Disposable nappies review and compare

Our trialists put 14 disposable nappy brands and five different types of cloth nappies to the test.
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06.Cloth nappy profiles

In previous years we found the great majority of parents (95%) are using disposable nappies. But there's been a shift. One in five of our disposable nappy trialists told us they are using cloth nappies or a mix. And a recent CHOICE Online poll showed 40% of over 1000 respondents preferred cloth nappies. Recent research from the University of Queensland showed that home-washed reusable nappies, washed in cold water in a front-loading washing machine and line-dried, are the most environmentally friendly option. 

There are now a variety of modern cloth nappies that are easy to use and help your purse strings. Our short web search turned up 43 different brands. When you consider a typical baby goes through about 6000 nappies, it's a mountain of nappies that are not ending up as landfill. The main types of modern cloth nappies are:

  • Prefolds: nappies have been pre-folded and are sewn into three vertical panels of differing thickness, they can be put on with diaper pins or any other style fasteners, are placed in a wrap-style diaper cover and secured on the baby. They require a waterproof cover for use.
  • Fitted: A fitted nappy is made from several layers of an absorbent fabric sewn together and shaped like a disposable nappy. This type of cloth nappy is easy to use, but requires a waterproof cover as fluid will seep through.
  • All-in-one: A type of nappy incorporating an absorbent part and a waterproof cover.
  • Pocket:  A pocket nappy consists of an outer shell into which absorbent fabric is “stuffed”. The outer shell is usually made from PUL and the inner part of the shell from a stay-dry fabric. The advantages of pocket nappies is that they are quick drying, trim fitting and the absorbency can be varied according to need. 

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Cloth nappies listed in order of ranking by our five trialists, with the best rated one on top. There was a range of opinions, so we therefore suggest you try a brand first before buying a whole set of nappies.

Pee podsPea Pods Reusable Nappies

Price per nappy: $19.95
Available in baby stores or online at www.peapods.com.au

Each Pea Pods nappy comes complete with its own absorbent insert. The absorber is made from bamboo. There is micro-fleece inner lining and a waterproof, breathable outer layer. Each nappy is packaged in a wetbag.

 Trialist's comments

  • "Leaked right through jumpsuit and shorts; fiddly to put back together."
  • "I really like this nappy. It is very soft and easy to use. The only thing I don’t like about it is having to pull the wet soaker pad out of the nappy. Assembly of the nappy is also a little time-consuming – just another job for a busy mum!! But this nappy is lovely, it is worth it. If only it were a little easier to see if there were any “presents”.
  • "It kept baby nice and dry, seeming to pull moisture away from the skin through the first layer of fabric and into the absorbent pad behind. This was easy to remove for cleaning – I just pulled it out from the top and threw padding and nappy into the soaking bucket (with one hand – nifty!). The waist band bunched up somewhat, owing to the fact baby crawled and wiggled a lot while wearing it. When I went to change it I found the front part (where the domes are) scrunched up well below tummy button, which didn't look comfortable (though baby didn't seem to mind)."


Itti Bitti

bitti d'lish All-In-one (AIO)

Price per nappy: $27.50

Outer layer made from waterproof and breathable minkee fabric, lined with suedecloth. Three layer, super absorbent microfibre booster sewn into the body of the nappy and a two layer bamboo/organic cotton 'flap' booster, topped with stay-dry suedecloth is sewn into the back of the nappy.

Trialist's comments
  • "Baby liked the feel of this nappy, as we put it on baby was touching it. We had a sloppy poo-leak – I learned the hard way that it needed to be put on tighter."
  • "Very easy to fit to baby. As easy as a disposable. No assembly required. Very good fit. Had no problems with this nappy. It dried in less than a day. As it is an all-in-one nappy, I didn’t have to worry about different components being left behind in the washing machine. Also, less space on the line is needed."
  • "I liked the look of it – with that fuzzy orange cover it was kinda groovy. The legholes were nice and tight – preventing leakage. It didn't keep baby quite as dry as I'd hoped … skin was definitely starting to look a bit red and chafed after a couple of hours in this nappy."

bitti d'lish snap-in-onebitti d'lish Snap-In-one (SIO)

Price per nappy: $29.95

Trialist's rating equal to All-In-One version

Outer layer of made of minkee fabric with a layer of suedecloth. The main bamboo/organic cotton booster snaps in at the front, folds in three and fits underneath the top booster. Two layer bamboo/organic cotton booster is suedecloth topped.

