Cloth Diapering: Which Prefold Should I Buy?

Prefold diapers are my absolutely favorite way to diaper Emily. I love the many ways I can fold the diaper before wrapping it around her, securing it with a Snappi, and then throwing a cover over the top. I love it so much I call it “Diaper Origami.” I thought I’d share a bit of what I’ve learned about prefolds so that you can purchase the ones that are right for you and your baby.

Why Prefolds are Terrific:

  1. You get 100% cotton or hemp touching your baby’s bum instead of plastic, gel, and chemicals
  2. Since they are natural fibers, they wash easily and don’t retain odors
  3. They are really absorbent
  4. If they get stained, you can lay your washed, damp prefolds out in the sun, and the sun will bleach them for you
  5. You can fold them in many different ways to custom fit your baby. Skinny or chunky — it doesn’t matter.
  6. They are very inexpensive
  7. They have a short drying time in the dryer, which I can’t say for the All-In-Ones or even some of the soakers and doublers out there
  8. They make terrific, highly coveted household rags when the diapering years are over

All Prefolds Are Not the Same

When you’re shopping for prefolds, you should know that all prefolds are not the same! Look for diapers labelled “Diaper Service Quality,” or DSQ for short. These are wide enough and long enough to fit a baby, and they usually have four layers of fabric on the sides and eight layers in the center. The fabric is usually either Indian cotton (a gauze fabric) or Chinese cotton (a twill), and it quilts up very nicely when you prewash it. You want that thick quilting in order for the diapers to absorb everything that comes out of your baby. You can also buy hemp prefolds, but they are VERY expensive. The two brands of cotton prefolds I recommend are the OsoCozy diapers and the Green Mountain Cloth-eez® diapers. Avoid the cheap brands that Target sells, like Gerber. They aren’t Diaper Service Quality and are better used as burp cloths.

OsoCozy Better Fit Prefolds

These diapers are shorter than normal diapers. They are specifically designed for you to fold them in thirds and place them in a diaper cover of your choice. The shorter length makes it so that they fit perfectly in the diaper cover without excess fabric hanging out the front or the back. This is the easiest way to diaper and it’s extremely husband-friendly. You don’t need to wrap the diaper around your baby at all. Simply fold into thirds, place in the cover, and secure the cover on your baby. Yes, it’s really that easy. There are no diaper pins or Snappis involved. This is actually the way that Tidee Didee, our local diaper service, recommends that you fold their diapers. My husband was very skeptical at first, because he exclusively used disposable diapers on his son, but he soon realized how easy this system was and I converted him into a cloth-diapering daddy. Now, a disadvantage of this is that you are more likely to get poop blowouts when your diaper is just floating around in a cover and isn’t nicely secured with a Snappi. But if you have a great diaper cover (Thirsties are my favorites, but any diaper cover will work), the poop stays nicely contained inside the cover and all you have to do is wipe your baby off, chuck the diaper and cover into the diaper pail, and whip out the next diaper and cover combo. I never had a poop stripe up the back of Emily’s shirt, ever. OsoCozy uses Indian cotton for their prefolds, which is a very soft, buttery gauze fabric. You can prewash it 2-3 times and it’s ready to use on your baby.

Of course, now that I’ve said you don’t need to Snappi it onto your baby, I’m going to turn around and say that when your baby is a smaller size, you can easily Snappi these diapers onto your baby without any problems. They are so short that they fit perfectly without you needing to fold the prefold down in the front or the back to make it fit onto your baby. I diapered Emily this way from birth to about 14 pounds (she weighed 6 pounds 14 ounces at birth and went down to 6 pounds 4 ounces right after birth). I used the OsoCozy Better Fit newborn size prefolds (with the purple edge-stitching) and size 1 Thirsties Duo Wraps along with some hand-me-down Tiny Tush extra small covers, which were a perfect size for my petite little girl. When she got to be about 12 pounds, we couldn’t really Snappi the diaper on her anymore, but trifolding it worked until she got old enough that she needed a larger diaper to absorb all of the pee she was producing. I just bought six of the red edge-stitched Better Fits that fit 14-30 pounds (just to see the difference between them and the Cloth-eez® diapers), and they are now truly the perfect size for her. I’m using the Snappi with them with no problems. Probably by 25 pounds, I’ll just be using the trifold method. And I love how soft they are! They are noticeably softer than the Cloth-eez®.

OsoCozy Prefolds (Standard Size)

When Emily outgrew her newborn prefolds, I was ready to buy the next size up. Now, I didn’t actually know that there was a difference between the Better Fit and the Standard Size prefolds (I thought they were all Better Fits), so I bought the Standard Size, which go from 15 – 30 pounds. Holy mackerel, those suckers are LONG!!!! I quickly learned the difference. This was ok with me, because I was excited to start practicing my Diaper Origami on Emily. There is extra fabric. A lot of extra fabric. These are perfect for a boy baby, because you can fold the front down into the “newspaper fold” and have a lot of absorbency right where little boys need it. I found that the size 1 Thirsties Duo Wrap covers were stretched a little tightly around all that fabric, so I switched to some hand-me-down Thirsties size small wraps and my Imse Vimse wool covers. I generally fold the back of the prefold down (to nicely contain the poop) and do some kind of newspaper fold combined with an angel-wing fold, or I do a jelly roll fold. It’s fun, and I love not just folding the diaper into thirds, but I don’t need that much fabric. These really aren’t my favorite prefolds. Don’t buy them if you don’t have to. Learn from my mistake and buy a shorter diaper.

Green Mountain Cloth-eez® Prefolds

These prefolds are great! I bought a dozen red-edged organic ones last week when I was preparing to teach my Cloth Diapering 101 class to show the difference amongst the prefolds. These are made from Chinese cotton (a twill fabric instead of gauze), so the threads are heavier and longer-lasting than the Indian cotton in the OsoCozy prefolds. Because of the natural plant oils in the twill, you need to prewash these diapers 5-7 times before they’re ready to use on your baby. Twill has a reputation for being very durable, so these diapers will probably last you through several children (if you have that many). You can use these diapers like the Better Fit diapers and trifold them into a diaper cover OR you can do Diaper Origami and secure them with a Snappi. The shorter length is AWESOME! I like these so much that I’m going to sell off my OsoCozy standard size prefolds and just go with these and my new OsoCozy Better Fits. Emily doesn’t actually need a diaper as long as the Standard Size prefolds. The Cloth-eez® are literally about an inch and a half longer than the OsoCozy Better Fit diapers, so there really isn’t much difference between the two. I thought there would be a lot more contrast between the two of them, but I was wrong. I prefer to use a Snappi, so the Cloth-eez® will probably end up being my favorites when Emily gets bigger.

So, to sum it all up, if you just want to trifold your diaper and place it in a cover, order the OsoCozy Better Fit diapers or the Cloth-eez® diapers in the correct size. If you’re really into Diaper Origami and you have a heavy-wetting little boy, buy the OsoCozy Standard Size prefolds, fold them with the newspaper fold, and secure them with a Snappi. If you want the flexibility of using a Snappi or trifolding your diaper, buy the Cloth-eez® diapers. Have fun!

A few notes: