The modern cloth nappy (MCN) has come a long way since the big white square number we all know. It comes in many styles and it can be tricky to figure out the difference! Here is an easy to understand description of each type of nappy that will demistify the MCN for you.
A pocket nappy has a waterproof outer (usually made of PUL), and have a staydry fabric inner – there is a gap at the top of the PUL and inner fabric to put the absorbent layers of the nappy inside (referred to as inserts). Pockets will have either snap or aplix/velcro closures and come in a OSFA (one size fits all) OR a sized (small, medium, large) option. Pockets are great for night time use, as you can increase the absorbency easily by adding extra inserts, they dry fast and are easy to get clean properly. They are also an easy to use system – very Dad & Grandparent friendly! Microfiber inserts often get stinky very easily – so regularly need to be 'stripped' – washed to remove all the detergent residue that has built up through washes.
A fitted nappy is a nappy with the absorbency sewn into the nappy – in the style of an AIO, but unlike AIO's they don't have a waterproof outer, and like prefolds, require a cover. Like the pocket and AIO nappy, fitteds come in OSFA and sized option, as well as the choice of snaps or aplix/velcro closures. Fitteds – when worn with a fleece or woolen cover are a lot more breatheable than the pocket and AIO nappy, and around the home can be worn without a cover – though a close eye needs to be kept! Fitted nappies are popular for overnight use, because of the high level of absorbency. As with AIO's, fitteds DO take longer than a pocket or prefold to dry, and are harder to ensure they are properly washed.
A prefold is a cloth nappy which is rectangular in shape, and divided into thirds with the middle section having more absorbent layers than the other two. Prefolds can either be used trifolded (ie folded in three – a pad shape), or they can be folded and fastened using pins, a Snappi, Boingo's or other fastening items. Prefolds are made of natural fibers, usually cotton. They come in different sizes, to suit newborn to potty training. They must be worn with a waterproof cover – either made of PUL (polyurethane laminate), fleece or wool. Like fitted nappies they can also be worn without a cover around the house – but because of how trim they are, they can wet through rather fast. Prefolds dry fast, wash easily, are a good option for babies with sensitive skin, and are a more affordable cloth nappy system.
One size fits all nappies fit generally from around 4kg-16kg – or roughly 1 month to potty training, depending on the size of your infant, and later your toddler. OSFA nappies have rows of snaps down the front of the nappy, which allow for adjustment of the ‘rise’ (crotch to tummy button), and numerous snaps along the waist, which allows for adjustment of the waist size. If you are using OSFA nappies, you will generally only need to buy one set of nappies (approx 20-30 nappies, depending on how often you wish to do nappy laundry).
Sized nappies usually come in newborn (XS), small, medium & large, OR in a size 1 (usually 0-9m) and a size 2 (usually 9-12m-potty training). Sized nappies are not as adjustable as OSFA nappies, but do tend to get a better fit than OSFA nappies, particularly when it comes to newborns and small infants. If you are using sized nappies, you will need to purchase nappies in each size.