All About Cloth Diapers: Flats and Prefolds


Cloth diapering is an excellent way to save money and reduce waste.  Disposable paper diapers are made with dangerous chemicals, use resources, and can take over 500 years to break down in a landfill.  Before we got pregnant, I made the decision to cloth diaper Penny for all the aforementioned reasons.  We decided to buy cotton prefold diapers and PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) diaper covers to try.  I’m very glad we did, as they worked fabulously for us while we used them.  Unfortunately, she is sensitive to wet cotton rubbing her and would get a rash so we had to switch to a different kind of cloth diaper.

Penny in a prefold cloth diaper with Boingos

Flat diapers and prefolds are an excellent way to start cloth diapering.  Flat diapers are “old school” and are pieces of single layer cotton fabric measuring about 27×27 inches.  They need to be folded in a certain way before being put on the baby, and there are many different folds available.  Flat diapers are the least expensive option for cloth diapering. One option for cloth diapering is to buy 24 flats and 4-6 covers.  That would cost you as little as $37.90 for 2 dozen OsoCozy Unbleached Birdseye Flat Diapers and $39.80 for 4 Econobum Covers. For $77.70 you could cloth diaper from birth to potty training. Of course, I’d personally recommend more than 4 covers but you could make do.

Prefold diapers are a rectangle that are several layers thick, with more layers in the middle for absorbency.  They need to be folded before put on the baby, but you can also tri fold them and lay them in covers.   If you want to attach them to the baby, you can use a Snappi , a pair of Boingos, or plain old diaper pins.  For $51.90, you can purchase 2 dozen Prefold Cloth Diapers and use those tri folded from birth to potty training.  You’ll still need to buy diaper covers to make them waterproof, but even then it’s still super cheap! With prefolds if you attach them on the baby, you will need to buy different sizes of prefolds unless you buy the traditional sized ones and fold down the extra fabric.  We purchased three dozen infant sized ones and Penny can still use them tri folded into pocket diapers.

Penny in a wool diaper cover

PUL diaper covers are much different than plastic pants.  They come in many different brands and have either a velcro or snap closure.  For our diapers, we picked snaps because they last longer and never need to be replaced.  Also, I think when a baby sits up and the front part of their diaper hits their tummy, snaps are much more comfortable than velcro.  The diaper cover is what makes the diaper waterproof.

Wool diaper covers are more expensive than PUL covers but are so cute, soft, and breathe better than PUL.  If you are looking for an all natural diaper cover, wool is the way to go! It is also naturally antibacterial and will also absorb a small amount while still being water resistant.  Wool covers can be excellent for night time diapering!

Pros of cotton cloth diapers: they are inexpensive, they wash up well, you can generally use them for more than one baby, and they can take a beating.  I love cotton cloth diapers because they absorb more quickly than a synthetic fiber, such as microfiber. Also, you are much less likely to have compression leaks with cotton versus microfiber.

What’s your opinion on cloth diapering?

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