Monday, July 4, 2011

Prefolds for easy cloth diapering

Welcome to the First Annual Freedom of Cloth Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the Freedom of Cloth Carnival hosted at Natural Parents Network by Melissa of The New Mommy Files and Shannon of The Artful Mama. This year's carnival will run from Sunday, July 3, through Saturday, July 9. Participants are sharing everything they know and love about cloth diapering, including how cloth has inspired them.

I thought I'd write a little paean here to the humble prefold. If you're new to cloth diapering, if you want your diaper laundry to be a little easier, if you need to go cloth on a budget — all are good reasons to consider prefolds for your diapering routine.

When we had Mikko, we lived in a place with no washer/dryer. A lovely friend gave me a gift certificate to Baby Diaper Service, and I was hooked. The diaper service delivered a fresh stack of prefolds each week: soft, clean, and blindingly white. Our only responsibility was to bag up the dirties and leave them out on the porch.

With Alrik, we're now living with our own laundry facilities, so I figured I'd experiment with a mix of diaper service and washing my own. I built up my cloth diaper stash through some giveaway wins, eBay purchases, and consignment store steals. I've now tried out pocket diapers, all-in-ones, and fitteds.

And you know? I keep coming back to the prefold.

Here's why I love prefolds so dang much:

  • Prefolds offer folding options.

    For some people, I think the folding variety is what scares them off from prefolds. They seem kind of fiddly, I guess.

    But the thing is, they can be as easy as folding lengthwise in thirds, or as complex as folding an origami crane. No, not that complex. But you can do some nifty techniques where you roll the sides or twist the front or fold down the excess -- techniques designed to better catch breastmilk poo or add extra absorbency in just the right place for a girl or a boy baby. Our driver from the diaper service even clued us in to a few. You can use a Snappi or pins to keep your folding tight, or you can just let the diaper cover hold things in. The point is, it's up to you.

    Sam's and my preference is to smooth the fabric under the bum, then bunch it up inelegantly over the crotch, folding down the top for a little extra pee cushion. It takes two seconds and works pretty dang well. Then you just fold and fasten a diaper cover over the top — most of ours are fastened with hook-and-loop closures (aka Aplix or Velcro), so that part is as simple as a sposie — and you're set.

  • Prefolds are easy to wash.

    Particularly if you use a diaper service — ha!

    But, seriously. Doing prefold laundry means almost your whole stash is one type of diaper. The only extra task is separating out any diaper covers that need special treatment, such as wool.

    Also, because you're using covers multiple times before they need a wash, you're saving on how much laundry you have to do.

  • Prefolds are budget friendly.

    Since they're just sewn rectangles of cloth, they're not all that fancy-schmancy, so they've got a price tag to match. If you can pick them up gently used, so much the better.

    You don't need as many covers as you would individual pocket diapers or all-in-ones, because you can reuse covers for multiple pees, merely switching out the prefolds.

    For future kidlets, you might need to splurge on a few new diaper covers, but the prefolds themselves should be good for another go. No worries about absorbency or waterproofing failing, since they're just, well, rectangles of cloth. And when they're completely worn out? They can be used as cleanup cloths and dust rags in perpetuity.

  • Prefolds are versatile.

    Speaking of dust rags, being rectangles of cloth makes prefolds ideal for other uses. Burp cloths, impromptu diaper changing pad, head support in an infant car seat — you name it!

A one-day-old Mikko rocks the Princess Leia look with prefold head supports.

  • Prefolds play well with EC and pottying.

    If you're interested in elimination communication, prefolds make a perfect backup diaper. You can use a prefold alone for instant miss detection and easy on/off for pottying. (A fleece belt or Snappi can be a good investment in those cases.) They're also good to lay on the floor or bed underneath or over an EC-ing little one to prevent misses from soaking the carpet or sheets.

    For potty training, too, prefolds allow the feel of wetness to alert little learners that there's been a miss.

