I’m grouping flat diapers and prefolds together in this article, although they’re not entirely the same thing. That said, prefold and flat diapers are arguably the most common types of cloth diaper used by parents around the world.
Facts about prefold diapers:
- Prefolds have three panels and are made with multiple layers of lightweight, woven fabric, usually with extra layers in the center panel for absorbency.
- Prefolds come in Indian prefolds which are soft and textured or Chinese prefolds which weigh less and are smoother than Indian prefolds.
- All prefolds offer a custom fit – because you do the folding. You fold the prefold up and can hold the diaper on with a cover, pins or Snappi.
- Prefolds come in bleached or unbleached fabric (unbleached are more eco-friendly and safer).
- All prefolds need to be washed a few times before use.
Facts about flat diapers:
- A flat diaper consists of just one layer of fabric that you fold into a triangle shape, bringing the front flap up. You’ll need pins or a Snappi to close the diaper and a diaper cover.
- Flat diapers are made of just one-layer of absorbent cotton or organic cotton.
- Flat diapers are likely the least expensive diapering option (overall, not just in cloth) because you never need new sizes. They also wash fast and dry fast due the one layer of fabric.
- Flats need to be washed once before use.
Traditional cloth diapers (flat or prefold) are as basic as you can get BUT it’s a little overwhelming to choose the best cloth diaper for you. You’ll also need to consider diaper covers, closures (i.e. pins) and inserts in most cases. Plus you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to use a diaper service or wash yourself. One major downside of prefolds and flats is the bulk factor. As seen in the image above, often flats and prefolds, even other cloth diapers can be a bit bulky. Because of the leak issue many parents do a little stuffing with extra flats or inserts or get the best, but often most bulky diaper covers around. Bulky is easier if you think of it as kind of cute vs. annoying. Also, later we’ll look at some less bulky all-in-ones.
For comprehensive user reviews of both cloth diapers and cloth diaper retailers, check out Diaper Pin. To find a diaper service near you (meaning someone who’ll pick those icky diapers up and wash them), visit the National Association of Diaper Services who recently merged with the Real Diaper Industry Association.
Prefolds and flats are available in conventional cotton and organic cotton. Organic is the way to go if you’d like to limit the amount of chemicals and pesticides exposed to the planet. Prefolds and flats also come in hemp fabric, bamboo and more.
The debate against cloth prefolds and flats:
The debate against cloth prefolds (actually all cloth diapers) is the washing. Some think it takes more energy and water than it’s worth. I don’t agree. You can wash on cold and line dry – although it can leave diapers a little stiff; it won’t kill your baby. I think the problem with disposables in our landfills is a much larger problem. But that’s the argument against them – just so you have the facts.
Below I’m posting some diapering options – however, I’m posting diapers made with eco-friendly materials. Note that you can get prefolds and flats in conventional cotton. I don’t recommend conventional cotton though, being that there are better, more eco-friendly materials available. That said, conventional will cost less so if that’s your intention check around at ClothDiapers.com or Green Mountain Diapers for other options.
Prefold diaper choices:
- Bummis Organic Cloth Diapering Kit – this is a great kit if you know you’re ready to use prefold diapers. This value packed box of cloth diapering essentials comes with everything you need to start using cloth diapers right now. Comes with organic cotton prefold diapers, sturdy and great looking waterproof covers, flushable AND reusable liners, and an excellent wet bag. There’s also a sample of Bum Bum Balm in every box and a handy cloth diapers user guide.
- OsoCozy Organic Cotton Prefold Diapers – 100% certified unbleached organic prefold diapers made with absorbent, durable birdseye weave material. Cotton for these diapers is grown and harvested according to SKAL and the diapers are sewn in the USA.
- Polar Babies Hemp Diapers – hemp is a naturally absorbent material.
- Cloth-eez Prefold Diapers – choose chlorine-free white or unbleached cotton.
- Willowsprouts Organic Cotton/Hemp Prefolds.
- Dandelion Certified Organic Cotton Prefold Diapers.
- Under The Nile Prefold Diaper – Fair Trade, 100% organic diapers.
- Swaddlebees Bamboo Prefolds – 70% viscose from bamboo, 28% organic cotton, 2% polyester.
Flat diaper choices:
- OsoCozy Organic Flat Diaper – Made of 100% organic birdseye weave cotton and sewn to dimensions of 29×27 inches. After washing these diapers are approximately 26×26 inches. Easy to clean and line dry; even in humid climates.
- Firefly flat diapers – soft, knit diapers made with two layers of organic cotton French terry with 100% organic cotton stitching.
- Hemp Babies, Hemp Flats – 55% Hemp, 45% Certified Organic Cotton
Cloth diaper covers:
If you decide to use diaper covers you’ve got almost as many choices as you do in diapers. You can go with those old-school plastic waterproof pant covers or popular waterproof cloth covers or covers made with eco-friendly materials. You can find plain covers all the way up to snazzy designer covers. Really covers could be an entire post of their own but here are a few decent options.
- Imse Vimse Organic Cotton Cover – super cute cover that eliminates the use of pins. Inner polyester PUL and outside material is organic cotton.
- Happy Heinys Wool Covers – 100% wool, stretchy. Made in the USA.
Disana Wool Pull-On Diaper Cover – Lovely Merino wool covers made by a family company.
- Little Beetle Little-to-Big (One Size) Organic Wool Diaper Cover with Snap Closure – 100% organic merino wool jersey; available in natural color (undyed, untreated)
Prefold and flat diaper supplies (some anyhow):
- Snappi Diaper Fasteners are a pinless way to fasten your baby’s cloth diapers. These easy to use fastener replace the diaper pin and come in a variety of colors. Made from a stretchable non-toxic material, which is T-shaped with grips on each end. These grips hook into the diaper fabric to ensure a snug-fitting diaper. Of course you can also go with traditional diaper pins too. Regardless of what folks say, pins are pretty safe unless you have a baby who really rolls about during changes.
- Hemp Diaper Doublers – these are made from hemp fleece composed of 55% Hemp, 45% Certified organic cotton and the two extra layers of hemp add extra absorbency to your cloth diapers – good for say nighttime.
- OsoCozy Organic Diaper Doublers – like the hemp doublers above but 100% organic cotton.
You can also… Make your own cloth diapers.
BEFORE YOU BUY!!!
People have some major opinions about the best fabrics and styles of basic cloth diapers. Before you choose a style, I’d do some research and some test drives. Visit new to cloth diaper info. Visit green parenting forums and see what other mamas and dads like. Ask your pals. I also highly recommend you read Eco-nomical Baby Guide if you’re interested in cloth diapers. This book has everything you need to know about cloth diapering – from choosing a style to using, washing and care.