Here’s all that you need to know about the different cloth diaper folding techniques that will make you love prefolds.
Cloth Diapering has come a long way from just a piece of cloth wrapped around the baby’s bottom to today’s Modern Cloth Diapers that give stiff competition even to disposable diapers in terms of comfort and absorbency.
But the humble cloth is still many mothers’ favorite for its versatility and affordability.
When I was still new to Cloth Diapering I’ve heard many mothers boast about prefold Cloth Diapers and I just couldn’t wrap my head around what was so special about it until I tried it myself.
prefold cloth diapers give you the freedom to customize it according to your baby’s needs without the complications that come with folding a flat diaper.
Although flats have been the go-to cloth diapers of our grandmothers, the need to fold it is what scares many new mothers away, including me. The onerous job of folding the diaper discourages us to use it. This is the disadvantage the prefold diaper eliminates by coming, well, pre- folded.
What is a flat diaper and a prefold diaper?
A flat diaper is just a piece of fabric cut into a square or a rectangular shape which is folded to cover your baby’s bum and absorb the pee and contain poop.
A prefold diaper is just like flats but they are already folded and stitched in such a way that their middle part has more layers to increase absorbency where it is needed the most.
When I say folding the cloth diaper, there are two types of foldings that are involved.
- Folding the flat cloth into a rectangular shape and adding more layers to the middle section for increased absorption.
- Folding that diaper into a shape that can be worn on your baby’s bum.
With prefolds the first step is eliminated and now, we’re just left to fold the diaper and accommodate it to our baby’s bottom.
How does a prefold diaper work?
It’s really no rocket science.
But let me tell you the anatomy of a prefold diaper. The pre fold diaper is a rectangular shaped 3-panel diaper that is made from multiple layers of fabric like hemp, cotton, bamboo etc.
They are usually described by the number of layers each section comes with. When they say 4*8*4 prefold diaper, they mean that the first and the third section has a 4 layer fabric and the middle section has 8 layers of fabric.
As the centre panel has the maximum absorbency, it ensures that your baby doesn’t experience any leaks.
Now the prefold diaper is folded and worn on your baby. Do not be bewildered when I say ‘folded’ as it doesn’t require any origami skills. I promise that it’s much easier than it sounds.
What accessories do you need with Prefold diapers?
The prefold needs just a couple of things to go with.
- Ofcourse you need a prefold diaper to being with. If you are a beginner and looking for the best prefold diaper to try, then these ones are my top recommendation. They are budget friendly and extremely durable. I still have these in great condition after 5 years of diapering two children.
- You need a snappi (these are the best ones out there) to fasten the prefold diaper. Earlier, the diaper was fastened with a pin but a snappi is safer to use.
- If you do not like to use snappi, then you can try these ones, which works similar to snappi. They also look cuter than snappi’s.
- You need a diaper cover as just the prefold diaper is not leakproof. My favorite ones are the Thirsties brand. They come in both velcro and snap closure in many adorable prints.
Ways to fold a Prefold cloth diaper
There are numerous ways to fold a prefold diaper which is what makes prefold diapers fabulous as you can choose whatever works for your baby best.
Did you know that you could have a different fold for a girl baby and a boy baby? Well, you do.
Boy babies need maximum absorption in the front and the girl babies need maximum absorption in the middle. It’s easier to customize the prefolds than any other cloth diaper to suit your needs.
I’ve just selected the most popular and the most used ways to fold the prefold diaper to make you believe that you really can do this prefold thing.
With a little practise, I bet you can master the diaper folding techniques.
1.Pad fold or Tri-fold:
It can also be called a trifold because it is simply folding the cloth three times one above the other. You will obviously need a diaper cover with this kind of fold because it can’t stand by itself and you cannot fasten it with a snappi or a pin.
Simply fold the prefold into thirds lengthwise and place it inside a diaper cover. For tinier babies, you can also fold the prefold into thirds breadthwise. It gives you a shorter and a wider pad to adjust well unto the diaper cover thereby increasing the absorbency in the middle.
