Real nappies

Real Nappies are cute, cool and comfy. More and more parents are making the switch to real nappies as they realise not only can they cut their families waste in half but they can also save themselves £100’s of pounds in the process!

There is a perception that real nappies are ‘hard work’, but they needn’t be. Many fasten with fabric fasteners or poppers and can be washed along with your baby’s clothes, or if kept separate washed at 60c (on average twice a week). There is no need to soak, or boil wash. The paper liners are flushable.

Did you know real nappies…

  • Can be purchased for as little as £75 and can then be passed onto siblings and others.
  • Cost around a £1 per week for home laundering. Less if you use energy efficient washing machines and line dry.
  • Do not cause nappy rash, or use chemicals which can over dry babies skin.
  • Are good for the baby’s posture – by keeping hips apart at the right distance.
  • Encourage babies to potty train earlier by making the association between a child emptying its bladder and feeling wet.

There are different types of Real Nappies to suit your lifestyle, preference and budget.  

These types of nappies are quick drying as they fold out flat. They are versatile as they can be folded in several ways to provide different fits and absorbency. You can choose from prefold or terry nappies.

Prefold nappies are folded and then placed inside a waterproof cover (wrap) and they come in several sizes from newborn to extra large. More than one nappy can be used for night time. The wrap is not changed every time the nappy is changed, you will use around 1 wrap to every 4/5 nappies.

These nappies come in a range of colours and fabrics including cotton and bamboo. If you use this type of nappy system it is recommended that you buy at least 20 of each size. Prices range from £1.50 to £2.25 per nappy.

Total cost of a prefold nappy system using 3 sizes of nappies (small, medium and large) and 4 sizes of wraps (pro wraps sizes newborn, small, medium and large) is around £295 if everything is bought separately.

You can buy special birth to potty kits for around £175 – £225. These kits usually contain:

  • 24 small prefold nappies
  • 20 medium nappies
  • 18 large nappies
  • 6 newborn wraps
  • 6 small wraps
  • 4 medium wraps
  • 4 large wraps.

Remember you can also buy one size at a time rather than buying a birth to potty set.

Terry nappies are folded and held in place with a pin or a modern grip called a nappy nippa. A waterproof cover (wrap) is then worn over the top. The wrap is not changed every time the nappy is changed, you will use around 1 wrap to every 4/5 nappies.

Terry nappies usually come in a standard 60 x 60cm size but quality and absorbency differ. You can get smaller 40 x 40cm ones which are great for newborns or you can buy muslin squares.

Terry nappies come in a wide range of colours and fabrics including cotton and bamboo. If you use this type of nappy system it is recommended that you buy at least 20. Prices range from £1.25 to £3.95 per nappy.

Total cost of a terry nappy system using 2 sizes of nappies (40 x 40 and 60 x 60) 3 sizes of wraps (small, medium and large) and 2 packs of nappy nippas is around £204. Remember you only have to buy 1 size at a time.


These nappies are already shaped to fit, they come with either no fixings (non Aplix) these can be held together with a nappy nippa, poppers or Velcro so making them slightly more user friendly than the flat nappies. However, they will take longer to dry than flat nappies as they are bulkier.

These nappies also require a waterproof wrap over the top. The wrap is not changed every time the nappy is changed, you will use around 1 wrap to every 4/5 nappies. Shaped nappies come in a range of colours, patterns and fabrics including cotton, hemp, microfibre and bamboo.

If you use this type of nappy system it is recommended that you buy at least 20 of each size.

Most shaped nappy systems have just two sizes to fit babies from 7 – 35lbs which will be sufficient for an average size baby from birth through to potty training. You can also get premature sizes and larger baby sizes. Prices start from £4.99 per nappy but the average price is about £9 per nappy.

Total cost of an average price shaped nappy system using 2 sizes of nappies, 2 sizes of wraps and no nappy nippas is around £444 if bought separately. There are always offers on bulk buys of nappies so shop around to get the best price. Remember you only have to buy one size at a time.

Shaped nappies also come as one size nappies, they are usually suitable from about 8 – 35lbs. In order for them to fit a small baby these nappies are folded down at the front and either held in place with the waterproof wrap, poppers or a nappy nippa. One size nappies are economical but are slightly bulky on small babies and may need boosting with extra absorbency when baby gets bigger. Prices start from around £7.50 per nappy.

