babies confused about modern cloth nappies


We know how hard it is to start out in cloth nappies, it's like a different language with all the different acronyms. But never fear we can help explain it all for you, we've put together some basic cloth nappy information below. If you have further questions feel free to contact us via email or call on 1300 792 232


Why use cloth nappies?


cloth nappy myth busting


This is a really good question, did you know in the first 6 weeks, newborns will go through a staggering 500+ nappies! That's a whole lot of nappies and a whole lot of poo. There are lots of reasons people choose to use cloth, these are the 3 most common



Cloth nappies are better for the environment and in fact the UK study that controversially had both cloth and disposables rated as pretty much the same carbon footprint has been revised and now proves what clothies knew all along that cloth nappies are most definately better for the environment and have up to 40% less impact than single use nappies. The other big factor is with cloth nappies you can choose your environmental impact based on how you wash them, something you can't do with disposables. If you'd like some further 'light' reading see here



Depending on the system you choose cloth nappies can save you in the vacinity of $2000 per child. So over 2-3yrs of nappying thats a nice 'wage' for washing them!


Better for baby

There are chemicals used in disposable nappies that have been long banned in womens hygene products because of their known cancer link yet these chemicals are still used in the gel found in disposables. It is suggested also that the increased temperature of a baby boys genitals when wearing a disposable can cause future fertility issues and lastly a lot of parents leave disposables on the baby far too long. Just because a nappy can absorb 6 hours of wee doesn't mean it should! Nappy rash has become common place since the introduction of disposable nappies and thats because the bacteria from urine is sitting up against a babies genitals and irritating the skin no matter what nappy system you use you MUST change your babies nappy reguarly.


Cloth nappy basics


There are quite a few different types of nappy systems to choose from we've given a brief overview below. We've also created a quiz to help you decide which system will fit your family and your budget the best


Traditional cloth nappies

Traditional cloth nappies refer to flat nappies that you need to fold, in this category there are 2 types:


flat cloth nappy and PUL cover  

Flat Nappies 

These nappies are a square of fabric either overlocked or with a seam around the edge. They are made from cotton terry towelling, bamboo terry towelling, flanalette or muslin. Quite often used as a 'spew rag' terry flats are very versatile. They do require a little bit of work learning how to fold them and they can be secured in place with a pin or snappi and require a waterproof cover to go over them


bamboo prefold and PUL cover 


A prefold nappy is similar to a flat nappy but is sewn into three equal sections and has more than one layer of absorbent material in the middle third of the nappy.

These nappies can be folded in many different ways to fit your baby and need to be used with a waterproof cover over the top, as the whole nappy is absorbent. They may require the use of a fastener such as a snappi, snib or nappy pin but can also be folded and placed under certain types of covers without any fastening. The biggest advantage to flat nappies is that they dry so quickly. 

 How to use prefolds



Different types of modern cloth nappies (MCN)

There are basically four different type of MCN available on the market to use on your baby


fitted modern cloth nappy with PUL cover


Fitted nappies

A cloth nappy that is shaped like a disposable and has elastic at the waist and legs. It is made totally from absorbant fabric and needs a separate waterproof cover placed over the top of it.

How to use a fitted

 all in one cloth nappies


All in one nappies

This style of nappy is the most convenient and closest style to a disposable. An AIO contains all the necessary layers in one convenient nappy. AIOs have a sewn in water resistant layer so that you don't need to add a cover to the outside of the nappy. Some AIOs are available with sewn in boosters as well.

 all in two cloth nappies


All in two nappies

This nappy has an outer shell that is waterproof and the insert is snapped into it making it quicker to dry and also very economical as you can reuse the outer shell by simply snapping in another insert set

How to use an all in two


modern cloth nappy pocket 

Pocket nappies

A nappy with an opening at the back or front which into which you place an insert or booster that makes the nappy absorbent. You can alter the absorbency of your pocket nappy by choosing what you stuff it with. Pocket nappies usually contain an inbuilt waterproof cover like an AIO but some variants require a separate cover.



There are two options when it comes to MCNs and sizing - one size fits most (OSFM), which can be adjusted to fit most babies from birth to toilet training, or sized nappies that come in newborn, small, medium and large sizes, each fitting a particular size range with some overlap. Sizing is not absolutely standard across the range of MCNs available but will vary from brand to brand. To ensure a good fit on your baby it it best to measure your baby and compare this to the manufacturer's specifications.

One size fits most (OSFM) 

Great for those on a budget. OSFM nappies are more economical for those that are choosing cloth to save money. OSFM are quite bulky on newborns and often don't fit will until around 2-3 months old so if you choose this option just be aware of that.


Sized nappies 

As they are customised to suit your baby's size and weight range, these nappies offer a snug fit.



How many nappies you need and what type depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. Some things to consider include:

Do I want to use cloth full or part-time?
What is my motivation? (ie. environmental consciouness, saving money, better for baby)
What is the weather like where I live?
How often do I want to wash?
Is my child going to be in daycare and can I use cloth at me daycare centre?

All of these factors play a major role in determining your cloth needs. What you choose is up to you. There are no set rules.

Some common guidelines are listed below.

Newborn babies will go through 10-12 nappies a day (Give or take a few)
Infants will go through 6-8 nappies a day (Give or take a few)
Older babies Use 4-5 nappies in the day plus one at night (Give or take a few as well)

Then it depends on when you wash your nappies. 

Will you wash your nappies on a daily basis?
Or will you wash every second day?

If your choice is to use cloth full-time, then, at a minimum, you will need to have enough nappies to last you for two days. This allows for one day of wear, while the others are being laundered. 

To arrive at this figure factor in the amount of nappies you will need (newborn or older child) and multiply that by two. Also be aware that some nappies take longer to dry than others, with flat and prefold nappies taking less time to dry than fitteds and AIO's. If a nappy has boosters these can be removed for washing purposes which will also reduce drying times. The weather where you live and the season may also play a role your choice of nappies.


pregnant woman with checklist


What type of nappy would you like to use? Traditional or MCN?

If traditional what type? Flat or prefold? Terry, flannelette or muslin?
If MCN, what size? OSFM or a sized nappy?

MCN - What type of MCN would you like to use? Fitted, AI2's or pockets?
Fitted - What cover would you like to use?
AI2 - Will you require extra boosters so you can reuse the shells?

Do you have a newborn or older baby? 
Do you want to use cloth full-time or part-time?
How often will you wash your nappies?