Types of Nappies
Flats are the old school cotton terry squares. Flats are also referred to as Squares or Terry Towels. They also come in flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo, polyester, or a blend. There are a variety of ways flats can be folded. They fastened together with either pins or snappis, or held together with a cover. Flats are not waterproof therefore would require a waterproof cover to protect clothing from getting wet. Flats are the least absorbent option of cloth nappies, and can be bulky, but it is fast drying and most cost effective option. Flats can be used from birth to toilet training stage. Flats are not waterproof so they do require a waterproof cover.
Pre-folds are made of soft layers of fabric such as cotton, bamboo, polyester or a blend, generally in the shape of a rectangle, in various sizes. Some have a thicker layer down the centre third. Depending on how the pre-fold is folded you could fasten it with a snappi or pin, or you can use a nappy cover to hold it in place. It can also be used as an insert or a booster in other nappies. Pre-folds are not waterproof so they do require a waterproof cover. They are fast drying, and cost effective.
Fitted nappies can be made from bamboo, cotton, fleece, hemp or a blend. Fitted nappies are also called contoured nappy. They have leg elastics, some have back elastics too. There is usually a lay in or snap in insert. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The entire nappy is absorbent and is not waterproof, so it will require a waterproof cover. Fitted nappies are great for heavy wetters, and for nights. Fitted nappies are slow drying. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a one-size-fits-most (OSFM).
Pocket nappies have a waterproof outer layer and a soft inner layer sewn together with an opening either at the front or back (or both). The inserts can be stuffed inside the pockets. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The absorbency level is adjustable depending on the type of inserts used. Pocket nappies are easy to use. Like an AI2, pocket nappies are fast drying but you are unable to reuse the shell. To launder you need to take the inserts out of the pockets, and then put them back in once dry. They can be purchased in various sizes but is usually a OSFM.
All-in-ones have a waterproof outer shell with an absorbency layer sewn together. Some have pockets so extra inserts or pre-folds can be added for extra boosting. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. AIO are the easiest to use and generally are the most expensive type to purchase. If you are after a nappy that is similar to a disposable, then you can’t go pass the AIO nappy with the hook & loop closure. Absorbency is dependent on the brand and how the nappy is sewn together, this also affects how fast or slow drying the nappy would be. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
All-in-two (AI2)/Snap-in-one (SIO)
All-in-twos have a waterproof outer shell and the absorbency layers (inserts/boosters) either lay in or snap in separately, (some have pockets). They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. The absorbency level is adjustable depending on the type of fabrics and the type of inserts or boosters used. With AI2s the shell can be reused multiple times before washing (if not soiled on) by changing the inserts. With everything being separate it allows for faster drying time and is easier to launder. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
PUL – polyurethane laminate nappy covers are made from a polyester knit that is breathable and waterproof. They have elasticised legs; some have double leg gussets for extra protection. You can also get some with front and/or back elastics. They can be fastened by either hook & loop (aka Velcro) or snap closures. It is the waterproof protection needed for flats, pre-folds and fitted nappies. PUL covers can be reused if not soiled, simply wipe and let dry in between changes. Covers are easy to care for and are fast drying. They can be purchased in various sizes or as a OSFM.
Wool Nappy Covers
Wool nappy covers are not waterproof but are water resistant. It can store water vapours without feeling damp, perfect for hot climates. Wool covers are the most breathable and natural type of cover. They come in various styles: pull up, tie on, snap in or button closures. They are durable and long-lasting. Wool covers can be used multiple times between washes. Wool covers need to be lanolised regularly to maintain water resistance. Wool nappy covers are usually sized.
Bamboo and Hemp are both very absorbent materials. They shrink after the first few washes so don't be alarmed if that had happened. Nappies that have bamboo or hemp in the composition need to go through 8 - 10 washes before they reach their full absorbency. It is always recommended to launder new nappies before it's first use. There are a few ways to achieve the absorbency needed for use:
1. Launder in between each use. This may mean you need to change the nappy more frequently before the nappy has reached it's full absorbency.
2. Launder the nappies 8 - 10 times consecutively. There is no need to dry them in between washes if you are using this method.
3. Soak the nappies in a tub of cold water over night and launder them the next day. This method is probably the fastest and most efficient way to aid in the absorbency of the nappies. You may need to repeat this process again.