All About Cloth Nappies | Nappy Maintenance | New to Cloth

All About Modern Cloth Nappies

Nappy Overview

Modern Cloth Nappies have come along way from the old terry squares fastened with a large pin requiring onerous washing and soaking. They are now made of modern materials like bamboo, hemp, microfleece, cotton which are easy to maintain and wash. Most are as easy to put on as disposables whilst being far cuter and softer. There are 2 main types of modern cloth nappies.

  • Two part nappies which consist of a nappy part and a wrap part such as a flat, prefold or fitted nappy with a waterproof wrap or cover to go over it. The inner part is folded in various ways to suit baby as were traditional nappies and usually use a snappi as a fastener.
  • One part nappy in which the inner nappy and outer waterproof part is combined. These are All in Ones, Twos or pocket nappies. They are usually fastened with Velcro or snaps and put on like a dispaosable.
  • Nappies are either sized or One Size Fits Most (OSFM). Sized nappies come in sizes according to the weight of your baby enabling a snugger fit and absorbency to be increased with size. OSFM nappies take most children from birth to toilet training (12 – 16kg).

    Pocket Nappies

    Shaped like a disposable nappy or pilchers with an water resistant out layer, an inside soft layer fabric, such as suede-cloth or micro-fleece, leaving a pocket in which absorbent inserts/boosters can be added. Pockets generally come with built in fasteners that hold the nappy in place. A variety of inserts or boosters, can be used enabling absorbency to modified as required.

    Pros – They look great and come in a range of patterns and colours. Easy to use, quick drying, allows for varying amount of absorbency for different stages and times.
    Cons- Not as cost effective as flats or prefolds however more cost effective than disposables, Absorbent inserts need to be placed into the nappy and removed before washing. Both pocket and nappy need to be washed each nappy change.

    All in One (AIO) and All in Twos

    The all in one is shaped like a disposable except it’s absorbant material and cover is all in one. The all in two is an all in one except with a pocket in which additional insures can be added. These are as easy to use as a disposable. They don’t require folding, you simply lay you baby on it and fasten. Some AIO's come with boosters sewn in or they may have separate boosters which are placed inside the nappy, or snapped on for easier washing and faster drying.

    Pros – Easy to use as a disposable. Not as cost effective as flats or prefolds however more cost effective than disposables.
    Cons – Medium to slower drying time if the booster is sewn in depending on whether the booster is sewn in or separate. They can be bulkier on smaller babies unless sized.

    Flat Nappies

    Traditional squares of fabric folded into shape with a cover or pilchers. They can be folded in various ways to fit your baby snugly from birth through the toddler years and can even be folded to be more suitable for boys or girls. They are held together by external fastener such as a plastic grip or snappi and usually require a cover or pilchers. Traditionally they are made from terry toweling however they can now be found in softer, more absorbent modern materials such as bamboo or cotton.

    Pros – They are cost effective, Quick drying (depending on the material), rarely leak however for heavy wetters night boosters are advised. They can also be used as boosters or to replace boosters for other nappies.
    Cons – Harder to put on (require folding), require a cover and separate fasteners They can bulkier on smaller babies unless sized, not as pretty as pocket and all in one nappies.

    Prefold Nappies

    Prefolds are similar to flat nappies except they are sewn into a folded shape with layers of fabric. They usually have 3 panels of varying thickness and can be used inside a nappy cover or as a stuffer for a pocket or fitted nappy. Prefolds come in many different styles, often made of cotton or hemp. They are often sold in sets of different sizes such as preemie (for premature babies) newborn, medium and large (for toddlers).

    Pros – The are cost effective, Quick drying (depending on material), rarely leak however for heavy wetters night boosters are advised. They are slightly quicker to put on than flat nappies. They can also be used as boosters or to replace boosters for other nappies. Cons – Harder to put on and can be bulkier on smaller babies unless sized. They require a cover and separate fasteners.

    Covers for Nappies

    Covers are required for flats, prefolds and fitted nappies. Some of these won’t require washing at every change and come in a variety of materials such as polyurethane laminate (PUL), wool and fleece. The more modern materials allow moisture from within the nappy to evaporate, helping keeping baby cooler and drier compared to the traditional plastic pants. There are some gorgeous covers available

    Swim Nappies

    A swim nappy is simply nappy designed to retain poo not wee, as if they did they would also absorb pool water and become full and heavy. There are both disposable and reuseaable swim nappies. A new disposable swim nappy is required every swim whereas 1 reuseable nappy will last years. There are easy to care for and generally be simply thrown in the wash with the swimming costumes and clothes. Babies and toddlers rarely poo when in the pool and thank goodness for that. If is requirement at public swimming pools and preferable at private pools, beaches or public swimiming areas to use a swim nappy. There are disposable swim nappies however a new is required for every swim.

    Nappy Accessories

  • Snappis – plastic grips to fasten flats or prefolds. Only required if using flats or prefolds.
  • Wetbag – Waterproof bag that comes in various sizes that can be used to hold dirty nappies. They are particulary useful when out and about with baby however not necessary.
  • Little Squirt - A hose that attaches the the existing toilet water supply tap that be be used to wash poo straight down the toilet. This is not required however it can be helpful.
  • Flushable liners – Liners placed inside of the nappy that can make it easier to remove and dispose of poo. These are not necessary and some carers find them more inconvenient than useful.
  • Sized

    Sized nappies come in sizes according to the weight of your baby, enabling a snugger fit and absorbancy to be increased with size. Sizes vary between nappies types and brands however you will require 3 – 4 sets of nappies to take your baby from birth to toilet training.
    Pros - They tend to have a snugger fit than OSFM’s (one size fits most), particularly on small babies and in the first 3 months.
    Cons – Not as cost effective as OSFM’s as you will require more nappies to take your child from birth to toilet training.

    Standard sizes

    • Small – 3.5 – 7.5kg
    • Medium – 6.5 – 12kg
    • Large – 10 – 17kg

    One size fit Most

    These nappies take most children from birth to toilet training (12 – 16kg). The size is adjusted usually through a series of snap-on buttons enabling it to be set in 3 to 4 different sizes however they are more cost effective then sized nappies.
    Pros – Overall less nappies are required than sized making them much more cost effective.
    Cons - . They tend to be quite bulky on small babies, particularly newborns.

    Tip - Get the best of sized and OSFM’s by using sized prefolds or fitted nappies for the newborn stage and OSFM’s for the next stage, usually around 3 months. On the later stages , the OSFM’s are bulkiest on newborns although sized nappies on the later stages will give a snugger fit the difference between OSFM’s and sized nappies gets smaller and smaller as your baby grows. As your baby gets bigger and requires additional boosters the pre-folds or flats will make great extra boosters.

    Nappy Fabrics

    Microfleece and polarfleece

    Microfleece or polarfleece are often used for the inner layer of a nappy or for the liners which go directly against baby’s skin. This is because the fleeces stay soft no matter how many times you wash them, they clean well with a practically non-existent drying time. The fleeces are also wonderful for prevention of nappy rash because they draw moisture away from the skin and into the centre of the nappy, keeping bubs feeling dry. They also make great wipes, rinse in warm water and you have a soft, hygienic cleanser for in between nappy changes. You can save between $500 and $2000 per child on disposable wipes.


    Microfibre is made from synthetic fibres that are selected for their softness, durability, absorbtion and ability to wick moisture away from the body. The boosters are cheaper than most other materials, extremely soft and fast drying. It’s ability to wick moisture away from the body helps prevent nappy rash or skin irritations. One microfiber booster with an absorbent hemp or bamboo booster, makes a wonderful soft and absorbant duo.


    Hemp is a relatively new fabric and much stronger and more absorbent than cotton. It is capable of absorbing up to 7 times its weight in water and is naturally antibacterial and antifungal. It is also highly breathable, so bub sweats less in summer while staying warm in winter. It is used as the base layer for a whole nappy or as inserts and boosters. It requires very little water and no pesticides or herbicides to grow, so is one of the most environmentally friendly fibres available to us. So friendly, in fact, that it actually improves the soil in which it grows.


    Bamboo is another natural fibre that is kind to baby’s bottom and the environment. It is highly durable and retains its softness with a quick turn in the dryer. It can be used for the same purposes as hemp, but is perhaps better for older babies and toddlers as it tends to be heavier than hemp and also less smelly as they grow older. Bamboo is hypoallergenic, so is great for children with allergies and particularly for young babies whose allergies have not yet surfaced. Bamboo has similar absorbency capacities to hemp, holding 60% more water than cotton. It is also 100% biodegradable, making it a truly enviro-friendly nappy fabric choice.

    Flennel and Flannelette

    A densely woven brushed cotton which comes as flannel or flannelette. Flannel is generally thicker and more absorbent than flannelette. It can be used for literally anything, boosters, soakers, outers, wipes, liners… And perhaps the best thing about it is that it’s so cheap. Often you can purchase plain flannel from your local sewing shop at less than $5 per metre. A metre goes a long way if you want to use it for liners, boosters or wipes! The only thing to keep in mind about using flannel for the outer of a nappy is that it will often pill – only to a certain degree of course. After several washes it will stop pilling, but if you don’t want pilling at all, then another fabric might be better. Flannel is the perfect fabric for the base layer of a cloth pad as it causes friction and prevents bunching in your underwear.

    Terry towel

    Terry towel is very similar to microfibre in its uses but is a lighter weight so is sometimes preferred for the inner hidden soaker of an AIO. Terry towel frays badly, so be sure to zig-zag or overlock properly before sewing it into a nappy or using it as a booster.


    Suedecloth is fabulous for the inner layer of a nappy or for the outer layer of boosters, wipes and even nursing pads because it stays so soft and helps prevent nappy rash by wicking moisture away from the skin and into the centre of the nappy.