Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Cloth nappies (diapers) while travelling


We’ve been using MCNs since Chubs was a newborn, and have travelled several times with and without them. Here’s the decision making process that I think through when deciding to take them or not.


Trips where we didn’t take the MCNs and used disposables only

-          When Chubs was 14 weeks old we flew 800km to visit my in laws for 10 days. Dear Husband had some work at the time as well.

-          When Chubs was 5 months old we flew 1000 km in the other direction for a five week stay; also with Dear Husband’s work.


Trips where we have used mostly disposables and a few MCNs

-          When Chubs was 10 months old we drove and had two nights in an apartment at the beach (100 km)


Trips where we did what we do at home – ie mostly MCNs with disposables as spares and at night.

-          When Chubs was 18 months we drove 800km to visit my in laws for 10 days.

-          Shortly we will be going to a remote island for a week; I plan to take MCNs then.


So how do I decide what to take?

1.       Swimming

If we are somewhere where we will be swimming, the at least a few MCNs is a must. Since we use pocket MCNs, they readily transform into a swim nappy – just leave out the insert. Disposable swim nappies are expensive and wasteful and regular disposable nappies explode when the polymer crystals expand, spilling the crystals ev-ery-where.

If Chubs is in her clothes and an MCN (even with the insert) then it’s generally no worries for some impromptu water play. The MCN with the insert will sag, but it won’t explode with icky chemicals everywhere.

2.       Luggage

When going by air, then the MCNs may need to be left behind. Each time we have flown with Chubs we have been going to major cities where disposables are easily purchased. By the time you add a portacot, stroller, car seat and nappy bag to all your usual travel gear (keeping in mind that a lap child has no extra luggage allowance for her clothes) then fitting in a few days’ worth of MCNs might be too hard. Whenever we have gone away and taken MCNs we have been travelling by car.

If disposables can’t be easily purchased at your destination, then cloth is probably the way to go as reusable cloth will take up less room than single use disposables, especially if you are going for a week or more.

3.       Washing facilities

At home I have my MCN washing routine down pat, and that’s one of the things that makes using MCNs so easy. However, if the washing routine falls apart then it very quickly comes a disaster. One trip (when we were away for five weeks) we were in a serviced apartment with a combination washer dryer and no hanging space. Thank goodness I hadn’t taken the MCNs. The washer dryer was a disaster – it took over four hours to dry a half load and was too noisy to have on at night.

Recently we drove to visit my in laws and we were sleeping in their rumpus room; the laundry is a sectioned off part of that room. This meant that I couldn’t do what I normally do, ie run the nappies at night. It was all ok in the end, but it’s something else to consider.

Another factor is drying – if you plan to line dry, what will you do if it rains for days on end?

4.       Availability of more

When we head away for our remote-ish holiday, nappies will be available if we run out but they will be very expensive and possibly in short supply. I may not be able to get the brand or size that fits, they might be sold out that week and they will be over three times the regular price. I will be taking disposables for night time and spares, but the reusable MCNs will hopefully guard against having to buy more.

5.       Environmental impact

One of the main reasons that we use cloth is for environmental reasons. To head to a World Heritage Listed National Park and leave behind 50 disposable nappies which take hundreds of years to break down didn’t sit well with me.

6.       Ease of use

Our MCNs are pull ups, which is a huge help for a mobile toddler. Especially in summer, a standing up change underneath a dress is so easy. The disposables we use aren’t pull ups so we can’t do that.

7.       Aesthetics

The most trivial of all my points, but I do think that cloth looks much nicer under skirts and dresses than sposies.

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