What is a Prefold Diaper?
A Prefold cloth diaper is a multi-layer cloth diaper absorbency that is folded to size for use as a cloth diaper. Think of flat, but folded into a rectangle and sewn to shape.
There are two main types of prefolds, traditional and modern.
Traditional Prefolds are made from birdseye cotton and consist of upwards of 6-8 layers of material with three sections. These may be padfolded or folded onto baby.
Modern Prefolds are a similiar idea, most likely intended to be used as a padfolded insert, but consist of only 2-3 layers of a higher quality textile.
Why Use a Prefold Diaper?
Prefolds get a bad reputation for being old fashion and out of date, but prefolds are classic quiessential cloth diaper that works for almost everybody.
Prefold diapers are the answer to your leaky diapers – they offer a low cost insert with high value absorbency and a trim fit.
Prefolds look bulky, but most prefolds conform to baby’s shape better and give a trimmer fit.
Prefolds are really the best cloth diaper choice and can be added to cloth diaper covers, pockets, and even added to an AIO for an big oomph of absorbency.
Modern prefold diapers feel expensive at $8-12 each, but they typically offer a low cost absorbency averaging about 80cents per ounce. An insert holds about 5 ounces, but a prefold can hold 8-12 ounces.
What Size Prefold?
Typically, most families need a size 2 prefold that measures about the dimensions of a piece of paper, give or take. A size 2 prefold can be folded onto baby during infancy, and then padfolded into a diaper for toddlerhood.
You can see an example of a padfolded size 2 prefold in a Smart Bottoms Too Smart Cover.
Size 2 prefolds may shrink over time, or be too short for larger toddlers, but that usually happens aroudn 30lbs and then you can gage whether it’s worth it for your family to invest in larger prefolds, or wait out the potty training.
Larger prefolds do give more absorbency, but be cautiousof too much bulk and length. It may be better for your family to choose a smaller prefold and add a hemp insert or other booster.
Padfold or Fold Onto Baby?
You have a choice on how you use your prefolds. When purchasing prefold diapers you may realize that there are different widths available.
Some widths are better for padfolding (shorter wings) and some are better for folding onto baby (longer wings).
To fold onto baby you may want to choose a cloth diaper fastener like a boingo, snappi, or belt.
Where to Buy Prefolds?
Prefold to Check Out
What Brands? What to Try?
I fell in love with the Bummi’s cotton prefold in an infant sizing and it was the bulk of my stash – my favourite prefold. However, this is no longer a popular brand or available product.
Check out the absorbency list to see how numbers compare. Not all products listed below I have tested.
- AMP Diapers Prefold – organic cotton in 4 sizes
- Buttons Prefolds – available in cotton or bamboo/cotton with 3 sizes – **
- Geffen Baby – conventional pakistan made prefolds available.
- Green Mountain Diaper Prefolds – these are not available in Canada but get great reviews around the web.
- GroVia – available in 4 sizes – these can shrink up on you. **
- Imagine Baby Prefolds – bamboo prefold in 4 sizes
- Nicki’s Diapers (USA) – another popular american prefold, not available anywhere but Nicki’s.
- Osocozy Prefolds – available in over 10 different sizes with two widths – these prefolds hold a lot.
- Rearz Prefold – This is a Canadian retailer that I’ve heard okay things about and is available at Well.ca .
** any gauze-material prefold with a bamboo blend is likely to slowly shrink overtime if you use the dryer.
Sometimes you also stumble upon house brands of prefolds from retailers to brands to diaper services. These gauze based prefolds are largely manufactured overseas in the Middle East and imported.
Just pick one and buy it to try it. Buy a package of 3, or 6, and see if it works for you. How did I try Bummi’s? It was my local retailer stock. I’m not loving on the Osocozy or the Imagine Baby, but curious on about the GMD (Green Mountain) because they get so much love.
Modern Prefold Inserts
Video on Modern
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a diaper cover with prefolds?
Yes. A Prefold is just absorbent material, and if you want a stay dry function, then you need to use a cloth diaper cover or pocket diaper.
You can use PUL covers with padfolded or folded on inserts, and then check out wool or fleece covers if folding and fastening.
On average, it is recommended to use 1 cover for every three diaper changes, or until the cover is soiled.
What do I think about newborn prefolds?
Ehh… Most newborn prefolds (2-4-2) are tissues and barely hold anything. Unless you have a tiny baby, you’re better off to go with a size 2 prefold with 6-8 layers prefold and have the extra bulk so that you get a full absorbency with longevitity.
I don't want to keep buying new sizes
Most families do make one size of prefolds work, unless they have large children or heavy wetters. But what we don’t tell you, is that parents who choose inserts, usually need to upgrade their inserts in toddlerhood too.
Cheaper ways to upgrade inserts in toddlerhood include repurpsing receiving blankets, cotton t-shirts, and buying prefolds second hand.
Can I use prefold with pocket diapers
Yes! Swap out those microfiber inserts for a padfolded (folded in thirds) prefold. You can place the prefold inside the pocket opening, or lay it on top.
How to fold prefold for baby with snap
Which Prefold is best?
A couple of things to look for when reading reviews is to find a prefold that fits your budget, is verstaile for the way you want to use it, and doesn’t shrink funny.
Some prefolds, like Buttonsand Imagine Baby, are notorious for shrinking to funnyshapesand sizes.
I loved the Bummis Prefold, and have heard the AMP is a great alternative. I also love modern prefolds like Nuggles and Smart Fold.
Professional Cloth Diaper Educator
Bailey brings 5+ years of cloth diapering experience and conversation to the cloth diaper space. She's not just your every day mom blogger sharing her experience - Bailey is immersed in the cloth diaper community learning from other parents and growing as an individual. She wants to find the cloth diaper solution that truly works for you.
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