All about Prefolds! (34w1d)

Preface: if you could care less about how we’re going to diaper this kid or why we chose the method we did – go ahead and skip this posting.

I talked about cloth diapering a bit a couple of months ago, but we decided to go with a different type of diapers (to start with at least) after I did more research. (We might start out in disposables anyway, especially if our little guy comes as soon as we think he might and is very wee.)

The type of diapers we’re using are referred to as Prefolds. They’re similar to the cloth diapers that our parents used on us – absorbent cotton layers within a moisture-barrier cover. But whereas the diapers our moms used on us were single layers (flats) that required piling 4-8 layers on top of each other, pinning them onto us and then stuffing our huge fluffy butts into plastic/rubber pants with really tight leg gathers to prevent leaking… today’s prefolds and covers are a much easier, thinner option.

The term ‘prefold’ and opposed to ‘flat’ means that there are varying layers sewn into the diaper, in thirds. So the left and right thirds of the diaper are thinner than the middle third, expressed as #x#x# – so a 4x8x4 has four layers on the left and right sides, and 8 layers in the middle. MUCH easier to achieve the necessary absorbency without trying to pin 8 whole diapers onto a squirming baby!

The covers are single layer, moisture-resistant (I’m hesitant to tempt fate by saying moisture-proof) material in the shape of a disposable diaper with velcro tabs. The prefold diaper can be folded and applied to the baby using a Snappi (or pins) or just folded in thirds, laid into the cover and applied like a disposable diaper. (Folding and using a Snappi is preferred as it will contain baby poo much better.) The covers usually don’t get messy when the diaper is changed and can be used several times before needing a wash. Rotating through two covers during the day gives time for the cover to air out between uses. (Of course, if the cover gets wet or dirty, it goes into the diaper pail with the dirty prefold it held.)

We decided to go with prefolds and covers for a couple of reasons:

  • Prefolds and covers are more customizable in sizes than the AIO (all in one) or pocket diaper options we were looking at. The covers are adjustable in size, and there are myriad sizes and thicknesses of prefolds to choose from.
  • Prefolds can be used on newborns much easier than AIO diapers because you can use to use thinner inserts. Less layers between newborn baby’s legs is good.
  • Prefolds are less picky than other types of diapers. With other materials (microfiber, fleece, hemp, etc) you can’t use diaper creams and have to pay much closer attention to your washing routine. The materials are very sensitive to build up from detergents or hard water and will start to repel moisture, which causes diapers to leak like mad. Cotton prefolds are much hardier and actually work better the harder you wash & dry them. (Detergent choices are still important with cloth diapers though, as you don’t want to strip the moisture-resistance from the covers nor do you want the chance of enzymes or brighteners to not be rinsed from the diapers which could cause a nasty rash when combined with baby pee.) Another benefit of cloth diapering is that diaper rashes are almost unheard-of, but if a rash happens you don’t have to worry about ruining your expensive pocket diapers by using diaper cream.

I’ve purchased 3.5 dozen infant-sized and 3 dozen regular-sized prefolds along with a dozen covers, which should be enough of a stash to get us through diapering this kid from start to finish. (Cost on all that was just over the cost of 2 months of disposable diapers.) We might still purchase some pocket/AIO style diapers (like the ones I originally blogged about) but we’re not sure. Those all-in-one styles are easier to use, but word on the diaper forums I frequent is that once you start using prefolds, you just don’t wanna use anything else! We’ll see. I’m just glad that I’ve found options out there that we can afford!

I color-coded all the prefolds by running a blue or red zigzag stitch along the serged edges – thinking that once we’re using both sizes together it will be easier for Paul to tell them apart at a glance by checking the color as opposed to the size. (An infant-sized layer inside a regular-sized layer can make all the difference for staying dry during a long nap when the little guy is 6 months old!)

I had some fun last weekend prepping the prefolds for use. That’s the only downside to prefolds – the first-time prep of them. You have to wash them with hot water 5-10 times (drying in-between) to wash out ALL the natural wax and oil from the unbleached cotton and to get them to shrink up fully and “quilt” to full absorbency. But I found a shortcut on one of my diaper forums: BOIL THEM!! Two stock pots and two hours later, 3.5 dozen diapers were ready to be put into service! Boiling the prefolds for 15 minutes did the work of 3 full cycles through the washer and dryer. I was able to wash them all twice in the washing machine and after the 2nd time through the dryer, they’re SO soft and fluffy! Even Paul was impressed and remarked that he thought they’d make good diapers!

So our schedules will be enriched with the addition of 2-3 extra loads of laundry a week. But the cost savings over disposables, and the benefit of knowing we’re not tossing 60-80 diapers a week into the local landfill is well worth it to us. The laundry part won’t be a thing at all, especially while I’m exclusively breastfeeding our little man. EBF baby poop is totally water soluble, so with a regular wash + an extra rinse, our baby’s diapers will be perfectly clean – and so will our washing machine. We have enough diapers to do laundry every 2nd or 3rd day (assuming 12-15 every 24 hours) so we won’t be struggling to keep up. Once baby starts on solids, we’ll dump the poo into the toilet (we’ll install a little sprayer onto the supply line for the toilet to help spray off the diaper) and wash everything the same way. Wet diapers are wet diapers, regardless of how old he is.

Paul and I are happy with our choice. We know it’s not for everyone, but we think it will work for us. If anyone has any questions about cloth diapers, I’m happy to answer them or provide links to where I got the info that helped us make our choice. Here’s a couple of my favorites:

  • Little Lions is who all our prefolds came from. They have great prices on seconds and clearance specials as well as great customer service. They also have some great info about cloth diapering in general.
  • Luv your Baby Products are the supplies of Kawaii Baby diapers in the US and Canada. The lady who runs the place is amazing and has seen her business explode in the last year thanks to favorable ratings on diaper forums. I got our covers from LuvYourBaby and I’ll purchase pocket/AIO diapers there too if we go that way.
  • DiaperSwappers is a fantastic CD (cloth diapering) forum and sales resource. It’s probably the biggest clearinghouse for the used CD market anywhere and is a VAST resource of CD knowledge from amazingly helpful mamas all over the world.
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