Skip Navigation

News & Articles

Help, which nappy?!

Added 15th of July 2007

Unfortunately, there is no single nappy that is best for all- different nappies suit different people. Perhaps that's why there are hundreds to choose from. It can be very confusing. I would recommend doing a bit of homework, then buying 2 or 3 different types to try, perhaps second hand, then make your decision. I personally wouldn't suggest buying a new birth to potty set without trying one or two out first. Let's face it, cotton nappies, although cheaper in the long run, are a big initial expense. I hope this quick guide helps.

A reusable nappy consists of two parts

  1. The absorbent bit. This can be made from a variety of materials, such as cotton, terry towelling, polyester, hemp and even bamboo. Its function is the same. It absorbs wee and catches poo!
  2. The wrap. This is the waterproof outer layer. This prevents leaks. They are fastened with either Velcro or poppers.

As well as this, you will need a liner placed next to the skin. These protect your nappies from staining. Sometimes these are flushable paper liners; sometimes they are washable and made from fleece (great for keeping baby's skin dry) or even silk (for sensitive skin). If a nappy is fleece lined, you may not need an extra liner at all.

So to sum up, from the inside out you need: a liner, absorbency, waterproofing.

Now let's have a look at the different types of nappy.

Two part nappy system

This is where the cotton part and the wrap are separate. They can be flat or shaped:

Flat nappies

(terry squares or pre-folds)

Terry squares are simply a square of towelling material. Prefolds are also squares, but have a padded section in the centre. These require some folding and fastening using pins or nappi nippas. Some pre-folds (or squares in a pad fold) are kept in place just by the wrap. Think carefully about the wraps to go with these nappies. Using a prefold (when a nippa isn't used) or a pad fold in a terry square requires a close fitting gussetted velcro wrap like the Motherease Rikki.

;) These are great because:

  • These are often the cheapest option.
  • They can be folded in a number of ways, so one size fits all (prefolds are sized. One size squares would normally be 60 x 60 cm).
  • Squares dry very quickly as they are just one layer thick. This also makes them easy to wash.
  • Squares are very versitile. They can also be used as bibs, sick catchers etc.. A great general mopper-upper!
  • Muslin squares can make cheap, slim fitting new born nappies.

:( but not so great because:

  • Can be fiddly, particular if your child is a wriggler
  • Maybe not the best choice if child is at nursery.
  • Not the most absorbent, best really for day time use.
  • Not the best at catching runny poo! You may need to buy an extra wrap in smaller sizes before baby is wenaed. A decent wrap will contain the poo though, so not a major problem. (Still better containment than a disposable nappy!)

If you think these nappies could be for you, try looking for:

Squares: Little Ewe, Elliepants, Babeco, Imse, Zorbit

Prefolds: Bamino Mio, Cotton Bottoms, Junior Joy.

Shaped/ fitted nappies

These are shaped to fit the baby without folding. Some have Velcro or Aplix to keep them in place, others poppers. Some are 'fasten-free' and are held together with nappi-nippas. Some come in various sizes, but others are 'birth to potty'. These will generally be bulky on a new born.

;) These are great because:

  • They're easier to use than flat nappies.
  • 'Birth to potty'- still very economical
  • Generally very good runny poo catchers, as many are elasticised around the back and legs
  • Often more absorbent than squares. 
  • Very reliable.

:( but not so great because:

  • They take a bit longer to dry (unless made from polyester e.g. the Fluffle)
  • No folding is required, so different nappies are better for different shapes.
  • Birth to potty 2 part nappies are generally bulky on a new born, and larger children may grow out of them.
  • Sized 2-parters tend to give a good fit, but work out quite expensive. More economical if planning to have more than one child.

If you think these nappies could be for you, try looking for:

Shaped One Size: Motherease (Multifit, One Size), One-life, Easypeasy (Bumble), Popolini (Ultra Fit, One-Size)

Shaped Sized: Tots Bots (Bamboozles, Cotton, Organic Cotton), Motherease (Sandy's), Easypeasy (Bimbles), Ellas House (Bumhuggers), Popolini


These nappies have the cotton part and wrap attached together, so there is only one part to the nappy. They fasten together using either velcro or poppers. They come in different sizes (usually 2 or 3) as they need to fit properly to prevent leaks. (There are a few examples of one-sized all-in-ones).

;) These are great because:

  • They are very quick and easy to use. They are the closest thing to disposables.

:( but not so great because:

  • They can take a very long time to dry.
  • They do work out to be quite expensive as, you may need more of them (due to drying times) and usually need to get different sizes.
  • A bit less flexible when wanting to add absorbency (extra boosters).

If you think these nappies could be for you, try looking for:

All-in-one (sized): Motherease (all-in-one), Popolini (Easy Fix), Itti Bitti D'Lish, Nappy Nation, Kushies,

All-in-one (one-size): Mommy's Touch, Swaddlebees,


Pocket nappies or 'stuffables'

These are basically a wrap with a liner that has a "pocket". Absorbency is added by 'stuffing' with boosters or inserts, then the nappy goes on in one part (like an all-in-one). They are usually fleece lined, so may not need a liner. Different sizes are often needed to prevent leaks, but there are one sized examples too.

;) These are great because:

  • They are quick and easy to use at nappy changes.
  • They come apart, so dry relatively quickly
  • Come in great colours and patterns!
  • One-sized pockets can just have a little bit of absorbency added, so not as bulky as a one-sized 2-part nappy. These do make very economical nappies.

:( but not so great because:

  • Can be expensive as several sizes aresometimes needed (some come in one size- these can be very economical).
  • Not the most absorbent, so best for day time use once baby is sleeping through.
  • Fit is very important with these, so you may need to try a selection before finding some that suit you.

If you think these nappies could be for you, try looking for:

Sized Pockets: Minki, Fuzi Bunz, Swaddlebees, Blueberry Minky, Nature Babies Stuffables Lites,

One-size pockets: Wonderoos, Mommy's Touch, Blueberry Minky One-size, Nature Babies Stuffables, Bumgenius,



There is nothing wrong with having a selection of nappies. I generally use squares, but have some One-life nappies for nursery, some tots bots for night time and a few pockets to use if I want a quick nappy change when out.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, why not post a query, or read a nappy review, in our nappy forum?

Sell Your Pre-loved Nappies on for free!


Work at home mums, sell your hand-made goodies in a nappysite WAHM store!

©Copyright Short Fuse Creative 2017. All rights reserved.