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Information and Advice

So, you're interested in using terry nappies - what will you need?

Here's a simple overview - we also have a more detailed shopping guide elsewhere in this section which you can print out and use as you do your shopping.

Working from the baby outward, you will require:

- A liner (optional) - either washable or disposable - if washable, as many as you have nappies (around 20), if disposable, usually they come in packs of 100.

- A booster (optional) - adds absorbency for longer periods of wear such as overnight, long journeys etc, or full time for heavy wetters.

- A Nappy (essential!) - this is the absorbent layer of your washable nappy system.

- Pins or nappy nippas (the fastening) - essential for terry squares. Nappy nippas are the modern alternative to pins

- A wrap (essential) - the waterproof layer of your terry nappy system (a modern version of plastic pants!).

Apart from the nappy stuff, you will also need some other things to complete your nappy system:

- A storage bucket (essential) with a close fitting lid, to store the used nappies in. I recommend finding one with a lockable lid - either a twist and lock or one with the handles that come up, hardware stores are good for these. If you ever knock the bucket over you will completely understand why!

- Wipes - washable wipes are easy to use and in my experience, far more effective than commercial ones at removing poo. Also a lot easier than cotton wool. Use with plain water or make up your own wipes solution.

- Tea tree oil for soaking the nappies in. You don't have to soak used nappies, it's fine to store them "dry". I don't recommend Napisan or similar products, it doesn't do velcro any good and will be harmful to the waterproofing of your wraps.

- A waterproof nappy bag to store used nappies in when you're out. You can buy nice washable ones, often described as nappy bags or wet nappy bags, which will be waterproof. Ideal for storing used nappies at nursery.

- A baby! Although teddies look pretty cute in cloth nappies too!

You'll see that we have lots of information pages here to help answer some of the questions people commonly ask, so do have a good look around. If you can't find the answer you need, by all means do ask!

Making sense of it all...

This website is designed mainly for those interested in using terry nappies or prefolds, however it's helpful for you to know a bit about all the options available, as there may be occasions when another kind of nappy may serve your needs better, so here goes! Now that you understand what the different parts of a nappy system are (see above for a reminder!), I'll go into a little more detail about the various kinds of nappies you can get.

Flat Nappies - terry squares and prefolds, nappies that come as a flat piece of fabric, which you then fold to make a suitable size and shape for your babys' needs. Terry nappies in particular are extremely versatile, there are many ways to fold them, so if you start to get leaks or the nappy seems a bit small, you simply try a new fold! The 60x60cm size is a superb value birth to potty option, and you won't beat it for value for money. If you find this size too bulky at first, consider investing in some 50cm or even 40cm nappies for the early weeks.  Most babies will be fine with the 50cm size to begin with.  Smaller terries can be stored and used as boosters later on.  All flat nappies require a separate wrap.

Fitted Nappies - these nappies are shaped more like a disposable nappy, and may have fastenings such as velcro or poppers. Some fitted nappies are designed to be "birth to potty" or "one size fits all", while others come in different sizes to give a neater fit at each stage. These nappies are more expensive than flat nappies, but are easier to use as there is no folding involved. Even if you use terry nappies at home, you may want to consider a few fitted nappies for when you're out and about - one thing I frequently found was that changing rooms usually have a clean dry area to put your baby down, but finding a second clean dry area to lay out and fold your terry square was something of a rarity, so a fitted nappy can be easier away from home. If you're returning to work and using a nursery or childminder, you may find they would prefer a fitted nappy too, unless you're using granny in which case she'll probably remember how to fold terries! These nappies need a separate wrap.

All in one nappies - on the face of it, these are the easiest of all, as the nappy and wrap are permanently attached so it's very user friendly. The downsides are that they can take a long time to dry, and are the most expensive kind of nappy. Again, these might be useful for the nursery or childminder, but are less cost effective (compared to flat nappies) to use all the time. Another potential downside is that like disposable nappies, you only have one barrier against poo explosions, whereas with fitted or flat nappies, if it gets out of the nappy, it then has to get past the wrap. For this reason, flat and fitted nappies tend to offer far better protection against leaks, particularly for pre-weaned babies. The fit of the nappy is vital with an all in one style, so do make sure it's ok before you plump for a full set.

Pocket nappies - a fairly recent innovation, pocket nappies typically have a wrap, with a fleece liner permanently sewn in, leaving an opening at the back of the nappy, into which you can stuff an absorbent liner. These systems give a faster drying alternative to the all in one nappy. I would echo the note of caution about leak containment, the fit is very important so make sure the nappy really suits your baby before you invest in a full set. This is a good option for flat nappy users to have on standby as a backup nappy, as you can use a folded terry square as the absorbent inner part. So you benefit from a very fast drying system, but it's a bit more user friendly for others who may be less confident with flat nappies.