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Choosing reusable cloth diapers is a big decision that can lead to a rewarding journey for you and your baby. But where do you start? Here are the most commonly asked questions on how to start your cloth diaper journey.

Nicki's Diapers is a family business founded by Nicki and later joined by her husband Jesse. As a husband and wife team, they worked together to ensure the highest quality products while following responsible environmental and social business practices. The company is now located in Akron, Ohio.

How to Fold a Prefold Diaper: Prefold Diaper Folds for Newbies

 

Do you need ideas for how to fold a prefold diaper? You've come to the right place! Prefold cloth diapers are a simple, affordable, eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers. But they can seem complicated when you first start out. This is why we've put together this helpful guide for how to fold a prefold. Here, you'll find everything about how to use prefold cloth diapers. 

NOTE: This is written from the perspective of a mom who has been using Nicki’s prefolds for years! We hope you enjoy learning from her expert advice and experiences. 

 

INTRODUCTION TO PREFOLD DIAPER FOLDING

Before we jump right into the main discussion of how to fold a prefold diaper, let's lay the groundwork with a discussion of what prefold cloth diapers are, how to use prefold cloth diapers and what you need to get started. 

WHAT IS A PREFOLD CLOTH DIAPER?

Prefolds were the first cloth diapers I ever used. When we had to make the switch, we didn’t have much extra money to spend. I wasn’t sure what the best option would be, so I went to Nicki’s Diapers for help!

The only cloth diaper knowledge I had was from a family friend who used a pocket diaper.

Once I explained to the salesperson that we needed to switch to cloth and what our budget was, she instantly knew what we needed and told us prefolds would be the best bang for our buck.

Prefold diapers are multi-layered 3-panel diapers. They're made of lightweight woven fabric that is thicker in the middle for extra absorbency and thin on the outside for comfort. Prefolds come in a variety of sizes, thicknesses, and fabrics, such as cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. 

Prefold cloth diapers are also known for being very affordable and for lasting a long time. Moreso, they are also super easy to clean! You just take them off your baby and throw them into the washer. That's all!

 

HOW TO USE PREFOLD CLOTH DIAPERS

Now that we had some idea of the type of diaper we were getting, we needed to learn how to use prefold diapers. Using a doll to illustrate, the associate showed us some of the different prefold diaper folding styles, as well as how to use a snappi and put a cover on. What is a Snappi?

A snappi is a piece of rubber formed like a "T" with plastic teeth on both ends. The cloth is held in place around your baby by the teeth, which grab the fabric.

 

prefold diaper folding

 

Furthermore, when you use prefold cloth diapers, it’s handy to have a cover, as a prefold all on its own is not leakproof.

The cover is made from a material called PUL, which is a water-resistant material that protects your little one’s clothing from getting wet. While some people are comfortable only using a prefold, most parents prefer to add the PUL cover for that extra level of protection—and the peace of mind that comes with it.

When it comes to your cloth diaper stash, the ratio to aim for is about 4 diapers for 1 cover, but it’s recommended to get an extra cover or two, just in case.

 

prefold diaper folding

 

Prefolds sometimes sound intimidating. That's because they have to be correctly folded and used, which takes a little practice. But after you try a few different folds and get the hang of things, you'll be a pro—and prefold diapers will become your favorite option.

 

ONCE WE GOT HOME, WE PREPPED OUR NEW PREFOLDS LIKE NICKI’S RECOMMENDS

When you receive your Nicki's Diapers Prefolds, they will look quite large, flat, and feel slightly stiff. To prepare them for use, wash and dry them 4-5 times in a hot or warm wash cycle using detergent and drying them in the dryer each time. 

After they are prepped, they will quilt up and be very soft! Nicki’s Diapers Prefolds will shrink approximately 5-15% during prepping, but they are designed to leave plenty of fabric for your baby’s absorbency needs! 

NOTE: Please note, using the sanitize cycle or washing your diapers in water above 120 degrees Fahrenheit will not only cause excessive wear and tear on your diapers, but it will also cause them to shrink and quilt more than the below dimensions state. We do not ever recommend boiling to save time during the prep process.

 

HOW TO FOLD A PREFOLD DIAPER

There are countless ways to fold a prefold diaper, but these are the top tried-and-true prefold, and flat diaper folds to help you get familiar with the process. Don’t worry if you have trouble folding it neatly at first—it takes practice! If, once you put the cover on, you notice some of the prefold poking out, you can simply tuck it into the cover or stuff it into a pocket diaper. 

