Starting out in the cloth nappy world can be super overwhelming and there are plenty of options available....
TRADITIONAL STYLE CLOTH
Traditional cloth or ‘terry’ squares
This is what people imagine when they think of the traditional term 'cloth nappies', it's the basis of where cloth nappies started and what most of us wore as tots. These cloth nappies are made of fabrics that absorbs liquid, usually terry or flannelette cotton, hemp, bamboo or a blend. They fit snugly as they are folded to suit bub and work best with a leak-proof cover. They are a great and cost effective option of cloth, however can be bulky and fiddly with pins and clips. As they are folded individually for each wear they fit children of all ages and are extremely fast drying.
Advantages: Cost effective and will give a great fit to bub.
Disadvantages: Can be fiddly and require more 'parts' than modern cloth nappies.
A step up from traditional cloth nappies, these nappies are made of soft layers of fabric, like cotton or bamboo, which are folded over into a pad shape and placed inside a fitted, leak-proof cover. They’re not as bulky as the squares, however they’re less absorbent than other types of reusable nappies. The benefits are they they are cost effective, they dry quickly, however you may need two or three different sizes.
Advantages: Cost effective and will give a great fit to bub, easier to put together than standard 'flats'
Disadvantages: Are sized options and more options may be required to be purchased.
These are also called contoured or shaped nappies which are commonly made of layers of cotton, fleece, hemp or bamboo. Visually they are shaped like a disposable nappy, however require a waterproof cover over the top to ensure they are leak proof. Fitted nappies are available in either one size fits most or individually sized nappies which are fastened with either velcro or press-studs. They are more expensive that the traditional cloth and pre-folds however they are easier to change and take longer to dry than the previous options mentioned.
An example of the above is the BamBam by Bubblebubs these will fit bubs from 1.2kg all the way up to 8kg!
Advantages: Super adsorbent and will give a great fit to bub, as they are a shapped like a nappy fit they are easier to put together than standard 'flats' or 'pre-folds'.
Disadvantages: Are sized options and will only fit bub for the first 6 months.
* All of the above options are great for new borns as the fit can folded closer to bub avoiding any gapes around legs.
MODERN CLOTH NAPPIES
These cloth nappies have a leak-proof outer shell sewn together with a soft inner layer. There are inserts have a ‘pocket’ between the shell and the inner layer to insert a layer of padding. They’re easy to use and dry quickly as the insert can be removed from the nappy, but you need to take out the inserts before washing and put them back in afterwards. They come in one-size-fits-most and different sizes, this is all dependant on the brand.
Advantages: Simple and easy to use, lots of great colours and designs available.
Disadvantages: As they need to be washed separately they can be a little more fiddly when washing and drying. More costly.
The all in one cloth nappies combine a water-resistant outside layer sewn together with an absorbent inner layer, making them a 'all-in-one' nappy. They’re shaped and can be fastened with velcro, clips or press studs. These are the closest to the disposable size and are generally only available in 'sized' options so can be more expensive to purchase over time.
Advantages: Simple and easy to use, lots of great colours and designs available. Don't need to be pulled apart for washing or drying.
Disadvantages: As the nappy is completely one unit they do take longer to try. More sizes may be required.
All-in-twos or ‘snap-in-ones’ (AI2)
Very similar to the pocket nappy, however these cloth nappies have a ‘snap-in’ layers or ‘boosters’, which you take apart for washing. So in overview there is the outer shell which consists of the waterproof over and fabric lined inner, and then there are the added inserts which are clipped in to boost the absorbency of the nappy. They dry faster than all-in-ones as they are separated for washing and the 'inners' can be replaced if required over time. As the absorbent layer sits on top of the shell, they can be more cost effective as you can purchase more inners than shells and only replace the inners at change time.
Advantages: Simple and easy to use, lots of great colours and designs available. Inners can be replaced if damaged or lost, boosters can be added easily for more absorbency. As these nappies are generally 'one size' they can be an expensive up front cost but they will last a long time.
Disadvantages: Initially can be costly. Require to be laundered separately so can be fiddly.