Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Prefolds: The Cloth Diaper Workhorse
Prefold diapers have been around for more than half a century for good reason: they get the job done! They are one of the simplest options, but can be pretty intimidating if you've never used them before. Here's a quick photo tutorial on this workhorse!
First off, there are a lot of different brands of prefolds on the market, but most of them are made of cotton, bamboo or hemp. It's a good idea to buy "diaper service quality" prefolds since they will last and last and are usually thicker and more absorbent. Hemp is about 60% more absorbent than cotton, so they are less bulky, but a bit more money. Diaper service quality cotton prefolds cost about $2 - $3 per diaper depending on brand and size and come in packages of 6. We offer several brands: Osocozy, Swaddlebees, Econobum, and Bummis organic cotton prefolds. Our hemp prefolds are made by a local, work-at-home mom and couldn't be softer or more well made!
Here's a photo of a cotton prefold as compared to a hemp prefold.
The cotton one, on top, looks quilted when it's washed and dried. Both are extremely soft. So soft, in fact, that many car washes use prefolds to dry and wax cars! We also have cute, colorful prefolds:
Since prefolds are not waterproof and only do the job of absorbing, you need a cover to go on the outside of the diaper. We carry many of the most popular brands, including Thirsties and Bummis. Each cover does a superb job of protecting against leaks, even on long, skinny babies.
They each come in lots of different bright colors and prints. Thirsties offers a velcro or snap closure, as well as their "Duo" that will grow with your baby.
Econobum offers a fantastic deal: a one-size diaper cover and three prefolds. The cover adjusts and grows with your baby. They come in green, pink, and blue.
Part of what makes prefolds and covers such an affordable option is that you don't need to wash the cover every single time you change the diaper. The soiled prefold goes into the wash, and unless it has poo on it, the cover can just be rinsed and air dried and should be ready by the next diaper change. If you're thinking of choosing this diapering method, we usually recommend buying at least 24 prefolds and 4 - 6 covers to make sure you've always got a clean one on hand.
We also have fantastic wool diaper covers which deserve a post all about themselves! Wool covers are a great alternative if you'd prefer an all natural option.
Now that you're familiar with prefolds, let me show you a few ways to fold them.
The first option is perhaps the easiest. Simply fold your prefold in thirds and lay in in the cover of choice, tucking up the end to make sure it's not too long. For boys, the fold can go in the front to add extra absorbing layers where he'll need it. For girls, the fold can go in the back.
Next, just lay your baby on the pre-built diaper and fold it around them just like a disposable. Folding your prefolds like this is great for a number of reasons. First of all, it's one less step than the other methods. Secondly, since it doesn't matter if the diaper is wide enough to reach all the way around your baby, as long as your baby isn't completely saturating the diaper, you can continue to use each size of diaper for a longer period of time. Finally, since the diaper itself isn't fastened around your baby, you don't even have to touch the diaper when you're changing them.
Be extra careful that nothing is sticking out from under the cover since it will leak and wick moisture to the rest of their clothes.
Check the leg openings and tuck any parts of the diaper inside the cover before you dress them.
The cover will keep the diaper in place without pins or Snappis.
Another way to fold the diaper is called the "bikini twist." This is a nice fold for newborns because it cuts down on bulk between their legs. As with any type of fold, start by folding down the back or the front to make the diaper the correct length- unless the diaper is already the correct length. For girls, I fold down the back, like this:
Next, just twist the diaper once, like this:
Next, just fold the diaper up like this:
And finally, use a Snappi to secure the diaper in place. Snappis replace diaper pins and are very easy to use. You can't accidentally poke your baby with a Snappi! They have tiny "teeth" on each end that hook the diaper fabric. It's made of a stretchy rubber that snugs the diaper up nicely.
Don't forget the cover!
Another option is the more traditional fold. For boys, I always fold the front up to provide extra absorbing layers in the front where they need it.
Next, fold the two front sides in like this:
Place your baby on the diaper like this:
Next, fold the front of the diaper up like this:Finally, secure it with a Snappi and don't forget a cover!
That's all for now! Stay tuned as we go through all the different types of cloth diapers!
If your baby has the first signs of a diaper rash, you can try putting him in a prefold with just a Snappi and forgo the cover altogether. It will allow their skin to get plenty of air and make you a little more vigilant about checking to see if they need a new, dry diaper.