13 March 2020

Back to Bsaics: The Great Nappy Crisis of 2020

Here in Melbourne, due to panic buying induced by COVID-19 hysteria, most supermarkets have been sold out of disposable nappies for days. I know Wendy has been looking for nappies for her two grandbabies. And Hannah was talking to a man at Bunnings who has 8 month old twins and they couldn't get nappies. Then we had Anne, a member with four babies in nappies, who was struggling to find them.

All I could come up with as a solution was cloth. And I don’t mean MCN or Modern Cloth Nappies. Those things are hideously expensive and not practical for this crisis.
I mean old-school, cloth nappies;  towelling or flannel squares .

And they are cheap - a dozen cost:
Big W $25, or just over $2 (and they're in stock and available online) or $20 at B
Baby Bunting $20
Target $22
Kmart $19 (check the quality of the towelling - thicker is better).

Two dozen is more than enough for one or two babies; the average baby goes through 6 - 8 nappies a day, so two dozen if you wash them every day should be plenty. 

Then you'll need nappy pins or elastics, pilchers of some kind (I liked Fluffies, not sure if they're still around), liners (not necessary but they save scrubbing stains), a tub of soaker (on half-price sale at Coles this week and a bucket with a lid.

The easiest fold is the triangle and if you've never used cloth nappies, I suggest you go for the easiest fold. Fold the square in half on the diagonal, and then in half again on the diagonal for small babies. Bigger bubs and toddlers just do the one fold.
Pop baby on the nappy, bring the point of the triangle up, wrap the ends around and pin in place. Now these cloth nappies aren't water- or wee-proof so that's where the pilchers come in. They're the waterproof pants that go on over the nappy.

With cloth nappies they'll need to be changed more often than in disposables.

Just put the dirty nappy in the bucket of soaker (flush any solids first). Do this with all the nappies during the day. Next morning dump them in the washing machine and run a rinse load. Peg them out on the line to dry.

I found it easier to fold them as they came off the line and stack them in the baby's room, ready to be used, than trying to fold the nappy while a wriggly bub was trying to escape.

I've been told they're a lot of work, but they're not really.

Fold them as you take them off the line.
Drop them in the bucket to soak when you change baby.
Rinse and dry every morning.

The thing that will be the most time consuming will be hanging them out and bringing them in, and honestly if it takes you more than 10 minutes to hang out 8 nappies, you're moving too slow!

Now you don't need to rush out and buy nappies. Get creative. Visit some op shops and buy up flannelette sheets. Cut them to size, hem and voila - flannel nappies.  Give them a wash in hot water, let them dry in the sun and they're ready to go.

When you can get a single bed flannelette sheet for $2 - $5 and it will make around 15 nappies, they're cheap. And pretty, well prettier than plain white. 
To make a couple dozen nappies will take about an hour.

And when the crisis is over, and stores are stocked again, you'll have some decent cleaning cloths that will last you years and years.

So if you're really stuck for nappies, and can't afford MCNs, go old school and when stocks are back to normal, you can go back to disposables. Or not - you may find you prefer good old cloth nappies.


  1. Hi Cath,

    I used cloth nappies on my babies. We didn't have convenience back then.

    I love the idea of using a pretty flannette sheet to make them!

    There were plenty of nappies here the other day when I was in the shops. Surprisingly the baby section was pretty well stocked. There was even plenty of formula. However there was no toilet paper, tissues, rolled oats or plain flour!


    1. Those towelling nappies were amazing! I started with 3 dozen, and then an extra dozen new with Tom and Hannah, so ended up with 5 dozen. Four dozen went to our local RFS to use over the nose and mouth, and I kept 1 dozen. I'm still using some of them, 30 years later! They make great dusters and for wiping down/drying walls, the shower etc. No formula on Saturday but some wipes and nappies in Coles, nothing in Aldi. No frozen fruit or veg in Aldi either, plenty in Coles. We're right, our Premier Daniel Andrews just announced about an hour ago that Victoria is in a state of emergency for four weeks, but expect it to be extended. We are OK for at least that long, just need to get the kids to curtail their face-to-face social lives - they'll laugh, I'm always telling them they need face-to-face, not social media to keep up with friends :)

    2. The baby aisle was more or less empty today when we checked. Lots of shelves bare now.

      I guess we may all be in the same situation as Victoria soon. It is going to be a long six months I think. So far the virus hasn't reached where we are yet, but it will come.

      Haha that's funny about your kids. A mum is allowed to change her mind, that is the rule!



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