Type of Cloth Nappies

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A pocket nappy consists of a waterproof cover with a pocket lining sewn in with either one or two openings in the lining; The pocket lining can either be made from synthetic fabric (stay-dry) or natural fibres. Inserts are stuffed into the pocket lining. Inserts absorb the urine. Inserts can be made of a variety of fabrics, the most popular being microfibre, bamboo and hemp.

Strengths:

  • Widely available

  • Affordable

  • Quick drying

 

Weaknesses

  • It can get tedious to stuff pockets

  • You need to remove soiled inserts before washing (with pockets that have 2 openings in the pocket lining, the inserts agitate out in the wash)

  • Not an ideal option for night time cloth if baby is more than a light wetter at night

  • The entire nappy (cover and inserts) need to be washed after each use

 

How many do I need for fulltime use?

You would need about 24 pockets to wash every second day. Note: Sizing - OSFM will only start fitting when baby is 5+kg. For newborn phase you would need 32 nb pockets to wash every second day. Just note that newborn pockets have a very small insert and, therefore, nappies that can absorb fully (eg fitteds, prefolds and flats) are recommended for newborn stage since it can cope better with the output

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PoopsyDaisy WAHM cloth nappies
 
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An AIO is the closest to a disposable nappy in terms of putting it on your baby as it can be used just as-is. AIOs have an outer waterproof layer and sewn in absorbent fabric.

 

Strengths:

  • Easy to use as it’s a one step process

  • Most like a disposable

  • Trim fit

  • Requires no or minimal assembly

 

Weaknesses:

  • Most expensive type of cloth nappy

  • Need to wash the whole nappy after each use

  • Can take long to dry (depending on how the layers are sewn in)

How many do I need for fulltime use?

You would need about 24 all-in-ones to wash every second day. Note: Sizing - OSFM will only start fitting when baby is 5+kg. For newborn phase you would need 32 nb AIOs to wash every second day, just note that newborns pee a lot for the size of the nappy, therefore nappies that can absorb fully (eg fitteds, prefolds and flats) is recommended for newborn stage since it can cope better with the output

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A SIO is an AIO that has snap-in inserts. It should not be confused with an AI2 since it can only be used once (as the cover is not reusable between washes). This type of AIO is beneficial as it will dry quicker, but requires a little bit more effort (sorting and attaching inserts before use)

Strengths:

  • Easy to use as it’s a one step process

  • Trim fit

  • Requires minimal assembly

  • Faster drying than an AIO

 

Weaknesses:

  • Expensive

  • Need to wash the whole nappy after each use

  • Takes a bit more time to match inserts with the correct cover (compared to an AIO)

How many do I need for fulltime use?

You would need about 24 snap-in-ones to wash every second day. Note: Sizing - OSFM will only start fitting when baby is 5+kg. For newborn phase you would need 32 nb SIOs to wash every second day

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AI2s are a two-step system, you have a cover (that is waterproof, usually PUL or TPU) and inserts. Inserts are the absorbent part of the cloth nappy, it either snaps on to the cover or lays in the sewn-in sleeves of the cover

 

Strengths: 

  • Can reuse the cover between washes and simply replace the insert with a clean, dry one

  • Very economical option for high quality as you need fewer covers (the expensive part) and more inserts 

  • Easy to use, just clip in the insert and put on your baby

  • Trim fit

  • Dries relatively quickly (depending on insert fabric)

  • Great for nappy bags as it takes less space than Pockets or AIO's

 

Weaknesses:

  • With some covers you will have PUL touching your baby's skin (on the hips). This is personal preference, some babies might have a skin sensitivity to PUL directly on the skin

  • Not ideal for ebf poop as the insert won't catch everything, so you will not be able to reuse the cover before washing

  • Requires some assembly

 

How many do I need for fulltime use?

You would need 6 covers and 24 inserts to wash every second day. Note: Sizing - OSFM will only start fitting when baby is 5+kg. For newborn phase you would need 32 inserts and 8-10 nb covers.

Note on Hybrids: A Hybrid System is different to a Hybrid Fitted (see description below), both have the "Hybrid" name due to it meaning "a combination of two things", mostly in South Africa though when referring to just a Hybrid, people are referring to a hybrid fitted and not an AI2

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Hybrid fitteds are usually made by WAHM's, they have a water-resistant layer (fleece) sewn in but will need a cover to be fully waterproof.

