Inserts and boosters and liners, oh my!

Updated: May 14, 2020



So you've sorted out your all-in-ones from your pockets (see last week's post), but now everyone is talking about which inserts to use, which materials work best, and whether or not to use a liner! To stop your head spinning, we have put together a guide to get you up to speed and help you differentiate your bamboos from your microfibres.


To start, some definitions:


  • Inserts and boosters are usually a strip of absorbent material designed to catch wee. The terms are often used interchangeably but insert is more likely to be used when referring to the first strip of absorbent material; any subsequent strips are referred to as boosters as they boost the overall capacity of the nappy.

  • Liners are used to catch poo, protect against creams, and keep baby's bottom dry and away from the absorbent material/lining of the nappy (depending on the type of nappy used). Liners are not made out of absorbent material so unlike boosters they don't absorb more wee. Reusable ones are usually made out of fleece but disposable ones are also available.

  • Other terms you might encounter: flooder refers to a baby who holds their wee in and then lets it all out in one go, which can overwhelm the nappy; and a baby who wees a lot, causing frequent leaks, is known as a heavy wetter.


Insert/Booster Materials


The type of material you choose for your inserts is largely determined by the absorbency levels you need, and what drying situation you have. For example, if you don't have a lot of space to dry things, a faster drying material would suit you better than one that takes days to dry. Or if your baby is a heavy wetter, you'll be looking for a more absorbent option! You may have to come to a compromise between the two, which may involve a combination of materials.



The above chart summarises the absorbency & drying qualities of the different materials - for example, microfibre is the fastest drying but the least absorbent; hemp is the thirstiest but can take a very long time to dry. You will probably find that most cloth nappy companies have inserts that combine two (or more!) of these materials for extra absorbency. This can be very convenient because you may find that adding more boosters to your nappy can cause it to become too bulky which can cause fit (and thus leak) issues.


Another consideration is cost. Microfibre inserts tend to be the cheapest but, as mentioned, they won't always provide the absorbency levels you need. Nappies often come with inserts included but the material varies brand to brand. You may have to do some looking around to find the best option for you.


Prefolds/Flat Nappies


The materials used for prefolds tend to be different to those used for inserts, though naturally there is some overlap! The top choices are usually muslin, cotton terry or bamboo terry (often referred to as terry squares). Muslins are very slim fitting but not the most absorbent material, where as terry can be bulkier but absorbent (bamboo is more absorbent than cotton, and generally less bulky). The type of fold you use on your prefold can reduce any bulkiness, as can the brand of terry square you purchase.



Hopefully this information will help you feel more confident about which material(s) will work best for you and your baby. If you would like to try any specific insert/booster combinations, let us know as we may have some in stock that you can have a go with before committing to buy. We are also available to answer any questions you may have via email, mobile or social media.


If you now feel confident enough to go straight to buying your inserts/boosters/liners, using our code LiverpoolCloth on the Nappy Gurus website will get you 10% off your purchase!





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