Reusable Nappies from A to Z – A Complete Glossary
Confused by cloth nappy jargon?
Its easy when you know how, but when you’re new to using cloth nappies, all the abbreviations can feel a bit overwhelming. There seems to be so much information out there – does this make them more difficult to use than disposables? No! Try not to get bogged down by the technicalities! Modern cloth nappies are easy to use, don’t require a degree in washing science, super reliable and great for the environment.
When it comes to choosing reusable nappies, simply dive in and pick one or two you like the look of and get it on baby’s bottom. You will have lots of time to perfect your routine. There’s plenty of help and advice through Babipur’s social media channels, or by contacting our customer service team directly.
A – Z of reusable nappies
If you are looking to delve deeper into the world of reusable nappies or test your knowledge as a cloth nappy expert, here’s our guide to this new and exciting world. But just to reiterate – you really don’t need to be an expert to use them. It can be handy to have a glossary to refer to, so let’s take a look at the full a to z of reusable nappy jargon and abbreviations.
Absorbency – this is how much liquid your cloth nappy can hold.
Different materials, including cotton, hemp, bamboo and microfibre absorb different amounts (capacity) and at different rates. Add extra boosters to increase your nappies absorbency, this is particularly useful overnight.
AIO – All In One. This is a popular type of modern nappy which consists of the absorbent part of the nappy sewn into the waterproof outer material.
There is no preparation needed before putting on the bum, and is most like a disposable to use. The downside is they are often not as absorbent as other types of nappy, and usually take longer to dry. However, are great for those just starting out and for childcare providers to get the hang of.
AI2 – All In Two. This type of nappy is also sometimes known as a hybrid nappy.
Absorbent boosters popper in to the outer waterproof shell to form a complete nappy. In some cases the boosters can be changed and the outer shell reused a couple of times before being washed. This results in an efficient and economical nappy that is quicker to dry than an AIO.
Aplix – another trade name for a hook and loop closure, like Velcro.
Aplix makes it quick and easy to change a nappy, and gives a great fit around the waste. Most aplix reusable nappies have washing tabs to secure the nappy aplix while in the wash. Just remember to shut them before they go in the wash. Otherwise you end up with a ball of cloth nappies all stuck together, and no-one wants that! It’s a great idea to clean any fabric and bits that get stuck to the aplix over time to keep them in tip-top condition. A comb (particularly a nit comb) is ideal for this therapeutic maintenance job.
Baba & Boo – this pocket nappy is a firm favourite with Babipur customers, and it’s easy to see why.
With their fun prints, reliable fit and ease of use, no wonder more and more babies are sporting soft and squishy Baba + Boo bottoms. Available in newborn and one-size nappies, and a range of nappy bags and reusable period pads, if you are new to cloth nappies then this is definitely a brand to add to your basket.
Babipur Exclusives – Our much loved exclusive design Close Pop-ins, featuring the Babipur elephant.
These include Dewi, Cwtch, Clyd and Babipur World and more. With a playful take on our beautiful home here in Snowdonia. How many are in your stash?
Bamboo – A fantastic, sustainable material for reusable nappies. There are so many reasons to love bamboo!
Firstly its super absorbing power, this makes it a top choice for fitted nappies and boosters. Have a heavy wetter? Take advantage of those thirsty qualities and look for nappies made with this super material. It is also breathable and super soft against babies skin. Moreover, bamboo is sustainable and easy to grow, needing no pesticides and fertilisers. It locks in four times more CO2 than a similar sized tree and releases 35% mor oxygen thanks to its incredible growthrate*.
Bamboozle – this is a super absorbent bamboo nappy by Tots Bots, and many people’s night nappy of choice.
As a fitted nappy, it requires a waterproof outer wrap. Team it up with a Tots Bots Peenut wrap, Close Pop-in cover or Petit Lulu cover.
Booster – These are little pads of absorbent material and the answer to most cloth nappy problems!
They can be made from a variety of materials including bamboo, hemp, cotton or microfibre. Place them where you need them for overnight use. This is often folded at the front for boys and the middle or girls, but take into account how your baby likes to sleep (or not!). Boosters can be added within the nappy or between the nappy and wrap if things are getting a bit bulky.
BTP – Birth To Potty nappy.
These are sometimes called one-size nappies, and are easily adjustable thanks to the rows of poppers up the front (known as the ‘rise’). A bit of a misnomer, as BTP nappies are usually too big for the average newborn. So if you are looking to use reusable nappies from birth, investing in some newborn nappies is a wise choice. BTP nappies usually start fitting reliably above 9-10lb, when little baby legs have started filling out.
