Your first foray into cloth nappying may bring you up against unfamiliar phrases. Let's help demystify them!
Absorbency – how much liquid the material will hold
All-in-one (AIO) – direct equivalent to a disposable. Great for minders/nurseries/grandparents/anyone looking after your baby without cloth nappy experience. Examples: TotsBots easyfit/teenyfit, Bambino Miosolo. No tumble drying.
All-in-two (AI2) – a nappy with an inner, absorbent material and separate wrap for waterproofing, with the two pieces fixing together (with Velcro or poppers). During changes they act like an AIO but come apart for quicker drying. Example: Close Parent Pop-in or
TotsBots peenut. The inner parts can usually be tumble dried but wraps can’t. Drying heat will damage the PUL.
Bamboo – Softer and more absorbent than cotton and naturally antibacterial. Fabric made from the bamboo plant. Takes longer to air dry than cotton/synthetic fibres.
Birth to Potty (BTP)/One Size (OS) – a highly adjustable nappy typically fitting from 9-10lbs up to potty training by adjusting the rise and waistband. The rise (length from crotch to top) is popper adjusted and waistband by poppers or Velcro. These are an excellent choice but often don’t fit newborns well, especially small babies.
Booster/Insert – an additional layer to increase the absorbency of a nappy. Good for overnight, long car journeys or heavy-wetters. They can come in a range of materials. Bamboo is good for absorbency, charcoal for odours.
Containment – the ability of the nappy to prevent leaks.
Dry Pail – a nappy bucket for storing wet/dirty nappies before washing. You don’t need to soak nappies (though you may wish to remove excess solids into a toilet before storing/washing).
Flat Nappy – unshaped Terry, Prefold or Muslin Squares are used by folding and fastening with Nappi Nippas. They will need to be worn with an outer waterproof wrap.
Fleece/Microfleece – A fabric often made entirely from recycled materials. Allows moisture to pass through and any remaining urine dries by evaporation through to the nappy resulting a dry layer between baby and nappy. Makes a very comfy liner.
Insert – see booster.
Liners – used to line the nappy to protect nappy from poo stains and help baby feel drier. There are several types of nappy liner available, such as fully flushable biodegradable ones (paper liners) to fleece and even silk for babies with very sensitive skin.
Fleece liners can be used to keep a babies bottom dry when using cotton or bamboo nappies.
Microfibre - Very absorbent and fast-drying fabric, but bulky and NOT suitable directly against baby’s bum – can cause rashes. Use a liner to keep skin protected. Not to be confused with microfleece – that’s great against bums.
Nappi Nippas – used to fasten flat nappies and replace the safety pin. A 3 pronged clip which work brilliantly and are much easier and safer to use than the old fashioned pin!
Prefold – a modern equivalent of a terry nappy. This consists of 3 panels of fabric with the middle part being the thickest. These can be folded in a variety of ways (e.g. for a boy or a girl) and are placed inside a close fitting wrap to hold them in place and stop leaks. Prefold nappies fall under the heading of flat nappies. Example: Bambino Mio prefolds for newborns.
Pocket – a waterproof wrap with a fleece layer inside that goes against baby’s bum, with inserts stuffing between the layers. Then acts like an AIO/disposable equivalent. You can customise absorbency depending on what inserts you choose (you can also use prefolds as an insert).
PUL (Polyurethane laminate) – What wraps are coated in to make them waterproof but slightly breathable. NOT suitable for tumble drying (though the occasional accidental dry doesn’t appear to do much harm).
One Size Nappy – see Birth to Potty
Rise – the front measurement of the nappy from crotch to waistband.
Shaped Nappy – these look similar to a disposable nappy and fit around the baby often fastening with poppers or Velcro. Probably the most leak proof.
Sized Nappy – this is a term referring to nappies which come in 2 or more sizes, meaning you benefit from a smaller nappy on a newborn and more absorbency for a growing toddler. Unlike Birth to Potty nappies you will need to buy 2 sets of nappies.
Snaps – Poppers, or press studs to fasten nappies. A great choice for babies who like to rip open Velcro!
Stay Dry – often a term used when describing the part of a reusable nappy touching the babies skin. This material allows moisture to pass through and any remaining urine dries by evaporation through to the nappy resulting a dry layer between baby and nappy.
Terry Square – the “old school traditional nappy” cloth square. Requires folding into a triangle and fixing together around baby (we use Nappy Nippas now instead of a safety pin!). They will need to be covered with a wrap. A good budget option that dries quickly.
Two Part Flat Nappy – Terry, Prefold or Muslin Squares are used by folding and fastening with Nappi Nippas. They will need to be worn with an outer waterproof wrap.
Two Part Shaped Nappy – these look similar to a disposable nappy and fit around the baby often fastening with poppers or Velcro and sometimes Nappi Nippas, and unlike Flat Nappies you do not have to master folding. They will need to be worn with a wrap to make them leak-proof and this is the reason they are called’ two part’ because they have two parts!
Wet Bag – a waterproof bag to put your dirty nappy in, especially when you are out and about. A very useful accessory.
Wicking – how moisture is drawn through fabrics. Good wicking will draw liquid away from baby’s bum, keeping it feeling drier and less prone to irritation.
Wrap – the modern equivalent of plastic pants and the part that makes a nappy leak-proof. A variety of fastenings is available and some simply pull on. Many are made of PVC or polyurethane laminate (PUL). You can get wool wraps in some cases but synthetic is easier to look after.