Prefolds for Newbies


If you are intimidated by all the folding that goes along with flats, but are still trying to find an inexpensive diapering option, then prefolds may be just what you are looking for. Prefolds are rectangular shaped diapers with multiple layers sewn together. Typically more layers are sewn into the middle or “wet-zone” of the diaper. Most prefolds are 4x8x4, meaning there are four layers of fabric on the sides and eight layers down the middle.

Prefolds are made from natural fibers and are very absorbent. Some parents even have luck using a nice thick prefold for overnight! A brand new prefold will look smooth, but will quilt up or have a “bumpy” appearance after your “prep it”. To prep a brand new prefold and make it absorbent, you must wash and dry it several times to remove the natural oils. Typically it takes 5-6 washings and dryings to reach maximum absorbency.


These diapers do require some folding, but not nearly as much as flats. Four common folds for prefolds are the Jelly Roll, Bikini Twist, Angel Wing fold, and Pad fold. With all folds other than the Pad fold, you will need to have a fastener to secure the diaper on your baby. You can either use pins, or a Snappi. The Snappi is a modern invention that simplifies securing the diaper on your baby without having to worry about pricking your baby or yourself with pins! It is very simple to use. Just hook a tab on one side of the diaper, pull the other tab across to the other side, then pull down and hook the lower tab! Just be sure you have enough fabric between your baby and the tines.


Although these diapers require a water-resistant cover to contain wetness, some may want to allow their babies run around coverless from time to time. The benefit of going coverless is to allow more air to the diaper area in case baby has a rash. It also allows you to see how quickly baby is wetting so you can change your baby as soon as he or she is wet. It is also beneficial to go coverless while potty training.  


Prefolds are usually sized. Often times they are sold as newborn or infant for the younger months and premium for down the road as baby outgrows the smaller sizes. Some brands offer many different sizes depending on baby’s weight, but you should not have to buy ALL of the sizes. Sometimes you can skip certain sizes and buy the next size up. Some brands of prefolds say they can be used from birth to potty training. The prefold may be a bit bulky as a newborn, fit perfectly fastened on when baby hits a certain weight, and when baby out grows it, it can be Pad folded and laid into the cover.


Since prefolds are made of natural fibers, they don’t hold onto stink or have as much trouble with buildup as synthetic fabrics sometimes do.  They are easy to wash and dry fairly quickly. You also don’t have to worry about using a “cloth diaper safe” detergent. Any detergent that’s gentle enough for your baby should be good enough for these diapers! They hold up very well and can be bleached as needed.

Prefolds hold up even with a lot of abuse, and can usually last through multiple children! Not only do they make great diapers, they also make wonderful burp cloths. Once your child potty trains, these diapers also make great dishtowels. With prefolds, you get a lot of bang for your buck.


  • Inexpensive
  • Absorbent  
  • Wash Easy
  • Dry Fairly Quickly
  • Natural Fibers
  • Can be used as burp cloths or cleaning rags



  • Some Folding Required
  • Can be a bit bulky
  • Waterproof cover required
  • Requires prepping
  • Prefolds are usually sized