What to consider when choosing a cloth nappy


1. What style of Nappy would you like? 

This does not refer to how a nappy look aesthetically , but rather how it is put together and how the absorbency is placed in the nappy. There are many different nappies on the Australian market. They can be categorised into different styles including the pocket nappy, all in one, all in two and then others including prefolds, covers etc. Find out about all of these options here.

You will need to consider some points below when choosing a style as each has pros and cons with regards to drying time, assembly and bulk.

2. How easily can you wash and dry nappies?

Do you need a nappy that comes apart into many pieces that can dry quickly? If you need something that dries very fast due to limited sunlight, not having a dryer or living in a colder & wetter climate consider nappies with microfibre or minky absorbency. This dries faster then bamboo or cotton.

3. What sort of absorbency do you want in your nappies? See our information on different materials and their properties.

4. Whether you are opposed to any assembly (i.e. snapping in or folding inserts).

If you have very little time to assemble nappies, or the nappies will need to be use by a number of carer’s, consider an all in one design. These may take longer to dry but they will be the easiest to use.

5. Snaps or Velcro Closure. Which will suit your needs better? Both have positives and negatives.

Velcro is easy to use. It’s quick and allows perfect sizing. But, many parents find their baby can pull their nappy off with great ease. Velcro also catches on everything in the wash, so look for nappies with proper wash tabs and be prepared to use them.

Snaps are more secure. They wont catch or pull on anything and your baby won’t be able to access the contents of their nappy.

6. Minky, PUL or cotton outer?

This is really a cosmetic choice. Minky is a man made fabric that is fluffy (often used on stuffed toys). PUL is also man made and is a smooth material, much like vinyl. Cotton has the disadvantage that it may wick. Which means moisture may hit the cotton fabric and it will then travel through that into your babies clothing. This will only happen when the nappy is quite full, but cotton is more prone to wick then minky or PUL outers.

7. One size fits most or sized nappies?

Sized nappies will generally fit your child more snuggly. But OSFM allows you to get full use out of a nappy. In general they can be used from birth till toilet training. This option offers you the most value, biggest savings and is a well used method by many parents. In fact, due to its popularity, the majority of brands offer a OSFM option.

8. Front Snapping or Side Snapping Nappies

The most common design from our research is a front snapping nappy like the one pictured below. It is most like a disposable in that the wings of the nappy secure across the front. These nappies are often one size fits most and you adjust the size (smaller or larger) by using the front rise snaps.

Baby Bare modern cloth nappy

Baby Bare front snapping nappy

A side snapping nappy does not show the snaps in the front. Baby Bare Teddies (as pictured below) are nappies with an option in this style. This style can be great on kids who need different sizing between their legs and waist. With two rows of snaps across the waist these can give a more customised fit on some children.

charlie Teddy

9. Trimness versus Bulk

If a very trim style nappy is important to you, you will want to consider the rise of a nappy and how heavily it is packed with layers of absorbency. In general, day nappies should be quite trim and trim enough to fit under normal clothes. Gone are the days of sizing up your child’s clothing to fit in their nappies.

This is a hard issue to consider without trialling a nappy. But consider some reviews as other parents will be able to indicate how bulky a nappy is. It is important however to consider that some trim nappies can be very trim. This may see your child grow out of a nappy early, have the nappy not sit right on their bottom (it may sit more like a bikini brief across their bottom) or not have adequate absorbency.

We have an information video here for parents new to cloth nappies. It helps explain visually what some of the cloth nappy terms mean.