Cloth nappy glossary.

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The terminology used with modern cloth nappies can seem a little daunting at first, especially with abbreviations added in to the mix. So, here is your friendly guide to nappy related terms! If you can think of any more, then please do pop a comment below and I'll add them to the list.

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All in one – a nappy with a waterproof layer and absorbent layer built in. Easy to use as everything you need is right there, you just put it on as you would a disposable nappy.

All in two – often abbreviated to ai2. A nappy with a waterproof layer and an absorbent insert which either snaps onto or lays inside the waterproof shell.


Bamboo – an absorbent fabric used to make nappy inserts and fitted nappies. Bamboo fleece is flat, bamboo terry is looped like towelling, and bamboo velour is very soft and fluffy!

Birth-to-potty – often abbreviated to BTP. Nappies designed to fit from birth or soon after all the way through to potty training. They can be very good value for money, but sometimes don’t fit very young babies or larger toddlers.

Booster – an absorbent fabric pad which is added to a nappy to increase the amount of wee a nappy can soak up. Bamboo, cotton, and hemp are materials commonly used to make boosters.



Dry pailing – storing dirty nappies in a bucket ready for washing (no soaking in water). The bucket can be lined with a mesh bag to make it easier to transfer them to the washing machine.



Fitted nappy – highly absorbent nappy, great for night times or heavy wetters. Fitted nappies are not waterproof so need a waterproof layer over the top. Fitted nappies fasten with snaps (poppers), hook and loop (velcro), or a nappy nippa (modern nappy pin).

Flat nappy – traditional terry nappy or prefold nappy which needs folding. Needs a separate waterproof layer over the top.

Fleece – a polyester fabric. Microfleece (very thin fleece) can be used inside nappies as it lets the wee through to the absorbent inserts, and provides a stay-dry layer between the wet inserts and baby’s skin. Polar fleece (thick fleece) can be used to make soakers or longies as a water resistant layer over the top of a nappy.

Fluffy post – a parcel containing nappies or accessories! May also describe parcels containing anything exciting made by a WAHM (work at home mum).

Front snap – a nappy which fastens at the front.



Hemp – a natural fibre used to make inserts and boosters. Very absorbent and very durable.

Hook and loop – the generic name for Aplix or Velcro.


Insert – absorbent pad which is put inside nappies (usually pocket nappies or all in two nappies). Often made of microfibre, cotton or bamboo.




Lanolin – a product to make wool water resistant. Used for wool soakers or longies.

Longies – a water resistant nappy cover used over the top of fitted nappies and terry nappies. They can be made out of fleece or out of lanolised wool, and are shaped as loose trousers.

Liners – a thin layer between the nappy and baby’s skin, used to keep skin dry and make it easier to remove poo from a nappy. Disposable liners are usually made from biodegradable paper type fibres and can be binned after each use. Reusable liners are often made from microfleece or plush fabric which wick moisture away from the skin. Many nappies don’t need an additional liner as they have a layer built in.


Microfibre – a man-made fabric used to make nappy inserts. It absorbs liquid very quickly but is prone to being squeezed by tight clothing such as popper vests, so works well in combination with a bamboo, cotton or hemp booster underneath. Microfibre should not be put directly next to the skin as the tiny fibres can be irritating and too drying for delicate skin.

Mesh bag – a net bag used to line a nappy bucket in order to make it easier to transfer nappies to the washing machine.



One size nappies – often abbreviated to OS nappies or OSFM (one size fits most). Nappies designed to fit from birth or soon after all the way through to potty training. They can be very good value for money, but sometimes don’t fit very young babies or larger toddlers.


Plush fabric – a fluffy fabric often used as a decorative layer on the outside of a nappy or as a stay-dry layer inside a nappy. Plush fabric is stain resistant and is incredibly soft!

Pocket nappies – a nappy which has a waterproof outer, a stay-dry lining, and a pocket between the two in which to put inserts and boosters. Pocket nappies are easy to use, and easy to add extra absorbency to as your baby gets older.

Pre-fold – a highly absorbent rectangle of fabric, stitched into 3 lengthwise strips. They can be folded and placed inside a waterproof nappy cover or wrap, or can be folded and fastened like a terry nappy. They are often made of cotton or bamboo.

PUL – polyurethane laminate, a waterproof but breathable fabric used to make wraps and the waterproof layer in pocket nappies, all in one and all in two nappies.




Side snap – a nappy which fastens at the side rather than the front.

Sized nappies – nappies fitting certain weight ranges, not birth-to-potty or one-size.

Snaps – small plastic poppers used to fasten nappies.

Soaker – a water resistant nappy cover used over the top of fitted nappies and terry nappies. They can be made out of fleece or out of lanolised wool.

Stuffing – putting inserts and boosters into a pocket nappy.


Terry nappies/terry squares/terries – a traditional flat nappy made out of terry towelling. Can be folded in a variety of ways and pinned in place with a tradition nappy pin or a modern alternative such as a Nappy Nippa, Snappi or Boingo. They are usually made of cotton and are very durable.




WAHM/WAHP – work at home mum/work at home parent.

Wet bag – a waterproof bag for storing dirty nappies. Useful for carrying in a change bag when out and about. Often made of PUL fabric.

Wet pailing – soaking nappies ready for washing in a bucket filled with water. This is not usually recommended nowadays as soaking nappies is not very good for the elastics and fabrics found in modern nappies. May be used for terry nappies, but many people feel there isn’t much benefit to it as modern washing machines can easily deal with cleaning nappies.

Wicking – where moisture is drawn into fabrics. Nappies with a stay-dry layer allow the wet to wick through the top layer into the absorbent inserts underneath, away from baby’s skin. Wicking can also mean where moisture is pulled into the fabric of baby’s clothes, usually because the nappy isn’t absorbent enough for the amount of liquid in it, or when clothing is too tight or has got caught in the edge of a nappy.




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