I am such a newbie to parenting that when I saw ‘muslin cloths’ on a suggested shopping list of essential baby items I didn’t know what they were. I Googled it and found lots of places selling them but none of them actually explained what you use them for. I asked a colleague and she laughed and said “you will use them for everything” so I was still clueless.
The beauty of them is they are made of very light material, so they are very absorbent and when they are washed they dry very quickly. Now after a few months I am finding them indispensable. I am never seen out the house without one tucked in my back pocket, so I wanted to share with you my uses, just in case there is anyone else out there who is scratching their head like me.
- Slop cloth
We affectionately call them slop cloths because they are mainly used for mopping up the small amounts of milk that get spilt or spit up during feeding. I always have one draped over my shoulder when burping my baby. On a couple of occasions we’ve had an exorcist moment where the whole feed comes back up, and a cloth might not save your clothes, bedcovers, carpet or cushions then, but they are handy for mopping up the aftermath.
- Dribble wipes
All babies dribble a different amount. Mine doesn’t dribble too much so far, but she did for a few days when she first started producing saliva and enjoyed blowing saliva bubbles, which was incredibly cute. Now she is dribbling again as she is teething. Having a bib on her all day seems a bit unnecessary, so I just have a cloth to hand to wipe away the dribble when I see it, and it makes me feel like a ninja when I can swoop in and catch it.
As a new mum with raging hormones you will probably find yourself crying over nothing at some point in the middle of the night. Invariably you don’t have a tissue to hand, and don’t want to drip snot on your baby (that will just upset you more as you feel like a bad mum) so they make a handy hankie.
- Breastfeeding cover
Muslin cloths come in different sizes. I’ve got some large ones that practically cover your whole body, so they are great for draping over you when breastfeeding in public. Admittedly you could use a third hand to get them in position, but once you get the hang of it they can really help make you feel more private and confident.
- Sun screen
No matter how fancy your pram you will invariably find that the sun at as certain angle will shine on your baby and their precious delicate skin. You can invest in a fancy umbrella and keep moving it every time you change direction, but a simple cloth of breathable material draped over the front is just as good (although make sure there’s still a gap for air to circulate to prevent overheating).
- Light blanket
On a hot summer day you can take the pram cover off and just use the muslin cloth as a light cover, or in place of a blanket on the bed at night. Good weather is such a rare thing in Ireland so it’s nice to just have something impromptu rather than investing is special hot weather gear.
- Teething relief
We bought some nice expensive teething toys but my little one seems to prefer grabbing the nearest cloth and chewing on that. I guess it is soft and fits the contours of her mouth. You just have to be careful not to leave her unsupervised with it because she would shove the whole lot in and choke if she got a chance.
When babies are really little they are hard to dress because they don’t bend their arms and legs much. Now at four months the opposite is true, she is always bending and wriggling, but that doesn’t make it easier. Every time I try to put her arm in a sleeve she starts biting the sleeve, or makes a fist and grabs it from the inside, and you have to gently prise her away. This is where a muslin cloth can be handy as a distraction as she can grab and chew on that instead freeing up her arms to wrestle into the outfit.
So if you see me walking down the street with a piece of material hanging by my side, it isn’t a fashion statement, but an essential piece of kit.
I am sure you are all much more clued in than me, so if you have other suggestions for how to use them please let me know, because I’d be pleasantly surprised to be able to use them even more.