Nappy Boosters

Bamboo Nappy boosters or just any boosters are what you put in a nappy to boost the absorbency and make your nappies last longer. You may have a heavy wetter who needs extra all the time, a toddler who is going for longer between wee or a baby going through a growth spurt. If you’re using reusables at night you will need a lot of absorbency from your nappy, as hopefully, they will be in it for a long time!

There is a lot of confusion about the different parts of a nappy – what they’re called and what they’re used for.  I get people in my shop all the time thinking a liner refers to the waterproof outer – or “wrap” – of a nappy, that a booster means the paper liner, and with absolutely no idea of what a booster actually does!

Insert or Booster?

Inserts Boosters same thing? A booster can go in any nappy to add extra absorbency. Nappy inserts generally go inside pocket nappies. You can also put a booster inside pocket nappies with the inserts, especially if they are just microfibre inserts. You can also get bamboo inserts. Really, there is little difference, inserts are generally sized to go inside pocket nappies whereas boosters can be any size to fit other nappies.

So to go back briefly to “Reusable nappies for dummies” (if you’re old hands at this, please skip this paragraph and read on), a nappy is always made up of 2 main elements. A fabric or absorbent bit called the nappy, and a waterproof outer called the wrap. Alongside this, you have a paper liner that lines the nappy and helps make poo disposable easier as you lift it out at change time, and flush it away down the loo along with any solids.  And you also have boosters.

Put simply, these are strips of fabric that you place inside the nappy and which add extra absorbency.  They are often used for night-time, car journeys, or when you’re away from home and don’t have guaranteed to change facilities, when you need your nappies to go that little bit longer between changes.

As babies grow, their capacity to wee grows too. As newborns, they are effectively incontinent, and therefore dribble a little bit of wee all the time –and more when they’ve just been fed. As they develop, their muscles get to work, and they start learning from a very young age, to hold the wee in.  This means that they wee less often – that constant dribble stops – but as it’s being saved up, it’s heavier when they do.  Add to this the fact that once weaned, their poos firm up, and the moisture that was coming out in their runny poos now gets diverted to wees, and you can suddenly find that you go from having a normal or light wetter to a very heavy wetter.

We find that this stage often occurs with our customers at around 6-8 months, and as this is also often the time that babies are sleeping through the night more successfully, a lot of our customers find themselves in sudden need of nappies which last longer.

So a booster needs to be added into the cloth nappy system.  Which one will work best for you depends very much on what nappy you’re using, as well as the capacity you need to add to the nap

There are many brands and types of material used in boosters. Some factors to consider are:

  • your budget,
  • the number of nappies in your stash (do you need quick-drying boosters or not)
  • your drying facilities – do you have a tumble drier?

I’ll quickly go through each type:

Microfibre

Absorbs quickly like a sponge, but if it gets too full can expel liquid – so ideal for young babies, probably not enough on its own for older ones and toddlers. It’s recommended to use a liner or choose a booster with a top layer like stay-dry suede, as microfibre can irritate the skin. Slim-fitting. Dries really quickly. Is often used on top of bamboo or hemp. Always super soft and generally stay soft. Bambino Mio Boosters are microfibre.

Cotton / Organic Cotton

Very absorbent. Easy to wash and dry. Can be tumble-dried. Can be bulky though.

Bamboo Boosters fabric

Very absorbent – holds a lot of moisture, so ideal for night time. Absorbs slowly so ideally is used in conjunction with a cotton or microfibre insert. Slim-fitting. Can take a long time to dry, as you shouldn’t tumble them or dry them directly on the radiator.

Hemp

Usually blended with other fabric, hemp absorbs a lot of liquid so is great for night nappies.  Durable, but not always very soft in hard water areas. Slim-fitting. They absorb slowly so are not always very suitable for toddlers who wet heavily in one go, and would be best with a cotton or microfibre layer on top. Take a while to dry and you shouldn’t tumble them or dry them directly on the radiator. Super Absorbent. Best mixed with cotton to keep soft.

Charcoal / Bamboo Charcoal

Used for its antibacterial properties, also good for combating odours! Absorbent and quick to dry.

Mixed-fabric boosters

As reusable nappies have evolved, the understanding of how fabrics absorb, and how they can work together, has become more sophisticated. Microfibre wicks moisture away from the source and so keeps a baby’s bum dryer, but bamboo and cotton absorb across the whole fabric – locking moisture into the fabric.  This means that using microfibre together with one or more of the other fabrics will allow it to wick moisture away, as well as having a more absorbent layer in the nappy, which helps prevent leaking. Mixed boosters can either be two layers or the fabric is a mixed fabric.

Disposable

Used with a system like Flips. Very convenient for holidays where you may not have access to washing / drying facilities.

Why Use Boosters?

Boosters give you the ability to tailor your nappies to different circumstances. If you find your nappies are leaking sooner than you think they should, don’t despair, but try a few different combinations. It’s always worth contacting your local cloth nappy library or asking a retailer what they would recommend. 

So choose your fabric for your booster based on what will suit your needs best. For more absorbency, bamboo is great, for a quicker drying booster, then microfibre or minkee work well.  And a great tip is to use a booster in a fabric different to your nappy.  This is because bamboo and microfibre work so well together. Bamboo locks moisture into the actual fabric, which makes it the most absorbent fabric commonly available, but also take ages to dry. Microfibres dry really well – think of a fleece when it comes out of a washing machine spin – but as they trap moisture between the fibres, don’t hold as much as the bamboo. What they do, however, is effectively wick moisture away from the source, so they keep the skin dryer.  When using them together, keep the natural, antibacterial bamboo against the skin, and then have your layer of microfibre or minkee – which will pull moisture through the bamboo, meaning the skin stays dryer.

At its simplest, a booster is used in a nappy by laying the strip of fabric in the middle of the nappy. This is the same whether you’re using shaped or flat nappies, all-in-ones or 2 piece systems.

Many nappies have their own particular style, and some will require a booster which is fitted in a particular way. A pocket nappy, for example, is a wrap element which has a layer of thin fabric sewn across the whole of the inside. This has an opening at the inside back of the nappy, which means it forms a “pocket” with the wrap element, into which boosting can be stuffed to increase the absorbency.

Snap-in-ones are so-called because an outer element has poppers attached – allowing you to fasten in a complimentary inner, creating a whole piece. Generally very versatile, these allow for a high degree of adaptability – as you popper in as little or as much absorbency as you require – meaning a trim fit on smaller babies, and more absorbency as they grow.

One final tip for success with your boosters:  As many of you know or will have found out, baby boys and girls tend to wet their nappies differently – with boys’ wee being concentrated more heavily at the front of the nappy, and girls from the middle to the back.  It’s not always easy to do this with the nappy, but with a booster you can concentrate the absorbency where you need it most.  Folding a booster in half – or down by a third – and then placing it in to the section of the nappy where it is most needed is a great way of maximising the booster’s effectiveness, and keeping the nappy trimmer in places where extra padding isn’t needed.

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