This fold is a go-to for cloth diapering beginners but I must warn that this fold in particular doesn’t stay in its place. It can move and cause leaks.
If you are using pocket diapers for your baby, you can use these padfolds as an insert too. In fact, many mothers prefer using these padfolds as an extra booster in the pocket diapers for older babies who need more absorbency.
2.Angel wing fold
Angel wing fold is one of the most widely used folding techniques because it’s so easy and it is better than padfolds for two reasons.
- You can use the Angel fold without a diaper cover by fastening it with a snappi.
- It stays in its place better than padfolds.
In the Angel fold, you fold both sides of just one end of the prefold and keep the other end untouched.
There are two ways to do the Angel wing fold.
- Lay the prefold flat on a surface and fold both corners of the front end towards the middle section and leave the back lying flat. Or,
- Lay the prefold flat on a surface, make a padfold and fan out just one end of it.
Then you can just fold the back corners around to the front and fasten it with a snappi.
Angel wing fold is very easy and gives coverage on the back of the baby’s bum to catch all the runny poop of newborn babies and gives good layering in the front and the middle to absorb pee.
3.The Jelly Roll:
The Jelly Roll is very similar to the Angel fold except that, instead of folding the front half, you roll it inwards along the edges so that the front is rolled in and the back half is still flat.
Then bring the back corner to the front around the baby’s waist and fasten it with a snappi.
Many mothers find that rolling the prefold along the baby’s thighs helps contain the runny poop better.
Bikini Twist is very simple it’s almost like not folding at all.
For the Bikini fold also called the Twist fold, lay the prefold flat, and twist the middle at a 180 degree angle. Place your baby on the diaper and pull the front corners and tuck it behind your baby before bringing the back corners and fasten it with a snappi.
Although, this fold gives more coverage both in the front and in the back, many feel it isn’t as efficient as the Jelly Roll or the Angel fold to hold runny poop as there is no “pocket” to catch the poop.
But this fold gives good absorbency in the middle which is great for baby girls.
5.The Newspaper fold:
Newspaper fold is the best one for little boys because it puts maximum absorbency in the front along with giving good coverage at the back.
The Newspaper fold is just like the Angel fold but here, we just fold the front a little before making the Angel fold to add more layers in the front.
To do the Angel fold, lay the prefold flat on a surface and fold the front end to make it a little shorter and fold in both sides of that end. Then you can keep your baby on the prefold diaper, fold the front towards your baby and pull the back corners to the front and fasten it with a snappi.
You can also try this fold to shorten your prefold if you have a long one.
Now, the Newspaper fold is a little bulkier than the other folds mentioned here but that’s what increases its absorbency in the front.
6.The Diva Fold
The Diva Fold is one of the least used folds and that is why I have mentioned it the last. But if you are looking for a neat finish to your prefold diaper, you might like this one.
Diva fold is the same as the Angel wing fold. It’s just that, instead of folding the front half, the back half is folded and the front corners are pulled to the back of your baby before fastening it with a snappi.
The main disadvantage of the fold is that it’s more difficult to fasten the prefold at the back of your baby’s bottom. So, you can just make your baby lie on her tummy while doing that and we all know how much babies hate to be on their tummy.
How to customize your folds:
With any of the above mentioned folds, you can customise them to suit your baby’s personal needs. Below are a few tips.
- If your prefold is too long for your baby, you can fold the back down a few inches to shorten them.
- Shortening the length in the front, increases absorbency in the front which is great for boy babies. While shortening the length in the back creates a blockade for the poop to escape from behind.
- Don’t throw away the prefolds that are too short for your baby, you can use them as a booster. You can place it in the front(for boys) or in the middle( for girls) to add extra absorbency.
Once you get accustomed to the folding techniques, prefolds will become your favorite kind of cloth diapers in no time. Because they just have so much to give.
They give you the freedom to customize it the way you want and they are very versatile.
Please do share your thoughts on what your favorite fold is and what worked best for your baby!