We are often asked which cloth nappies are best to use if you plan on using a sling or baby carrier with your little one.
The answer is – ‘it depends!” The answer could differ based on how long baby will be in the carrier, type of carrier used, baby’s age and many other factors.
A brief discussion on positioning in a baby carrier
Before looking at which nappy to choose, let’s first look at baby’s position within the carrier. An ergonomically designed carrier will support baby’s legs and hips in their optimum physiological position, with their knees higher than bottom, forming an ‘M’ shape. The legs are supported from knee to knee by the base of the carrier.
Positioning baby in this way respects their natural hip development, and in addition can help make your choice of nappy easier.
What about compression leaks?
You might have read that certain nappy fabrics are more prone to compression leaks than others. Compression leaks happen when the liquid in a full nappy is put under pressure then squeezed out, as there is nowhere else for it to go. This typically happens more in a microfibre nappy, due to the structure of the fabric and the way that it holds on to liquid. This can happen on those occasions baby is strapped into a car seat, buggy, high chair or sling, with pressure being put directly on the nappy area.
With an ergonomic, wide based carrier or stretchy/woven wrap, the fabric of the carrier will be spread right into baby’s knee pits. This means the pressure and weight are spread evenly across the back of baby’s thighs and bottom, rather than directly into the nappy area. When you have baby’s positioning like this, really any nappy can be used as the nappy area isn’t subject to all the direct pressure.
A narrow based carrier, or an ergonomic carrier or wrap not spread to the knees, will place this pressure on baby’s nappy, so you will need to be more aware of which nappy you pick out for walks in the sling.
Recommended nappies to use with a sling
Having said all the above, there are still some considerations that you may like to make when choosing your nappy system, if you intend on using a sling frequently.
Natural fabrics are much less prone to compression leaks, so choose nappies made from cotton, bamboo or hemp for greater capacity.
A two part system of nappy with a separate waterproof wrap offers the ultimate reliability, as if anything is squeezed out of the nappy it will be caught by the wrap. Avoid a wool wrap as this needs plenty of air flow to work reliably, so being squashed in the carrier will allow the liquid to wick out.
- Before going out on a long sling walk (or car journey), change into a clean nappy. This way you know you’re starting out with as much capacity in your nappy as possible. Equally if you find yourself having a break or are near a changing room, and baby doesn’t ‘need’ a change, take the opportunity to check and/or change the nappy anyway.
- Microfibre nappies are great if you have limited drying facilities, so if these make up most of your nappy collection, try adding a hemp or bamboo booster inside the nappy so they hold more firmly onto the liquid.
- Think about what change bag you use and how you plan on carrying it around the carrier. Slimmer nappies will take up less space if a lighter weight bag would be easier for you.
- When carrying in the cold, don’t layer baby up too much in a big padded snowsuit. As well as the risk of overheating or positioning issues, too much padding around the nappy area (especially in babies wearing cloth nappies) could cause a reduction of blood flow to the lower limbs. Thinner layers are easier and help you ensure baby’s legs stay nicely positioned and comfortable.
So in conclusion, as long as baby is positioned correctly in an ergonomic, wide based carrier then most nappies will be fine to use. If you plan on using a carrier with your little one most of the time, a two part system with a natural fabric nappy will be the most reliable, giving you that peace of mind that you both won’t end up with a wet patch!