How did the humble muslin cloth become a baby staple?

10 September, 2020

How did the humble muslin cloth become a baby staple?

Where would we be without a muslin cloth? From being found draped over the shoulder or close to hand for every new parent and can be used in a multitude of ways. From swaddling young babies to playing peek-a-boo as they begin to interact, to becoming a much-loved 'mussy' for sleepy toddlers, carried about before nap and bedtimes. It seems that muslin cloths bring comfort to everyone in the family during the early years.

It's no secret that muslin cloths are an important 'baby must have', but little is known when it comes to how they came to be such a treasured item. To celebrate the launch of our new Muslin Gift Set, we wanted to explore, and share, the history of this baby staple.


What is a muslin cloth?

Once considered a luxury fabric, muslin is traditionally made of 100% natural, breathable cotton, woven into delicate, soft sheets. Muslin cloths vary in size, from smaller muslin squares to large cloths.

There seems to be some debate when it comes to the origins of muslin. Some claim that the cloths were first woven in Mosul, Iraq, and the city influenced the name, while others believe that it comes from a town further East, Dhaka, in Bangladesh.

Their traditional Indian name is 'Jamdani', and early muslin cloths were died with bright colours and featured intricate patterns. The actual process of making muslin cloth required much skill and patience, proving that since the early beginnings, Muslin cloth has always been a treasured fabric.


Some ways to use muslin cloths

Naturally, they are used for wiping away any milk from feeding and used to protect parents and babies' clothes when winding. Young babies feed every 2-3 hours, so buying more than you think you need will make sure you have one every time you need it.

Muslin cloths are the perfect item to bring comfort to young babies and toddlers. They are machine washable and affordable, meaning you can make sure you always have one close by.

Below we have curated some of our favourite ways to use them, for mother and baby.


Bed and bath comforters 

For use in a bath, a wet muslin placed over baby's tummy can make them feel more secure during bath time.

They can also be used to create oatmeal baths, to ease any skin ailments. Simply place half a cup of organic oats into the middle of muslin cloth and secure using string or a band, place into the bath as it's being run.


For swaddling

Babies just love to be swaddled; it makes them feel safe and secure. By tucking away their tiny limbs, swaddling protects them against their natural startle reflex, soothing them and promoting sleep. Some babies like to be swaddled with their arms out, and you will quickly learn which technique your little one prefers!

Large muslin cloths are perfect swaddle blankets, as they are lightweight and breathable, helping to regulate your baby's temperature.

This NCT step-by-step guide teaches you how to swaddle safely.


For teething 

Your baby's gums will be sore and irritated when teething, and they love to chew on something cold to ease their discomfort.

Muslin cloths can be used in several ways to soothe your little babes when teething. You can secure an ice cube in the muslin, and secure tightly with a band, or another way it to dampen the cloth itself before placing in the freezer.


As a makeshift bib 

With so much to think about, you might find yourself out and about without a bib. Rather than spoil beautiful baby clothes, loosely secure the muslin cloth around your baby’s neck and tuck into clothes if possible, to prevent you from spending time trying to remove stains from brightly coloured baby food.

Muslins can be used for many 'makeshift' items. From sunhats to car window and pushchair shades, their uses are endless.


For breastfeeding 

Large muslin cloths are perfect for providing cover when breastfeeding. Because they are lightweight, your baby will remain comfortable while feeding. Just tuck into your bra, and you are ready to go.


For skincare 

Muslin cloths are a must-have skincare item. Many branded 'hot cloth cleansers' use small muslin squares to gently exfoliate the skin. You can decide which way you want to use the cloth; placing the cleanser directly onto a wet muslin and buffing away or applying the cleanser to your face and placing the cloth into hot water before wiping your face.


How to sterilise a muslin cloth

An essential practice for all baby items, muslin cloths are easy to sterilise. Of course, they can be washed in the machine with other items; some parents also prefer to take extra steps such as soaking the cloth first, to remove any milk residue, and placing the muslin into boiling water for 5 minutes after washing.


We hoped you enjoyed this little insight into muslin cloths, and just how useful they are. Muslin cloths make the perfect gift for expectant parents, exactly what we had in mind for our Poppie & George Muslin Gift Set.


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