A few thoughts on Prefolds

When I first started cloth diapering I tried a lot of different things.  I bought a large box of econobum prefolds with some covers and snappis off of E-bay.  After waiting forever to get them I put one on my daughter and…..hated it.  I just couldn’t get it to fold right.  And the snappi? Fail.  I guess I didn’t read the package, because I had no idea you are supposed to stretch them a few times before use. The box of prefolds went into a closet, not to be seen for weeks.  At the same time I was beginning my love affair with pocket diapers.  The prefolds just got left all by their lonesome.  At some point I traded the whole prefold/cover/snappi lot (holding back 1 econobum pre fold, just in case) for a bunch of pockets.

There, my journey with prefolds stopped until this spring. Once the baby started “helping” with the laundry, see Wordless Wednesday, stuffing pockets was becoming a pretty big pain. I would have everything stacked and ready for stuffing, only to have the baby spread my neat piles all over the living room.  Clearly, I need an alternative.

So I started back into the prefold journey. This time I had a better understanding of the hole prefold system.  For one thing you don’t need to know how to fold or use a snappi- just pad fold (fold the diaper into thirds) and lay on top of the cover.  So I bought the Econobum trial pack (this is a great deal by the way, under 12$ for a cover and 3 prefolds.) See my button at the end of the post, or sidebar, for where to buy! This time things went much better.  So I invested in a few different sizes of prefolds to see what would work. Now I have some really nice ones (think SustainableBabyish).

Some things I love about prefolds:

Economical: you can get the smallest size for around a dollar a piece.  Less if you wait for a sale.  Plus, you can make a variety of sizes work.  If the diaper is too small to wrap around baby, just pad fold it.  If it’s huge, just fold it to size and stuff the extra into the cover.  May be a bit bulky, but it works in a pinch.

Super practical: these babies wash well, can be boiled if you run into the stinkies, and dry fast.  Plus you can use them in a bunch of ways once baby is potty trained.  They make great rags.

No Stuffing! enough said there.

Pack small: good for travel.

Breathable: Paired with a wool or fleece cover these are super breathable and great when baby is getting rashy.  If the rash is really bad, but you can’t stand cleaning baby messes off the floor, then you can just leave these uncovered (change quickly! they will leak when coverless).

Open ended: Prefolds can be used in a lot of ways- so many fancy folds! Youtube it- so many good videos on all the folds.  Or, just fold it into thirds and put it into a cover.  Whatever works for you.

Natural fibers.  These are made with cotton, bamboo or I think some come in hemp.  Many come unbleached.  This means no synthetics against baby’s skin. Great for sensitive skin.

Better with use.  Prefolds actually get softer and more absorbent each time you wash them.  So if your diaper feels stiff and does not absorb very well, give it time. It may just need a few more washes.

The bad.

Huge learning curve.  At least there was for me- it took me six months to figure these out.  In fact, I gave up on my first attempts. It takes awhile to figure out how to put these on without getting leaks or blowouts, especially on exclusively breast fed baby poo. I still don’t trust my folding to hold up when outside of the house.  I haven’t had a leak yet- but I know I will as soon as we get in the car.

Wet on skin.  Unless you get a stay dry prefold, or put a fleece liner between it and baby, the wetness stays up against the baby’s skin. This seems to be a problem more for smaller baby’s then bigger ones.

The Bottom Line. 

Prefolds are a great diapering solution in general. They may not be quite as simple to use, at first, as a pocket or all in one, but once you get the hang of it they are pretty awesome.

Even if you choose not to use prefolds as a full time system (I don’t) you should probably have a few around.  These are good to have on hand when you are stripping your inserts and need something to stuff a pocket with.  Or when you can’t do laundry for a few days and need a backup diaper.  They are great to have around for when a rash develops and you want to air baby out a little.

If you want to try a few prefolds, but are nervous to, I suggest Kelly’s Closet.  They have a 30 day guarantee, and sell the econobum trial pack for just under 12$

Click here to visit Kelly’s Closet

*disclaimer* affiliate of Kelly’s Closet.  I did not receive any refolds free for review however- all my own honest opinion.

Pocket Diapers: the good, the bad and the cute.

Description. Pocket diapers were my introduction to cloth.  A pocket diaper is actually pretty simple. It has a soft layer against baby’s skin, and a plastic layer to prevent leaks.  There is a gap between the two for putting in absorbent cloth- called an insert.  The outside is called PUL and comes in all colors and a rainbow of patterns. You could go crazy collecting them.  Most come in snaps, but a few are sold with velcro.  Snaps are a little harder to put on baby, but last longer, stay cleaner and are harder for a toddler to get off.  Velcro is easier to put on, especially for people not used to diapering baby.  But it tends to lose it’s stickiness, get lint and poop stuck in it (even after many washes) and creates diaper snakes in your dryer. If you do not know what that is count yourself lucky.  They come in a sized variety- which is slimmer fitting but you need to buy a new size when baby grows.  Or a one-sized variety- meaning that one diaper will fit baby from around 8 pounds to 30 some.  Or at least that’s what the label says.  Even with the diaper adjusted (by snapping down the front) I bet they get pretty bulky on an 8 pound baby, and pretty tight on your 30 pound 3 year old.

Best uses.  New cloth users, daycares, daddy’s, trips out, photo shoots or any time you need a cute diaper.  These are pretty much bullet proof for me. I use them when I really really don’t want baby poop on something.   Diaper rash- these keep baby’s skin more dry than other diaper types and are great to help reduce diaper rash.

Pros. Pocket diapers are the best.  They  have been bullet proof for me. I’ve only ever had one poop escape and I’m pretty sure that was a combination of user error and a cheap diaper.  Of course, it had to leak poop on the carseat.  Murphy’s law in action.