Trialist's comments

  • "Buttock showing quite soon after putting nappy on. Flap popped out on inner thigh. Long drying time and fiddleness put me off this nappy."
  • "Easy to put on (aside from the sizing issue) – elastic was great, very stretchy, making the fit nice and snug. Even though the absorbent layers were only partly wet (about 30%) when I changed the nappy, I noticed a small amount of moisture on the nappy outer, around the inner thigh."
  • "Really like this nappy, seemed to be the most effective (along with the Itti Bitti AIO), dried a little faster than the AIO. Would consider buying these!! Love the minky fabric!! The snap-in feature also meant that separate pieces could be soaked/had extra washing if they were stained, as opposed to having to wash the whole nappy again."

Available at www.ittibitti.com.au

Baby beehindsBaby BeeHinds – BBH hemp fitted

Price per Nappy $25.00, plus cover $12.00
Available at www.babybeehinds.com.au

One-Size-Fits-Most design (approx 4-15kg) made from 55% hemp/45% certified organic cotton fleece. Resin Snap Closure two snap-in boosters (one short, one long). Requires a cover to be worn over the top to keep clothes dry. We used BBH Nappy cover made from two layers of polyester knit with a breathable, waterproof coating sandwiched in-between. Made from 100% polyester.

Trialist's comments

  • "I like using a fitted nappy with a good cover, as I find this is the best leak-free method of cloth nappying! The cover was great – fitted well with room to spare over the nappy. The nappy itself was highly absorbent. Very easy to put on, although with squirmy baby, he thought I was done after fitting the nappy, and objected to lying still for a second time to have the cover put on!!!
  • "Nice design, seems very durable, natural fabric. Very heavy when wet, quite bulky on baby, lots of pieces to put back together!!
  • "“One size fits most” seems like a good idea, but to me, it means that while the baby is still quite small, there is an awful lot of nappy to fit around a little bottom! The yellow cover was easy to put on, but the nappy sticks out at the back. I have to say, I wouldn’t like using this nappy on a smaller baby as there would be more nappy than baby! The nappy was quite bulky, which means that clothes don’t fit properly."


weeniesWeenees Eco Nappies Pouch Pants

Price per nappy: Nappy in trial $25.95 (China-made), a $29.95 Australian-made version is also available. We used Microfiber Superabsorbent Cloth Nappies as absorbent pad, packet of six for $28.95. Available at www.eenee.com

Stretchy cotton/elastane outer pants with back Velcro fasteners. They are made with a removable snap in inner waterproof pouch which supports any type of absorbing pad, from pre-fold nappies, rectangular folded cloth, Eenee Microfiber (which we used) cloth to the flushable compostable Weenees disposable eco pads.

Trialist's comments

  • "Looks modern – outer nappy dried quickly when washed. The velco could easily be fastened to fit. I liked it so much I didn’t put shorts on baby. The best of the bunch overall."
  • "I seriously disliked the cloth pads being in direct contact with baby's skin. It meant the bottom was touching the soiled cloth the whole time, which caused the skin to become irritated (and would quickly cause nappy rash) and a bigger, messier wipe down when changing. After I washed the cloth pad after this first use, I noticed a very obvious yellow stain where the soiling had been. This was after five hours of soaking in Napisan, a machine rinse cycle, and a machine wash cycle with hot water!"
  • "This nappy didn’t leak, and it was on when my baby had another nap. I noticed that this nappy left red marks where the ‘soft’ Velcro rubbed on his skin. Fitting the pad into the waterproof pouch is not easy with a squirming baby on the mat. And even if you fit it beforehand, it moves when you pick it up."
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