Total cost of an average one size shaped nappy system using two sizes of wraps and no nappy nippas is around £244. Remember you only have to buy one size of wrap at a time.

Pocket nappies come in two parts; the first is the outer part which is made up of a waterproof layer and a fleece inner. In between these layers is a ‘pocket’ into which you place the second part, some absorbency, this can be a nappy insert, a prefold or terry nappy or some fabric.

The nappy is now ready for use and they are fastened with Velcro or poppers. There is no need for a waterproof wrap as pocket nappies have one built in. When baby is changed the whole nappy goes into the bucket ready for washing and another one goes on. These nappies are very user friendly and once they have been stuffed with the absorbency layer they are as easy as a disposable to use. Pocket nappies are flexible as you can add extra absorbency for night time or if you have a heavy wetter.

Most pocket nappies are made with a PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) layer covered with either micro fleece or cotton velour inside. Both micro fleece and velour act as a one way fabric letting moisture pass through it while staying dry next to baby’s skin.

Most fabrics can be used as absorbency but bamboo, hemp and micro fibre are favourites. You can either buy ready made nappy inserts or buy fabric by the meter and make your own. Just cut the fabric into 60 x 60cm squares, hem then fold to fit inside the pocket.

Pocket nappies are available in lots of different sizes from premature to extra large. Most babies of an average weight will be able to use just 2 or 3 sizes of nappy depending on brand. Prices start from around £9.99 with no insert and £13 with an insert per nappy. As pocket nappies dry quicker than other nappies we recommend that you buy at least 15 of each size.

Total cost of using two sizes of nappies (weight range 10-35lbs) is around £300. Total cost of using 3 sizes of nappies (weight range 7- 45lbs) is around £540. Remember you only have to buy one size at a time.

Pocket nappies also come as one size nappies. These nappies are just one size and they are usually suitable from about 8 – 35lbs. In order for them to fit a small baby these nappies are folded down at the front and held in place with poppers. One size nappies are economical but are slightly bulky on small babies. Prices start from around £14 per nappy.

Total cost of an average one size pocket nappy system is around £210.

These nappies are made up of absorbent material stitched to a waterproof outer cover, there are no detachable bits.

AIO nappies are put on using either poppers or Velcro to secure them and the whole nappy is then put into the wash.

This type of nappy is very easy to use and gives a nice trim fit. They might need to be boosted for night time and heavy wetters. The only drawback is that they do not dry as quickly as other types of nappies.

AIO nappies come in a wide range of fabrics, colours and patterns. If you use this type of nappy system it is recommended that you buy at least 20 of each size.

AIO nappies are usually available in 3 sizes small, medium and large fitting babies from about (8 – 40lbs) although there is a limited choice of one size AIO nappies available suitable from 8-35lbs. Prices for sizes AIO nappies start from £12 and one size from £15.

Total cost of using 2 sizes of nappies (weight range 10-35lbs) is around £480. Total cost of using 3 sizes of nappies (weight range 7- 40lbs) around £900. Remember you only have to buy one size at a time. Total cost using a one size system (weight range 8 – 35lbs) is around £300.

There are many brands of AIO nappies available available to buy online.

If using Real Nappies exclusively then it is recommended that you have between 18-24 nappies and 4 – 6 waterproof covers (if required- depends on your nappy type).  This will ensure that you have enough nappies for a full wash load twice or (for a newborn) three times per week.

Once the baby has been weaned then it is recommended that you use washable or flushable liners.  If there is any regularity to your babies bowel motions then you will only need to use liners for this nappy.  Quite often for a newborn baby liners are not required as the motions are not formed and will simply soak through.

If using liners there is no need to soak nappies as any solid waste is being flushed down the toilet and the nappy is just wet.

For newborn nappies then soaking may be required to avoid staining.  If soaking you could use one of the soaking solutions below, please note that if using domestic borax or sanitising powder then you may only be required to rinse thoroughly rather than washing:

  • White distilled vinegar (2-3 tbsp.)
  • Sodium Bicarbonate (1 tbsp.)
  • Domestic Borax ( 1 tbsp.)
  • Tea Tree oil (5 drops)
  • Sanitising Powder (1 tbsp.)

It is possible to wash your nappies along with your babies clothes, however if you decide to soak, or wash separately you may wish to store in a lidded bucket.  A nappy net is also useful to transfer the nappies into the washing machine.

Page updated on: 28/09/2018