Flaww's Guide To Reusable Cloth Nappies
Updated: Jan 29
Here’s a brief guide to reusable cloth nappies, we hope it helps to answer any questions you may have but please feel free to get in touch if you need any further assistance as we're always happy to help.
Cloth nappies might seem daunting at first but please remember we are all just trying to do our best and that’s what matters. Whether you start using cloth nappies straight from birth or close to potty training – it all makes a difference.
You may decide to only use cloth nappies for night time use or part time around the house, if you swapped to using 1 cloth nappy a day you would save 90 disposable nappies over a 3-month period which is amazing.
Nappies come in different sizes so the first thing to do is work out what size baby you are looking to use them on.
Newborn - Most new born nappies will fit from birth up to around 4 months but this will depend on individual brand.
BTP (birth to potty) or OSFM (one size fits most) - will usually fit from around 9/10lbs to potty training. These are the most cost-effective choice as you shouldn’t need to buy different sizes for the average sized child. But we know not all children are average, some will be born much smaller or have a very slim frame and be more suited to a newborn nappy for those first few months. Some chunkier babies might start to outgrow them before potty training so you may need to look at plus sized nappies.
Please note however that babies shape and size can change as they grow so what might not fit perfectly now could fit perfectly in a month or two and vice versa.
Plus sized - nappies are ideal for those gorgeous chubby babies and toddlers that need a little extra room. They are usually more absorbent than a BTP nappy due to the extra material in the make up of the nappy.
Size 3 - nappies are for older toddlers and children that are yet to potty train. People assume potty training age is at around 2.5 but this can vary so much and it’s not uncommon to still be needing nappies age 3 and beyond, especially for night time. These are larger than plus-size nappies and could fit children to the age of 6 and beyond depending on the brand.
Pocket Nappy – These nappies (sometimes called nappy shells) have a pocket opening at one end (sometimes both ends) for you to stuff your absorbent layers into the pocket.
You can put any boosters or inserts inside the pocket to suit you, making them a versatile option. They dry quickly as the inserts are removed when washing and drying. If your inserts are still drying you can use the pocket shell with other boosters you have available and ready to use.
Some people stuff their pockets in advance so the nappy is ready to go at nappy change time, although it is still perfectly fine to stuff as you go.
Cons – Need to stuff them either in advance or at nappy change time. Possible to over stuff making it too bulky and compromising the fit.
AIO (All In One) - These have everything attached and ready to go, the absorbent layers are sewn in to the nappy so you don’t need to worry about what to pair up with it.
Makes nappy changes quick and easy. Possible to boost for extra absorbency with additional boosters.
Cons – Slower drying time. Can usually only have room to add 1 extra booster for absorbency so if the nappy itself isn't absorbent enough you are relying on needing something else to help out.
AI2 (All In Two) - This is a nappy shell usually with poppers attached to the inside of the shell at either end for you to attach the absorbent layer (nappy insert) into place.
When you are ready for nappy change you can simply swap the absorbent nappy insert out for a clean one and give the inside of the nappy shell a wipe over (assuming baby hasn’t done a poo). This means you can often use the same nappy shell for up to 4 nappy changes in the day making them cost effective. And because they are quick drying due to being able to separate the absorbent layer from the shell, you have a quicker turn around between wash day and getting them back on the bum.
Cons – Can be time consuming to snap the inserts into place ahead of time and during nappy change. Some AI2 have fabric lining which means the whole thing needs to go in the wash and cannot be reused up to 4 times.
Fitted Nappy – The whole of the nappy is made up of absorbent material offering an excellent level of absorbency. These nappies do not have a waterproof PUL outer and will need a cover / wrap over them. These work well as night time nappies. They can be boosted if necessary.
Cons – Typically some people find them a bit bulky for day time use – but if you have a very heavy wetter then needs must. Can be slow drying. Need to purchase a separate wrap / cover to be able to use.
Flat / Pre-fold – These are big square pieces of fabric. Flats are thinner than pre-folds as they are usually made up of 1 or 2 layers. Pre-fold's are made up of multiple layers of fabric.
There are lots of different ways to use these; either wrapped around baby (multiple styles of wrapping to choose from) or folded to create a “pad fold” which will work in the same way as a big booster or nappy insert. And can then be placed into or on top of a pocket nappy, or inside a nappy wrap. If choosing to wrap around baby you will need a nappy fastener such as a nappy nippa to secure nappy in place.
Whichever way you choose to use these you will need something waterproof over the top like a wrap. Cost effective and quick drying.
Cons – Some people find it tricky to wrap around baby without a bit of practice.
Wrap / Cover– These are similar to pocket shells but the shape is a little different to enable it to fit entirely over your fitted nappy / flat etc. They can either be fastened using Velcro tabs, poppers or in a pull up style with an elasticated waist. Quick drying (unless wool).
Tabs – the sides that wrap around babies waist to fasten nappy using either Velcro tabs – (Aplix) to stick the nappy down (most similar to disposable nappy), or poppers (snaps) to popper the nappy in to place with a choice of waist size settings allowing you to choose the best fit for your babies tummy.
Leg elastics – this is the trim that goes around babies legs.
Rise poppers – these are poppers located on the front of the nappy below the tabs to adjust the height, allowing the nappy to grow with your baby.
Gusset / Double gusset – this refers to the crotch of the nappy – some nappies have a second gusset (double gusset) either on the inside of the nappy (internal double gusset) or external giving the effect of two lots of leg elastics.
They can help with containment resulting in less leaks.
Absorbency - You will need a different level of absorbency in your nappy according to your needs, I.e., how heavy a wetter your baby is and how often you are changing their nappy.
Most people can aim to get around 3 hours out of a reusable nappy before needing to change (assuming baby hasn’t pooped before the 3 hours is up).
If you are wanting to use your nappies for night time you will need to add sufficient boosters to offer enough absorbency to get you through the night without any leaks.
Most people will need to use a nappy specifically designed for night time use rather than their usual daytime nappy, this is because you can only put so many extra layers into a nappy before it compromises the fit and leaves leg or tummy gaps giving you leaks. Unless you have a light to medium wetter, in which case it is possible to use your daytime nappies if boosted sufficiently.
Materials - Nappies are made up of different materials, the waterproof nappy outer is called PUL and the insides or boosters can be made up of; Bamboo, Cotton, Microfibre or Hemp
We hope this guide is helpful, please don't hesitate to reach out and ask for advice - we are more than happy to help.