GLOSSARY OF NAPPY TERMS
Absorbency – the amount of liquid the material will hold. This is an important consideration when choosing a cloth nappy and materials have a big impact on how absorbent a nappy or booster is. Bamboo is very thirsty usually microfibre is not.
All-in-one nappy – the nappy and waterproof part combined as one component. Great if your baby is being looked after by someone who is not used to cloth nappies as an ‘all in one’ is put on and taken off like a disposable nappy. These type of nappies often take a while to dry, although this is not the case with the Motherease Wizard UNO staydry which is super absorbent but dries very quickly. An ‘all in one’ nappy is often a popular choice for day nappies and busy parents. The simplest and quickest nappy system.
All in two nappy – unlike the ‘all in one’ where everything is attached and does not come apart the ‘all in two’ nappies have inner bits that popper in or tuck in the outer wrap, so they start off as two parts but before putting on your baby they are attached together to simulate an ‘all in one’ nappy and they go on in one piece. An example of an ‘all in two’ is the Mother-ease DUO wrap and DUO inserts or Totsbots Peenut Wrap and Pad. The idea is you can insert another inner core and re-use the outer wrap. This is a cost effective nappy system and means the nappies will go through many children because the outer PUL wrap can be re-waterproofed when it fails. (wraps will usually loose their waterproofing after time and when the wrap is attached to a nappy you cannot use a wash in waterproofer)
Aplix – Aplix is like Velcro and hook and loop, just another brand name. It is used to fasten nappies rather than snaps.
Bamboo – Fabric made from the bamboo plant. It resembles cotton but is softer, more absorbent and has antibacterial qualities. Naturally antibacterial and antifungal, it is made from quick-growing bamboo – so easily and quickly replenished, which means it is kinder to the planet, although the manufacturing process is fairly energy-intense. As it is such a thirsty fabric, it is slower to dry than the others.
Birth to Potty Nappy/One Size Nappy – some brands are available in a one size fits all variety, meaning that you only need to buy one set of nappies from birth to potty. These are more expensive to buy initially, but they will see you right the way through so are very cost effective. They will have a number of popper fastenings so that you can adjust them to fit your baby. They can seem very large on a small baby.
Booster – an additional layer to increase the absorbency of a nappy for overnight or long car journeys or for heavy-wetters. They can be made of 2 layers of terry, terry backed with fleece or bamboo. Pocket nappies come with ‘inserts’ which are basically a booster and just called ‘insert’ because they are inserted inside the pocket of the nappy. Extra boosters are used with pocket nappies too to increase the absorbency.
Cellulose – Cellulose is the most abundant and renewable biopolymer on Earth. Unlike synthetic fibres, man-made cellulosic fibres are completely biodegradable and can be recycled, incinerated, landfilled or digested in sewage. Paper liners are made from 100% cellulose.
Containment – the ability of the nappy to prevent leaks. A shaped nappy with a wrap should be able to contain all but the most extreme of breastfed baby poo explosions. Formula fed babies usually have more solid bowel motions and so provide less of a challenge in the containment stakes. Once solid foods have been introduced, containment becomes less of an issue.
Dry Pailing – Is to simply place your nappies in an empty nappy bucket with a tight-fitting lid and adding nothing to them. When you have a full bucket add them to your washing machine and wash! No soaking required! There is no need to soak nappies, in fact excessive soaking can damage the waterproofing on the wraps and nappies.
Flat Nappy – Terry, Prefold or Muslin Squares are used by folding and fastening with Nappi Nippas. They will need to be worn with an outer waterproof wrap.
Fleece – A fabric often made entirely from recycled materials. May be made of 100% polyester or poyester fleece it allows moisture to pass through and any remaining urine dries by evaporation through to the nappy resulting a dry layer between baby and nappy. Fleece is supremely breathable, which means that when used as a wrap, moisture evaporates into the surrounding air, keeping the nappy inside cool and dry. Very quick drying and resistant to staining, it is a lightweight and comfortable fabric for your baby to wear. It is a man-made fabric.
Inserts – see boosters.
Liners – basically, used to line the nappy so that poo can be easily removed and disposed of. There are several types of nappy liner available, such as fully flushable biodegradable ones, generally known as paper liners, to fleece to silk for babies with very sensitive skin. Fleece liners can be used to keep a babies bottom dry when using cotton or bamboo nappies.
Microfibre/Microterry -A fast-drying fabric. Really lovely and soft against your baby’s skin – for an idea of how it feels, think about your baby’s softest teddy bear. As it wicks moisture away from its source, it will keep your baby’s skin cool and dry. Man-made, however as materials are usually recycled, these can actually end up being better for the environment. Generally the bulkiest real nappy fabric. Not as absorbent usually as bamboo or cotton, but much faster drying. Mother ease staydry material (in the UNO and DUO) is the one exception to this, their staydry microterry is quick drying yet more absorbent than even bamboo!
Microfleece – A fabric often made entirely from recycled materials, fleece doesn’t absorb moisture, but wicks it away from its source, keeping baby’s bum nice and dry. Very quick drying and resistant to staining, it is a lightweight and comfortable fabric for your baby to wear. A man-made fabric, made from 100% polyester.
