Megan Holdham

Complete beginner's guide to prefold cloth diapers #prefolddiapers #prefolddiaperguide #prefoldclothdiapers

Prefold Diaper Guide: Cloth 101

Welcome to my prefold diaper guide! Prefolds are my personal favorite type of cloth diaper. To learn more about them, read on!

Note: This post may contain Amazon affiliate links. Read my affiliate disclosure to see what that means.

What is a Prefold?

Prefolds have been around since the 1950’s.

To make them, several layers of absorbent material are sandwiched together and sewn into place. This forms a rectangle that typically has six or eight layers of fabric down the center, and four layers on the sides.

prefold diaper thirds

Benefits of using prefold diapers

There are several benefits to using prefold diapers!

They’re slightly easier to use than diaper flats, while still being affordable and easy to clean.

While they come in a few different sizes, each size can be used for a long time (example: once you’re no longer able to fit a size small AROUND your baby, it still will work in a pad fold!). There are many ways to fold them. So, they’re very versatile!

Downsides to prefold diapers

Prefolds can be pad folded (which is super easy!), or they can be wrapped around baby with a more complex fold. Some of these folds CAN be intimidating, especially when you’re first practicing on a squirmy, crying newborn. So, that could be considered a con. But don’t worry! YOU TOO can master each fold with only a little practice.

With prefolds, you need to pair them with a waterproof cover. They are not as convenient as an all-in-one or even an all-in-two system. If you are looking for something that is really easy right from the get go, or you have a lot of different people who are going to be changing baby, prefolds might not be for you. Despite this, I wouldn’t count them out just yet. I always recommend trying a few different styles of cloth diapers before deciding what you want in your stash.

Not all prefolds are created equal.

Size matters

While prefold size may vary slightly depending on the manufacturer, they generally come in about four sizes. The color of the surge thread on each end of the prefold typically indicates size. It is up to you to decide which ones you want to stock up on.

Our family decided to skip the smallest size (XSmall, because we have large babies) and get a supply of mostly Small, some Medium, and a good amount of Large. I can go in depth on why I chose the amount I did of each size in a future post. Let me know down below if that is something you are interested in.

prefold diaper sizes

How to use a prefold diaper


There are essentially five main ways to fold a prefold (although there are variations to almost all of these):


Angel fold

Bikini Fold

Jelly Roll Fold

Newspaper Fold

Pad Fold

CLICK HERE to read my full tutorial on how to do each of these folds!


If you’re doing a pad folded prefold, you wont need any additional items to secure it to your baby, because it just lays inside your diaper cover. However, if you’re fancy and are wrapping the prefold around your baby, you will probably want some sort of device to hold the diaper in place. Below are the three most popular options for securing a diaper:

Diaper Pins

diaper pins

Yes, there are still people who use diaper pins.



Snappis are made of stretchy rubber and have little teeth to hold onto the diaper. They are very popular, and do a good job of keeping everything together.



Boingos are similar to Snappis in that they are made of a stretchy rubber and have little teeth to grip the diaper. They are also really cute.

When it’s not working

Increase the absorbency

If you are having leaking issues, the most likely reason is because you need more absorbency. One way you can extend the use of your prefold is by adding a doubler down the center of the diaper. Just make sure that if the doubler is going to be touching baby’s skin, the material is skin-contact safe (i.e. not microfiber).

Try a different fold

One issue we have sometimes when using a pad fold, is that it doesn’t contain poop as well as some of the other folds. When in the newborn stage, I find it very beneficial to wrap the prefold around baby’s bottom using the jellyroll fold, rather than going with the simple pad fold. Different folds are great in different scenarios, so find the one that works best for your baby. It may change as they grow!

Try another size

One of the benefits of using prefolds is that you can use one particular size for a long period of time. However, if you find you are having leaking issues and you either don’t want to add a doubler, or you’ve tried that and it’s not enough, you can try going up in size.

See which material you like best

Like most cloth diapers, prefolds can be made out of different materials. The cheapest and most common is typically 100% cotton, which works GREAT. There are also a variety of blends between cotton, hemp, and bamboo. Once you have experience as a cloth diaper mom, you will discover what your personal preferences are for material. Cotton is traditional and the most affordable, but blends made up of the other materials are usually more absorbent.

What do you think? What else would you like to know about prefold diapers? Did I leave out something super important? Let me know in the comments.

Read my post about some of the other diaper types.

Complete Beginners guide to prefold cloth diapers #clothdiapers101 #clothdiapersforbeginners #makeclothmainstream

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