Types of Cloth Nappies
- Terry Flats
If you mention cloth nappies, most people will instantly think of terry cotton/toweling flats. These are the classic type of cloth nappies that were most likely what your parents and grandparents and so on used. They involve a simple square of flannelette or cotton toweling fabric that are folded into shape and fastened on the baby with either pins or snappies. They also require a waterproof cover (typically PVC pilchers). Whilst they work adequately as a nappy (and have for many hundreds of years), they require a bit of work and can be frustratingly fiddly, which tends to put people off. They need to be soaked (usually in napisan) before being washed and once dry, need to be folded.
Terry flats do have their advantages; they are the cheapest option available and they dry really quickly. They also have many other uses, I couldn’t count on both hands the amount of people I’ve seen using them as things like posit/clean-up rags, sun shades, nappy change table covers and pram liners, swaddles, the list goes on. Even if you don’t use them as nappies they are extremely handy to have.
The main problems with terry flats are that they do require that little bit extra work not only in their use but also in their care. This along with the fact that you need a few covers and some sort or fastener tends to put people off. There is also the issue that they don’t tend to keep babies bottom dry, and without use of a liner, you can come across issues with nappy rash, they are also quite bulky and you can struggle to get clothes to fit over the top of them.
Another problem is the fact that they are made with cotton, which involves a lot of manufacturing that isn’t quite as environmentally friendly compared to their hemp and bamboo counterparts. Cotton is also not nearly as absorbent as Bamboo and hemp so they tend to soak through fairly quickly. The fact that they need soaking as well means they use a lot more water.
Whilst Terry Flats certainly have their place in society, there are now easier to use and more environmentally friendly options available called Modern Cloth Nappies or MCN.
- Prefold Nappies
Prefolds are an improved version of Terry Flats. They are usually made of cotton, hemp or bamboo and are a simple rectangle divided into 3 stitching lines with extra layers of absorbency in the middle section. They need to be folded, and require a waterproof cover. They are more absorbent than terry flats and contain absorbency where it is needed most (the middle). These are good to use on newborns as you will get a nice snug fit, you can then go on to use them as boosters. They are that little bit more bulky and will take longer to dry than a terry flat, however these are a good option for those that are happy to use a terry flat system but want something a little more absorbent and kinder on the environment.
- Modern Cloth Nappies (MCN)
Nappies have certainly come a very long way in the last 5 or so years. Gone are the days of soaking, folding and pinning! We now have an option available to us that is not only easier, but also better for the environment! Modern cloth nappies are also an economically wiser choice than disposable nappies (see cloth vs disposables). There are a few different types of Modern cloth out there, and all have their uses and benefits.
*All-in-ones – Probably the simplest mcn (modern cloth nappy) on the market, these are shaped just like a disposable (no need for folding) and all absorbency and waterproofing is built in to the nappy, so there is no need for a cover or boosters. They are fastened with snaps or Velcro. The absorbency is generally made up of super thirsty bamboo, hemp or microfibre. They contain a layer of PUL which is the waterproofing aspect and are usually lined with a stay dry fabric such as micro fleece or suede which wicks away moisture from babies bottom. All-in-ones are available in either sized (s,m,l) or one-size options. The benefit of a sized nappy is that you will tend to get a firmer fit and they are trimmer whereas one-size-fits-all nappy’s can be that little bit bulkier. The benefit of a one-size design is that you buy one set of nappies and that is all you need right from newborn through to toddler age. This is purely a personal preference. All-in-ones are generally the most expensive type of nappy on the market, and this is mostly due to their simplicity and the fact you don’t need any extra covers and boosters. They can also take that little bit longer to dry unless because most of the boosting is built in and not in separate pieces. If you want the simplest option then all-in-ones are definitely the way to go!
*All-in-two’s – All-in-two nappies are the same system as an all-in-one except that all the boosting/inserts are removable (they snap in and out). This means you get the simplicity of an All-in-one with the benefit of quicker drying time and the option of buying extra boosting so you can re-use the shell of the nappy. At change time simply snap the soiled/wet boosting out and pop it in the nappy bin and replace with fresh dry boosting, this reduces the amount of whole nappies you need to purchase thus reducing cost.
- Pocket Nappies
Another very easy to use system is pocket nappies. Pocket nappies are similar to an all-in-one except that they are the shell (again shaped like a disposable) which consists of the waterproofing outer and stay dry liner and contain a pocket, generally at the back, in which you stuff with your absorbent inners or boosters. The benefit of this is that all the boosting is removable which not only allows for quicker drying time, but also means you can customise the nappy to your baby’s needs. For example you can use extra boosting for a heavy wetter or less during the day to reduce unnecessary bulk. Another advantage of pocket nappies is the fact that you can boost them with whatever you want! You can even use terry flats or anything that is absorbent such as face washers, as boosters (but be aware this isn’t as absorbent as hemp or bamboo). This means that you can purchase extra boosting and because the shells dry so quickly, you can just use your spare boosting meaning you don’t have to purchase as many nappies. You can also use just the shell as a swim nappy! Pocket nappies are fiddlier in that you need to take the inserts out for washing and then put them back in for use; however they are a preferred choice for many due to their versatility and quick drying time.
- Fitted Nappies
Fitted nappies are absorbent material (hemp or bamboo) shaped just like a disposable. They don’t need folding and are fastened together with snaps. Fitted nappies do require a separate cover, although they can be used on their own you just need to be wary that they will leak once full. You would generally use a cover made out of PUL, wool (like a wool soaker) or fleece. Without a cover they are the most breathable option and if you use a wool cover they maintain better breathability than if you were to use a PUL cover. You can add more boosters to a fitted nappy if required. You can re-use covers if they aren’t soiled, which means you go through less. Not having inbuilt waterproofing also means you can safely put your fitted nappies in the dryer on a higher setting if need be. Fitted nappies can take a while to dry on the clothesline.
Please contact us for any further information or questions you may have. If you need help deciding which system/s will work best for you we are happy to help!