Nappy Lingo!

The world of cloth nappies is full of abbreviations and acronyms; for nappy brands, retailers, types of nappies, washing methods etc and it makes starting reusables so confusing. To help make deciphering these a little easier I have created a list of commonly used phrases. The blog will cover:

  • Nappy Sizes
  • Nappy Types
  • Nappy Components
  • Nappy Accessories
  • Washing

Nappy Sizes

Newborn (NB): nappies sized specifically for newborns, generally fit around 5-12lbs/2.3kgs-5.4kgs and better suited to small or preterm babies.

Size 1: first size nappies, designed for newborns but often slightly bigger and fits a little longer, fit generally around 7-20lbs/ 3.2-9kgs, best suited to average-bigger newborns.

Birth to Potty (BTP): generally nappies that fit from around 10lbs-35lbs/4.5kgs-16kgs.

One Size Fits Most (OSFM): Australian term, means the same as BTP.

One Size (OS): As above.

Size 2: Size up from size 1, can be used along side BTP nappies once baby is a little bigger, generally fits 16-35lbs/7.3kgs-16kgs.

Crossover nappies: Ok so this is my own term! But it seems to describe them quite well. Sometimes simply called bigger nappies, junior nappies or plus size nappies. Like a larger size 2, these nappies fit bigger infants and toddlers. Generally fits from 15-55lbs/6.8kgs-25kgs.

Size 3: Size up from size 2 and BTP nappies, generally fits 30-45lbs/14-20kgs. Except for Applecheaks which size 3 fit from 40-60lbs/18-27kgs.

XL: Extra large, same as size 3 nappies.

Junior: A larger version of size 3/XL nappy, mostly fits from 35-70lbs/16-32kgs

Size 4: Size up from size 3, fits 60-100lbs/27-45kgs

Nappy Types

Traditional nappies are often what people think about if they have never experienced cloth nappies, they have been around significantly longer then modern day cloth nappies, terries especially have been used for centuries. However, just because they have been around a long time doesn't make them any less perfect, once you have got the hang of them they are simple to use, easy to wash, economical and adjustable to babies shape and needs.

This can be a specific nappy branded ones or literally any muslin you own, they are either made from cotton, bamboo or a mix, most are sold as 70cm squares. These are perfect folded into a nappy for newborns, but are actually ideal to be used for all ages of children. They are fast absorbers and great for boosting any kind of nappy.

Prefold: The name comes from the idea of a terry square that has been 'pre-folded', it is a square of fabric, normally cotton, which has extra layers sewn in to the middle. These can be folded and secured around a newborn as a nappy but they are perfect to use simply folded into a pad and placed in a wrap or used to boost any nappy of an older child.

Trifold: Similar concept as a prefold, but they have the same number of layers of fabric throughout. Typically a large square of fabric with 2 or 3 layers, used to fold in to 3 to create a pad to place into a nappy.

Preflat: A cross between a prefold and flat, imagine a prefold with wings, you fold it in 3 like a prefold but it has wings to fasten around the waist.

Terry/Flat: The most traditional form of nappy, a large square of fabric, either made from cotton, bamboo, hemp or a mix. These can be used to fold and secure around the child or like prefolds, folded into a pad and simply placed into a wrap or pocket or used to boost a nappy for an older child. They are sized, often available in 50cm, 60cm, 70cm and 90cm squares.
  Preflat     Trifold     Terry square

(Baby Got Flat Preflat, Topsy and Bo fitted nappy with Trifold, Bright Bots terry squares)

All in two (AI2)

Several nappy types fall in to the category of a two parter, basically it just means the nappy has 2 parts, an absorbent part and a waterproof part. Traditional nappies also fall in this category as they too need a waterproof wrap. With all except pockets you can change the absorbent part and reuse the wrap for a few nappy changes as long as it is not soiled.

Pocket: These nappies have a waterproof cover, with either fleece, wicking jersey or suede cloth attached inside to make a pocket opening. You then place an absorbent insert into the pocket. You cant just change the insert and reuse the pocket with these as the lining will retain some urine or poo so the whole nappy needs changing.

Fitted: With fitted nappies the whole nappy is made from absorbent material, often either made from microfiber, cotton, bamboo or hemp. Because the whole nappy is absorbent they hold more urine but are generally more bulky. Great for night use or for heavy wetter during the day.
Wrap aka Cover or Shell: The waterproof cover to go over an absorbent part, this is commonly made from PUL but may also be made from laminated minky, fleece or wool.


Snap in 2 (SI2): This is often like a wrap, but they have extra snaps in them so that an insert can be snapped in to place. The snapped in insert should stay in place easier then simply lying an insert in a wrap but its simply down to personal preference.

