I remember when I first started looking into using cloth nappies and it felt like someone was speaking in a different language - OSFM, MCN, AIO, AI2, Pocket Nappy, Insert, liner, PUL cover…the list went on!

To make it simple, back in the day cloth nappies were simply a piece of flat fabric folded and secured around bub’s waist. Cloth nappies have come a long way since then and are often referred to as Modern Cloth Nappies (MCNs) for this reason. Some MCNs come in different weight sizes but a lot of cloth nappies are One Size Fits Most (OSFM) due to the adjustability of them. There may be stages like when you have a newborn baby that it does not fit perfectly but babies grow into things very quickly!

MCNs usually have a water resistant outer shell made out of Polyurethane Laminate (PUL) and then vary substantially in how they absorb moisture. All in 2 nappies (AI2) consist of the outer waterproof shell and then have an absorbent insert that attaches in. All in One (AIO) nappies are the most similar to using a disposable in that it is all in built, you simply put the nappy on bub and wash the whole thing - no separate parts. Then there is a pocket nappy which still has the PUL outer but has a pocket for putting an absorbent insert in and a fabric stay dry layer to go against the skin.

Which brand and type should I buy?

The best tip for starting out on cloth is to buy a couple of a few different brands. The reason for this is that every nappy brand has slightly different features. By buying a few different types you can get an idea of which will be the best fit for your child and what’s easiest for you. My daughter is now 14 months and I’ve even found that different nappies have been better in different stages of her development. I loved the all in ones when she was little as they were so easy at the start of my cloth journey but now they are not absorbent enough since she has become more of a heavy wetter so I need pocket nappies to easily change the absorbency to avoid leaks. Pocket nappies are also great for drying quickly as the inserts and main part of the nappy can be hung up separately.

Aren’t they expensive?

Setting yourself up can be a bit of an expense but once this initial cost is out of the way you can save anywhere between $2000-$4000 on your first child alone. If starting out full time on cloth isn’t in the budget initially, you could always build your collection once you’ve had a chance to try a few different types that you like. The great thing about Little Genie cloth nappies is that they are super affordable.

I’m thinking of trying but not sure what I need to get started...

About 20 nappies but you could buy fewer to start with. Even just one a day is one less nappy in landfill.

An airy bucket to dry pail your nappies. I bought a strucket but any airy basket will do.

A good quality detergent. I found Persil Ultimate Liquid is great and means your nappies don’t need to be on higher than 40 degrees which allows them to survive longer.

A laundry booster for any tough stains. I use vanish in my pre wash or you can use Little Genie stain bar for tougher stains between your pre and main wash.

Remember to be kind to yourself

When I first had Scarlett I gave myself the fourth trimester, the first 3 months, to settle into mum life before I began cloth. I was recovering from birth, getting used to being a mum, dealing with washing, looking after myself and starting cloth just wasn’t what I needed. This meant that cloth never became a chore or overwhelming. When I started out I only did cloth at home so I always felt comfortable and to be honest, if I’m going out for a long period of time or traveling, I still use disposable. I use disposable overnight as well as I haven’t quite tackled buying overnight nappies since Scarlett sleeps 12 hours now. If it ever becomes a bit too much or my washing has gotten the better of me, I have a disposable day which can be a helpful reset to get back on top of it. Don’t ever feel guilty about this because every cloth nappy you use is one less in landfill and a better future for your child.

Natalie Gyenge


I'm Natalie and am originally from Sydney, Australia but moved to Tauranga to be with my husband. I’m a trained primary teacher but after having my daughter Scarlett decided on the stay at home mum life for now.

It was actually the journey into motherhood that made me consider the footprint that I’m leaving on this earth for my daughter and I started to reconsider some of the decisions I’ve made in the past and looked into more sustainable parenting practices. Having a baby in 2020 during covid where people were panicking about supplies also contributed to this!

I’m hugely passionate about play and being outdoors as well as supporting other mums however I can.

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