Monday, November 23, 2009

All we are saying.... is give prefolds a chance!

I love prefolds. I mean I really, really love prefolds. If I were stuck on a deserted island, and I could only bring one type of diaper with me, it would be a prefold. Yes, an unlikely scenario, but you never know! When our first child was born, we started out with prefolds (through the local diaper service). When Maddy was a month old, and we decided to wash our own diapers, I stuck with prefolds because I liked them so much. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

So, why do I like prefolds so much, you ask?

  • I know I've mentioned it before, but I'm cheap (cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap, cheap!). If there is a lower-cost option, I will go for it. I'm also practical. I would prefer to wash diapers less frequently, which requires having more diapers on hand. Since prefolds are so cheap, I could afford to buy more, and wash less frequently.
  • Prefolds are quick-drying, since you fold them to make them absorbent.
  • Prefolds are made from a natural fiber, they are 100% cotton. Natural fibers are less prone to stink issues.
  • Your baby will feel wet in a prefold diaper. Wetness is generally not bad for baby's skin, feeling wet is why babies who wear cloth diapers are more likely to potty train faster.
  • Prefolds are very durable. No elastic, no closures, they are virtually indestructible. Our prefolds have lasted us through four babies, and while they are considerably thinner now, they still get the job done.
  • Prefolds can be used for other things when you're done using them as diapers. We have had customers come into the store to buy our prefolds for a multitude of purposes -- a car dealership uses them as shammies, one woman purchases them as tea towels, since they're so absorbent. I have used many a prefold to wipe up many a spilled glass of milk (don't worry, I didn't cry).

A prefold diaper does require some degree of folding, though not as much as a traditional flat diaper. A prefold is called a prefold because it is sewn in such a way that less folding is required. Prefold diapers are usually classified according to the number of layers sewn into the diaper -- we sell 4x8x4 layer prefolds, meaning the prefolds we sell have four layers of cotton twill sewn into the sides of the diaper, with eight layers of cotton twill sewn into the middle of the diaper. The diapers we sell are unbleached prefolds, manufactured in Pakistan.
There are two basic ways to put a prefold on a baby:

  • fold the prefold and lie it in a wrap-style cover
  • fasten the diaper onto your baby with a Snappi

When people come to the store, and we start the diaper tour, we usually start with prefolds, since it's the most basic diapering option we offer. Sometimes people will stop us right away and tell us to skip the prefolds because they're not interested. I usually oblige and move on, after all, if you want to be successful with cloth diapers, you should buy what you know you'll use! However, if I can get people to watch me put a prefold on our demo doll, more often than not, they're surprised at how easy it can be to use a prefold (a lot of people associate prefolds with pins and pull-on rubber pants -- it doesn't have to be that way!).

Of course, there are many different ways to do both, and like everything related to cloth diapers, it's a matter of personal choice. I rarely used a snappi with our prefolds, I would just fold the diaper in thirds (the short way, against the lines sewn into the diaper), and lie it in a wrap. I like to use the prefolds this way because it means that putting the diaper on the baby requires only one step -- you can have a prefold folded into a cover ready to go on the changetable, so it's really no harder than putting on a disposable diaper. A drawback to using a prefold in this manner is that the diaper is quite bulky through the baby's crotch, however, I tended to dress our babies in stretchy cotton sleepers and pants, so the bulk was never a problem. I actually felt the bulk helped keep poop in its place, on the diaper and off the cover.

If you prefer a trimmer fit, or if you find your covers are getting soiled with poop, fastening the diaper onto your baby with a Snappi may work better for you. I did use a Snappi occassionally when our babies were newborns, however, once they were pooping every 1-2 days, I didn't bother. For the record, I also didn't make a point to do the 'boy' fold for the boy -- no matter how you fold a prefold, it's still the same diaper, and I found the simple trifold worked as well for him as it did for our girls (of course, he was never a heavy wetter, so perhaps that's why he didn't need extra absorbency in the front of his diaper).

