Types of modern cloth nappies

Written by Tory on the 18 May 2007

Types of modern cloth nappies

These days the cloth nappy comes in various different shapes and sizes, below is a easy to understand description of each of the types of cloth nappy, as well as some examples of brands and makes that fall under each category.

Fitted, shaped, two-part nappy

This is the modern cloth nappy (MCN), it looks like a disposable in shape, can be made from a variety of materials such as terry cotton, hemp or bamboo. They are closed using either poppers, aplix/Velcro (or other hook and loop fastener), or with a snappi nappi/nappi nippa the new alternative to a nappy pin. This type of nappy will have numerous layers of cloth,usually with an integrated booster sewn in. It may be lined with fleece or suede-cloth to keep baby's bottom dry, if not you can add a liner. Drying times vary depending on the material the nappy is made from. This type of nappy requires a wrap.

There are many people who prefer the two part system while baby is small and still breast or bottle fed as there are 2 lines of defence against those explosive newborn poos! People find they never have those awful blowouts you can get with disposables with baby poo everywhere requiring a complete change of clothing! For night use, this system is popular as it is easy to boost a shaped nappy as much as required to see your baby through the night. There are nappies made especially for night. The 2 part system is regarded as being the most reliable, bomb proof nappy system to use.

Some brands of fitted, shaped, MCN include nappies made by Tots Bots, Mother-ease, Baby Beehinds, Easy Peasy (bimbles, bumbles etc), Ellas House, The Little Kiwi Baby Shop, as well as many others including branded and WAHM nappies.

Pocket Nappy

These nappies have the same shape as a fitted/shaped nappy but at the back there is an opening 'pocket' between the inner and outer of the nappy for you to add your own inserts as required. They generally have fleece or suede-cloth on the inside and the outside can be PUL/fleece/combo (in which case a separate wrap is not required), or any other type of cloth (in which case you will need a separate wrap), these can be classed as a fitted nappy so this description is referring to a pocket nappy that does not require a separate wrap. This is a very quick drying system as all the components are separated. This is a quick and easy system for anyone to use as once it has been 'stuffed' it goes on just like a disposable with only 1 piece to put on the baby, for this reason this a a popular nappy to use when out and about. For other carers not used to cloth nappies and for use at nursery, pockets are great. They may be slightly less reliable than a 2 part nappy as there is only 1 line of defence, but a lot of people use them with no problems right from birth or add some pockets to their collection once baby starts on solids. It is important to have a good fit around the legs to ensure good containment.

Some brands of pocket nappies include Fuzzi Bunz, Bumgenius, Pea Pods, Happy Heineys, Green Kids, Mommy's Touch, as well as many others.

AIO (All in One)

This is a nappy that again is shaped similarly to a disposable and has the absorbent part of the nappy covered by a waterproof layer (fleece or PUL) all sewn together so all you need to do is put the nappy on as it is. They are fastened by poppers or aplix. As they are all one part this is the slowest drying option. People do like these nappies as they are easy to use, require no stuffing and are probably the most similar to a disposable to use. Like the pocket system this a a popular nappy to use when out and about, for other carers not used to cloth nappies and for use at nursery. They may be slightly less reliable than a 2 part nappy as there is only 1 line of defence, for that reason it is important to have a good fit around the legs.

AIO are made by many companies and WHAM's, Mother-ease, Bumgenius, Cushie Tushies.


Terry squares -These are a traditional type of nappy, just a simple square that you fold into shape before putting on your baby. They now come in a variety of sizes, materials and even colours. Also gone are the days of pinning nappies as you can now use nappi nippas. This is a very quick drying nappy as it is only one layer. You will need a wrap with a terry nappy. These can be good to use in the early days when you are changing very regularly or in the colder months when your other nappies are taking a while to dry, they are worth their weight in gold as part of a collection for their drying speed. Many people only use terry squares and love them. They can be boosted or doubled up for night and depending on the fold used can be fairly slim. It would be fair to say you get pretty quick at folding them too, and you can do them in advance so they are all ready to pop on baby at change time. They are now available in a few different sizes, including newborn and larger ones for toddlers although most people are fine just with the standard size.

Some makes include Little ewes, Bright Bots (these come in funky colours), Babeco do bamboo terrys and there are many other brands ranging from thinnish cheap squares to thick luxurious ones, be aware that all Terry's are NOT the same thickness.

Prefolds - These nappies are rectangular in shape and have extra layers sewn into the centre third of the nappy. They can be folded in different ways and are also great to stuff pocket nappies with. Prefolds are available in various different materials. They dry quickly as they are flat. The same benefits apply to prefolds as to terry squares (see above) although they are slower drying than the single layer terry square. You will need a wrap with prefolds, they can be used without fastening in a special wrap for prefolds or any other wrap but if its not trim fitting the prefold will need fastening with a nippa.

The best known brands are Cotton Bottoms and Bambino Mio although there are many others.

Muslins - these are a thin cotton square that many people use on newborns. They are not massively absorbent but fine when you are changing all the time. Can be folded in the same ways as terry squares. Muslins are useful for a million different things once they are no longer used as nappies, mopping up baby goop as the prime example! They dry incredibly quickly. Muslins will need a wrap (except if you are just wiping up baby goop!!)

These aren't really available as 'brands', in fact most supermarkets will stock muslins as they are a part of any baby's life even if you don't use cloth nappies!

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