The key to understanding cloth nappies

The key to understanding cloth nappies

This is something I've been meaning to write for a while. It's the basic before the basic. It is the idea so simple that it's overlooked when explaining cloth nappies to newcomers. It is, in my opinion, the key to understanding how cloth nappies work. The one piece of information that when I wrapped my head around suddenly made it all make sense.

All cloth nappies require a waterproof part and an absorbent part.

These come in a lot of different configurations and that's what can become confusing and tricky. But if you can remember that (that every nappy requires a waterproof part and an absorbent part) you'll have the knowledge you need to understand how all the different types of cloth nappies work and what is the right system for your family. With this information, you can answer questions about when you need a cover, which part is the cover, which part is absorbent, which parts can be reused, etc. Sometimes the absorbent part and waterproof part are sold together as one nappy, sometimes you buy them separately and mix and match to your heart's desire. If you use this one concept you can understand how all the nappies you look at online work.

So let's break this down practically speaking so you can understand how each style works.


The absorbent part and waterproof part will be attached permanently in some way. It could be stitched into the shell so you can really see it or attached at one end like a Pebble so it has quicker drying time but remains together when it goes through the laundry so you don't have to match it up when you're putting your nappies away.


The absorbent part and the waterproof part are sold together but can come apart. The absorbent part will snap into the shell (like a Candie) or be stuffed inside the pocket of a waterproof shell. Often you can buy the two parts separately but there will be a specific absorbent part designed to go into a specific waterproof part.


A fitted nappy is just the absorbent part. It is worn around the baby and the whole thing is absorbent. They can do up with snaps like a Bamboo Delight or have no inbuilt closure and you use a Snappi to create a more customised fit, like a Bambam. You will need to buy a separate waterproof cover to go over the top of this.


These are just the absorbent part. Prefolds and flats are flat pieces of fabric that are designed to be folded up around bub and will require you to buy a separate waterproof cover to use.

So if you can get your head around this fundamental concept of there being an absorbent part and a waterproof part to every nappy you can use it to understand all the different types of nappies and be better informed about what you would need to purchase for your stash.

Now you've got that basic concept down here are some links to continue learning about cloth nappies:

Contact us to discuss the best system for your family. We're always here to help and chat cloth on 1300 792 232 or via the chat window on the bottom right of your screen. 

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