When I first began researching cloth diapering (and yes, I’m going to say ‘diapering’ because nappying just sounds weird!), I was really overwhelmed! It was like learning another language with its own abbreviations and lingo. I had no idea which system would work out best and most economical, and almost none of my friends had used cloth nappies so I was solely reliant on the internet for info. Most of that information was found on US sites and most of the products were not available here. To help take the stress out of cloth nappies, I have collated all your options. (For a review of SA brands click here)


Prefolds are your traditional flat nappies.  They usually have a thick strip down the middle. These are worn with a nappy cover and are one of the least expensive options for cloth diapering.  They come in various sizes and you need to buy bigger ones as your baby grows.

There are different types of prefolds out there and many abbreviations for them. Basically you get Chinese Prefolds (CPF) and Indian Prefolds (IPF). The Indian ones are more absorbent but tend to wear through quicker than the Chinese ones.

When your child outgrows the Infant size nappies, you can use them as a nappy stuffer or to double up your stuffing at night-time.

Bambino Mio prefolds are available in SA. I have also used OsoCosy prefolds from the US.

Nappy Covers

If you are interested in using the prefolds and fitted nappies, you will want to purchase waterproof nappy covers too.  A prefold can be folded inside of the nappy cover and the nappy cover simply covers the prefold and acts as a waterproof barrier.

Fitted Nappies

Fitted nappies can also be used with Nappy Covers. With fitted nappies, there is no folding or shaping of the nappy. It goes on in the same way as a disposable. They can have elastic gathering around the legs and usually have snaps or a Velcro closure to keep the nappy together.  Place the nappy cover over the fitted nappy, and you are ready to go. These types of nappies are less expensive than other options, however, they are more expensive than using prefolds. Despite the cost, these get the thumbs up from husbands who find them to be much easier to use than the prefolds (particularly in the middle of the night).

Brands of fitted in nappies in SA are Mother Nature nappies and Earthbabies.

Pocket Nappies

Pocket nappies are usually made with two layers of fabric sewn together to form a pocket for an absorbent insert (see below). This type of nappy just fastens on and does not need a nappy cover over it because the outer layer is made of waterproof fabric (usually PUL). They are usually quite slim and are very easy to use.

Bambino Mio, Snugglybum, Bam+Boo, Earthbabies and Fancypants are all available in SA


Inserts are used for pocket nappies. They can be made of a variety of materials- micro-terrycloth, regular terry cloth, hemp, bamboo or you can just use prefolds as inserts. “Doubling up” just means using more than one insert, which you could do if you were away for an extended amount of time or at night-time, to discourage leaking.

All In Ones

You will often see this term abbreviated to AIO. An All In One is a cloth nappy that has a waterproof cover and an absorbent inner liner that is all in one piece, thus the name. These nappies fasten usually with a hook/loop or snap fasteners. These nappies are really easy to use, not at all fiddly but can be a more expensive system to buy

Mother Nature, Biobaba and Bam+Boo are locally available examples.

One Size Nappies

You will often see this term abbreviated to OS or OSFA. A one size nappy usually fits the child from the day they are born until they are toddlers. These nappies usually have snaps that go across the nappy and they can be folded over to create smaller sizes. Many OS’s are a bit big on newborns and they do tend to be a bit bulky, but they are quite affordable, because if you buy good quality, you can get away with one nappy purchase until your baby is potty trained.

Mother Nature, Earthbabies (pockets), Snugglybum, Fancypants, Bam+Boo and Biobaba are all one size nappies