Bucket – not very glamorous, but a nappy bucket is a handy piece of kit to keep your dirty nappies in before washing.
You can use a washable mesh liner inside the bucket to make handling nappies a bit less of a task. Nappy buckets have a close fitting or lockable lid to prevent any smells escaping. They hold 2-3 days worth of full time cloth nappies. Some people choose to use a large wet bag instead of a bucket.
Changing Mat – A nappy changing accessory you won’t want to be without.
A reusable changing mat usually has a water-resistant layer, soft padding and a super soft top. Lay baby on a comfy change mat to protect them from cold, hard floors while changing their nappy. Great for nappy free time as it will catch any accidents, and easy to roll up and pop in your bag for nappy changes on the go.
Close Pop-in – another top brand loved here at Babipur Towers, a reliable and easy to use hybrid nappy.
Close Pop-ins are all-in-two nappies, with bamboo pop-in inserts, a bomb-proof double gusset, and robust outer cover. Can be used overnight with additional night time boosters and available in a super neat newborn version. They are loved for their great prints (check out the Babipur exclusives!) and great fit.
Clyd – A Babipur Exclusive Close Pop-in print from Winter 2019.
Clyd, meaning cosy in Welsh, is our take on a Welsh Tapestry blanket pattern with a Babipur twist.
Cover – This is the outer waterproof part of the nappy that is used in conjunction with an absorbent fitted nappy, prefold or boosters as part of a two part nappy system.
Usually made from PUL, a material which is water resistant and breathable. Hardwearing and durable, PUL is best dried away from direct heat sources. Wool covers are made from natural wool that has been lanolised to create a highly moisture regulating barrier. They are a popular choice with experienced cloth nappy users.
Cwtch – A Babipur Exclusive Close Pop-in print from Spring 2019.
“You don’t need a bull hook to control an elephant. You can guide an elephant with love… And bananas”
– Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation
Daiper – another name for a nappy, a term used in American English.
Cloth nappies have a firm following in America (and around the world) and generally known as a cloth diaper. One of our favourite brands is GroVia, based in Montana in the US.
Dewi – A Babipur Exclusive Close Pop-in print from Spring 2018.
Featuring signature Babipur elephants amongst daffodils. Dewi is the name borne by the patron Saint of Wales, St David.
Drying – There isn’t a more satisfying sight than freshly washed reusable nappies hanging on the washing line to dry.
Air drying really is the best option for your nappies, and they should never be placed directly on heat sources such as radiators to dry. Tumble drying boosters and inserts is doable, but keep temperatures low and hang out to dry when you can. Air drying is best for the lifespan of your nappies and much better for the environment.
Elephant Nappy – The first Babipur Exclusive Close Pop-in print, launched way back in 2016!
Next came the sunny seaside Babipur 10th Birthday Stripe print in Spring 2017.
EasyFit – The Tots Bots Easyfit is a one-size nappy and classed as an all-in-one, with its fold out absorbent core that is attached to the nappy.
There is no denying though that this is a very easy nappy to get the hang of, with its aplix closure, super absorbent bamboo core and cute prints.
Environment – there are often lots of questions over whether reusable nappies really are better for the environment. Thanks to an updated report by Zero Waste Europe published in February 2020 the simple answer is yes!
Here’s a brief summery of the findings:
- Single-use nappies use 20 times the land for the production of the raw materials and require three times more energy to make than cloth nappies.
- One tonne of waste is produce during a child’s nappy wearing time in single use nappies.
- The decomposition of organic matter in disposable nappies may cause groundwater and soil contamination due to leaching of organic components. It produces landfill gases such as methane and CO2 , both exasperate climate change.
Fit – in reusable nappy circles this is a reference to fitting a cloth nappy, which is a bit different to fitting disposable nappies.
What you’re looking for is a fit that isn’t too tight or too loose, but somewhere in the middle. This can take a bit of trial and error and adjustments to the rise on a birth to potty nappy, but once you’ve hit the sweet spot you’ll be away. Another handy fit tip is to tuck the nappy well into the knicker line to form a good fit around the legs. If there is a lot of gapping, try adjusting the rise poppers and have another go.
Fitted Nappy – This is an absorbent nappy that needs a waterproof outer wrap, as part of a two part nappy system, sometimes called a shaped nappy.
