At Real Nappies for London we have always been a source of impartial information.  However we’ve been concerned for some time now that the upfront cost of starting to use real nappies has risen and may be putting some people off trying them.   If you think you need to buy 20 nappies at £15 each then £300 is a lot to spend when you’re also not sure whether they will work for you. 
But there is a way to enjoy the benefits of these new, well-designed birth-to-potty nappies without spending that much.  You could consider buying 6 flat nappies @ about £3 each – muslin, towelling or pre-folds – and 1-3 of the birth-to-potty nappies, such as the Bum Genius. Once you’ve tried these out you can buy more according to what works best for you and your baby.
In North America the humble pre-fold has remained popular and is seen as an essential part of the nappy wardrobe.   A pre-fold nappy is a flat nappy, usually made of layers of muslin.  It has layers sewn into the centre that build in extra absorbency. Visit You Tube and Google ‘pre-fold’.  Follow the link at the end of the blog to see an example.  And look at how many times these videos have been viewed!
You can use the modern pocket nappy in the normal way (with the micro-fibre pad stuffed into the pocket.) But you can also wrap your baby in the cotton nappy, as shown in the You Tube example and then use your birth-to-potty nappy as a waterproof wrap or you can just lay the cotton pre-fold inside.  Using a flat nappy next to your baby’s skins mean you don’t have to wash the whole nappy at every change.
There are lots of benefits to having a stash of pre-folds.  Most of us prefer cotton next to our skin, so surely that’s more comfy for baby. They can also be used on the changing mat for bare bottom time. Another advantage is that a cotton nappy gets wet so your baby learns the difference between wet and dry, which helps your baby develop bladder control.
As well as these benefits 100% cotton pre-folds can be put through a very hot wash when necessary. They are also durable so last for more than one baby.  Another advantage is that they dry quickly and in winter you can dry a cotton pre-fold on the radiator without any danger of ruining it.  (Never dry a waterproof wrap on the radiator – it makes them leak.)
Another advantage is that the organic, unbleached version is affordable – so the ethical choice. And at the end of their working life they can go in the compost or be sold on for recycling –  so the zero waste option.
See how to use a pre-fold on You Tube