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Choosing Cloth Nappies > Cloth Diaper Dictionary

Cloth Nappy Dictionary

Cloth nappies come in many different shapes and sizes. For someone who is jumping into the cloth nappy world for the first time, it can be a challenge (though also kind of fun!) to wade through all the options to choose a nappy that will work well for you, especially when you have to decode all the industry lingo that is often used to describe cloth nappies.

For those of you who are exploring your cloth options for the first time, or who would simply like some categorical clarification, we give you the nappy dictionary!

Nappy Anatomy: 1-piece or 2-piece

All cloth nappies fall into one of two basic categories: 1-piece or 2-piece.



2-piece Nappies

1 wrap + 1 insert or fitted nappy = a 2-piece nappy. The image above also shows the Bio-Soft liner on top.


  • Flat (Large single-ply squares that are folded several times, then placed inside a wrap)
  • Prefold (Several layers of fabric sewn together into a rectangle, so the insert is “pre-folded”, unlike flats. Just do a quick tri-fold (fold in thirds like a letter) before placing inside a wrap)
  • Contour (several layers of fabric sewn together in an hourglass shape. Simply lay inside a wrap)

Inserts generally come in different sizes, and are available in a variety of fabrics. The most common fabrics are cotton, organic cotton, bamboo and hemp. Compared to flats, prefold inserts are much more common in contemporary cloth diapering since they are so simple and user-friendly.

We recommend using inserts with an adjustable wrap. When fastened snugly, the wrap will hold the insert in place. If using an insert with a pull-on style wrap, a Snappi will be necessary to hold the insert in place.

Advantages of inserts: versatile, easy to wash, quick to dry, extremely durable, simple, very affordable.

Fitted Nappies

  • Several layers of fabric sewn into an hourglass shape (similar to a contour insert, as described above)
  • Elastics around the thighs and back
  • Snap or Aplix closures
  • May have a detachable liner that can be added for increased absorbency
  • Can be sized or one-size (OS)
  • Available in a variety of fabrics like rayon from bamboo, cotton, organic cotton, and hemp.

Advantages of fitted nappies: complete coverage for increased leak protection, diaper fastens securely, no folding, can be worn with pull-on wraps.

Wraps (a.k.a Nappy Covers)

  • Waterproof shell
  • Available in adjustable (most common) or pull-on style
  • Elastic around thighs and back
  • Adjustable styles have snap or Aplix closures
  • Adjustable styles may have a gusset around the thigh for extra leak protection
  • Available in different fabrics, but the most common is polyester with a polyurethane laminate (PUL). Wraps are also available in wool - which is naturally waterproof!
  • Wraps can be sized or one-size (OS)

Advantages of 2-piece nappies: versatile, customizable, less laundry (insert or nappy must be washed after each use, but wrap can be rinsed, hung to dry, and then put back into rotation), easy to use, easy to wash, quick to dry, natural fibres against baby’s skin, many affordable options, durable.



1-Piece Nappies

Whereas in a 2-piece nappy the waterproof exterior and absorbent interior are two separate pieces, in a 1-piece nappy they have been sewn together into a single unit. There are two basic styles of 1-piece nappies: pockets and all-in-ones (AIO).

Pocket Nappies*

  • Waterproof exterior, usually same type of waterproof fabric as a wrap (PUL)
  • Layer of fabric sewn to the inside of the waterproof shell, leaving an opening at the back. This is a “stay-dry” layer, made of a synthetic fabric that will wick moisture away from the baby’s skin and into the liner
  • Pockets come with 1-2 absorbent liners that are stuffed into the opening (pocket) at the back of the nappy
  • Liners are available in different fabrics, but are usually made of synthetic microfibre
  • May come in different sizes, but are usually one-size (OS) nappies, featuring snaps down the front to adjust the size
  • Snap or Aplix closures

*Although most pocket nappies actually consist of two separate pieces, they are generally categorized as a 1-piece nappy, probably because they look like a single unit once the liner is stuffed into the pocket.

Advantages of pocket nappies: Very easy to use, OS diapers can be used from birth to potty, pockets can be stuffed in advance for quicker nappy changes.

All-in-One (AIO) Nappies

  • Waterproof exterior, usually same type of waterproof fabric as a wrap (PUL)
  • Some have a stay-dry layer
  • Waterproof shell + absorbent interior layers (+ stay-dry layer) sewn together into a single unit
  • Can be sized or one-size (OS)
  • Available in a variety of fabrics, such as synthetic microfibre, cotton, organic cotton and bamboo.

The Easy Fit diaper (pictured above) is halfway between a pocket and an AIO. The liner is attached, and simply needs to be tucked into the pocket. The liner agitates out of the pocket in the wash - no need to reach inside a messy diaper with your hand before tossing it in the machine!

Advantages of All-in-ones: As easy as disposable nappies, sized versions are very trim-fitting, no stuffing or folding.