What’s so great about the prefold?
The fiberThe first thing I love about prefolds is that they are made of natural fibers, usually cotton, which is incredibly soft and gentle against the skin. It’s also quite absorbent. Since prefolds have up to 8 layers of fabric in the middle, plus the four layers on either side that get folded inward, it’s easy to see why. Another amazing thing about cotton is, that according to the Real Diaper Association, it remains unaffected by yeast after being washed, so if your baby has a yeast rash and is using cotton diapers, their cloth diapers won’t reinfect the rash.
WashingPrefolds are very easy to wash. You can bleach them. You can use any type of detergent. You can machine dry them. The more wear and tear they get, the softer and more absorbent they become. They also rinse more easily than synthetic diapers and usually don’t have as many stink issues.
PriceThe price of prefolds is often just a couple of dollars a diaper. Even a family with a very tight budget can afford that.
VersatilityPrefolds are very versatile. You can fold them over the baby’s bum with many different folds in order to place the absorbency where it is needed and get the right fit. You can pad fold them and stuff them in a cover so they goes on like a pocket or an AIO. You can use newborn and infant prefolds as inserts in pocket diapers or to add extra absorbency to an AIO or even a fitted diaper once they’re been outgrown. And of course, there are many uses for them outside of the realm of diapering including changing pads, burp cloths, and towels.
The DownsideFor many people, there is no downside to using prefold diapers. There are times when they are my absolute favorite diaper and I use them before anything else. I love them with all their folding styles, closure options, and other quirks. If you talk to my husband, however, prefolds pose a hassle at the changing table. It takes him extra time to use them as he just hasn’t really got the hang of different folds yet, baut of course, that is because he hasn’t had the practice. If our son has a yeast rash, he will use them. Otherwise, the only time he’ll deign to use a prefold is if every single fitted, pocket, and AIO diaper is dirty (or still in the clean laundry basket after a week, as is my unfortunate custom these days). I’ve also found that spraying a prefold diaper can be trickier, as the poop will get onto both sides of the diaper and into many crevices created by folding. Dunking the diaper seems to be a much easier and less messy method of removing poop in my opinion and experience.
I really hated the idea of prefolds at first. Thinking that Gerber prefolds were my only option was one of the main reasons I balked at the thought of cloth diapering before my daughter was born. Sure, the price was right when compared to their pocket counterparts but did I really want to deal with pins and plastic pants? For some reason, though, I purchased some. And I still hated them. At first. They sat in my changing table barely used for months until one day I discovered that they weren’t so difficult to use once I had some practice with them. So I bought more until I had a full stash of them ready to use if we needed to switch styles for a week or a month (which we do often in my house). Now, I have at least 24 of them and I’m really thankful to have a diaper that is so easy to wash, so gentle on the bum, so inexpensive, and so dang hardy! With $40 to$60, you can build an entire stash of cloth diapers using prefolds. That same amount of money will only get you 2 to 5 pocket diapers or All In Ones. Aside from putting them on the baby, prefolds seem to be superior in every way to their modern counterparts: price, fibers, versatility, and price make them a very attractive option to many parents who have chosen to use cloth diapers on their babies.