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How I use traditional muslin cloths as nappies

This post is for the benefit of my friend Stephanie who has recently made the decision to take the plunge into cloth diapering. She bought a few pieces of MCNs and is expecting a package of two dozen muslin flats.
Although I've collected a good stash of modern cloth diapers, muslin flats still form a key part of my cloth diapering system.
When I first started using this, I was a little dubious about the absorption power of this seemingly flimsy material. But it’s quite surprising how well it performs… and for such a small cost (sometimes free as these are commonly received as a gift from loving friends/relatives) it’s by far the most economical way to diaper a baby.
The first fold I used was the traditional Chinese or Origami fold:


Unfortunately for me, I found that it didn’t hold up very well as my son is a rather heavy wetter and I had yet to discover the use of nappy covers. My other complaint about this fold is that the fold is not really concentrated around the main wetting area. There’s also a lot of excess fabric sticking out after pinning it around a small baby which I thought was quite a waste of potential absorbing function.

After I got my prefolds and modern cloth nappies, I didn’t want my stash of muslins to go completely to waste, so I decided to do some research for other ways of folding them for better absorbency.
Here are a couple of sites I found really useful:

This was the folding method I found most effective for providing plenty of layers for pee absorbency and ability to contain newborn baby explosive poo… it’s called the ‘Jo fold’ – don’t ask me why.


In the last image, you just need to fan out the back of the nappy to form the area for where baby’s bum will go.

Then in goes baby, fold up the middle section, bring the sides around to the front, secure with snappi, add a cover and baby is ready to go!

I just love the look of natural cloth on baby’s cute little tushie

When the explosive poo started to settle down, I decided to use a simpler method to just fold it and tuck it into the nappy cover (mainly to keep things nice and easy for hubby).

This is something I improvised on my own:
My friend had some questions about whether the muslins would have enough absorbency and would be prone to leaks (which is why she bought the MCNs in case the muslins failed). From my experience they worked fine as long as you keep a few things in mind:
  1. You MUST ensure that all the cloth is inside the nappy cover, if there are any bits showing you must tuck them in to prevent leaking
  2. Pee management is about absorbency, which will not be an issue as long as you have sufficient layers in the muslin folds
  3. Poo management is all about containment, which you just need to choose a folding method that is secure around the legs and bum area – I can tell you from personal experience that disposables will have the same issues with poo explosions, if not more so, compared to cloth… somehow I find that the plastic material just will not mould around the baby’s bum as closely as cloth and so you are left with gaps which poo can just ooze out during one of those unexpected accidents
  4. Despite what I said in point #3, don’t hesitate to use a disposable if needed… newborn babies will poop A LOT. You’ll be doing MANY nappy changes one after another… sometimes two at a time when the poo will just not stop coming… at such times if it’s easier to just grab a disposable, just do it. And I promise you that baby’s poo will settle down to become less explosive and less frequent as the weeks go by
For further information, you can also check out my Bub Hub blog post on Cloth Nappies 101: Flat Nappies as well as it’s cousin The Prefold.


  1. There is such great information here. Thank you. Rebecca Chai sent me.

  2. Hello Rhonda! Thanks for your comment. I got a big kick knowing that I helped someone with this post. Good luck with the cloth diapers - whichever system you are using :)

  3. I love cloth nappies too but we've always just used terry cloth. I love this idea of using muslin... much less bulky I imagine. I was just folding up all my muslin cloths yesterday to pack away as I don't use them for my now 10-month old... but now I'm going to try them out as nappies!

    1. Wow! Another member of the cloth nappy club! Yes, muslin is definitely less bulky and dries very quickly after washing.

  4. I love cloth too! We've also used muslin for our 3 kids and love the soft feel of them. Thanks for the great tips and videos. Definitely some new things for me to try for baby #4!


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