All in one nappy (AIO)—A fitted nappy with the water-resistant layer sewn into the nappy creating a one-step nappy that is quick to use.
Booster—An absorbent pad that is added to a nappy to increase its absorbency.
Fitted nappy—A shaped nappy made from absorbent material. Usually fastens with either snaps or Velcro closures, and may include or require a separate water-resistant cover.
Flat nappy—Includes traditional terry, muslin or flannelette squares. These need to be folded and fastened with a pin or snappi, and require a waterproof cover.
Insert (or ‘stuffer’)—A specialised absorbent booster used inside a pocket nappy to make it absorbent.
Modern cloth nappy—A new term that describes ‘new’ fitted, pocket, all-in-ones and other easy-to-use nappies that do not involve pinning or folding.
Nappy cover (wrap)—A shaped water-esistant cover that goes over a fitted or flat nappy to make it waterproof. Fabrics may be fleece, PUL (see below) or wool.
Nappy free—Also known as elimination communication. This is the practice of training babies from birth to communicate their elimination needs. No nappies required.
Prefold—Similar to a flat nappy with a thicker pad in the middle. Can be fastened with pins or snappi and require a waterproof cover.
Pocket nappy—A shaped nappy made from an outer water-resistant layer, and an inner stay-dry layer. A pocket opening at one end allows the absorbent material to be ‘stuffed’ inside the nappy.
Terry flats—A square of terry towelling designed to be folded in a variety of different ways to adjust the ‘wet zone’ and fastened by pins or snappis. Waterproof nappy covers required.
Wet bag—A reusable waterproof bag to store used nappies; usually features a drawstring or zip closure.
Absorbent fabrics—Popular choices are sherpa, bamboo, hemp, cotton, velour and microfibre (not to be confused with microfleece, which is not absorbent).
A traditional nappy fabric, it is a densely woven and brushed cotton. Light, non-bulky, easy to dry.
Hydrophobic material, with heavyweight fleece used in covers or the outers of all-in-one nappies. and lighter weight or microfleece used as liners or inners to keep moisture away from baby’s skin.
Polyurethane Laminate—applied to fabric to make a moisture proof yet breathable layer.
Soft absorbent cotton fabric covered in tiny loops for good absorbency and quick drying.
A very soft blend fabric, generally 80 per cent cotton or bamboo, 20 per cent polyester.
Water-resistant fabrics—Popular choices are PUL, wool, and polar fleece. These fabrics are water resistant and ‘breathable’, and will keep baby more comfortable.
Natural and environmentally friendly fabrics
Bamboo—Latest addition to the modern cloth family of fabrics. Super-absorbent depending on the weave, is considered a renewable source but not necessarily chemical-free.
Hemp—Very little water is needed to grow and harvest hemp. A sustainable fibre that is absorbent and long lasting. Not necessarily chemical-free but usually is.
Organic cotton—No chemicals, check the company can provide certification from a recognised international body for authenticity. Ideal for allergy-prone babies with sensitive skin. Manufacturing processes as well as the crop are regulated and chemical-free.
Wool—Used in soakers (a wool cover) and longies (a cover with extended pant legs) it is super absorbent. Can be loose knit or felted. Some need hand-washing. Can go for days without being washed if felted as it just doesn’t seem to get wet (think of sheep standing in the rain!).
Bottom or baby wipes—Cloth nappy wipes nearly became extinct before the modern cloth mums movement resurrected them. Cloth is cheap and can be washed. Disposables are still handy for some occasions.
Barrier cream—not always necessary but useful for preventing nappy rash. The balm creates a barrier against urine sitting against baby’s skin too long.
Change area—You need a fixed area at home and a simple going out system. A change table is essential for good back care and keeping you organised. A change mat preferably has a waterproof cover to keep life simple. A change bag needs enough compartments to make sure you are not fumbling for the basics. Find a system that best suits you.
Liners—Laid inside the nappy closest to baby in order to keep baby’s skin drier, and to simplify cleaning. Popular choices for liners are silk, suede cloth, or polyester micro fleece. Disposable nappy liners are also popular as they allow you to flush the nappy contents in the toilet, making cleaning cloth easier.
Little Squirt—A handy hose that can be attached to the toilet cistern to easily wash poo off cloth nappies.
Nappy change mist—A handy spray. Can be water only or have essential oils added to make cleaning baby’s bottom easier.
Dry pailing—A popular method of washing nappies where they are stored in a dry bucket until washing day. No soaking or bleaching is required. Simply pop the nappies into the machine for an initial cold pre-rinse, followed by an ordinary hot wash with one-third to one-half the recommended amount of washing powder. This method is more environmentally friendly than soaking, and will also help prolong the life of your nappies.
Glossary compiled by Jannine Barron of Nature’s Child and Sasha Claughton of Green Kids.