Prefold Cloth Diapers De-mystified

When I first ventured into the world of cloth diapers over 3 years ago, I didn’t even consider prefolds.

As far as I was concerned, I was going to have enough to learn being a new mom, I didn’t need some complicated folding and pinning to learn on top of it. Plus, although my husband was all for using cloth, he wanted to go with a style that would be as easy to use as possible.

Now that we are expecting our second child in less than 3 months and have a lot more parenting experience under our belt, prefold cloth diapers don’t seem like such a big deal. And, honestly, if I would have taken a closer look at prefolds I would have realized they are really quite easy to use.

My main reason for re-visiting prefolds is that I didn’t want to use disposables on our newborn for the first few weeks like we did with Evalee.  As I think back, I am not quite sure why we didn’t have our cloth system ready to go until then…it just worked out that way. But I do remember hating the disposables and being happy when our Bum Genius order arrived…but I will save that for another post.

Now although I have an ample supply of pocket style cloth diapers ready to go, that style runs a little high in the rise and will interfere with the cord healing. Thus my research into prefolds since they are ideal for a newborn.

Prefold cloth diapers are basically what our mother and/or grandmother used. There are a few different styles and materials used to make prefolds such as:

  • Chinese prefolds
  • Bleached Cotton
  • Unbleached Cotton
  • Organic Cotton
  • Hemp or Bamboo
  • Fleece

If you are on a budget, unbleached cotton prefolds are the most economical cloth diapering system available. You will need to purchase multiple sizes as your baby grows, as well as new covers, but in the end they are still the most affordable way to go. Plus, you can simply buy as you go and spread out the cost over time rather than having to make one big purchase.

Now lets talk about folding and pinning. With the new covers out there you really don’t need to do either if you don’t want to. Simply fold the prefold in thirds, lay it inside the cover and wrap the baby just as you would in a disposable.

Some say that taking the time to fold and secure the prefold with something in addition to the cover can help to prevent leakage and blow outs. Which makes sense. There are a ton of videos out there ( I plan to do one myself once our baby comes and I have a live model to show you) demonstrating how to fold a prefold.

Snappi and prefoldThere is a cool little device called a snappi. I picked one of these up as well when I purchased my lot of prefolds. As you can see, it eliminates the need for pins but offers a secure fit reducing the risk of leaks and blow outs.

As with folding, there are several videos and images providing step by step instructions showing you how to use a snappi. Essentially, each end of the snappi has these little “teethy’ clips, similar to what you would use for an ace bandage but not metal or sharp. These clips with the teeth clasp onto the prefold.

You start with the left of right and finish with the clip on the crotch area. Once you get the hang of it, its really quite easy to use.

Finally there are the covers. Now in our grandma’s day the only covers were those awful plastic pants that did not breath at all and left little red marks on baby’s legs and waist. Not anymore.

Now are there are all sorts of cloth diaper covers with fun patterns and Velcro closures that are just as easy to use as the snappi. Again, the one con or draw back to using prefolds and covers are the need to purchase multiple sizes as your baby grows but you only need a handful of covers since you can reuse them multiple times a day. There are also cloth diaper covers that have snap system that will allow the cover to grow with your baby.

My initial investment into cloth diapers was just shy of $500 since we ended up going with the 24 count package of Bum Genius. I just purchased 24 newborn cotton prefolds with 4 covers for just over $100. A starter package of Bummis, a nice prefold diaper system, runs about $135 depending on the retailer.

The one drawback with the Bummis system is that the weight class starts at 8 pounds. This is not a problem for me since my babies average almost nine pounds at birth, newborns tend to be in the 6 to 7 pound range.

In the end, you will spend about the same amount of money no matter what style you go with, its just a matter of if you want to spend it all at once or spread it out over time.

If you are still unsure, check out my post Overview of Cloth Diaper Styles where I provide a brief description of the various styles.

As always, if you have any questions please leave them in the comment box below and I will get back to you right away.

One Responseto “Prefold Cloth Diapers De-mystified”

  1. […] Prefold cloth diapers are basically what our mother and/or grandmother used. If you are on a budget, prefolds are the most economical cloth diapering system available. They are comfortably soft and absorbent and they are also great for stuffing pocket diapers or as a stand alone cloth diaper with any wrap style diaper cover. […]

  2. […] Cloth Nappy Systems Pros and Cons Prefold Cloth Diapers De-mystified […]

  3. Tracy says:

    There was no question in my mind that we would use cloth diapers when we found out we were pregnant with my son. We used them from the moment he was born. My first thought was why would I want some peice of plastic/paper put on my butt as one of my first experiences in the world! My husband and I got a bunch of pre-folds as gifts so we added to the collection and bought a few more covers. Luckily most of my friends use cloth so we even swapped covers as our kiddos were different ages. The covers can be used a few times during the day too so it’s less washing! I’ve also bought some of the complete diapers that come as diaper and cover but I found these to be too bulky for the crawling stage( at least for my son). We even used cloth all through the night….it’s no different than changing a paper diaper at 2am.
    I will say this, even though I feel it is the best for my child and the environment, using cloth can be trying at times, especially in the first few months when you are nonstop laundry and sleepless. There were a few times when I got really sick of washing that I used the compostable throw aways and said I was all done with cloth! However I found myself going back to cloth after a few days. We used the throw aways when we were out for a long period of time and continued with cloth up until he was completely in Thomas the train underwear at 2 years and 3 months! For all you new moms at least give it a try they make cloth real user friendly and you really are making a difference by doing so. is a great site to get diapers and covers as well. We were big fans of the wool diapers and wraps..the only thing is takes a litle more care for washing!

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