Without further ado, here is every prefold diaper fold you need to get started.

 

1. THE PAD-FOLD OR TRI-FOLD

Let’s start with the easiest and simplest way to fold a prefold diaper - the pad or tri-fold. 

To make this fold, start by folding your cloth diaper into thirds lengthwise (along the seams). Next, place your folded prefold into a cloth diaper cover. That’s all there is to it! 

 

different prefold diaper folds

 

Depending on if you are cloth diapering a boy or a girl, you may want to fold differently to get the maximum absorbency with your prefold. For a boy, you can fold the top down a bit for the front).

For a girl, you can fold it down some in the back. Once you fold the diaper, it just lays in the cover.

PROS

CONS

  • Beginners friendly!
  • Need a diaper cover. 
  • No pins or fasteners involved to deal with!
  • Doesn’t stay in a place like other folds listed below.
  • Can be prepped ahead of time.
  • Great for heavy wetters or nighttime use. 
  • Can be used as inserts for your pocket diapers to increase absorbency.

 

2. THE ANGEL WING FOLD

If you want a prefold diaper fold that's easy to use with no diaper cover, try out the angel wing fold. It's called the angel fold because its flat back corners resemble angel wings. 

It's a popular folding method because it's simple and works well with or without diaper covers. Of course, since prefolds aren’t waterproof, you’ll probably want to put a cover of some sort over it.

To make an angel wing fold, roll the edges to get a nice, tight barrier, but also play around with the folds and rolls to get a solid fit.  

The prefold is simply folded into a loose triangle so that a narrow section can be tucked through the legs and fastened with Snappi or diaper pins. You can tuck in any extra material at the back and adjust it to get a snug fit around your baby's legs.

 

PROS

CONS

  • Beginners friendly!
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins. 
  • Requires no diaper cover. 
  • May feel a little bulky at the back.
  • Stay in place better than pad folds.
  • Provides a trim fit and excellent absorbency.
  • Great for heavy wetters or nighttime use. 
  • Excellent for coverage on the back and preventing diaper blowouts.

 

3. THE JELLY ROLL FOLD

The jelly roll fold can be a little challenging to learn at first. But it works great for capturing newborn or breastfed babies' liquid stools. This fold turns the prefold into a thicker, wider diaper that's perfect for catching those little accidents.

To make this fold, lay the prefold flat, then roll up the edges like a jelly roll. To create thicker and wider back wings, roll on the diagonal. And then, fasten these wings to the front edge of the diaper with diaper pins or a Snappi. 

 

how to fold prefold

 

The jelly roll fold is a little tricky at first, but you'll get better with practice!

 

PROS

CONS

  • Great for newborns
  • A little hard to do for beginners
  • Works best at keeping in runny breastfed/liquid poops.
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins
  • Requires no diaper cover.
  • May feel a little bulky.
  • Stay in place better than pad folds.

 

4. THE BIKINI FOLD

Also known as the "twist fold," this type of prefold folding is great for newborns because shorts or pants can be pulled up easily over the diaper. It's a simple method for prefold diaper folding that leaves no extra bulk at the waist. 

This fold isn’t very complicated, but the twist can sometimes make it difficult to secure.

You’ll start with your prefold diaper flat. Then, make a twist in the middle by taking the front and flipping it over. Then place the baby in the diaper. Bring the front up towards the baby’s belly button.

Hold the front with one hand and bring the sides up, like the other folds. Fasten with a snappi and cover with a cover.

 

ways on how to fold prefold

 

 

PROS

CONS

  • Beginners friendly!
  • Not as good as angel and jelly folds for capturing runny stool. 
  • Great for newborns.
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins
  • Provides excellent coverage in the front and back area.
  • May feel a little bulky.
  • Requires no diaper cover.
  • Perfect for baby girls as it provides more absorbency in the middle section.

 

5. MODIFIED JELLY ROLL FOLD

This is the one I use the most. It is the same steps as the jelly roll, but you fold instead of rolling.

This is also my favorite for tiny newborns because you can fold the top part down, so the umbilical cord is not getting rubbed against it. This also creates more absorbency up front.

 

How to use prefold cloth diapers

 


PROS

CONS

  • Great for newborns
  • A little hard to do for beginners
  • Works best at keeping in runny breastfed/liquid poops.
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins
  • Stay in place better than pad folds.

 

6. THE NEWSPAPER FOLD

The newspaper fold looks similar to an angel fold, but it has more layers in the front than an angel fold, which makes it great for boys. They're also easy to make and adjust if your prefold is too long or short. 