Often made from organic cotton or bamboo, fitted nappies are a great choice for overnight use as the whole of the nappy is absorbent.
Frugi x Tots Bots – also known as a match made in heaven!
Frugi clothing is cut for cloth (and this was actually their name before they became Frugi!) and have teamed up with Scottish nappy brand Tots Bots to create some beautiful nappy prints. So if you are looking to match your outfit with your nappy, then this is the collaboration for you.
Grovia – American brand GroVia make a range of fab quality reusable nappies that are easy to use and made from ultra absorbent organic cotton.
There is a choice of all-in-one, hybrid, and their popular O.N.E nappy, as well as trainer pants and accessories. GroVia produce high tech nappies that are extremely well made, and who are passionate about ethical sourcing and inclusivity.
Give Them A Go! – have we persuaded you yet?
Modern cloth nappies are so easy to use, with very little extra work involved. Don’t forget, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, just start with a handful and see how you get on!
Hemp – this natural fibre is extremely absorbent and used in night boosters.
Hemp boosters need washing up to five times to reach maximum absorbency. They are also the slowest to dry, but they make up for it with their awesome absorption capacity.
Hook and Loop – This is a closure that sometimes known by the trade names of Aplix and Velcro.
Hybrid – See AI2
Hydref – A Babipur Exclusive Close Pop-in print from Autumn 2018.
Incentive Schemes – some local authorities run incentive schemes to encourage parents to make the switch to reusable nappies.
This can be in the form of trial kits, vouchers or cashback schemes. To find out if your council offers incentive schemes, check out our blog post >HERE<
Inserts – these are essentially the same as boosters, in that they are an absorbent part of the nappy.
However, if you really want to split hairs, then inserts are something you put inside the pocket of a pocket nappy. A booster is something to put on top of a fitted, AIO or AI2 to BOOST absorbency. In all honesty, they are much the same thing doing the same job.
Just one nappy – by using one reusable nappy a day rather than a disposable, you would save in the region of 900 single use nappies entering landfill. This is an enormous saving of energy, resources and money.
Kokoso – a lovely, lightweight pure, natural coconut oil that is perfect for dry skin, and makes a great balm for sore bottoms.
Soothing and gentle, Kokoso is an ideal choice for cloth nappies and won’t affect absorbency.
Laundry – You may be thinking that if you use cloth nappies you will have never-ending amounts of laundry.
However, this really isn’t the case! You will be doing 2-3 extra washing loads per week if using cloth nappies full time. This soon fits in with routine and equates to around 10 minutes a day when spread over the week – find out more in our diary >HERE<.
Leak – this is another myth that needs busting! Modern reusable nappies are not more prone to leaking.
It can take a bit of trial and error to get the right fit and absorbency. But as your confidence and experience grows, you’ll soon be able to trouble shoot and issues with leaks. For many cloth nappy users, the containment of a reusable nappy is much better than the single use alternatives. If you do run into problems, check out our troubleshooting guide >HERE<
Liner – this is a permeable layer that does a very important job – catching poo!
You can choose from disposable liners that you throw in the bin after use, or fleece liners that you wash and reuse. Liners are also great for forming a stay dry layer between baby’s bottom and the nappy. Many nappies have a stay-dry fleece layer against babies skin so its not always necessary to use a liner.
Maxi Night Nappy – This is a super absorbent night nappy by Petit Lulu.
A great choice for heavy wetters and older toddlers who still need a nappy overnight. This fitted nappy is made from organic bamboo-biocotton blend or super soft cotton velour, and needs an outer wrap.
Mesh Bag – these breathable bags are great for popping in your nappy bucket so you don’t have to handle your dirty nappies too much.
Some wet bags have a handy integrated mesh bag that simply poppers out when you are ready to put a wash on. Moreover, small mesh bags are a good idea for washing small reusable items including breastpads and make-up remover pads.
Microfibre – this is a synthetic material that is popular for inserts.
It absorbs liquid quickly, which is great for when babies start to hold their wee longer and then release it all in one big go! Its not the most absorbent material, so its often teamed up with bamboo or cotton. It can also be prone to compression leaks (such as when baby has been sat in a car seat on a long journey) or wearing a tight vest. It is a great choice though if you have limited drying facilities as it dries quickly.
Nappy Cream – when you are using reusable nappies, it’s a good idea to use a cloth nappy safe nappy cream.
