The MANY Different Uses for a Prefold Cloth Diaper

Posted by Becca on 10/8/2013 to Cloth Diaper How-To

The Amazingly Versatile Prefold

I didn't have many prefolds when my daughter was a young baby and those I did have a didn't like to use as diapers unless we were out of everything else, but Baby Bear has a good variety of them in different sizes and fibers. This family largely prefers the use of pocket diapers so we don't actually have enough prefolds to use them full time (well we would, had I not fitted most of my stash with snaps--I loved them when diapering Bunny when she was older, I hate them now that we have Baby Bear), but we really, REALLY depend on prefolds even when Baby Bear is in a pocket diaper.  You've heard it before, I'm sure, but prefolds have SO MANY DIFFERENT USES!  Now that I have a baby who's a spit-up machine, I appreciate that more than normal. prefold,cloth diaper


So how do we use our prefolds?

Diapers Of course we use them as diapers either tucked into a cover, or folded and fastened to his little bum with a Snappi or Boingos.  Sometimes, old school is just best because prefolds are amazingly awesome diapers.

Pocket inserts Prefolds of all different sizes can be great substitutes for your typical microfiber insert in a pocket diaper.  I've actually taken to switching all of my microfiber inserts for either prefolds or flats and they're much more absorbent (in my opinion) than the microfiber, and they don't get stinky.  Also, according to a recent study by The Real Diaper Association, yeast doesn't stay on cotton prefolds after the wash so they're safer in that sense as well.  prefold

  Doublers The newborn and infant prefolds are great for doubling up at night time.  They're small and not super bulky and can be positioned to the front for boys or the middle/back for girls within the pocket of your diaper.

  Spit Rags/Burp Cloths Baby Bear spits up a lot.  He has reflux, so he can't help it.  We know that for the 30 minutes after he eats, it is not safe to hold him without a burp cloth so we always have a prefold on hand.  Actually, there are usually 3-5 of them positioned in strategic places around the house for easy access in a pinch.  This is not done on purpose.  This happens by accident because we're always leaving them around when we move from one room to another and then frantically searching for the old one and just grabbing a new one instead. cloth diapers

  Blankets I'm not ashamed to say that when Bear has fallen asleep and I happen to have a largish prefold on hand from burping him, I place it over his torso to keep away any drafts.  I wouldn't use them as blankets on purpose, but in the car seat or when he's fallen asleep in my arms or on the couch and don't have a blanket, they do the trick!  Also, I wouldn't use them when I'm not with the baby because they're pretty thick and could cause suffocation if they end up near his nose and mouth.

  Nursing Cover prefold diaper,cloth diaper If I were the type of person who covered while nursing, prefolds would make a sufficient cover--especially a large one.  It would at least be good for covering up that crescent moon of skin that's often exposed between Baby Bear's mouth and the bottom of my shirt. Personally, though, I refuse to cover my child's face for either my comfort or that of those around me. 

  Teether Baby Bear chose this use, not me.  Somehow, he got the prefold into his hand and once it was there, he began frantically stuffing it in his mouth and chewing on it.  So now I'll put the prefold near his hand on purpose so that he can chew on it while I run to the bathroom or do dishes.  He seems to like having the fabric in his mouth.

  Playmat A large prefold can be placed on the floor for an infant's playtime--either on their back or their tummy.   This is great when you're out of the house like in church or waiting through your daughter's dance class or your son's soccer practice. It's actually serving two purposes in this case: spit rag and play mat.  Once the infant is rolling over or moving around regularly I can't imagine this would actually work because they aren't large enough.

  Changing Pad I don't put a changing pad cover on my changing table because I like being able to wipe the surface clean.  However, sometimes it's nice to have something absorbent and/or soft underneath my baby, so I'll stick a large prefold under him.  This was great when I changed my daughter because when a little girl pees in the open air, it pools under her.  If you've forgotten your changing pad in your diaper bag when you're out and about, a prefold would be good for travel changes as well. 

  Pee tent Changing a little boy always presents the possibility of being sprayed.  A small prefold stuck over his wee boy parts while transitioning from one diaper to the other, or while wiping or applying rash cream is a great way to prevent your walls, curtains, clothes, etc from getting sprayed with urine.

  Towel Your four year old spilled her juice all over the floor while you were nursing?  No problem, throw her the prefold.  I have definitely used my son's prefold spit-rags to clean up messes the rest of us make.  They're more absorbent than towels, so why not?

  Rags Prefolds get softer and more absorbent the older they get.  Eventually they'll get a bit tattered and too worn to use as diapers.  That's when they go into the rag bin and can be used in general clean up around the house.

  My daughter didn't spit up much so I never used prefolds with her other than occasionally as diapers and changing pads.  With Baby Bear, though, since it follows him around everywhere, we have found ourselves using it for so many things and I wonder how I ever survived my daughter's infant-hood without it!  In fact, I am seriously thinking about buying a complete stash of them just because they're so useful and multi-purposeful even though I already have full stashes of pockets, fitteds, and flat diapers. 

