Nappy Types & Accessories Explained

Flat Nappies (Terry/muslin/bamboo squares or Prefolds)

These are the traditional kind of cloth nappy, with the bamboo squares and prefolds being more modern versions. Prefolds are rectangular in shape and have layers sewn in to the centre. All flat nappies are folded in to shape (of which there are many various folds) and secured with a nappy nippa (a modern alternative to a nappy pin). These nappies require a waterproof wrap, fleece or wool cover. Flat nappies can also be used as inserts for pocket nappies.

Fitted/Shaped Nappies

These are the basic modern cloth nappy. They look like a disposable in shape and can be made from a variety of materials such as terry cotton, microfibre, bamboo or hemp. They are closed using either poppers, Aplix (velcro), or with a nappy nippa. This type of nappy has numerous layers of cloth and sometimes has a booster flap sewn in to the inner, or one that is attached with poppers. It may be lined with fleece or suedecloth to keep baby’s bum dry, but if not you can add a separate liner.

Pocket Nappies

These nappies have the same shape as a fitted/shaped nappy but consist of a nappy shell with an opening ‘pocket’ inside for you to add your own inserts as required. They generally have a fleece, suedecloth, minky or cuddlesoft inner, with a minky, cuddlesoft, fleece or PUL outer. The shell has a waterproof layer between the inner and outer meaning these nappies don’t require a wrap. These can be either popper or Aplix fastening.

AIO (All in One) Nappies

As the name would suggest this is a nappy that consists of just the nappy alone and can be put straight on with no need for the addition of inserts or a waterproof wrap. It’s shaped similarly to a disposable and has the absorbent part of the nappy either sewn inside the nappy or has flaps that are attached/sewn to the inner with a hidden waterproof layer inside. They are fastened either by poppers or Aplix.

AI2 (All in Two) Nappies

This type of nappy consists of a shell which has a hidden waterproof layer, and then the inserts are attached to the inner using poppers. With some brands you can buy spare sets of inserts so that you have the option to re-use the shell when baby only has a wet nappy, meaning that you don’t need to have as many nappies, just as long as you have enough spare sets of inserts. Another nappy that can come in either popper or Aplix fastening.

Fitted Hybrid Nappies

These are like fitted nappies, but they contain a hidden layer of fleece between the absorbent part of the nappy, and the outer. The fleece repels the moisture back in to the absorbent areas of the nappy, meaning that unlike normal fitted nappies, hybrids can be used without a wrap/cover. Like AI2’s, the inserts are usually attached to the inner using poppers.

Hybrid Systems

These consist of a waterproof wrap, but you have the option of using a reusable or disposable/compostable inserts. Used with the disposable inserts these can be great for holidays, and other occasional use, but full time use may not offer any financial or environmental benefits over disposable nappies.

Waterproof Wraps/Covers

This is what you put over your flat or fitted/shaped cloth nappy to protect your baby’s clothes from getting wet. Traditionally they were made from plastic, but they didn’t allow air to circulate around the nappy like the modern versions. Wraps can be made from PUL or fleece and fasten with the use of poppers or Aplix. Wraps with PUL are waterproof and keep the moisture inside the wrap. PUL wraps can be re-used 2-3 times in a day (unless soiled) so you only need 1/2 the amount of wraps to nappies. Wraps that are made with fleece use the water repelling nature of the fleece to repel the moisture back towards the nappy. Fleece allows air to circulate more around the nappy so the nappy tends to be less wet when using fleece.

Other Nappy Covers

As well as wraps there are other options for use with flat and fitted/shaped nappies. Fleece and wool soakers are pull-up style, and you can also get a girlier version of these called skirties, which are a skirt with a built in soaker. Other styles are longies, which are like trousers (and can be used instead of normal trousers), shorties, which are a shorter version, and boardies, which are a 3/4 length version. Wool covers come in two main types, felted and knitted. Felted have a tighter weave to the fabric, and knitted ones are usually hand knitted, but both work in the same way. Wool can only be used with natural fibre nappies (i.e. not microfibre). Wool only needs to be washed every 2 weeks, but it does need to be treated with lanolin to keep it water-repellent.


These are the absorbent pads that you put in a pocket nappy, or that popper in to an AI2 nappy. They can be made from microfibre, cotton, hemp, bamboo, zorb, or a combination of those.


These are smaller than inserts and are used to add absorbency to a nappy without adding bulk, and are especially useful if you have a heavy wetter or for overnight.


These are usually fleece or paper, and keep baby’s bum dry and act as a poo catcher. Paper liners are biodegradable and most are flushable (please check if they are before buying/flushing!). With fleece liners the poo can just be shaken off in to the toilet, or sluiced in a flushing toilet for more stubborn poo, and put in to the nappy bucket with the nappy. Paper liners can just be removed from the nappy, complete with poo, and flushed away (if they are flushable). Flushable liners may not be suitable for houses with older plumbing systems or a septic tank, but even with modern plumbing it is best to treat flushable liners with caution. It is therefore advised to only flush soiled liners, and to dispose of wet liners in the bin.

Please feel free to contact us if you require any further information.

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