Friendly, independent advice with 20 years of real nappy experience

How to use real nappies

Real nappies have two main elements to them: an absorbent part and a waterproof part (which prevents any dampness from getting through to baby's clothes). These two elements can either be seperate (a '2-part nappy') or sewn together as one (an 'all-in-one' or 'pocket nappy')

Two-part nappies

Part 1: The Nappy

Examples: Tots Bots Stretch, Easy Peasy Bimbles, Little Lamb

The inner, absorbent part of the nappy can be made of terry towelling, organic cotton, bamboo or man-made fabrics such as microfibre. Some fabrics are considerably easier to dry than others so it’s definitely worth taking this into account if you need to dry nappies naturally without a tumble dryer.

Tots Bots Bamboozle Stretch

They are generally shaped like disposable nappies with elastication around the legs and waist for a really good fit. They are fastened with poppers, velcro or a ’Nappi Nippa’. Most brands provide sufficient absorbency for most situations however you can increase the absorbency for night time using nappy boosters.

Choosing the right brand can often be quite confusing but our site had been designed to make this easier by categorising nappies according to your needs: quick-drying, slim fitting, organic etc. See our nappy page.

Part 2: The Waterproof Wrap / Cover

Examples: Motherease Airflow, Motherease Rikki, Peenut Wrap, FLIP wrap

Motherease Airlow wrap

Two part nappies will need a separate waterproof layer. This, at first, seems to be more hassle to put on but it does tend to result in better performance.

Unlike old waterproof pants, these wraps are soft and comfortable, and can be adjusted using poppers or velcro. The wrap is generally made of PUL (polyurethane laminate). It is very thin and doesn’t add to the bulkiness of the nappy.

With 2-part nappies you can often change the inner nappy, using the waterpoof part again. You only need to change the wrap if it gets soiled or if it has been used a number of times and is getting a bit smelly. Because the wrap is not being used so often it will last longer and can often be used on 2 or more babies.

All-in-one / Pocket nappies

Examples: BumGenius V5, Charlie Banana, BumGenius Freetime, Tots Bots Easyfit Star

BumGenius Freetime nappy

Here the absorbent part and the waterproof part of the nappy are all sewn in together. This makes them easier to use making them ideal for those wanting a quicker change, but aslo ideal for nurseries, childminders, grandparents etc.

It does, however, make them more expensive as each and every nappy has both an absorbent part and a waterproof part. Also, because you have to wash the whole thing each and every time, the waterproof part may not last as long as a 2-part nappy. If looked after properly they should be fine for two children, but it's unlikely they'll last beyond this. We recommend getting advice on washing instructions to help your nappies last as long as possible.


The liner

On the inside of the nappy (between the nappy and baby’s bottom) you place a ’liner’. This is a soft thin cellolose-based layer which allows for the solids to be easily removed from the nappy. You simply pick it off the nappy and throw it down the toilet leaving a relatively clean nappy, ready to be stored in a nappy bucket before washing. These come in rolls of 100.

Disposable liners

NB. Please note that, although these are classed and labelled as 'flushable' they should not really be flushed down the toilet as they can cause problems in the sewerage system. Ideally these should be placed in the bin rather than the toilet. Washable liners are also available.

Need help? If you can’t decide between different fabrics, pocket nappies, 2-part nappies etc just get in touch.

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