  Do you use prefolds in your house?  What other uses have you found for them other than diapers? 


Date 10/10/2013
Now that my son is out of diapers, I use them to wipe up spills around the house. They also make great mats to go under or in front of a potty seat for a new pottier. Oh, and I have also wrapped a heat pack in a prefold before--that was nice!
Date 10/10/2013
We are no longer cloth diapering as we are passed the diapering stage. We gave most of our cloth diapers and covers to some friends who also cloth diaper, but we saved a few of the Indian Pre-fold and we use them for spill rags, just like what was mentioned above! I have also used them as paintbrush towels to wipe my paintbrushes on after scrapbooking. And yes, because of some of the type of paint have a few blue and purple paint stains, but I find them inspiring.
Date 10/10/2013
Rachel N
I use them as change pads on my change table and they are PERFECT for cleaning up potty training accidents
Date 10/11/2013
Cassandra Kelton
I originally thought prefold diapers were boring and that I would end up not using them much once I looked into pocket diapers and fitteds. But I LOVE them. They mop my floors, pick up spills, pad folded into covers for day and night use... And they are still in great shape after more than 1 and a half years of daily use!
Date 10/12/2013
Rachel Schoonmaker
My mother always used prefold diapers as dust cloths! I still have yet to use mine as diapers...I've been using them as burp cloths and changing pad covers. They just seem to be a bit too bulky for my baby right now.
Date 10/14/2013
Leela Rao
Ha, I think I've used a prefold for everything on your list! My favorite, and the only reason I bought toddler sized prefolds, is the changing table cover. It's so great when he pees or poops on the prefold table cover to be able to just food it up and drop it into the diaper pail. Of course, DS had reflux until he was 6 months, so our primary use was as spit up rags.
Date 10/15/2013
Maia G
I have some toddler size prefolds that will certainly be useful long before my child can wear them. Now I just need to buy some smaller ones too
Date 10/16/2013
I am loving our prefolds! Instead of using the microfiber inserts most of my diapers came with, I'm using prefolds and flats to stuff them with. Love it!
Date 10/19/2013
I have used the same prefolds on my son since the day we brought him home. Over 15 months! I have used them in so many ways. They truly are the work horse of the CD world.
Date 10/20/2013
Allison E
wow, I was thinking when I saw the title to this post of different things, but quite a few of these I didn't even consider
Date 10/21/2013
Rachael Morgan
We store a bunch in the bathroom that has the cloth diaper sprayer. When the diaper is too dirty and wet after spraying off we wrap it up in a prefold to carry it to the diaper pale or the washing machine!
Date 10/22/2013
Rachael Morgan
Another great use is to dampen and wipe off baby after a meal, finger painting, playing in the dog water, etc!
Date 11/12/2013
Samantha Yoder
As a newborn my daughter's favorite time to pee was right as you were placing a nice clean diaper under her so I ended up always sticking a clean prefold under her just in case. They're also great for patting her skin dry if it's still a little damp after the wipes.
Date 12/6/2013
Tracy Spence
Love them for burp cloths and pocket inserts!
Date 12/12/2013
judith martinez
I used only prefolds with my first two children back 20 years ago. Now I mostly use pockets. I'm actually thinking about switching to prefolds or flats to stuff my pockets to make washing easier.
Date 12/27/2013
I love prefolds! I'm using mostly prefolds for our next newborn!
Date 1/19/2014
These pictures were absolutely darling! I've started buying some more prefolds for our second baby; I just love them for our toddler.
Date 2/3/2014
My LO has outgrown her newborn prefolds at 1 month old. At first I was disappointed because I'd only had a chance to try them a few times but now I'm so glad to have them. I use them on the change table on top of a waterproof mat. The mat always feels cold so they're much more pleasant for my daughter to lie on. I can use them to wipe or dry her and if they get dirty, I just toss them in the diaper bag. Now I'mlooking forward to her growing into the next size so I can actually use them as diapers again!
Date 6/1/2014
Susan Howard
All these and more! I often find myself using them to dry off shopping carts (the seat area) when we go to the grocery store on rainy days. I also use them as trivets or potholders in a pinch!
Date 6/1/2014
Prefolds and flats are both great during the potty training phase to soak accidents out of the carpet!
Date 7/12/2014
Holly Wilson
Prefolds are also the absolute best thing I've found to lay underneath the head of a sick child when they fall asleep to protect your bed from their stomach virus. The absorbency has save me from middle of the night sheet changes without having a rough material like a bath towel rub on the sensitive skin on their faces all night. The relatively (compared to a towel) small size also makes it easier to change out if they do get sick.
Date 1/22/2015
katie m
These are great tips. We may use prefolds immediately once they're out of use for rags or other ideas so they're not out of use for that long.

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