Once upon a time, there once was a new mum in Nest Nappies. She was excitedly groping all the pretty nappies while her husband rocked their new baby outside the store with the other dads that seemed to have been sent outside for the same purpose, to let mummy shop. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw another new mum looking nervously at prefolds. Being the shy, retiring type she barged straight up to that stranger and started talking about how great prefolds are and how they’re really not that scary and how she really should buy some. That mother was me. And this is a slightly more cohesive version of my frenzied, sleep-deprived speech I gave my (now) friend Zoe in Nest Nappies that day. (Yes, she decided to be friends with me after that. Who knows why?)
So for the next few weeks, I’m going to be on my prefolds soapbox. We’re going to talk about what one is, why they’re awesome and how to use them like a pro. In all your research trying to understand how to use modern cloth nappies you probably overlooked the humble prefold. It exists in a no-mans land between the ease of a modern cloth nappy (all-in-two or all-in-one) and the more complicated flat. Over the next five weeks, we’re going to demystify the prefold and show you how truly genius this quiet achiever is. So let’s start with my top 10 reasons for loving prefolds.
But wait, first, what is a prefold? When I first looked into reusable nappies I was confused by the term “prefold” mostly because it looked distinctly not folded. However, I came to realise the term refers to the fact that they mimic a flat that has been “prefolded” down to a convenient size. The extra layers of absorbency are sewn in right where you need it, in the middle panel. They come in cotton (cheaper and more durable) or bamboo (luxuriously soft and super absorbent).
Right, now we’ve all got that onto the list.
- Economical. Prefolds are a great budget-friendly option. Cotton ones especially are extremely economical. Prefolds start at less than $5 so you’ll be amazed at how cheap it is to put together a full-time stash. They’re an excellent option for those wanting to cloth from birth. Newborns go through over a 1000 nappies in the first three months, so starting cloth young can save you a bundle… but more about that next week! Keep in mind the entire nappy is absorbent so you do need a waterproof cover over the top, but you can usually reuse each cover several times before washing it. So once again a really economical option. And on a nice hot day, especially if you’re playing outside there’s no problem with a prefold on it’s own.
- Versatile. Prefolds can be used in different ways at different stages. The newborn prefold that you could fit in a perfect angel fold around your little one only a few months ago now fits pad-folded as an extra insert in your Candie shell. Absorbency is very easily adjusted by folding differently or adding boosters. They can even be used as night nappies (see here) and small prefolds can be combined with larger ones to boost a night nappy.
- Durable. Prefolds are super simple to clean. They’re more low maintenance than some other nappy types because they have no elastics or PUL. They’re low maintenance and hard-wearing. You can comfortably wash them at higher temps and put them in the dryer whenever you please.
- Containment. This one is simple but important. They’re great for containing newborn poo. A two-part nappy system like a cover and prefold gives you added security against leaks and prefolds are excellent for protecting against poosplosions.
- Quick drying. Because they fold out flat prefolds are very quick for a natural fibre nappy. You can also put them in the dryer because as mentioned they don’t have any newfangled parts.
- Customisable. If you have extra length you can fold it down at the front for extra absorbency for little boys or fold down at the back to help create a little poo containing “pocket”.
- Snappis. Since the invention of the Snappi you don’t have to use nappy pins so it’s all very easy to pull together. If you’ve misplaced your Snappi (say, hypothetically your baby likes throwing them over the side of the change table…. Just hypothetically this definitely didn’t happen to me last Tuesday) you can even use a prefold without any fastening. Just use your cover to hold it all in place.
- Travel. If you’re going to travel with cloth they’re an excellent option because they don’t take up as much room, and you won’t need to take as many covers as if you were using an AI2 (all-in-two). And as mentioned they’re pretty quick drying. If you’re interested in travelling with cloth you can read about my tips and experiences here.
- Trim. Now this is one I don’t see mentioned much but it’s worth saying. Prefolds (depending on the fold) can be very trim. They mould to a baby’s shape better. And because the absorbency is spread all around the baby it’s less bulky.
- They will always fit. If you’re going through a period where bub’s other nappies aren’t fitting as well as they had been a prefold will always be there for you. That’s the great thing with something this versatile and customisable you get a perfect fit every. single. time.
This one is a bonus. After you’re done with nappies they can be used as rags and dusting cloths!
So if that hasn’t convinced you to give prefolds a go… well you didn’t read it right, go back and do it again!