Thirsties pocket nappy little lamb fitted and wrapClose pop in

  (Close pop in snap in 2, Thirsties pocket and little lamb fitted and wrap)



All in one (AIO)

An all in one means that the waterproof cover and absorbent inner are attached. These most resemble a disposible nappy in that they are all ready assembled and all you need to do is put them on the baby with no extra faffing. The whole nappy needs changing after every use.

 Reusabelles aio           Baby Beehind aio





(Reusabelles BTP AIO and Baby Beehind XXL AIO)


This can mean a couple of different styles, but in essence they are a mix of a 2 or more types of nappies. Traditional WAHM (Work at home mum) hybrids were a super absorbant fitted nappy, maybe with a fleece or windpro outer that could be used as they are or for heavier wetters with a water resistant wrap. Some hybrid nappies can be used as a wrap over a fitted nappy, have snaps to be used as a snap in 2 and a pocket opening for use as a pocket nappy.

Bells Bumz hybrid

(Bells Bumz hybrid)

Pull up

There are many kinds of pull ups, some are just like slightly padded underwear for potty training, some have pockets for extra boosting and some are designed to hold a nights worth of urine. Some will have side snaps so that you can choose to either pull them up like underwear or put them on like a normal nappy, some are elasticated all the way round and can only be pulled up and down. It is important to read the description to establish whether the pull up you are looking at meets your child's needs.

Baby beehind pull upKijani pull upHippynut pull up






(Baby beehind training pant, Kijani night pull up, Hippynut big kids pull up)

Nappy Components 

PUL: Polyurethane Laminate aka the plasticy water resistant part of a nappy. This is the most common nappy outer material.

Minky: Soft textured outer, lined with PUL for waterproofing, only occasionally used in nappies.

Fleece cover: Acrylic fleece, repels liquids and can be used as a wrap, occasionally used to make pull up covers.

Wool cover: Once laminated (soaked in lanolin), makes a water resistant cover, normally in for form of pull up shorts or trousers, but can also be shaped like a normal nappy wrap.

Rise: Refers to the length of nappy from the top, at the waist down to the bottom of the nappy. Nappies designed to grow with the child will have 'rise snaps' which allow the nappy to be made bigger and smaller to fit the child as they change shape.

Fastening: the way the nappy is secured around the child, may be velcro or snaps/poppers.

Stay dry layer: This normally applies to pocket nappies but other types of nappies or boosters/inserts may also have it. It's a layer of fabric that sits next to the childs skin designed to wick moisture away.  Unlike a liner it is sewn in to the nappy and may be made from wicking jersey, suede cloth or fleece.


This normally refers to one of two parts that may be part of some nappies:

Internal: two rows of elasticated material down the middle of the nappy to better contain poo.

Double: two layers of elastic around the thighs, the inner elastic sits in the groin crease, the outer sits away from child but allows better boosting of the nappy without losing shape around the legs.

Tickletots (Tickletots)

Nappy accessories 

Liner: this is a thin layer of fabric designed to line a nappy and is not absorbent. This is a completely optional addition.

Reusable liners most commonly made from microfleece but a few are coffee fleece, charcoal fleece (all much the same) or silk. These are designed to help keep the skin dry and make poo removal a little easier. 

Disposible liners are designed to help remove poo, they are not flushable and need to be disposed of in the bin. They do not keep the skin dry.

Nippa/boingo: a grippy fastener to hold a prefold, preflat or terry in place without using pins.

Bells bumz pocket, soaker and booster   Preflat with Boingo fastening  Liners

 (Bells Bumz pocket, Soaker and booster set, Preflat with Boingo fastening and liners - disposible roll, generic and little lamb fleece liners)



Dry pail: A vessel that contains nappies waiting to be washed; a laundry basket, bucket, net or wet bag.

Pre-wash: Short seperate wash done before a mainwash to reduce soiling level.

Mainwash: Long wash setting designed to give a deep clean.

Booster: Oxygen bleach based stain remover, helps 'boost' weaker detergents or helpful with stain removal (aka vanish, violets, mio fresh).

Strip: Depends on method, basically a deep clean, removing inbedded soiling after an extended poor wash routine. Does not sanitise and does not break down ammonia. (Not regularly required).

Sanitise: Kills pathogenic bacteria and fungi and effectively breaks down ammonia. Heat sanitisation requires washing at 65 degrees for 10mins or 71 degrees for 3 mins, most easily achieved through a 90 degree wash. Or chemical sanitisation with Bleach aka Sodium Hypochlorite (Not regularly required).

For a full wash guide click HERE.




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