By the time your baby outgrows them she is likely to have had more than 4 000 nappy changes, so you can see why the subject deserves a good airing. There are several alternative methods of dealing with this mammoth task so weigh up your

priorities and particular circumstances before you decide what is best for you. Cloth nappies come in three basic types :

Towelling. Terry cloth or towelling nappies are made from cotton or cotton and viscose, and are usually squares approximately 60 cm x 60 cm, although they are also available specially shaped with a thicker portion at the crotch.

The important points to remember are :

Absorbency: Nappies are meant to absorb liquid, and their ability to do this depends largely on how much cotton they contain. So choose towelling nappies by weight; the heavier they are the better they are likely to be. Viscose adds to the bulk but is not as absorbent as cotton. Therefore, choose the heaviest, pure cotton cloth nappies, even if a mixture appears to be thicker.

Finish; Make sure the edges are well seamed as they will have to withstand frequent harsh washing. There should be no faults in the fabric.

Buy two dozen towelling nappies.

Shaped terry nappies. Although some mothers like them because they are easy to use, they are not as absorbent as square nappies, and are likely to become obsolete when the baby grows too big for them.

Twillback. Twillback nappies are made from woven cotton, twilled on the smooth side and mechanically fluffed on the other. They absorb well, and will last a long time if they are made from pure cotton. Twillback nappies are ideal for young babies as they are not as bulky as towelling and do not become as hard after repeated washing. Twill nappies can be used as pram or crib sheets. Later on a twill nappy can be combined with a towelling nappy to provide extra absorbency at night.

Buy two dozen twillback nappies.

Muslin or gauze squares (Harrington squares). These fine gauze squares absorb very little moisture and become shabby unless carefully washed. Muslin squares are useful as all-purpose cloths or nappy liners, but they are expensive and unnecessary.

Disposable nappies. The ordinary disposable nappy consists of a pad about 30 cm long by 12 cm wide, and is made from pulp or wadding in a tissue holder. A special plastic cover is used to keep the pad in place. The more expensive disposable nappies fold around the baby to form pants with plastic on the outside and pulp and tissue lining on the inside. Adhesive tapes are provided for fastening.

Unless the more expensive well-shaped nappies are used, there can be a problem with leaking of stools or urine. Also, many mothers dislike the sound of plastic rustling as the baby moves.

Disposable nappies are not as absorbent as towelling, but are easy to use and require no laundering. Disposing of them can be a problem, however, as few drainage systems cope with them especially if the nappies have plastic sections. All disposable plastic-backed fitted nappies should be burnt in an incinerator, or wrapped and thrown in a refuse bin.

Although convenient for travelling or in special circumstances, disposables are very expensive to use regularly although they do save a great deal of hard labour.


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