Petrolium creams can form a layer on reusable nappies that prevents liquid being absorbed and doesn’t wash out. If you need to use a special cream then it’s a good idea to use disposable liners to protect your nappy. All nappy creams and balms at Babipur are safe to use with cloth nappies.
Newborn – there is nothing cuter than a teeny tiny newborn cloth nappy!
Newborn nappies give a great neat and reliable fit on those smallest of bottoms and little newborn legs. Perfect for building your confidence and normalising a reusable nappy routine. If you choose to use reusables from birth they quickly become part of your daily rhythm. Find out more about using newborn cloth nappies from birth >HERE<
Night Nappy – so you’ve mastered cloth nappies in the day, but are worried about night time leaks? Never fear, reusable night nappies are a reliable choice.
You can adapt your day nappy by adding extra absorption with a thirsty booster or two. Or, if your little one is a wee machine then you may need to look at getting some night nappies that are up to the job. A two part fitted nappy and wrap is highly recommended – you can find out more >HERE<
One Size – see Birth To Potty
OTB – On the bum! Reusable nappies are super cute, and parents who use them love how they look!
Don’t forget to tag us in any OTB shots! The more people see these gorgeous nappies in use, the more normalised they become!
Organic cotton – a renewable and sustainable material, organic cotton is a great choice for cloth nappies.
It has great absorbing capacity and a reasonable drying time. Being grown without chemicals and fertilisers, this is a good eco-friendly option.
Out and about – You don’t have to be confined to the house to use cloth nappies!
Using reusables out and about really isn’t that much different than using single use nappies. Take a couple of ready prepared nappies with you in your change bag and a wet bag for the dirties. Wet bags hold in any smells. Simply pop your nappy in the wash or in your nappy bucket when you get home.
Peenut – Tots Bots Peenut nappy is a flexible and economic hybrid nappy system that reduces your washing size and can be quickly scaled up with the addition of more pads.
Peenut covers work with any absorbent nappy and are a popular choice as a cover with TotsBots Bamboozle nappies.
Pocket – This is a type of nappy that consists of a waterproof outer lined with a fleece inner that forms a pocket at the back.
The nappies absorbency comes from the inserts that are placed in the pocket, and these can be adapted to your baby’s needs. Baba & Boo are a great example of a really popular pocket nappy at Babipur.
Poppers – sometimes called snaps, poppers are used to adjust the size of birth to potty nappies (the rise).
They are also an option for securing the nappy around the waist. These give a really secure fit if you have little hands that like to take their own nappy off. It is also less hassel when it comes to washing, with no washing tabs to remember.
Potty Training – There are plenty of reusable options for potty training.
These include pull up nappies and pants that will hold accidents. These are helpful as they stay wet against the child’s skin, so they can recognise the sensation. Extra absorbency can often be added for nap times. However be aware that they don’t really have the capacity for over night.
Prefold – A prefold is a really basic and economical nappy system. Simply a rectangle of absorbent fabric, folded and placed in a waterproof nappy cover.
If you are feeling adventurous, try out some more traditional folds, for greater containment. Hold the nappy in place with a Snappi fastener.
Print or Plain – Are you a fan of simple plain colours, or busy colourful prints?
There is quite a demand for some rare prints (Royal Flush anyone?). But at the end of the day they are poo catchers, and very pretty ones at that!
Reusable Nappy Week – this is a week at the end of April dedicated to cloth nappies. Formerly known as Real Nappy Week (RNW).
It’s a chance to promote and normalise reusable nappies to the rest of the world in a fun and engaging way.
Rinse – Part of your wash routine, a cool rinse is a good idea before your long hot wash.
If there are still bubbles present at the end of that cycle give it another rinse to make sure all the detergent has gone. Find out all about washing cloth nappies >HERE<
Rise – There are usually three rows of poppers on a BTP nappy to adjust the length (size) of the nappy. This is known as the rise.
Adjust the length of the rise and tuck well into the knicker line for a great fit. As your baby grows they often change shape quite dramatically, particularly as they get more mobile. You may find you need to go up a rise, and then back down again a few months later!
Rocking Green – a powder washing detergent made with bio-degradable plant based and petroleum-free surfactant, safe for septic tanks and never tested on animals.
No additives, optical brighteners and no nasty unwanted chemicals which can irritate the skin. Brilliant news for eczema suffers and great for cloth nappies because it rinses out properly unlike most supermarket detergents.
Shaped Nappy – see Fitted Nappy
Soaking – there is no need to soak modern reusable nappies!
