Welcome to crazy world of cloth nappies!

We all choose to use cloth for a variety of reasons but the most common is to help the environment. Scientists estimate that it takes 500 years for disposable nappies to break down as landfill, and what better way help the environment by committing to cloth. Where as this may seem daunting and like a lot of work at first but once you understand the basics it’s easy. I still remember my introduction to cloth. Like a lot of Mummies, I made the decision to cloth before the birth of my son. I attended a local Mums & Bubs Market where I came across a stall that sold cloth in the cutest designs and they were really cheap to. “How hard can this be”, I thought to myself and with that bought a supply of the cutest little cloth nappies I could find.

Fast forward to our first baby and first try at cloth. It was horrible, he would wet through the nappies within the first hour, they sat really funny on him and he looked so uncomfortable. Never one to be defeated we persisted and tried again on and off for the next few weeks. Nothing changed. So we gave up. Then six months later I came across a really gorgeous cloth nappy and was lucky enough to have a mummy friend who clothed. I really wanted to try them so I hit her up with some questions and discovered I had no idea how big the “Modern” world of the cloth nappy was. Now two years later I have my second child in cloth and had nothing but success with our journey as I have the right information to make the best choice that would suit our needs.

So here is my take on the basics of cloth nappies.

Types - yes there is more than one kind! Several different styles and designs in fact!. And of course we cannot forget the hundreds of different brands on the market!

So how do we know which type is right for you? Let's look at the different types:

Pocket Nappy

First we have what is called a pocket nappy, the name gives us an idea of what it is, but in short it is a nappy that has an opening at the front, back or both for people to “stuff” an insert. Most pocket nappies are designed to be a one size fit most and will normally have what we call rises to adjust the height need on the nappies pocket. Pockets nappies can be found in a snap or Velcro closure and this really just comes down to what the user prefers, myself on my toddler I love snaps but on my infant I prefer Velcro. This style nappy has a faster line drying time and far from inexpensive to expensive. Most (if not all) Pocket nappies will come with inserts.

All in One

Next we have an All in one (also known as AIO). These would come close to same idea as a disposable as in everything you need is all there. The down side of an AIO is the do have a longer drying time and can only be used once between each wash. AIO come in sized options or as a One Size Fit Most (OSFM). AIO will have the insert (absorbance layer) sew into the nappy attached to the shell/cover. Lucky you will find most AIO can easy to boosted if need as well (we will talk about boosting later).


All in Two (AI2) is where you have an outer waterproof shell (as known as a cover) and you add an insert that either snap in place or you lay in the shell. The big plus to his design is you can easy reuse the outer shell and just replace the insert with a fresh one at change time, which can help reduce washing amounts. They have a faster drying time and are available in snap or Velcro. Perfect for cooler seasons and climates! Price of these do vary.

These are the most common starting point for most cloth families as they are available in a whole unit and all they normally need is a prep, wash and dry then onto the bubs bottom for use.


The next step would be looking at getting a cover (a waterproof outer shell) and then added to it yours prefer insert type. The difference with a Cover and an AI2 is the you will only get the waterproof shell, you will need to buy the insert to add to it to absorb bubs wee. The cover comes ina few different material options but the most common three is a Polyurethane laminate (PUL), a wool or a fleece. The big difference to these three is the pul is the only water proof cover, where the other two are water resistant.


Lastly we will look at the insert types.

Flats are the old school style nappies, most commonly made from terry toweling or cotton, they are very cost effective but can be on the bulky side.

Prefolds will have a thicker middle and care commonly fold into thirds.

Fitted nappy is a nappy that is nappy that is commonly made from bamboo, cotton or hemp blends. These are totally absorbent but do need a water proof cover.

Inserts is an absorbent layer you add to your nappy to absorb fluids, these can be made from Cotton, bamboo, hemp, microfiber and many more. They can be laid into the nappy or snapped in.


These are the basic information one the nappie style you can come across on the market and I hope it can make it a little easy when deciding on what Cloth nappies you want to use!

Another great resource to look into is Nappy Leaks - this is a  regular podcast that explains all things associated with cloth nappies. This is hosted by Vicki Simpson and Vashti Wadwell who are industry leaders in manufacturing, retail and cloth education.  Check it out at www.nappyleaks.com

Thanks for reading


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