Start with your prefold out flat. Then fold the part of the prefold closest to you up about a quarter of the way.

'Fold each side of the diaper in, creating a trapezoid shape. Then place your baby on it. Fold it up and bring the sides around, like the previous diapers, and secure it with a snappi. Then place a cover over it.

 

how to fold a prefold diaper

 

PROS

CONS

  • Beginners friendly!
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins
  • Requires no diaper cover. 
  • Bulkier than other folds
  • Great for shortening a long prefold. 
  • Provides excellent coverage in the front and back area.
  • Ideal for baby boys as it provides more absorbency in the front section.

 

7. THE DIVA FOLD

Although this is one of the least used folds for prefolds, it has its own advantages. This fold puts the bulky extra fabric at the back of your baby’s bum and provides a neat finish in the front.  It's also perfect for parents who want the diaper to cover their baby's bum completely. 

To use this fold, all you have to do is make your baby lie on their tummy while fastening the angel wing fold at the back.

Diva fold is easier than the regular angel fold because the bulky part of the diaper ends up on the back instead of in the front. But, if your baby hates lying on her tummy, we recommend using any other prefold diaper folding method. 

 

PROS

CONS

  • Beginners friendly!
  • Difficult to fasten. 
  • Requires no diaper cover. 
  • Make the back bulkier or uncomfortable for the babies to lie on their backs. 
  • Provides excellent coverage in the back area.
  • Need a Snappi or diaper pins

SELECTING THE BEST PREFOLD FOR YOUR BABY

PREFOLD FABRIC

Now that you have seen how to fold a prefold diaper, you can feel more confident about your choice.

Nicki’s Diapers has several different types of prefolds, including cotton, bamboo, unbleached cotton, and unbleached bamboo. They are all similar but have varying layers and paneling. They generally have one central panel with eight layers and two outer panels with four layers each. In addition, Nicki's provides organic cotton, which is divided into 3 panels with 3-6-3 layers.

Your pick of material will simply depend on your priorities because they all have different advantages.

For instance, bamboo is both more expensive and more absorbent than cotton. With a cost that is almost one-third less than that of bamboo prefolds, cotton prefolds are unquestionably the more affordable option.

Bamboo prefolds are much softer than cotton, which is stiffer. Additionally, it lacks stretch, making it slightly more challenging to fit, although not significantly.

There are also other options forcloth diaper cover materials besides PUL. One example is wool.

This is a great option for those that want an all-natural option as well. This cover can be used many, many times before it needs to be cleaned.

Wool is “washed” and taken care of very differently than PUL. Another option is a fleece cover. These do not have the same water resistance as a PUL cover, but they work very well.

PREFOLD SIZING

Even though you can adjust sizing depending on the fold, prefolds come in different sizes, so there isn’t excess fabric to inhibit the baby’s movement. Nicki’s prefold sizes range from X-Small to Large to accommodate babies from just 4 pounds all the way up to 30 or more.

You can also use prefolds in your pocket diapers; if you do not like the one that comes with the diaper, you can put your prefold in it. X-Small Prefold Diapers best fit babies 4-10lbs, while the Small best-fit babies 7-17lbs. When it comes to the Medium and Large Prefold Diapers, the Medium best fits babies 12-25lbs, and the Large best fits babies 15-30lbs. 

 

USING YOUR PREFOLDS POST-POTTY TRAINING

There are a few ways to upcycle prefolds once you are done with them: 

  • You can dust with them or even use them on your Swiffer—just secure it with some hair ties on the ends.
  • Makereusable pads.
  • Use them as burp cloths. 
  • My husband’s favorite way to reuse prefolds is shop towels. He always asks if we have any more that the baby outgrew or that I am not using anymore.

If you want to cover up any stains or make them much cuter, then sew cute print material onto it.

I suggest flannel; it’s super soft for the baby to lie on and does not repel water. You can also dye them different colors around the house to make them more pleasing to look at. 

PREFOLDS FOR THE WIN!

In my experience, prefolds are really the best value for your money. I have some of the same prefolds from my first child that I am using with my baby now.

They are 8 years old and still holding strong—still super absorbent and did not shrink as much as I thought they would over time. Not only can you use them from birth to potty training, but you can also reuse them for all your kids and many other purposes.

It’s also much easier learning how to fold prefold than you might think. Being so durable and versatile, cloth diaper prefolds really are the gift that keeps on giving.