Using cloth nappies in hospital

This week’s guest blog post is from Vashti Wadwell, mother of 3, owner of Nest Nappies.

Nest Nappies is Brisbane’s only bricks and mortar store that specialises in cloth nappies. You can pop in for a real life demonstration, personalised recommendations and second-to-none service, or head in to one of their cloth nappy workshops. You can even book one of the girls for a mum’s group chat!

When you are about to become a parent for the first time (or second, third or more for that matter), there are always a multitude of things to think of. One of those is what nappy to use.

If you have decided to use cloth nappies, then when do you start? Do you take them with you to the hospital or do you wait until you come home? If you do decided to take them, then how do you wash them? Will the hospital let you use them? What if the midwives don’t know how to use them? Will my baby be able to have a cloth nappy on if they end up in special care?

These are all questions that end up racing through your head and when you are already deciding weather to take your trusty old pyjamas that are comfy, tried and tested or pack that brand new set you have just bought, it can be one just one more thing to add to the list. Using your new cloth nappies in the hospital can be super easy though and seriously, who doesn’t love a fluffy newborn bum?

Bam Bam at 15 hours

In days gone by, using cloth in hospital was the common practice and hospitals actually supplied terry or flannelette flats, which the midwives would teach you how to use, the hospital would launder and no one would bat an eyelid.

With the invention of the one use nappy, more and more hospitals moved away from this practice, as they were able to save money on laundering and replacement costs. Big name companies provided free sample packs of one-use nappies and as more and more people started using them, less and less people knew how to fold cloth nappies. These days, finding a midwife who knows how to fold a flat nappy is almost like finding a needle in a haystack.

Size 1 Bamboozle at 20 hours

With my first baby, I was told that cloth wasn’t an option.

There were reasons like ‘staff need to weigh the nappy to know how much my baby was weeing’ (not once did that happen and can’t cloth be weighed too?), ‘it’s too hard to tell when your baby needs a nappy change with a cloth nappy’ (Really??) or ‘not all the staff know how to use them’ (that’s ok, I can show you). I was super lucky with my second baby and the hospital actually still provided flats as an option (and laundered them!) and all the staff knew how to fold and fit them. When number three made his appearance, I was a seasoned pro and decided to pack all my MCNs into my hospital bag (actually, my cloth nappies had their own little travel suitcase) and only use them from the start.

I still remember the look on the midwife’s face when I wheeled my little suitcase into the birth suite and showed her my little stash. Watching confusion turn to joy when she saw how easy there were to fit was such a lovely feeling. I heard later that there was a note at the nurse’s station next to my name saying that I was the “Cloth Nappy Lady” and several of the midwives actually came to check out my nappies and see how they worked.

Size 1 Thirsties cover over prefold 55 hours

If you’ve decided that you want to use your new cloth stash in hospital, there are a few things that you can do to make it easy for yourself and the staff:

  • Be open and upfront with the staff. Let them know when you arrive that you want to use cloth. If you feel up to it during your labour and your midwife hasn’t seen MCNs before, show them how to use them. Alternatively, get your partner to show them while you are having a rest. Midwives love learning new things. This also means that if bub needs to head off to the nursery, staff know how to fit your nappies on your bub.
  • Have them easily accessible. Make sure that every one knows where they are or even have one ready to go so that there is no need to go hunting when your precious little bundle makes their appearance
  • Take enough with you. Babies poop a lot! A newborn baby can go through at least 10 – 12 nappies a day in the first few months. Having enough with you means that you won’t run out.
  • Have a plan for washing them. Knowing what to do with the dirty nappies if you end up spending a few days in hospital is a good idea. For me, I made sure that I had a couple of decent size wet bags to pop my dirty nappies into and my partner or mum took them home at the end of the day to wash. The next day they brought me in some clean ones and the cycle started again.

Here is a list of what I had at the hospital with me.

  • 20 – 24 nappies. Having two days worth of nappies with you means that if you end up spending longer than planned, your partner isn’t racing home to grab more.
  • 30 – 40 cloth wipes if you have decided to use them too. Babies poop a lot (did I already mention that?) Having extra cloth wipes means you can clean up all those messes with ease.
  • Biodegradable/disposable liners. Meconium is sticky. Disposable liners help cleaning those first few nappies.
  • 2-3 wet bags. Wet bags make storing and transporting your dirty nappies easy. It also nicer than walking through the hospital with a bucket for your washing person. Make sure that it is a decent size too. If you only have smaller ones, you may run out of room.


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