Friendly, independent advice with 20 years of real nappy experience

Do I need to use nappy liners in reusable nappies?

Nappy liners are not essential for use with reusable nappy liners, indeed some parents and carers don't use them at all. For most, however, nappy liners do make cloth nappy use much easier.

What are nappy liners for?

  • Because they sit between baby's bottom and the nappy, they act as a barrier, protecting the nappy from the worst of the poo. They therefore keep the nappy much cleaner. 
  • They keep baby's skin a little dryer. Wetness passes through the liner and into the nappy itself. Because the liner doesn't actually absorb anything, the wetness is kept away from baby's skin. This is particularly true of washable nappy liners.

Disposable liners and washable liners - what's the difference?

Disposable nappy liners (often called biodegradable nappy liners or paper liners) are very thin, papery sheets which are intended to be thrown away in the bin after use. Despite being thin, they do not break apart as easily or quickly as toilet paper and should therefore not be thrown down the toilet as they may lead to blockages in your toilet or further down the sewerage system. See our article on Fatbergs.
Those new to cloth nappies, as well as grandparents, nurseries etc often prefer disposable liners as they're much easier to use. Just remove from the used nappy and throw away. 
Wet-only disposable liners can go into your compost bin if you have one. Never put soilds in your compost bin.
Washable nappy liners (also called reusable nappy liners or fleece nappy liners) are generally made of fleece, microfibre or even wynciette. They are thicker than disposable liners and tend to keep baby's skin really dry. Wee moved through them into the main nappy and, because the fleece is non-absorbent, the wetness doesn't come back through towards baby's bum. Washable wipes can, for some, be a bit messy before baby is weaned but after weaning poo tends to be quite solid and will easily plop off into the toilet leaving a pretty clean liner to be washed alongside the nappies.

How many nappy liners do I need?

If using disposable nappy liners, a roll of 100 liners will last between10 days and 3 weeks depending on the age and toilet habits of your little one. You'll use one liner for each nappy change. A newborn may go through 8-10 changes per day, while an older, weaned baby or toddler may only have 4-5 changes a day.
You'll generally need 1 washable nappy liner for every nappy (so around 20 liners if you're using your cloth nappies full time). You wash and dry them with your nappies so they'll all be ready together.

Can I use nappy cream with my nappy liners?

Nappy cream is not often necessary but can be useful when baby is teething as it protect baby's bottom from their strong wee during this time. When using nappy creams always use as little cream as possible and only in the areas necessary and, importantly, use a disposable liner to protect the nappy from the cream. The creams will give the nappy an oily coating - this will prevent your nappies from absorbing properly so be careful!


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