Cloth Diaper Tutorial - The EASIEST Way to Use a Prefold

My friend Nisha asked me how I use prefolds.  So here you go:

1.  Lay out your prefold cloth diaper flat.  Pictured above is an unbleached regular size prefold, which works well from a few months old until potty training.  Also pictured, the inside of my Thirsties cover, which is what I'm going to put the prefold into.  This is a medium-sized Thirsties that I had converted from velcro to snaps by Convert My Diapers (more on that in another post).  In addition to switching the velcro enclosure to a snap enclosure, she also added snaps on the front so that I could adjust the size.  Thirsties now makes a cover like this themselves -- take a look.

2.  Fold up one third the wrong wayNotice that the prefold naturally has thirds (with the thickest part being in the middle).  Most people fold their prefolds along the natural folds, but then it is longer and you have to tuck up part of it, and I don't like doing that (see links at the end if you want to see how that's done).

3.  Now fold the other third.  Wasn't that easy?

4.  Lay inside your cover.  I love the Thirsties because it has that little lip on the front, so it kind of holds the prefold in place.

5.  Lay your child on top, and do up the enclosure.  Beautiful and simple.  Simply beautiful.  This is what the finished product looks like on my one-year-old. 

After washing my diapers, I usually fold all my prefolds in thirds and put them in a drawer.  Then when it's time to change a diaper, I just pull out one of the prefolds already folded into thirds, lay it in the cover, and snap up the diaper.  And I'm done!  I can do that as quickly as I can change a disposable.

There are lots of other ways to use prefolds:
  • Newspaper fold (folding in thirds the right way, with or without pins/ Snappi)  
  • Jellyroll -- good for containing poop, so they say
  • Stuffed inside a pocket diaper
  • Done up with a Snappi without a waterproof cover (good for airing out a bottom with a diaper rash)

Why are prefolds wonderful?
  • Simple
  • Cheap
  • Versatile -- use one size from baby to potty training
  • Easy to wash
  • Dry quickly
  • Don't hold smell as much as synthetic (pocket diapers)
  • Can be used for 100 other things when you are done diapering, because it's just a thick rag!

For more on cloth diapers, click HERE

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  1. I just LOVE your blog!!!! So many wonderful and useful things! EVERY new mama should be reading it!!

  2. This was very helpful. Thank you!!

  3. I am deeply, deeply flattered, Melissa.
    You're welcome, Nisha-dog!

  4. I'm so glad you did this blog with pictures! Often I try to explain how simple prefold diapers are, but it's much easier to understand the steps with visual references. Cloth diapering is such a breeze! I wish more people knew that we don't need pins or plastic pants anymore!

  5. Thanks for the tip! I usually fold my prefolds the "right" way and I always have to fold it to fit it in the cover!! lol Not anymore...I will be folding the "wrong" way from now on! Thanks

  6. Great post Betsy. I don't have a need for cloth diapers just yet...but my friends are all paying BIG bucks to buy those fancy cloth diapers (some are as much as $29 per diaper!!)

    When that day comes, I'm not sure if I will use cloth diapers or not (It still kind-of grosses me out!) but now at least I know I don't have to buy super expensive diapers to make it work.


  7. Trifolded pf's never worked for me, sadly (nor did the jelly roll), so we had to stick with the traditional wings + snappi. A good cover is key.

    @Andrea, do you have a child yet? The whole idea of cloth diapers totally grossed me out too, but once my baby arrived I realized that there are so many other gross things the come along with babies, this one was pretty easy :).

  8. I just found your blog and have enjoyed going through old posts. We cloth diaper part-time (I work full-time) and I absolutely love the simplicity of pre-folds. I actually do fold them the "wrong" way and stick in the cover because they are too long the "right" way (we're still in the middle rise snap) and I don't like having to deal with the overlap. We have a few pockets and I do enjoy using those in a pinch, but when I'm off work, I would rather just use the prefolds with covers.

    I have found myself to be sort of an accidental greenie. But mainly for frugal purposes. We've had a hard year and I will do just about anything to save some money. But, I'm also becoming more aware of the bad things out there that I don't want my son to be around (i.e., chemicals and whatnot). So, despite my husband's skepticism, I'm moving just a little further aware from the mainstream.


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