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Why hankies make a handy gift for a new mum

Why hankies make a handy gift for a new mum
This is my collection of handkerchiefs.

I never used to love hankies or have a collection of them. Prior to going plastic-free, my purse always contained the tissue pocket pack. You know the ones I mean; the small collection of disposable tissues, wrapped up in plastic, that too would be disposed of in a bin.

When I decided to swap my throw away plastic packaged tissues in favour of hankies, I was a little lost as to where I'd purchase them from. Did people still use hankies? The last time I used a hanky, wold have been in primary school.
Yes, that's a hanky tucked into my school uniform. Most of my classmates had the plastic packaged tissue packets. I was jealous. Not many of the other kids had hankies. After a time, I wore my Mum down, swapping the hanky for disposable tissues.

When I confessed to my Mum that I did not know where to buy hankies, she disclosed to having held onto the handkerchiefs her children rebelled against, and sent them my way. Plastic-free of course.

Using hankies over tissues saves on not only plastic packaging, but also landfill waste. The thought of disposable tissues, full of illness laden bacteria hanging out in landfill makes me nervous. At least with hankies, the bacteria is killed when washed in hot water. It sometimes makes me wonder if there are superbugs, growing in our landfill...after all, nothing truly breaks down in landfill, especially when wrapped in plastic rubbish bags.

Conspiracy theories aside, tissue boxes and plastic packaged tissue packets comprise of waste beyond just the tissue. The paper tissues are shipped to stores in boxes, with plastic tape, unloaded from pallets that were wrapped in plastic. For how many tissue boxes we go through, our stores would be disposing of bundles of plastic that we don't even see.

Hankies are designed to be used over and over. Any holes can be repaired. At the end of their life, a hanky can be disposed of in a compost, breaking down between 3-6 months. A packet of hankies is a one time purchase, unlike tissues.

As a new mum, I have found hankies to be one of the handiest and most versatile items to have on hand. If you are thinking of something useful for a parent to be, whether they are plastic-free, zero waste or neither of the two, put hankies on the gift idea list.

5 ways I found hankies to be handy as a new mum


1. For tears


I have yet to meet a parent that has not cried a tear, here and there. There are tears that come with a change of hormones following the birth. The tears from exhaustion. Happy tears. My baby is crying and it makes me cry, tears. My baby is growing too quickly tears. Having a hanky close by to mop up those tears is essential.

2. A temporary breast pad


Ah, leaking breasts. It could be a light leak or a heavy surge, either way most breastfeeding mums will need breast pads. On the odd occasion I've found myself out of my reusable cloth breast pads. They might be damp on the clothes line. I might find them unexpectedly soaked through, because Bub slept a little longer and I forgot to express. Rather than wear damp breast pads or risk going without, the humble hanky serves well as a functional temporary breast pad.

3. Moping up dribbles and posits


We have cloths for our baby's dribbles and posits. Sometimes they are not always within reach. You can never predict when a baby is going to do a sneaky posit. It could be directly after a feed or thirty minutes later. With a hanky in my pocket, I can clean up the dribble and posits quickly.

4. Wrapping up food


I ventured to a cafe on my own with Tifl for the first time. We settled in. I ordered a cup of herbal tea and my fave vegan donut. Just as I was half way through my sweet donut, ole' mate decided that the cafe was not his vibe, showing it loudly. I wrapped up my half eaten donut in a clean hanky and we headed home. Who knew hankies would be handy for food transportation and saving food from going to waste. Win!

5. Playing peek a boo with baby


Interacting with my baby is important for his growth and development. Plus, it's fun for me. I like to grab a hanky, especially one with shapes, and play peak-a-boo or let him stare at the patterns. Who needs fancy black and white books. My old mickey mouse hankies keep him amused.

I'm imagine there are many other ways hankies are useful to new parents, beyond their intended use. If you know of any more, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

14 comments

  1. Very practical!

    After carelessly staining a dozen of more hankies with tea and grease from bulk pastries, I dyed them dark brown. They look good! Printed hankies like yours would hide stains well too, but I'm more of a solid-colors type.

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    1. I will admit, the printed hankies do hide staines well.

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  2. Hi Erin,
    We always went to school with a clean hankie but that was a (very) long time ago. I must get back into the habit, I notice there is always lots of brand new hankies at the op shops, I must pick some up next time I am there. Have a lovely day.
    Fi

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    1. Now I know there are hankies at op shops, I see them all the time. I don't need to buy anymore for any kids we have. My stockpile is huge! Hope you have a nice day too Fiona :)

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  3. Like you Erin l have changed from tissues to hankies. So much better for the environment and my hip pocket and l can always find some at op shops:)

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    1. That's great to hear Jay. I love that running out of hankies is not an problem, unlike tissues.

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  4. My four cloth-nappied babes are all grown to sturdy children who still, despite my best efforts, get yukky, snotty noses come Winter. Those old nappies (flannelette) are now used as giant hankies, for those times when a regular hanky can't keep up with the job. When we have a full-on infection happening (trying to avoid creating too much imagery here....) I keep a bucket of salt water in the laundry sink to hold the full nappy-hankies until the next wash, keeping the infection contained. Regular sized hankies are a constant in my bag and are called on regularly for tears, spills, sniffles, etc., for my family as well as others.

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    1. That is a great tip Meg. My husband I have been sick with colds this past week and your idea would be good way to deal with dirty hankies until i get around to washing them.

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  5. I changed (back) over to hankies when my kids were toddlers, and now they are tweens and teens they are still just as useful! I always have a stash in my bag. Like you, I got all of my hankies from my Mum, who had inherited a stash from my grandmother and great aunt, who always had a hankie stashed up their sleeve or in their bra, lol.

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    1. Sounds like they have lasted a long time. It's nice to hear they are still being of use. A bra would be handy place to stash a hanky if sleeves or a purse were nit available.

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  6. Love this article (as always) - and love hankies!

    Please beware there are some non-cotton hankies out there. This is particularly the case with the threads used to sew around then edges. Even if it's cotton fabric it could have a polyester thread.

    If you can, as a caution for others, please note only 100% nature fibre hankies are compostable :)

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    1. It's a shame that most modern hankies are sewn with a non-cotton thread. The same goes with most clothing too. Thank you for the reminder.

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  7. I love hankies! I was converted a few years before motherhood. When my son was born, his grandmother made us a huge stack of hankies by cutting up worn-out pajamas and hemming them. Having so many made it easy to toss them in the pail with the cloth diapers and grab a fresh one. I've since decided that I prefer hankies with no hems, which are easily made by cutting up old cotton knit garments; the edges really do not fray much, so the hankies last for years, extending my enjoyment of favorite prints! Here are two articles I wrote about hankies:
    https://articles.earthlingshandbook.org/2007/11/30/handkerchief-season-is-here/
    https://articles.earthlingshandbook.org/2013/05/29/cloth-wipes-for-bedroom-bathroom-and-more/

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    Replies
    1. It's a joy to read other bloggers fondness for hankies :) Thanks for sharing.

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