Cloth Nappy Terms Explained

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Terry: old fashioned cloth squares that need to be folded into a triangle shape and fixed with a nappy pin or a Nappi Nippa.  These remain a good budget option and are the quickest to wash and dry.  They will need to be covered with a wrap or other plastic pant to make sure they don't leak.  They are sometimes known as flat nappies.

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.

Shaped Nappy: these look similar to a disposable nappy and are usually thought to be the easiest to use as they have a good balance between absorbency and speed of drying (the thicker a nappy, the less it will leak but the longer it will take to dry).  Various fastenings are available, such as poppers, Aplix (similar to Velcro) or Nappi Nippas.  They will need to be worn with a wrap to make them leak-proof.

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) or polyester fleece but it is possible to find more eco-friendly wool.  Synthetic wraps will be easier to use (unless they are covered in poo they can be used for 3-4 changes) but many parents prefer to choose organic wool wraps to complement the natural nappies, especially if their child has sensitive skin.

All-in-one: a nappy and waterproof part all as one component.  They are fantastic if your baby is being looked after by someone who is not used to cloth nappies as they are taken on and off like a disposable nappy.  They are more costly than other types of nappy and can take a long time to dry so may not be suitable for everyday use.

Pocket Nappy: sometimes known as a Stuffable but that is strictly speaking a trade marked name.  Basically, a nappy with a pocket that you can fill with another piece of absorbent material, such as terry or prefold.  They come complete with outer waterproof layer like an all-in-one but are much quicker to dry as you remove the main absorbent core.

Tie-on: as the name suggests, a form of nappy that consists of a shaped cloth that is folded to fit and then tied on with the long strips.  Used in conjunction with a wrap.

Booster: an additional layer to increase the absorbency for overnight or long car journeys or for heavy-wetters.  They can be made of 2 layers of terry or terry backed with fleece.

Liners: basically, used to line the nappy so that poo can be easily removed and disposed of.  There are several types available, such as fully flushable biodegradable ones to fleece to silk for babies with very sensitive skin.

One Size Nappy: some brands are available in a one size fits all variety, meaning that you only need to buy one set of nappies from birth to potty.  These are more expensive to buy initially, but they will see you right the way through.  They will have a number of popper fastenings so that you can adjust them to fit your baby, though they can seem very large on a small baby.

Training Pants: it is now possible to buy training pants for use while potty training that allow the toddler to pull up and pull down when ever they need to.

Muslin nappies: traditionally used as liners with terry nappies to add a soft layer next to the baby's skin.  This function has now been replaced by modern liners but muslins are still very useful when breastfeeding, as mopping up cloths, emergency bibs or for babies who posset frequently.

Fabrics: the main component of the nappy is normally made of cotton (there are organic brands available) and can come in a range of colours as well as normal white or neutral.  The waterproof layer is normally a synthetic fibre but lovely wool wraps are now available.  There has also been a recent growth in nappies made from hemp, an environmentally viable alternative to cotton.

Organic?: nappies are now available in both organic and conventional fabrics.  Many real nappy users believe that organic fabrics are much healthier for their baby and are much friendlier to the environment.

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