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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 Prefold Diapers: Prefold Cloth Diapers Simplified

People often refer to prefolds as the “original” cloth diapers. Well, that’s kind of true. The “original” cloth diaper could really be anything that could be used as a diaper, such as flour sacks, flour sack towels, shirts, and any cloth in general.

Prefolds were the first type of sewn or serged diaper with extra padding in the middle of the diaper, where absorbency is needed the most.

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. 

Your Introduction To How to Fold Prefold Cloth Diapers

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. 

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?

prefold cloth diaper with a snappi

Understanding How to Fold a Cloth Diaper: Meet the Snappi

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

Each prefold fold serves a specific purpose. For example, a newspaper fold is good for boys, because they need more absorbency in the front, while girls need more in the middle or back, so a bikini fold works better for them.

Don’t worry, I will show you how these fancy folds work with pictures throughout this blog. When I asked Nicki’s Diapers about nighttime solutions, they said, “You just pad fold them and lay them in the cover.

If you need more absorbency just pad fold 2.” This is when I learned what fluff bum really meant. 

how to pad fold cloth diaper prefolds

Choosing Prefolds and Covers: The Buddy System for Cloth Diapers

When you use prefold cloth diapers, it’s handy to have a cover, as a prefold all on its own is not leak proof.

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. 

cloth diaper changing table

Now feeling confident that we had an understanding of how to use prefold cloth diapers, we left the store with about 30 prefold diapers, 10 covers, and a few snappis to hold the diaper together—much easier than pins!

I was so excited to start, despite the negative feedback we were getting from our family; but we had to make this work, as our kid was allergic to disposable diapers. We were all in with cloth diapers, because we had to be. 

How to Prep Your New Nicki’s Prefolds for Folding Cloth Diapers

When you receive your Nicki's Diapers Prefolds, they will look quite large, flat, and feel slightly stiff. To prep 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! 

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.

After that,  it was off to the races to put it on our little guy. Remembering how to fold a prefold diaper was a challenge at first, but I started with a basic pad fold. ?

In short, you simply fold the flat into a pad that is long enough or short enough to fit inside the diaper, and you're done. It only appears to be an inset. This is what we did until we felt more comfortable with the diapers.

Strategies For How To Fold Prefold Cloth Diapers

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.

Padfold Prefold: The Simplicity of Folding Cloth Diapers

Probably the simplest prefold diaper fold, this is where you just take the prefold and fold the outer two sides in to meet the middle, so it looks like a big, thin pad.

Depending on if you are cloth diapering a boy or a girl, you may want to fold differently to get the maximum absorbancy 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.

jelly roll fold for prefold cloth diapers

Jelly Roll Prefold: The Ingenious Method to Fold Cloth Diapers

This is the least bulky of all the flat diaper folds. It also is effective at keeping all the solid mess contained. You start with the prefold out flat. Then you lay baby on the diaper.

Start on one side of the diaper and roll in all the way to the baby’s hip/bum. Then do the same to the other side, so the diaper looks like a triangle. Take the point of the triangle and bring it up and over the baby towards their belly button.

Hold it there, then one at a time, bring over each wing. Once it is done, it will kind of look like a regular diaper. Next, use your snappi to keep the diaper in place. Once that’s done, put the cover on. 

Modified Jelly Roll: An Easy Way to Fold Prefold Diapers

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 the 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.

modified jelly roll prefold

Newspaper Prefold: A Great Way to Fold Cloth Diapers for New Babies

This is another great diaper fold for new babies and boys, because it creates that extra absorbency in the front.

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

how to newspaper fold a prefold

'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 with a snappi. Then place a cover over it.

Bikini Prefold: How to Fold Prefold Diapers for Maximum Absorbency

This fold has a twist in the middle that maximizes absorbency, making it perfect for little girls. 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 on 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. 

how to Bikini Fold for prefold cloth diapers

Selecting The Best Prefold For Your Baby: Fabric and Sizing Options

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.

Nicki’s prefolds are made of a variety of fabrics, including cotton, bamboo, and unbleached cotton, and 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 more stiff. Additionally, it lacks stretch, making it slightly more challenging to fit, although not significantly.

There are also other options for cloth 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 to a point depending on the fold, prefolds do come in different sizes so there isn’t excess fabric to inhibit 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 use prefolds in your pocket diapers as well; 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. 

Repurposing 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.
  • Make reusable 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 a cute print material on to it.

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

Cloth Diaper Prefolds: The Durable and Versatile Solution

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 are you able to use them from birth to potty training, you can reuse them for all your kids and many other purposes as well.

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.

In conclusion, learning how to fold a cloth diaper might seem intimidating at first, but with a little practice, you'll soon be a pro. These diaper folding techniques are tried and true, and they'll make cloth diapering a breeze. Happy folding!