Overwhelmed by all the different types of cloth nappies?

You are not alone! We have made this simple guide to demystify it all and show you why we think Real Nappies are the best.


All In One Nappy (AI1): AI1 nappies are a complete nappy with the waterproof outer layer attached to the inner. Most similar to a disposable nappy. But they don't allow for much additional boosting if you have a heavy wetter or for night time use. Slower to dry as the absorbency can’t be detached from the waterproof part and generally more expensive than pocket or all-in-two nappies.

All In Two Nappy (AI2): AI2 nappies consist of a shell (the waterproof part) with separate inserts which may lay in the shell or snap into place. When wet, you can replace the insert for a fresh one and reuse the shell if it is not soiled which reduces the amount of washing. Real Nappies fit in this category.

Fitted nappies: they can be Sized or OSFM nappies that are made entirely of an absorbent material. Have a contoured shape absorbent insert with gathered edges around the legs and waist. They are generally fastened with a nappy fastener and require a waterproof cover over the top. Generally bulky and slow drying but can be a good option for night time.

Flat nappies: refers to the traditional terry or cotton square. They are generally made from cotton fibre, require folding and a waterproof cover over the top. Flat nappies are the quickest to dry, the cheapest reusable option and we have Real Nappies Flat Nappies which can be used in our Snug Wraps.

Night nappies: they come in sized or OSFM. They aim to prevent leaks at night time when the nappy is on for an extended amount of time. Real Nappies are designed to be used also at night time with an additional booster, without compromising the fit.

One Size Fits Most (OSFM) nappies: they aim to fit from birth up to toilet training (approx 4-16 kgs). They usually incorporate snaps/poppers down the front rise and the sides of the nappy which allow to adjust the size of the nappy as baby grows. But they actually fit best between 6-16 kgs, with variable fit at either end of the range and also depending if baby is a side or tummy sleeper they might not have enough absorbency where it is needed. They are pretty bulky on a newborn from all the extra material. The size of OSFM also varies quite a lot and some are outgrown sooner than expected. They don't allow for much flexibility of adding extra absorbency before the fit is compromised. So they might be fine during the day but harder to be leak-free for night time use. For daycares they are a bit trickier as they need to remember which snap setting to use.

Pocket nappies: two part system comprising a waterproof shell lined with an inner layer of microfleece or athletic wicking jersey which forms a pocket for absorbent inserts to be "stuffed" inside. It becomes an AI1 nappy. Pocket Nappies require assembling ahead of time which is an additional step to consider. Some brands are trickier than others to stuff due to the size of the pocket opening. When soiled, the inserts are also harder to get out of the pocket without touching the poo.

Preflat nappy: they can be Sized or OSFM nappies that are made entirely of an absorbent material. Have a contoured shape absorbent insert with shaped side flaps around the waist. They are generally fastened with a nappy fastener and require a waterproof cover over the top. Can be used under our Real Nappies Snug Wrap.

Prefold nappy: is a rectangular shaped cloth nappy insert usually cotton, that is stitched into 3 lengthwise layers, forming a thicker middle layer. They can be folded inside a waterproof nappy cover or folded and fastened with a nappy fastener. There are a number of ways to fold a prefold to suit boys or girls or tummy/side sleepers. Quick to dry as they unfold. Real Nappies have a prefold insert as the main absorbency, sufficient during the day and can be boosted at night.

Sized: A nappy that will fit a specific weight range. Can be AI1, AI2 or Pocket style. Inserts are made of cotton, hemp, bamboo or microfiber. Real Nappies are a sized type of nappy.

Swim Nappies: Swim nappies are designed to contain poo, but not urine.

Terry nappy / terry squares: traditional nappy that your mother or grandmother would have used! A square piece of terry cotton that can be folded in various ways and secured into place with a nappy fastener. They are quick to dry and very inexpensive. They can be used inside a Real Nappies Snug Wrap cover.



Training pants: thicker, more absorbent style of underwear that can be used during the transition from nappies to toilet training. But not a nappy as such as it will need changing as soon as soiled and they are generally not waterproof.

Wool Covers: Available in knitted or felted finishes. When well lanolised they provide a water resistant option (specifically useful over night nappies), the lanolin provides water resistance but require re-applying regularly and require some skill. Wool covers can be aired between use and washed once soiled or significantly smelly.


There are lots of options out there, combinations of the above and nappies can be closed with snaps or velcro (hook and loop).



  1. An AI2 nappy: best for flexibility of adding boosting when or where it is needed, and any insert will fit in them. They are also quick to dry as they come apart.
  2. Prefold used as the main absorbency. Quick to dry as they unfold. Can be folded in a number of ways to customise them for boys, girls, back sleepers, tummy or side sleepers. Great absorbency = no leaks.
  3. A sized nappy will more likely fit babies of all shapes without any bulky extra material. Great fit = no leaks.
  4. Can transform into a Flat nappy or Terry Square nappy. For even quicker drying and the cheapest reusable options.
  5. Real Nappies are also a Night Nappy, the booster is added without compromising the fit. So you don't need to spend extra money on another type of nappy.


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