 

Strengths:

  • Entire nappy is absorbent

  • Most breathable type

  • Beautiful and unique prints

 

Weaknesses:

  • A bit bulky

  • Takes long to dry

  • Needs a cover for night use for heavy wetters (can last +- 2 hours coverless depending on fabrics used)

  • Expensive

  • Wide variety of quality, do your research and make sure you get a reputable brand to avoid unnecessary leaks

Note on Hybrids: A Hybrid System (AI2) is different to a Hybrid Fitted, both have the "Hybrid" name due to it meaning "a combination of two things", mostly in South Africa though when referring to just a Hybrid, people are referring to a hybrid fitted and not an AI2

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A fitted is a fully absorbent tailored fitted nappy that needs to be used with a cover. It comes with snaps or velcro. Snapless fitteds (Elasticated Contours) are fastened with snappies or nappy pins.

 

Strengths:

  • No folding required

  • Very absorbent, good night-time option

  • relatively easy to use

 

Weaknesses:

  • Needs a cover

  • Can take longer to dry

  • Tends to be bulky

How many night nappies do I need?

You need 3-4 night nappies to wash every second day.

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Prefolds are old style cloth, one step up from flats (see below). It's an absorbent inner layer that can be used with any cover, it comes in a rectangular shape with extra absorbent layers sewn in the middle. You can either padfold it and lay in a cover, stuff it in a pocket cover or snappy onto baby. Prefolds come in different sizes. See the different folds here.

 

Strengths:

  • Very absorbent

  • One of the cheapest options

  • Dries relatively quickly

  • Versatile: can be used as boosters or inserts as well

  • Usually made from natural fibres

 

Weaknesses:

  • Needs a cover

  • Can take a little bit of practice if using a snappy

  • Need different sizes for different ages

How many do I need for fulltime use?

For newborn stage you will need about 32 prefolds and 6-10 covers to wash every second day. (The newborn prefolds work great as boosters when baby is bigger!) For toddler stage you will need about 24 prefolds with 6-8 covers to wash every second day

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Flats are old style cloth - think terrry squares ('spoegdoeke') The fabrics that are popular today are just trimmer than the old terry toweling nappies. It's a single layer of absorbent fabric cut into a square. There are many ways to fold a flat to use as nappy. Most folds need to be secured with a snappy or pins. They are available in a few sizes: Newborn 50x50cm, OSFM 70x70cm. Have a look at how to fold here.

 

Strengths:

  • Very trim option if you use flannel or hemp

  • Very absorbent

  • Dries very quickly

  • Cheapest option

  • Easy to handwash

  • Great for holiday cloth since it doesn't take a lot of space in a suitcase

  • Customisable - different types of folds

 

Weaknesses:

  • Needs a cover

  • Learning curve to fold and snappy/pin on baby

How many do I need for fulltime use?

For newborn stage you will need about 32 flats and 6-10 covers to wash every second day. (The newborn flats work great as boosters when baby is bigger!) For toddler stage you will need about 24 flats with 6-8 covers to wash every second day

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Trainers are pull-up type cloth nappies used for potty learning.. It doesn't have the same absorbency capabilities as other types of cloth, so it works more effectively as a back-up option rather than as a full cloth nappy solution. Trainers are not necessary in every cloth journey and can be used depending on personal preference

Strengths:

  • Depending on needs, can be helpful for potty learning

  • Can pull up and down like underwear

 

Weaknesses:

  • Prone to leaks as it (usually) can't hold a full toddler pee

Other

Booster - an extra insert to boost absorbency of any nappy, usually smaller than a normal AI2 or pocket insert. Pro Tip: You can use your newborn prefolds or flats as boosters once baby fits into OSFM sizes

 

Liner - Disposable or reusable liners to catch toddler poop (very  thin and goes on top of any nappy)

 

Soaker - Wool or fleece soaker, functions the same as a PUL cover but it's more breathable (Sometimes boosters/inserts are also referred to as soakers this is more common in the US)

IMPORTANT NOTE: The "How many do I need for fulltime use?" question is just a guideline for each cloth type, but ideally it's recommended to have a varied stash. Different types will work better in different situations and also at different stages of your baby/toddler's cloth journey

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All types of cloth nappies comparison