We know how hard it is to start out in Cloth Nappies, it’s like a different language with a lot of different acronyms. Let us help – we’ve put together some Cloth Nappy basics below. Do you have further questions? Email us at hello@tweedle.co.nz. 

Why Use Cloth Nappies?

There are 3 main reasons that people choose to use cloth

Environmental – Cloth nappies are better for the environment and in fact the UK study that controversially had both cloth and disposables rated as pretty much the same carbon footprint has been revised and now proves what clothies knew all along that cloth nappies are most definately better for the environment and have up to 40% less impact than single use nappies.

Cost – Depending on the system you choose cloth nappies can save you in the vacinity of $3000 per child. So over 2-3yrs of nappying thats a nice ‘wage’ for washing them!

Better for baby – There are chemicals used in disposable nappies that have been long banned in womens hygene products because of their known cancer link yet these chemicals are still used in the gel found in disposables. It is suggested also that the increased temperature of a baby boys genitals when wearing a disposable can cause future fertility issues and lastly a lot of parents leave disposables on the baby far too long. Just because a nappy can absorb 6 hours of wee doesn’t mean it should! Nappy rash has become common place since the introduction of disposable nappies and thats because the bacteria from urine is sitting up against a babies genitals and irritating the skin no matter what nappy system you use you MUST change your babies nappy reguarly.

Cloth Nappy Basics

Traditional Cloth

Traditional cloth refers to flat nappies or prefold nappies.

A flat nappy is basically a square nappy made from cotton terry towelling, bamboo terry towelling, flannelette or muslin. Quite often used as a ‘spew rag’ terry flats are very versatile.

A prefold nappy is similar but is sewn into three equal sections and has more than one layer of absorbent material in the middle third of the nappy.

These nappies can be folded in many different ways to fit your baby and need to be used with a waterproof cover over the top, as the whole nappy is absorbent. They may require the use of a fastener such as a snappi, snib or nappy pin but can also be folded and placed under certain types of covers without any fastening. The biggest advantage to flat nappies is that they dry so quickly.

Modern Cloth Nappy

Also referred to as MCN, modern cloth refers to cloth nappies that have been sewn into the shape of a disposable nappy for ease and convenience. Modern cloth nappies usually have built-in absorbent layers and may also feature a built-in water resistant layer, so that no extra cover is needed over the top of the nappy. MCNs can also be made with fasteners attached to the nappy, i.e. Aplix (type of Velcro) or snaps.

Different Types of MCN

There are basically four different types of MCN available on the market to use on your baby: fitted nappies, pocket nappies, all in two nappies (ai2) and all in one nappies (aio). For a quick and basic run-down this is what they are.

Fitted nappies: A nappy that is shaped like a disposable and has elastic at the waist and legs. It is made totally from absorbant fabric and needs a separate cover placed over the top of it.

All in Two (Ai2): This nappy has an outer shell that is waterproof and the insert is snapped into it making it quicker to dry and also very economical as you can reuse the outer shell by simply snapping in another insert set.

All in One (Aio): This style of nappy is the most convenient and closest style to a disposable. An AIO contains all the necessary layers in one convenient nappy. AIOs have a sewn in water resistant layer so that you don’t need to add a cover to the outside of the nappy. Some AIOs are available with sewn in boosters as well.

Pocket nappies: A nappy with an opening at the back or front which into which you place an insert or booster that makes the nappy absorbent. You can alter the absorbency of your pocket nappy by choosing what you stuff it with. Pocket nappies usually contain an inbuilt waterproof cover like an AIO but some variants require a separate cover.


There are two options when it comes to MCNs and sizing – one size fits most (OSFM), which can be adjusted to fit most babies from birth to toilet training, or sized nappies that come in newborn, small, medium and large sizes, each fitting a particular size range with some overlap. Sizing is not absolutely standard across the range of MCNs available but will vary from brand to brand. To ensure a good fit on your baby it it best to measure your baby and compare this to the manufacturer’s specifications.

  • OSFM – Great for those on a budget. OSFM nappies are more economical for those that are choosing cloth to save money.
  • Sized nappies – As they are customised to suit your baby’s size and weight range, these nappies offer a snug fit.

Basic Needs from Birth to Toilet Training

How many nappies you need and what type depends on your personal circumstances and preferences. Some things to consider include:

  • Do I want to use cloth full or part-time?
  • What is my motivation? (ie. environmental consciouness, saving money, better for baby)
  • What is the weather like where I live?
  • How often do I want to wash?
  • Is my child going to be in daycare and can I use cloth at me daycare centre?

All of these factors play a major role in determining your cloth needs. What you choose is up to you. There are no set rules. Some common guidelines are listed below:

  • Newborn babies will go through 10-12 nappies a day (Give or take a few)
  • Infants will go through 6-8 nappies a day (Give or take a few)
  • Older babies Use 4-5 nappies in the day plus one at night (Give or take a few as well)

Then it depends on when you wash your nappies.

  • Will you wash your nappies on a daily basis?
  • Or will you wash every second day?

If your choice is to use cloth full-time, then, at a minimum, you will need to have enough nappies to last you for two days. This allows for one day of wear, while the others are being laundered.  To arrive at this figure factor in the amount of nappies you will need (newborn or older child) and multiply that by two. Also be aware that some nappies take longer to dry than others, with flat and prefold nappies taking less time to dry than fitteds and AIO’s. If a nappy has boosters these can be removed for washing purposes which will also reduce drying times. The weather where you live and the season may also play a role your choice of nappies.

Checklist Point

  1. What type of nappy would you like to use? Traditional or MCN?
  2. If traditional what type? Flat or prefold? Terry, flannelette or muslin? If MCN, what size? OSFA or a sized nappy?
  3. MCN – What type of MCN would you like to use? Fitted, pocket or AIO’s? Fitted – What cover would you like to use? AIO – Will you require built in boosters?
  4. Quantity: Do you have a newborn or older baby?  Do you want to use cloth full-time or part-time? How often will you wash your nappies?

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at hello@tweedle.co.nz or via Facebook Messenger should you require more information. We are happy to assist in any way we can to help with your decision.