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All About Prefold Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have come a long way since the days of leaky rubber pants and the options couldn’t be easier to use, but one tried and true diaper is sometimes overlooked – the prefold.

Many families still use & love these nostalgic diapers, but theirversatility, affordability, ease of use and dependability are qualities that any family can love!

What is a prefold?

A prefold diaper is most commonly made from cotton, but can also be found in hemp & bamboo varieties. They are often a combination of 3 to 4 layers of fabric overlapping at the center to create a thicker pad that is ideal for the “wet zone.”

The most important part of buying prefolds is to choose quality prefolds – my favorite brand is Green Mountain Diapers but others work well too. Most commonly cotton varieties that you want to look for are known as DSQ or Diaper Service Quality. Buy nothing less! Big box store brands like Gerber are inferior as they often contain filler fabrics and have very loosely weaved threads that are more like a gauze than a proper diaper. They are noticeably different in look, feel, weight and performance when compared to a quality diaper.

How do I use them?

Many first time users are intimidated by the thought of using prefolds because of the need to lean folding techniques, and let’s face it – babies are squiggly and getting an all-in-one style diaper on them can be hard enough sometimes without the need to fold, pin (or Snappi) an add a cover.

The good news is that it’s really not hard and there is a wide range of prefold folding techniques to fit any baby and diapering need.  The Jelly Roll Fold, for example, is great for containing messes – which is especially great for young babies.  This is probably one of the most complicated folds, and even it is easy to do and will fly once you get the hang of it.

If you would like to learn the various folds, feel free to check out my Prefold Photo Tutorials or Prefold Video Tutorials. Supplies to have are covers and Snappis (these take the place of pokey pins)!

While folding is a great way to use prefolds – it’s not a must! Many parents simply fold the diaper into thirds and lay it right into a cover – no fuss! This method is quite comparable to trendy, more expensive diapering systems with lay-in inserts, but offers the extreme affordability of prefolds.

Prefolds can even be used as inserts for pocket diapers. I’m not personally a fan of microfiber, which so many brands come with and while I love hemp inserts, they aren’t always in the budget for families. Prefolds can provide families with a natural fiber option that is both dependable and affordable, just not quite as trim fitting as hemp or bamboo insert.

How do I wash them?

Prefolds have got to be the easiest diapers to wash. Because they natural fibers with a simple design, they are quite forgiving as far as wash routines go. No need to worry about damaging PUL (the waterproof layer in modern diapers and covers) or elastic. A basic wash cycle will do – for example one cold wash followed by a warm wash.

When you first get your prefolds you will need to do what is called “prepping”. Natural fibers contain oils. These oils prevent the fabric from absorbing moisture well, so to remedy this, you wash your diapers 3-5 times (in a row) using a cloth diaper safe detergent (like Eco Sprout, Rockin’ Green or even a DIY to name a few). Dry as usual and you’re good to go. The diapers will increase in absorbency over the next few use/wash cycles and you’ll notice that they “quilt up”, so don’t freak when they arrive and look HUGE! They will shrink considerably.

All in all, prefold diapers are a cloth diapering choice that will certainly save you a bundle and could save you lots of headache too!

Are you considering prefolds? Have you used them? I would love to hear what you think!

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