Styles of Cloth Nappies

Isn't it confusing? The huge range of styles and types and brands of modern cloth nappies out there? We're trying to make it easier for you, so we've put together the following summary to try and help you out. We've started with an overview with links to video demonstrations, and there's more information on this page for those who like more detail! If you're still confused after having a look through the information here, please feel free to email us with your questions. We're here to help. Here's a playlist of several short videos demonstrating each of the styles of modern cloth nappies:


Prefold or Flat 

A prefold is a pre-folded (and sewn down) layered cloth nappy square. It often consists of three panels of fabric varying in their thickness, with the middle section offering the most absorbency. You can fold them into a rectangular shape and pop them into a cover as an absorbent pad or fan out the back and secure at the front with a Snappi. They can be used in the "old fashioned" way with pins or as a stuffer for a pocket nappy or a heavy duty booster for overnight nappies. 

A Flat nappy is a large square of single layer fabric - a traditional 'old school' cloth nappy. These can be folded in many ways to suit your baby's age/size and absorbency requirements. Using a Snappi is a faster and easier way to fasten than pins.

  • The least absorbent option
  • The most economical option
  • Fast drying
  • Some folding required, more so for flats
  • Both require a separate waterproof cover
  • Prefolds can be used as inserts in pocket nappies later on
  • Good for newborns
  • Great way to economically increase your stash

Fitted Nappy

This modern cloth nappy is can be made up of layers of terry or cloth, bamboo or hemp and is shaped to fit the baby (similar in shape to that of a disposable) so that all you have to do is snap, velcro or Snappi it up, no folding or pinning. These nappies vary in their absorbency, and all of them will need a cover to be waterproof. There are One Size options as well as nappies that are sized to fit according to age/weight. If you are looking for a fitted nappy which covers your baby from birth until they are toilet trained you can try the Baby Beehinds Bamboo Fitted Nappy or Bubblebubs Bam Bams are great for newborns!
In terms of absorbency, bamboo is the best - but bear in mind it will also take the longest to dry. 

  • More absorbent than prefolds/flats 
  • More leakproof than other styles
  • Require a separate cover
  • Great for everyday and for nights
  • Easily boosted
  • Excellent for babies prone to poo explosions

Pocket Nappy

Pocket modern cloth nappies are made from of a waterproof outer layer and a microfleece or suedecloth inner forming a pocket inside. Pocket Nappies come with inserts of cotton, bamboo, hemp or microfiber depending on the nappy. You can buy separate inserts of your choice to add to the pocket if you prefer a different material or need more absorbency. The fleece or suedecloth inner wicks urine away from baby's skin into the insert so baby effectively stays dry. They velcro or snap up at the front and are so easy to use! They make for a good night time nappy too as you choose how much absorbency you need.
Popular choices today are the one size pocket nappies that will last from birth to toilet training!   

  • Has a waterproof outer and stay dry inner with a pocket between them
  • Absorbent inserts are placed into the pocket 
  • You can customise the absorbency to suit your child
  • Very easy to use 
  • The outer shells dry very quickly
  • Suitable for every day
  • Particularly good for active babies and toddlers

All in 2 (AI2)

All-in-2 cloth nappies (also known as snap-ins or AI2s) have a waterproof shell and absorbent inserts that 'snap' in to  outer shell. This allows for faster drying times, and the ability to re-use a shell multiple times if not soiled, by "snapping" in a new insert, or simply by using the waterproof shell of the nappy as a cover over another nappy or prefold. They are truly adaptable nappy system.

  • Waterproof outer shell
  • Absorbent inserts that snap in 
  • The shell can be reused if not soiled (if the inside is a waterproof fabric)
  • Fast drying
  • Can purchase extra inserts so that you can reuse the shell while waiting for the inserts to dry

All in One Nappy (AIO)

An All-in-One cloth nappy is exactly that: it is a "shaped" nappy (like the fitted nappy) but already has a waterproof cover built into it. It literally goes on like a disposable so it is very easy to use. These nappies are often a little dearer, but then you don't need a cover, and you just can't beat them for convenience, especially if you are out and about and want a quick nappy change (or for squirmy babies!) They are also great for babysitters who need something simple and easy. 

  • One piece, easy to put on like a disposable 
  • Takes the longest to dry
  • Most convenient
  • No folding or pairing of inserts and shells required
  • Great for baby sitters and childcare


Nappy Cover 

Essentially a nappy cover is the same concept as those plastic pants that your Mum probably used to use on you when you were a baby. BUT...these days there are much better ones available! Nappy covers are needed over flat, prefold or fitted nappies to make a waterproof system.
Choose your covers carefully as you want a cover that is well made, fits well to avoid leaks, and is breathable for baby's bottom. Covers can be used in many ways, you can use them with terry squares folded up, or with the more modern and less bulky option a prefold or, of course, they also go over a fitted nappy. Covers generally snap up (better for older babies who have figured out how to undo their nappy) or velcro up - nice and easy for newborns and the most adjustable! 

We also stock some great wool and fleece covers, which are great for overnights (as well as daytime!), and humid environments. 


Sometimes people refer to boosters/inserts as Nappy Liners but they can also be literally a liner that is used to keep the nappy clean (and makes cleaning up the messy nappies much easier). You may want to check whether they have absorbency or not depending on what you are looking for. We stock disposable liners as well as microfleece liners to help keep baby's bottom dry.