  • Prefolds are cute.

    Oh, not the prefolds themselves — unless you tie-dye or bedazzle them.

    I'm talking covers.

    Covers are where you can fully express yourself and your kid's fine fashion sense. Plus, you can experiment, rather inexpensively (if you're drawn to used covers as I am) with different materials and constructions: snaps vs. Aplix, wool and fleece and PUL — in every shade of the rainbow.

  • Prefolds are customizable.

    Have a heavy wetter? Need more protection overnight? Does your potty learner need some backup? As mentioned before, prefolds are just cloth. You can buy bigger rectangles or double them up for more absorbency as needed, or scale down if the need tapers off.

  • Prefolds don't bulk up the diaper bag.

    We give birth to pee machines. I don't know what it is, but both Mikko and Alrik have been peeing fools as newborns. The other day, I kept track of a 24-hour period, and Alrik went through 23 pees. Even with part-time ECing, that's a lot of diapers!

    So when we go out, it's nice to fold in a stack of six or so prefolds and a spare cover, and that's that. Putting six pocket dipes in a bag would be make it much harder to close!

Funny but true story: Ok, maybe not that funny, but indubitably true.

I was enjoying using our new pocket diapers until I must have done something wrong, laundry-wise, and they started repelling. As in, lap full of pee at every go. I researched and asked advice about stripping. In the meantime, I started pulling the inserts out of the pockets and using them on top of the shells.

Well, whaddya know? They were now almost exactly like prefolds with a cover (or, I guess, all-in-twos). When an insert would get wet, we'd pull it out and plop it in the wash bag and replace it with a fresh one. The shells stayed fresh and reusable until they started feeling damp or were pooped on (always a race to see which comes first!).

For now, my diaper stripping is on hold. I'm enjoying my new outside-the-pocket diapers too much to go back!

So that's my love affair with prefolds. What's your favorite diaper style and why?

freedom of cloth carnivalVisit Natural Parents Network for the most up-to-date news on the Freedom of Cloth Carnival!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants on the following themes. Articles will go live on the scheduled theme day:

  • Sunday, July 3rd, 2011: Cloth Related Recipes — Writers share their best cloth-related recipes and tutorials.
  • Monday, July 4th, 2011: Choosing Your Cloth Style — Today’s posts discuss parents' individual journeys to finding the cloth diapering "style" that best suits their families.
  • Tuesday, July 5th, 2011: Cloth Diapering Must Haves — Parents talk about the most important items in their diapering “stash” and why they love them.
  • Wednesday, July 6th, 2011: Wordless Wednesday, Inspired by Cloth — We asked parents to share their favorite cloth-related photo with us and turned them into a fluffy Wordless Wednesday photo montage on Natural Parents Network. Link up your own Wordless Wednesday post there!
  • Thursday, July 7th, 2011: Cloth Through the Stages: From Infancy to Potty Independence — Today’s participants explain how cloth diapering has served their families throughout one or more stages of their children’s lives.
  • Friday, July 8th, 2011: Cloth Troubleshooting and Laundry Day — Seasoned cloth diapering parents share their best tips and tricks for handling common cloth problems and tackling the diaper laundry.
  • Saturday, July 9th, 2011: Inspired by Cloth — For today’s theme, we’ve asked writers to explore the ways cloth diapering has inspired them to become "greener" overall.


Tmuffin said...

Yay! I love prefolds too. I've tried everything, but I always go back to them. They are the most absorbent things in the world! I love the combo of cheap and effective. I just started using a diaper service instead of washing my own, and that's amazing. I feel so free!

Just Like June said...

My faves are flats :-) I love them, especially the fact that I can have organics for the cheapest amount possible. And I love them for all the exact same reasons you love prefolds: customization in fold, cute covers, easy to use :-) Green Mountain Diapers flats are my favorites and they dry on the line, rain, shine, hot or cold in less than a couple of hours.

