Modern cloth nappies (re-usables) are convenient, cost effective and kind on the environment. We review the pros and cons of modern cloth nappies here.

Re-usable, pre-shaped cloth nappies are the new kids on the block in the nappy or diaper market. Let’s look at these modern wonders of the world!

Convenience of Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs)

While there are obviously different systems available, most modern cloth nappies (MCNs) look just like a disposable in shape, and have velcro fasteners or domes to snap them into place. There is no folding or pinning needed, you just grab the nappy and it is ready to go.

Modern cloth versions are also easier to wash than traditional nappies. Because of the type of fabric used, most modern re-usables do not need soaking. Most parents still have a dry nappy bucket to collect nappies during the day and they simply throw them in the machine before they go to bed. Because modern re-usables are pre-shaped, it is just like washing your child’s underwear – there is no pile of nappies waiting to be folded each day.

Stay Dry Quality of Re-Usable Nappies

Modern re-usables are made from super absorbent materials, with stay dry liners that are breathable and keep moisture away from baby’s skin. There are several brands of modern re-usables available, but they all use up-to-date fabric technologies which means baby stays drier and less smelly (just like a tri-athlete!).

Nappy Rash

Nappy rash is almost directly related to keeping baby’s bottom dry, although other factors like diet, allergies and general health can also contribute. The new fabric technologies used in modern re-usables mean that these nappies are very good at keeping baby’s bottom dry. However, you should still change your baby approximately every 3 hours to avoid nappy rash.

Leak Proof

There are several types of modern re-usables available and both the fitted and pocket systems (see a little further down the page) are great for catching wet and messy leaks. Unfortunately neither re-usables nor disposables come with a leak proof guarantee – chances are no matter what you use, you will be caught out a few times in baby’s nappy-wearing life.

Style and Comfort of Modern Cloth Nappies

Up-to-date fabric technology means modern re-usables draw moisture away from your baby’s skin, just like a disposable, and the traditional ‘bulky’ look is a thing of the past. There are great all-in-one fitted nappies which are as clean, trim and tidy as disposables and they come in all sorts of fun and funky colours. In the comfort department, modern re-usables work just like disposables and are simply snapped into place with Velcro or domes. Various sizes mean you can always get a good and comfortable fit.

Cost of Cloth Nappies

This is where the big difference comes between disposables and re-usables and just how much you will save depends on all sorts of things, including:

  • Which brand of disposables would you be using?
  • Which re-usable system would you choose to use?
  • How many children are you planning on having? (Re-usables can be passed down – with one outlay for several children)
  • What type of washing machine do you have?
  • What brand of washing powder do you use?
  • Would you use a clothes dryer?

There are countless cost comparison charts available, but assuming you were to use the most expensive re-usable nappies and washing powder, have a power-gobbling washing machine, and use your clothes dryer for every load of nappies – you would still save approximately $1500 in the first year. If you were to have 2 children, and they both used nappies until they were 2, you could save as much as $6000 in the nappy wearing years.

What do I really need for Reusable Nappies?

If you are choosing to use modern re-usables, there are several systems  or types available – which one you use will depend on your lifestyle and what you can afford. Fitted nappies, pocket nappies, and all-in-one nappies are the most popular options and each type has their own set of pros and cons. There are also several brands of modern re-usables, so check out the cost, materials and washing instructions to find one that suits you.

www.thenappynetwork.org.nz  provides a good guide to the different re-usable systems and outlines all the pros and cons. They also give you patterns for making your own re-usable nappies and parents provide reviews and comments about different re-usables on the market. Individual manufacturers can provide technical information about their specific brand and their websites are listed further down the page.

Exactly what you need and how many will depend on which system you choose; however a dozen modern re-usables usually constitutes a set.

How much will it cost to use Re-Usable Nappies?

Depending on the system you choose, modern re-usables cost $15 – $30 per nappy and you will need approximately 12 – 15. Taking the high end of the market, one set of modern re-usables is equivalent to about 4 months of using disposables. After that it is simply the washing and drying costs you need to take into account.

How can I save money on Modern Cloth Nappies ?

The number one way to save money with re-usables is to shop around.  There are now a large number of websites selling competing brands, so you should be able to find specials or “pack” deals to get you started.  See the list of websites below.

Where can I buy Re-Usable Nappies?

You can buy re-usables from a large number of websites with online stores, and/or specialist bricks & mortar baby shops, such as Baby Factory.

Useful Articles

To read about Bathing & Changing your Baby read our informative articles by NZ midwife Paula Skelton.

Bathing and Changing Gear Shopping List has a whole range of tips, advice and price comparisons

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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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