What Are Hybrid Nappies?
If you are considering using cloth nappies, and are doing research you might have come across the term hybrid nappies * and wondered what it meant. Generally speaking a hybrid cloth nappy refers to a nappy which can be used as a pure cloth nappy or has a disposable element. *(probably along with a load of other terminology and acronyms which make it sound like you need a degree to use cloth nappies, but that's a conversation for another day)
Some people refer to all in twos (ai2) as hybrid nappies, however this is incorrect and a hybrid nappy should only mean a nappy which is a combination of cloth and disposable.
An all-in-two- nappy (AI2) is basically a cloth nappy which comes in two parts. I don’t know why some retailers started referring to these as hybrids, it certainly confused waters which were already muddied. An all-in-two nappy has a waterproof nappy cover with fasteners and an absorbent insert. To me, this is just a two piece nappy and it helps when explaining nappies to just call it a two piece nappy, and accept that there are different types. AI2’s generally have inserts which snap into the cover, thus making them a hybrid of a two piece and a one piece nappy, but let's just call them two piece and not hybrids!
In theory the inserts for AI2’s cant be used on their own, unlike fitted or flat nappies. But generally you can use any insert with any cover. Lets not make this complicated.
To make matters slightly more complicated, most AI2’s, are also true hybrid nappies in that you can use a disposable insert with them.
The first ‘hybrid’ nappy was FLIP which was quickly followed by Grovia. Flips were the first reusable nappy to be a cloth cover and a cloth insert, which could be replaced with a disposable insert instead.
Shell or Cover?
These terms are interchangeable and I personally call everything which covers a nappy a cover. Adding another term just confuses newcomers to cloth nappies even more. For some reason manufacturers, when they add a disposable option, decide to change the name from cover to shell. Why? Perhaps it's a marketing ploy to help convert disposable nappy users.
You might be asking why you would want to have a nappy system which can use both cloth and disposable. Indeed many in the cloth nappy community were genuinely offended and disgusted when bumGenius launched the flip disposable pad. However, they offer a great choice of flexibility and convenience to parents. You might not want to haul around dirty nappies when you are out for the day. Your washing machine might have broken down and you might not want to switch to plastic disposable nappies. Your baby might be sick and producing 20 dirty nappies a day. You might have PND and just not able to cope full time with washing. There are loads of reasons why a hybrid system is a great option for modern cloth nappies.
Next Up: A Guide to Flip Nappies