time that we are at home except for at nights.  We have been using disposables at nighttime since Turtle was 6 months old. I am still in the process of selling the sized nappies (mental note: I must get that done!). 

Buying secondhand has made our MCN much cheaper. This has also allowed us to try a lot of different styles too. If you are buying secondhand make sure you go to the website of the nappy company you're interested in and check out the specifications for size and design. 

I am not sure that we have saved money in comparison to using disposables. There are some really cheap disposable nappies and they do tend to last longer than cloth, which you have to change every 2-4 hours.

The purpose of using cloth for us wasn't to spend less. It was to waste less. On that front I think that we have been successful. I also like that Turtle is starting to notice us cleaning out her nappies since we are taking responsibility for them. I believe cloth is meant to help with potty training too, so that is a bonus.

What was your MCN journey like? How did you decide what style of nappy to use?

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