Fitted nappies are pre-shaped and require no folding but they are just the absorbent layer and require a wrap/outer. They come with or without fastenings; those without fastenings allow for greater adjustment and can be held in place with a nappy nippa or a snug fitting wrap.
Pros: Very absorbent all over, provides a double layer of protection against leaks, very good for night time.
Cons: Requires a cover, some can be bulky, can be slower drying depending on fabric.
Flat nappies are as the name suggests everything flat, this includes Terry Squares, Prefolds and the various hybrid* systems. Terry squares and prefolds require folding of some form and in some cases fixing.
Pros: This can by far be the cheapest option (unless using the hybrid system), very versatile.
Cons: Requires a cover, can take a bit of getting used to folding.
WRAPS OR OUTERS
This is the external barrier layer for fitteds and flats. Wraps usually have aplix or popper closures, some will have gussets which aid containment when using flats.
Wraps made from PUL are waterproof, however you may also opt for wool and fleece soaker’s which are not waterproof but due to their unique breathable properties they dispel moisture and are particularly good for restless babies.
ALL IN ONE (AIO)
As the name suggests, an all in one nappy, the water proof and absorbency layers are built in. This nappy can be used as it is without having to add anything or know any folds, ideal for changebags, etc.
Pros: Easy to use, favoured by childcare and grandparents.
Cons: Can be slower drying, in most cases not suitable at night, higher initial cost.
These are very slim fit waterproof outer which have an inner pocket or sleeve that an absorbent pad/insert is stuffed into. The insert is either removed or left in to wriggle out during washing and then dried separately.
Pros: Very quick drying, pre-stuffed are as easy to use as all in ones, absorbency can be adjusted by placement of insert or adding extra.
Cons: May not provide the same containment as a two part system, only one barrier against leakage.
All in Two
This describes various nappies styles and often refers to hybrids*. Effectively it is a nappy style that has additional sections which can be attached to it to increase absorbency as needed.
This normally applies to systems where you have the option to use either the flat washable pads supplied with the outer or if on holiday you could opt for a biodegradable disposable insert.
Nappies come in a range of materials, which can often be puzzling so here are a few tips. Bamboo and Hemp are extremely absorbent natural fabrics, they can however be very slow drying. Charcoal boosters/soakers are currently recommended for heavy wetters.
Microfibre is a man made fabric, very absorbent, fast drying but can be bulky. Fleece/microfibre/minky is often used as a lining fabric in nappies due to their stay dry feel against the skin.
PUL is ‘Polyurethane Laminate’ and is a layer applied to fabric to make it waterproof with an amount of breathability.
Most nappies come in a ‘One Size Fits Most’ size these nappies have systems of poppers or adjustable elastic so that you can change the rise and fit to suit your child as it grows. However they are often not suitable for the first couple of months. Sized nappies can provide a better fit at either end of the scale, however this in turn can lead to additional expenditure and we would recommend loaning nappies at these stages if necessary.
Aplix (hook and loop/velcro)
Pro’s: Adjustable, Easy to do up
Con’s: Can cause pilling in the wash, easy for toddlers to open
Pro’s: Harder for toddlers to undo, very durable
Con’s: less adjustment options, can be fiddly to do up
Pros: Safer than pins, maximum adjustment
Cons: can be slower to do up, not good on smoother fabric