Minkee – A variation on microfibre, minkee is the velvety-soft. It is a fantastic performance fabric, keeps baby beautifully dry and is slimmer than many other microfibres. Very quick drying and resistant to staining, it is a lightweight and comfortable fabric for your baby to wear. A man-made fabric, made from 100% polyester.
Nappi Nippas – used to fasten flat nappies and replace the safety pin. A 3 pronged clip which work brilliantly and are much easier and safer to use than the old fashioned pin!
Prefold – a modern equivalent of a terry nappy. This consists of 3 panels of fabric with the middle part being the thickest. These can be folded in a variety of ways (e.g. for a boy or a girl) and are placed inside a close fitting wrap to hold them in place and stop leaks. Prefold nappies fall under the heading of flat nappies. See our folding instructions for further details on how to fold these nappies.
Pocket Nappy – sometimes known as a Stuffable but that is strictly speaking a trademarked name. Basically, a nappy with a pocket that you can fill with another piece of absorbent material, such as a booster (insert). Once stuffed, like an All-in-one nappy, they are put on and taken off like a disposable nappy. Most pocket nappies come with an insert (booster) when you buy them. But you can add more to increase the absorbency. Terry, prefolds or muslins can also be used to stuff the inside. They come complete with outer waterproof layer like an all-in-one but are much quicker to dry as you remove the main absorbent core. Most pocket nappies have fleece next to the baby’s skin which keeps the baby’s bottom dry. TotsBots HERO is a new hybrid nappy that comes with a pocket and a removable snap in dry pad. It can be an ‘all in one’, a pocket, a newborn, a one size and a training pant all options rolled into one nappy.
Polyurethane laminate (PUL) – Frequently referred to by it’s abbreviated name PUL is a soft clear coating of polyurethane that is applied to the back of fabrics resulting in a product that is both waterproof and has a small amount of breathability, making it a perfect choice for nappy making. PUL comes in either 1MIL, or 2MIL, the MIL referring to the thickness of the laminate. Most fabrics are laminated with the 2MIL as it withstands frequent washing and is longer lasting.
One Size Nappy – see Birth to Potty Nappy
Rise – the rise of a nappy is the measurement of the nappy from the crotch to the waistband. One-size nappies have poppers to enable you to adjust the rise of the nappy as your baby grows.
Shaped Nappy – these look similar to a disposable nappy and fit around the baby often fastening with poppers or Velcro and sometimes Nappi Nippas, and unlike Flat Nappies you do not have to master complicated folds. Probably the most leak proof of all nappies
Sized Nappy – this is a term referring to nappies which come in 2 or more sizes, meaning you benefit from a smaller nappy on a newborn and more absorbency for a growing toddler. Unlike Birth to Potty nappies you will need to buy 2 sets of nappies.
Snaps – Snaps, or press studs, are used to fasten nappies. They are positioned either at the front, the side or the back. A snap set consists of a cap, stud and socket.
Stay Dry – often a term used when describing the part of a reusable nappy touching the babies skin, may be made of 100% polyester or poyester fleece, or have a polyester uppermost layer. This material allows moisture to pass through and any remaining urine dries by evaporation through to the nappy resulting a dry layer between baby and nappy.
Suedecloth – A 100% polyester fabric that is super soft to the touch. It is used as the lining in nappies and wicks wetness away from babies skin. It is highly stain resistant.
Terry Square – traditional cloth squares that need to be folded into a triangle shape and fixed with a nappy pin or a Nappi Nippa. These remain a good budget option and are the quickest to wash and dry. They will need to be covered with a wrap to make sure they don’t leak. Terry nappies fall under the heading of flat nappies. See our folding instructions for further details on how to fold these nappies.
Two Part Flat Nappy – Terry, Prefold or Muslin Squares are used by folding and fastening with Nappi Nippas. They will need to be worn with an outer waterproof wrap.
Two Part Shaped Nappy – these look similar to a disposable nappy and fit around the baby often fastening with poppers or Velcro and sometimes Nappi Nippas, and unlike Flat Nappies you do not have to master complicated folds. They will need to be worn with a wrap to make them leak-proof and this is the reason they are called’ two part’ because they have two parts!
Velour – is a velvety fabric made from a mix of cotton and polyester for cotton velour, or bamboo and polyester for bamboo velour. It is used in the cotton variety as a liner for nappies, in the bamboo variety it can be used for liners as well as boosters, or for fitted nappies.
Wet Bag – a waterproof bag to put your dirty nappy in, useful when you are out and about. A very useful accessory.
Wicking – describes the way moisture is absorbed into fabrics. Good wicking is when a stay-dry fabric like microfleece or suedecloth is working correctly. When baby wees onto a wicking fabric like microfleece (as a liner in your nappy), the moisture is pulled through the microfleece layer and into the absorbent layers below, leaving a drier surface behind. This in return leaves baby feeling dry.
Wrap – the modern equivalent of plastic pants and the part that makes a nappy leak-proof. A variety of fastenings is available and some simply pull on. Many are made of PVC or polyurethane laminate (PUL) or polyester fleece but it is possible to use wool wraps. Synthetic wraps will be easier