Nappy Types

What different types of Real Nappies are there?

Nappy Types

Real nappies usually consist of a liner, a nappy and a waterproof cover that work together to provide maximum comfort, reliability and efficiency. A wide range of real nappy systems are available, from simple terry cotton squares to shaped all in ones with Velcro or poppers. For more information about the different types available, scroll through the information below.

Flat Nappies

These include traditional terries, prefolds, muslins, and continental tie-ons. They need some folding to fit the baby and a waterproof cover (wrap). No pins are needed if you use a little plastic gripper called a Nappy Nippa.

Below is a short demonstration of Flat Nappies.

Cost: From around £2 a nappy, £5 a wrap.


  • Best value for money & can be used on more than one baby.
  • Very absorbent.
  • Quickest to dry.
  • Available in high street shops.
  • Versatile – fold in different ways to suit your baby’s needs, e.g. for increased absorbency at night, as baby gets bigger etc.


  •  Folding terries can be a bit fiddly at first and not so good for an older wriggly child.

Shaped Nappies

No folding needed. These are shaped and fitted, with soft, elasticated legs and waist. They generally have a neater fit than flat nappies and are very easy to put on. Most have Velcro fastenings or poppers. The main types are ‘one size’ (birth-to-potty) or ‘sized’ (small, medium, large and even XL). They wash and dry easily, although some fabrics take longer to dry than others. All shaped nappies need a waterproof covering wrap.

Below is a short demonstration of Shaped Nappies.

Cost: From around £4 each


  • Easy to put on, wash and dry.
  • Poppers and Velcro mean you can adjust to your baby’s size, increasing reliability.
  • Widely available.
  • Can be used on more than one baby.


  • Birth-to-potty shaped nappies and some brands may be bulky on a newborn.
  • Unless you buy Birth-to-Potty size, you will need larger sizes as the baby grows.


A waterproof wrap is worn over flat or shaped nappies (not with pocket or all-in-ones). Most are soft, durable, breathable and machine washable. Fabrics vary from waterproofed nylon, polyester or cotton to wool.

Styles range through popper and Velcro fastening to pull-on; all allow for quick and easy nappy changes. Avoid polyurethane and PVC wraps and pants.

Below are some short demonstration videos of Wrap Nappies

Cost: From about £5

Pocket Nappies

Also called stuffables, these are wraps with a pouch into which you can insert pads eg folded terries, shaped inserts, prefolds or pads you have made yourself from absorbent fabrics; like creating an all-in-one. They do not require a separate covering wrap as this is integral to the design. Very versatile as you can add pads for night times and use fewer during the day. The inserted pads can dry quickly after washing.

Below is a short demonstration of Pocket Nappies.

Cost: From around £7 each; special inserts around £2.


  • Easy to put on, wash and dry
  • Useful when out and about or for nursery as they can be prepared in advance.
  • Very versatile.


  • More expensive than two part nappies
  • Unless you buy Birth-to-Potty, you will need larger sizes as the baby grows.


All-in-One nappies are nappies that contain the nappy and wrap in one. These are the most similar to disposable nappies as the waterproof layer is attached to the absorbent core. It fastens with either aplix (Velcro) or poppers depending on brand.

Cost: From around £8 each.


  • The easiest cloth nappies to put on.
  • Good for childcare situations eg babysitters or for those not confident using cloth nappies.


  • Not as long-lasting as two part systems.
  • Extra drying time needed.
  • Unless you buy one size that grows with your baby, you will need larger sizes as the baby grows.
  • Most expensive.

Birth to Potty

As the name suggests, a nappy that is designed to last through to potty training. They are easy to change and convenient. They may require a separate waterproof cover (wrap). They usually fasten with poppers to allow resizing of the nappy.

Below is a short demonstration of Birth to Potty Nappies.


  • You only need to buy one set of nappies, so this works out much cheaper than buying different sized Shaped, Pocket or All-in-One nappies. If you have more than one child in nappies then they can wear the same ones.


  • They can be bulky on a newborn, although this does not affect the nappy’s performance and babies don’t seem to mind
  • They may not fit larger toddlers well



Liners are available in two main types – paper and washable. They are placed inside a nappy and allow urine to soak through into the nappy but not pass back to baby’s skin. This allows easy removal/flushing of poo from soiled nappies. Washable fleece liners allow runny poo to absorb into the nappy avoiding potential leaks and can be washed along with nappies.

Booster pads

A shaped cloth pad used with nappy to add extra absorbency. This is ideal for temporary boosts such as night-time, car journeys and at times when wetting increases.

Nappy Bucket

Nappy bucketA lidded bucket is an ideal container to store dirty or wet nappies until you are ready to wash them.


A mesh drawstring bag (as seen in the bucket above) is great for transferring the dirty nappies from your nappy bucket into your machine. It means that you do not have to touch the nappies and, so long as you leave the drawstring open, the nappies fall out during the wash and come out clean.

Cloth Wipes

Cloth wipes are a great alternative to cotton wool or baby wipes. Just wash the cloth wipes along with the nappies and re-use time and time again.

Nappy Nippa

Nappi Nippas are ideal for fixing terry or muslin squares in place. They have three stretchy ‘arms’ which hold the wings and crotch of the terry square together, pulling it snugly around the baby.

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