Reusable nappy types – mechanisms, pros and cons

Best tips for the cloth nappies beginners
So you’re considering using reusable nappies on your baby?

There are many types of nappies in the market. Knowing their functioning mechanism, advantages, and disadvantages is crucial to choosing the best match for your needs.

1. All-in-One nappies

Mechanism explained

Similar to a disposable in convenience of changing. The waterproof outer cover is sewn together to the absorbent inner.

Simply snap the nappy around your baby and toss into your nappy bucket when soiled.

Advantages

  • Easy and quick to change in one easy step, just like disposables.
  • Ideal for child care and grandparents.
  • Saves time and mess to parents as it is just one piece for changing, washing, drying and storing.
  • Some brands have double elastic gussets to contain poop and urine more effectively.
  • Usually the slimmest fit.

Disadvantages

  • Depending on the design, they can be slower to dry.
  • Manufacturing is more complex, and thus they are usually more expensive to purchase.

The PICO TANGO difference:

  • Exclusive patented* One-size adjustment technology provides the most comfortable, durable and effective protection for newborns.
  • Two inner absorbents with double absorbent gusset barrier, resulting in a leak-free and poop-free system, indicated for night time, naps or longer car journeys.
  • No topstitching in the groin area, for a comfortable feeling without marks on the baby’ skin.
  • Extra booster with more absorption at the front for toddlers.
  • Sewed-in absorbents can be turned inside out to dry faster.

2. All-in-Two nappies

Mechanism explained

The absorbent inner is attached with snaps or velcro to the waterproof cover.

Advantages

  • Once snapped together, this diaper becomes easy to put on the baby as an All-in-One.
  • Depending on their design effectiveness, fewer covers might be required as soiled diaper inserts are replaced, making it more economical.
  • Dries quickly, as the absorbent insert is removed to wash.
  • Some brands have double elastic gussets to contain poop and urine more effectively.

Disadvantages

  • Most All-in-Two nappies in the market don’t have a double gusset barrier. These get more prone to poop and urine leaks.
  • You may have to buy more waterproof covers than anticipated by the manufacturer. The cover easily gets wet in the groin after using the first pad, eventually not being able to reuse it without washing it again.
  • More work for parents – needs attaching the pad to the waterproof cover before and after each use, and to wash, dry and fold more pieces.

3. Pocket nappies

Mechanism explained

Pocket diapers consist of a waterproof cover outside and a liner inside, usually made of synthetic material. An opening (pocket) is left in between along the back of the diaper, which parents can stuff an absorbent insert into.

Advantages

  • Once pre-stuffed, this nappy is easy to put on the baby as an All-in-One.
  • Dries quickly, as the absorbent insert is removed to wash.
  • Some brands have double elastic gussets to contain poop more effectively.

Disadvantages

  • Usually these diapers are more prone to leaks because 1) most designs available use encased elastics that require extra holes in the gussets, created by the sewing machine during production. These holes easily get in touch with the stuffed absorbent pad and cause leaks. 2) Even when designed with a double gusset barrier, the inner elastic gusset is not made of an absorbent material, so urine quickly reaches the outer leg gussets.
  • Removing the dirty wet insert from the inside of the nappy can be unpleasant.
  • More work for parents – needs stuffing the pocket with the absorbent pad before and after each use, and to wash, dry and fold more pieces.

4. Fitted nappies

Mechanism explained

An absorbent diaper shaped to fit your baby and closed with hook & loop or snaps. It requires a waterproof cover over it, also closed with velcro or press snaps.

Advantages

  • There is usually great containment of poop due to the double gussets – the absorbent nappy and the cover on top.
  • Depending on the brand, these are often very absorbent diapers, more indicated for night time, naps or longer car journeys.

Disadvantages

  • Changing is not the most convenient: because it takes two steps to fasten the absorbent part and then again the waterproof cover, it can become difficult once your baby grows and becomes impatient during diaper changes.
  • More work for parents, not only while changing but also to wash, dry and fold more pieces.
  • May cause some discomfort during tummy time because of the double fastenings around the baby’s belly.
  • Depending on the absorbency of the diaper, they may take longer to dry.
  • Because the fitted nappy needs more material itself and a waterproof cover separately, it’s usually a more expesive system.
  • It’s bulky

5. Flats, pre-folds and pre-flats

Mechanism explained

Flats are what our grandparents used on their babies. These are rectangular or square absorbent fabric, folded to fit the inner side of a separate waterproof cover which is then fastened around the baby. Pre-folds are an evolution of the flats – the fabric is divided into 3 parts by two vertical seams allowing for simpler and faster folds, and the central part is also reinforced with more absorbency. Pre-flats are another optimisation of the flats – a shape and seams that make them easier to put and fit nicely the baby’s body shape.

All require a waterproof cover over it, closed with velcro or snaps.

Advantages

  • Flats and pre-folds are the most economical option if you’re on a tight budget.
  • The fabric can be folded in different ways to fit different sizes.
  • Flats and pre-folds can be used as boosters of other nappies.
  • Dry quickly as they can be unfolded into a flat piece of fabric.
  • Pre-flats have a more intuitive fit than flats and pre-folded.

Disadvantages

  • Changing is not the most convenient: they get more dificult to stay in place as the baby grows and moves a lot during the nappy change, both when folded into a waterproof cover or secured with a snappi or boingo.
  • More prone to urine and poop leaks, when folded into a waterproof cover,  because it’s difficult for the absorbent to stay in place.
  • More work for parents, not only while changing but also to wash, dry and fold more pieces.
  • Needs a snappi or boingo and a separate waterproof cover over it.
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