Laura said...

I'm trying the prefolds for potty training... I really hope they help us communicate what wetness is. And you're right... they do take up so much less space than my pockets!

melissa said...

You make a fantastic case for the humble, but reliable prefold, Lauren! There is definitely much to love about them. We like to use them with a diaper belt at home. Gotta love sumo babies!

Shannon @ The Artful Mama said...

I love my prefolds for newborns and nighttime diapering. The folds are my favorite - I love sharing the how-to of it all with everyone I meet or have a consultation with. Prefolds deserve a place in everyone's stash.

Inder-ific said...

We've always used prefolds too. Because they are flat and 100% cotton (no synthetics), they tend to get cleaner in a regular washing machine, and they are less likely to build up and repel or cause rashes. They're also CHEAP. I do miss our diaper service, though - it was expensive, but it was really nice. I've run into problems keeping our prefolds clean in our washing machine, although I think we've done better than our friends who use more complicated systems.

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings said...

Hooray for prefolds! Thanks for the great post -- I like having a prefold resource to send folks to because I really do believe they are great for so many people!
We actually never got in the swing of using them regularly for actual diapering, mostly because our pocket diapers worked so well for us. But, boy did we use the prefolds for all the other uses you describe, and more!

Love all the sweet pictures! So cute!

Adrienne said...

We are a prefolds-all-the-way family. However, we do use the pocket diapers at night- just like you described- with a liner and a prefold outside of the pocket. Works great and doesn't stain the inside of the cover! :)

Jenn @ Monkey Butt Junction said...

Oh, how cute is one day old Mikko? Aww!

I love our prefolds too - we use a little of everything, but I really do think prefolds are the smartest diapers because they are cheap, versatile, and they outlive their intended diapering purpose in that once the kids are potty trained, they make excellent rags.

(I just have to add - the "captcha" word for this post is "Flumpaz." Wouldn't that be a great name for a cloth diaper?

Momma Jorje said...

I have been *so* overwhelmed with the choices available for diapering these days. Twenty years ago, I used prefolds and a diaper service. At every turn, though, I'm convinced of a different way to go. During the flats challenge, I was all set to go that route. I actually have a good stash of "flats" that are the size/shape of prefolds, without the extra in the middle. Weird.

Anyway, thanks for the eBay links. I keep wanting to walk into a baby store in town so I can shop in person. I keep putting off purchases because of the expense and the commitment to one system.

I keep wishing I could give someone X amount of money and just have them decide / purchase for me!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

Oh I'm sorry, was there a post here? I got distracted by baby pictures! ;)
In all seriousness though, we started with prefolds too, and I agree with every point. Super cheap and easy!

Sam said...

This has been the most alluring prefold post I've read so far! For the first time, prefolds don't seem like the worst option to me. I still will probably prefer AI2s, but you're helping to talk me into trying some prefolds with number 3!

Zoie @ TouchstoneZ said...

These Freedom of Cloth posts are making me so clucky. The chubaliciousness is making my ovaries pulsate. So cute!

Oh right, diapers...

I love our prefolds, too. They are so versatile for full-time diapering or ecing. I think people who use sposies should have a stack of prefolds because of their many uses. I remember when we had the diaper service, they sold "damaged" prefolds by the pound and they were always sold out because they were in such high demand. Even torn or stained, prefolds are incredibly useful. Thank you for highlighting them. I think this post is especially good for someone on the fence about taking the plunge into cloth diapers.

The Happy Hippie Homemaker said...

So I guess I'm not the only one who figured out the inserts-on-the-outside trick?! I thought I was going to love pockets with snaps, so I bought a few. Fortunately, a friend had loaned me a bunch of newborn diaper covers so I decided to buy a few prefolds. I was surprised to discover that prefolds were actually easier... that stuffing pockets was a pain... and that the best use for inserts was to use them like a prefold in my diaper covers!

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