This outdated practice ( along with boiling nappies, please don’t do it!) will do more harm than good to your precious cloth. Dry pail in a lidded nappy bucket or large wet bag and then give a quick cold rinse in the washing machine before the long hot wash. If you need more washing advice check out our blog post >HERE<
Stack – Stack ‘em up high! A nice stack of freshly washed and prepared nappies is a wonderful sight. How about sharing it with us on Instagram?
Stash – What do you call a collection of reusable nappies? A stash!
We love a stash shot, and what a rare sight they are. There’s always one on the bum and at least one in the wash.
Sunshine – This is reusable nappy magic. Stains seem to disappear before your eyes with this amazing natural bleaching agent.
Simply hang your washed nappies in the sun for a safe, eco-friendly and chemical free way for the whitest of nappies.
Swim Nappy – Even if you’re not ready to fully embrace reusable nappies there are reusable swim nappies that are great for the pool or beach.
These let liquid escape but hold on to solids and have great containment. Most pools require a two part swim nappy so you will need to use a separate swim nappy liner in these circumstances.
Terry – Terry nappies or terry squares were the traditional cloth nappy.
Possibly used by your parents and almost definitely used by your grandparents. Big and bulky, and held together with safety pins, you couldn’t really get further from these with modern reusable nappies. We’ve certainly come a long way, but terry squares still have their place. Fold them up and put them in a wrap for an economical nappy system.
Tickle Tots – modern and easy to use nappies, Tickle Tots are loved for their slim fit and beautiful prints.
With an improved AIO nappy and a popular hybrid, as well as great quality wet and dry bags with an integrated mesh bag.
Tots Bots – This is the Scottish brand behind popular overnight nappy the Bamboozle, Easyfit AIO, TeenyFit newborn and Peenut hybrid system.
One of our top brands here at Babipur.
Training Pants – see Potty training.
Using reusable nappies – is easy! Check out our guide to starting out >HERE<
Velcro – a trade name for hook and loop closures.
Velour – snuggly soft and stay dry, velour is usually a polyester and cotton or bamboo blend, with a velvety soft pile.
Lovely and luxurious to the touch and nice and dry against the skin. This material will stay soft even in hard water areas.
Violet’s – a magical oxygen bleach that is safe to use with cloth nappies (and numerous other household cleaning tasks) and safe for the environment.
Clean and sanitise nappies with a scoop of this in with your normal detergent. Also great for your monthly washing machine clean. Add a scoop to the draw and set your machine on a 90 degree wash while empty. This will remove any unwanted residues and leave your machine sparkling clean.
Vouchers – see Incentive Schemes
Washing – everyone has an opinion on washing cloth nappies, but it really is simple.
Cold rinse, long hot cotton wash (40-60 degrees C) full dose of powder detergent, line dry. For a more in depth look at washing nappies, take a look at our guide >HERE<
Weleda Calendula Nappy Cream – our customers favourite reusable nappy safe nappy cream.
This lovely natural nappy change cream that has been a hit with parents and midwives for almost 30 years. Calm down irritated skin, reduce redness and protect skin from damp nappies.
Wet bag – A reusable nappy essential item for storing dirty nappies while out and about or a large one for use instead of a nappy bucket.
Wet bags have a multitude of uses including holding your reusable period pads, swimming kit (do wring these out first), PE kit, make-up and toiletries, the list goes on … Keep a look out for wet and dry bags which have separate compartments to hold your clean and wet nappies.
Wicking – when the absorbent part of the nappy isn’t fully covered by a wrap, moisture is transferred from the nappy to clothing.
This is known as wicking. Check your fitted nappy is fully covered by the wrap, well tucked into the knicker line, and no clothes accidently tucked into the nappy to remedy.
Wipes – Reusable wipes are such a great eco-swap, ditch the single use and try them for yourself!
Even if you are not ready to give reusable nappies a go, these are a great eco-friendly compromise, and they work so much better than the single use type too. Find out more about wonderful washable wipes >HERE<
Wrap – another word for the waterproof reusable nappy cover.
An essential part of a two part nappy system for fitting over a fitted nappy, boosters or prefolds.
X, Y and Z
And that really is a wrap! I can’t think of anything for X, Y and Z – can you? Let me know in the comments if you think we’ve missed anything out!
It can sometimes feel like you are learning another language. But, as with anything new the best way to learn is through the experience of doing it and having fun! So, give a couple a go, have fun and don’t forget our friendly team are on hand if you run into any issues.