The inner lining of the diaper keeps baby’s skin nice and dry, sometimes you really have to investigate to see if baby is actually wet.

Anyone can put one of these on.  My husband doesn’t do diapers, but will change one in a tight pinch.  He figured out how to change a pocket diaper on his own though, despite severe lack of experience.  He’s only put a pocket diaper on backwards once, and it didn’t even leak then.

These diapers are versatile.  You can stuff them with just about anything- a flat, prefold, microfiber insert, old t-shirt or hemp or bamboo.  Since the insert won’t touch baby’s skin you can safely use any absorbent material.  And you can customize how much you want- need more? Add in inserts, or higher quality inserts.  Need it trimmer, say for a newborn? Use one of those tiny inserts most diapers come with. Not the ones from China, but most others come with two inserts- a newborn sized and a bigger one.  You can put both in for a car ride or nap time.

Since the diaper dries in pieces it dries very fast and there is little wait time.

Here’s a picture of some of my diapers hanging on the line last fall.

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No prepping.  A typical pocket diaper with a microfiber insert is all synthetic, so no need to wash multiple times before use.  Just wash and dry once and you’re off to the races. If you buy a new one to add to your current stash you can just throw it in your regular diaper laundry, no worries about oils leaking onto your diapers.

Most companies make a pocket diaper and they are sold at just about every cloth diaper store, at least online.  The abundance keeps the prices low.

Price range.  You can expect to pay between 5$ and 25$ for a pocket.  The cheapest ones are sold on Ebay and ship from China.  I don’t know how they do it, but somehow you can get free shipping ona 5$ new diaper with insert from China. These were some of my first buys.  You can also get higher quality, made in the good old US of A diapers for a little more and they will probably come with a warranty. You can get inserts for as low as 1$ new if you look hard enough.  See my tips below on prices and value.

So these aren’t the bottom dollar way to diaper baby, for sure.  But it isn’t the most expensive either and they have a ton of benefits.

Cons. OK, now for the not so good stuff. I’ll start with stuffing.  You have to unstuff and restuff every diaper every time.  I have only ever found one pocket that “agitates” out (in other words you do not need to take the insert out after baby is finished with it, it will come out in the machine).  I have two of these and always hope that baby will poop while wearing one so I can touch the stuff as little as possible. By restuffing I just mean putting the insert(s) back into the diaper.  I was getting really sick of this, and stuffing diapers was one of the reasons I began my search to try every diaper type. There just had to be an easier way.

Absorbency is also an issue.  The only part that will soak anything up is the insert you put inside.  Almost every pocket diaper comes with a microfiber insert.  While these may cut it for a young baby or during the day they just don’t hold a candle to hemp or bamboo.

They are hot during the summer.  Yeast and bacteria love warm wet places, and the PUL outer layer breathes less than a non covered diaper, or a diaper covered in fleece or wool.  In the heat of the summer you may want to let munchkin run around in something cooler.

Overnight. For overnight use my combination was this: A kawaii good night heavy wetter with one bamboo insert and one hemp insert.  This combination worked from 6 months to around a year old.  After that the leaks began to get more frequent. This was the second catalyst for my diaper search.

Tips and bottom line.  With pockets you get what you pay for.  I quickly fell out of love with my 5$ Chinese imports.  What was an amazing deal turned a bit sour.  For one thing they only come with two snaps, no hip snaps, so leaks are just bound to happen, as well as sagging on the diaper.  Just ask me about washing baby poop off carseat straps.  You can’t.  You can’t predict the quality of the batch you get.  In some batches the snaps have come off, in others the PUL delaminated, making the diaper pretty useless.  The inside of the diaper became the most important to me.  The cheaper diapers do not have the soft fleece inner.  The fabric they used became stiff and scratchy. No like.

These diapers need to be made well.  Unlike a PUL cover, the pull on these will go through the wash over and over again, after each use. Pay a little more and you will get a diaper that may actually last through one child, or even two or three. Like my old boss used to say, it’s not how much you pay but how many times you pay.

If you want to build a large workhorse stash for cheap these are not the way to go.  But if you want an easy, bullet proof diaper with cute patterns these are for you.

Expert tip- stuff all your diapers at once.  Once they are dry just get to stuffing.  This way you have a basket/shelf/drawer or whatever full of ready to go diapers.  I have a basket- one side is single stuffed for daytime the other are my nap time/car ride/ over night diapers.  Having them ready to go means about 15 minutes of stuffing every couple of days.  I can just grab a diaper and change Moppet.  If we need to head out the door I don’t need to stuff diapers right before we go, or remember to grab inserts AND diapers for the diaper bag.  Plus, with them prestuffed changing cloth diapers on the road is just let changing a disposable.  The times I neglected this step and stuffed a diaper per change I felt like the diaper laundry was never really done.  Plus, I end up mixing up inserts.

Here’s a picture of my stash, prepped and ready to go.  This was several months ago, so my stash has grown and changed since then. The bag on the bottom left are my wet wipes (cloth of course.)
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Favorites. My absolute favorite brand of pocket is Kawaii.  I get the regular pockets for around 8$. They have a hip snap, bright colors, cute patterns, a soft fleece interior and the pul, snaps and inner fleece have held up and kept their color for wash after wash.  The elastic is still good to go, even on my active crawler.

 

You can see a cute print of a pocket diaper poking up above my moppets pants.

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After six months I still love pocket diapers.  But I am also ready to move on and experiment with other diaper types. I hope this helps you make your cloth diapering decisions, and keep checking back because I will be posting on fitted diapers next.