All You Need to Know About Prefold Diapers

The Pros and Cons of Pre-Folded Cotton Diapers

OsoCozy Prefolds Unbleached Cloth Diapers
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Picture a rectangle of layered fabrics that have been stitched together. That is essentially what a prefold diaper is. You can think of prefold diapers as being the evolution of the old diaper flats.

Though popular among cloth diapering parents, there is a bit of learning curve when it comes to using prefolds. Prefold diapers vary greatly, from sizing (newborns through toddler), to fabric, to how the diaper is treated in manufacturing, and more.

However, once parents have mastered the basics, they often appreciate the diaper for its many advantages over other cloth diapers.

There are more than just a few advantages to prefolds. They're versatile, and can be folded in different ways to suit every baby body type. They're affordable, and can last through more than one baby. Prefolds launder well and are reliably absorbent. Plus, once they've outlived their usefulness as diapers, they can be repurposed as household cleaning rags.

All that said, these diapers aren't the right choice for everyone. They are somewhat complicated to learn to use and they're bulky. Other cloth diapers and disposable diapers offer a much trimmer fit. Your baby's rump will look a bit big, and you may find that when wearing prefolds, your baby needs to wear the next size up in pants. They may not be as effective as fitted diapers to hold in more "liquidy" messes.

And they don't go on as quickly as some other diapers. If your baby is a wiggler when it comes to changing time, prefolds may pose an additional challenge.

How to Use a Prefold Diaper

Prefolds will require some special attention before you get started using them. They will arrive very flat and unabsorbent.

Once you've prepared your prefolds in the laundry, they will fluff up and work very well.

There are several different ways you can fold prefold diapers to fit your baby. Different folds suit different body types and needs. You do need to be aware that you must use a diaper cover with your prefold, that is unless you want to be soaked.

Depending on the type of fold and diaper cover you choose, you may need a fastener of some sort to secure the diaper.

Different Ways to Fold Cloth Diapers

You have several different options for how to fold the diaper on your baby. You will likely want to experiment with the fold types to figure out which one works best for you and your baby.

  • Bikini Twist: Great for chunky thighs.
  • Trifold or Newspaper Fold: Only diaper cover is needed, no fastener required.
  • Angel-Wing Fold: Secure fold that usually contains stool to one spot in the diaper. 
  • Jellyroll or Sidewall: The sides roll in slightly to better prevent blowouts.

Prefold Diaper Fabric Choices 

This is where you might be a little overwhelmed when you set out to buy prefold diapers.

There are different kinds of prefold fabrics, each with its own advantage and appeal, including birdseye cotton, Indian cotton, terry/flannel cotton, gauze cotton, cotton twill, and hemp/cotton blends.

Additionally, you'll have options for organic materials as well. You'll also need to decide if you want bleached (treated to be white and require less preparation to use) or unbleached prefolds (natural, more sturdy cotton which will require several washings before use).

When shopping around for cloth prefold diapers, you'll likely see them described as 4x6x4 or 4x8x4. These numbers aren't an exercise in mathematics, but a way for you to understand how many layers of fabric the diaper has. When you look at the rectangular diaper, you'll notice it has been sewn into three columns. The left and right columns have four layers of fabric. The middle column varies with either six or eight layers.

This design offers thickness where its needed most (the middle) and allows for the diaper to be a little less bulky than if it was the same thickness throughout.

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