We sell two sizes of prefolds, however, you could get away with using only one size from birth to potty training.  Infant prefolds can be used with babies who weigh approximately 8-20 lbs, although if you are using the prefolds with a Snappi, your baby will likely outgrow the infant prefolds around 15 lbs. I used our infant prefolds with all of our kids until they were out of diapers. When they were wearing the prefolds with a small cover, we trifolded the diapers, when they moved into the medium covers, we folded the prefolds in half, lengthwise, so they would fit in the covers from end-to-end. There is a considerable size difference between the infant prefolds and the medium prefolds, which fit from 15-30+ lbs (though I'll be honest, a 15-lb baby would be swimming in these prefolds, realistically, they start to fit well around 18-20 lbs). Since none of our kids were heavy wetters (thank-you infant pottying!), this size was overkill for our needs, so we only used them at night.

I would strongly encourage anyone who is considering using cloth diapers to give prefolds a whirl. Seriously, most people who try them like them. Even if you want to build a stash around easier diapers like pocket diapers, you should still pad your stash with some prefolds, it's a cheap way to squeeze an extra day out of your stash, even if you don't love them, you can still have them as a backup -- in a pinch, they'll do, trust me!


  1. LOVE my prefolds!! Made the change from disposibles to cloth about 2 weeks ago with my 5 month old. Even my husband, who got me to buy a few fitted diapers for him to use when he had to change the diaper, is now using the prefolds (with a Snappi even!). We find the trifold a little too bulky right now, so using the Snappi helps.

  2. I LOVE my prefolds too... I'm often tempted to try other diapers because of the cute prints (I'm a sucker for cute prints - every time I see the Fuzzi Bunz daisy prints I think I should try pocket diapers), but can't justify it because my prefolds and covers work beautifully... Like you said, if it ain't broke, don't fix it...

  3. ...And when you're done with actual diapering, prefolds are great for cleaning up "accidents" on the floor!

  4. After having residue issues with pocket diapers, my husband and I decided to keep it simple! We love the prefolds not only for our girls, but for every thing around the house! There's always a prefold around when there's a mess! And it's ORGANIC! I'm sold right there!

  5. I found the big size prefolds too big so I got them sewn down so they fit in the medium covers better for us. I love prefolds. They are easy, durable and feel so clean and natural.

  6. I loved prefolds from birth to toilet training!!!

  7. Love my prefolds. They are at least 1/2 of my stash if not more!

    I gotta ask, though, Susie: how old were your kids when they started pooping once every 1-2 days? ;) I think mine were about 10 months old or more before we hit that point!

  8. I just went back to using prefolds for my new baby girl. I stopped using them with my son when wiggly-ness and daycare became an issue, but now I'm loving them all over again. I forgot how simple and effective they are! I am using some pockets which I like when I know she might not get a prompt change and for overnight, but during the day prefolds are perfect!

  9. When I starting cloth diapering I used anything but a prefold. To me they just seemed complicated and boring (no cute prints or colours). It was Susie who led me over to the prefold side and I am loving them so far! I was amazed at how easy they were to use and clean.

  10. We have prefolds, fitted and pockets! But the first thing we grab are prefolds – folded into the Bummis covers. We tried with the snappy, but it was not for us or our little guy. I LOVE our prefolds, never a leak or blowout, and they wash up great! They were the first we tried in cloth, we had a bit of a learning curve – what suited us and our baby best? Within a week, I was in love with cloth and today would recommend them for sure, as they are the same amount of effort (or less) in my opinion as pocket stuffing. It's getting a bit tough to put them on my wiggle worm these days though (9 months)? Any ideas for that?

  11. Starrinite, I'm evil, I arm-bar Grace if she's being wiggly when I change here. She's my fourth child, my patience ran out about 2 children ago, lol. My other suggestion would be infant pottying -- have you tried it?

    susie ;)

  12. I loved prefolds for 6 years and 2 children!