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How Do Flat Nappies Work?

We love flat nappies! They are hands down the most elegant and affordable cloth nappy system for both night and day, and not only that - they have brilliant containment and absorbency too. "Flats" make extremely trim nappies on the bum, and furthermore they are super-fast drying for a quick laundry turnaround.


It all starts with a humble square of super absorbent fabric. Hemp jersey is popular because it is trim yet very thirsty and a little stretchy too. However, cotton, muslin, bamboo and the humble receiving blanket are also used very successfully. Remember that each fabric has a drawcard and there is a place for all types of fabrics depending on your preferences and the type of wetter your baby is. 


Next comes the folding. Don't be daunted, this is actually very easy, and with a little practice it is simple to master. There are lots of folds you can try, which all give a slightly different fit and a different number of layers in the "wet zone". Here are the steps for the origami fold, a reliable classic that is great for newborns. We also love the "Jo fold", "Kite fold", and "Diaper Bag Fold". Folding is actually quite fun - look up some fold videos and follow along!

Once folded, as with all nappies you might want to add a booster for extra absorbency. To put the nappy on don't worry about safety pins - all you need to fasten them is a Snappi which grips the front of the nappy in three directions. Finally you will need a waterproof cover (or a super soft water resistant fleece cover).


The beauty of flat nappies is that they have brilliant "containment" of messes due to there being two layers of barrier (the fabric and the cover). But if you're in a rush you can always simply "pad fold" your flat - fold the square again and again into a long thin rectangular pad. Tuck the pad inside the waterproof cover and you instantly have an excellent nappy.

Flats as inserts/boosters

Flat squares can be hung out to dry very quickly which is a real bonus compared with the multi-layered inserts of other types of nappy that can take much longer to dry. You can use a pad folded flat as an insert/booster in any nappy to increase the nappy's absorbency, which makes them a really versatile part of your nappy collection. Many parents find a pad folded flat works well as an insert inside a pocket nappy, especially during the winter months when regular pocket inserts dry much more slowly.

Night time

Flat nappies are a very effective night time solution. For night time use you can use two flats layered together or one flat folded and the other pad folded to achieve more absorbency, and of course you can always add a booster (either inside the nappy, or outside the nappy between the folded flat and the cover).

Size guide

The size of your flat square will be determined by how much your baby weighs. This is approximate and will of course depend on baby's build. Bear in mind that different types of fold will also allow for a little more size leeway than other folds.

 Small 50 x 50cm 2 to 5kg
Medium 60 x 60cm 4 to 8kg
Large 70 x 70cm 6/7+ kg


How many flats?

This guide is based on washing every two days, but for the first eight weeks you would expect to be washing every day.

Newborn (up to 7kg) Large (6/7+ kg)
Flat squares 30 to 36 24
Covers 5 to 8 4 to 8
Snappis 3 3
Boosters 10 to 15 (newborn size) 6
Liners (optional)

6 rolls of paper liners (will last 2 months)

10 reusable fleece liners

3 rolls of paper liners (will last 2 months)

15 reusable fleece liners

Nappy bucket 1 1
Laundry mesh bag / pail liner 2 2
Wet bag 1 or 2 1 or 2
Washable wipes (optional) 40 40