Prefolds, they’re not as bad as you think!

Sorry I’ve skipped a couple days of posting.  My morning sickness has been especially bad for the past few days.  But I’m sure you don’t want to hear about THAT, so let’s get to diaper talk!

For today, let’s talk prefolds.  A lot of people get scared off by prefolds – one look at the rectangular burp-cloth type diaper and you start to think about pins, dunking, and rubber pants!  So let me assure you, it is possible to use prefolds without any pins, dunking, OR rubber pants. 

Folding a prefold isn’t hard, actually – there are a lot of videos on YouTube that show you how to do it better than I could describe here.  But you need something to hold the diaper on the baby, right?  Some people still do prefer pins, but I always struggled with keeping them sharp enough to easily go through all those layers of fabric and worrying that I’d stab myself or my baby.  Now there is a different diaper fastener called a Snappi – I like it much better than pins.  It’s a T-shaped piece of stretchy plastic that has little grippy teeth on all three ends of the “T”.  These teeth grip the diaper fabric just like those things you use to put on ace bandages.  So you fold the diaper onto the baby, run the Snappi across the diaper fabric on one side, stretch it to the other side and attach, and then pull the center part down and let it grip there.  Ta-da!  You’ve just put an elastic waistband on the diaper, resulting in a good, snug fit. 

How does a Snappi work?

Okay, so what about dunking?  Well, first of all, before your baby starts eating solids, you don’t have to do anything with a poopy diaper besides put it in the diaper pail for laundry day.  It’s all water-soluble and will wash right out.  If you already have a baby you’ll know I’m not lying when I say that breastfed poo really does not stink.  Once your baby starts on solids, you will need to shake any poop into the toilet before you put the diaper in the pail.  When your baby starts eating lots of solids (not purees), the poop will shake off quite easily.  For that in-between stage, I LOVE flushable liners.  Flushable liners are paper-towel sized sheets of flushable, biodegradable material that catch any solid waste.  They come in rolls of 100-200 and cost ranges between $8-12 per roll.  To use, you just lay one liner on the diaper before you put it on your baby.  Then, when changing the diaper, just lift off the liner and flush!  It will easily lift off any poop, and the amount of waste is comparable to the amount of toilet paper an adult uses.  If your baby usually poops at a certain time each day, you can even just use the liner for that diaper change only. 

Ah, you say, but what about those horrible rubber pants? I know, I’ve used them!  They don’t last very long, because if they get a hole in the plastic they’ll rip all the way down, and they always seem to be either too big (leaks!) or too small (red marks) around your baby’s legs.  Plus, if you have a really messy diaper, you have to pull them down the baby’s legs to take the diaper off, and I’ve found that in that case you have to wipe off so much of your baby’s bum AND legs that you might as well put them in the bathtub.  The good news is that today’s diaper covers are very different from the old rubber pants.  First of all, instead of being made of vinyl, they’re made of PUL, which is a waterproof polyester fabric.  That’s right, it’s a real fabric – not plastic-y feeling and won’t rip!  Secondly, the covers wrap around your baby and velcro (or snap) on in the same way that a disposable diaper would.  This is good news for two reasons.  One, you can get a better fit around the legs and waist with the adjustable velcro/snaps.  This means leaks and blowouts are almost nonexistent!  Yay!  Two, when you have those epic poopsplosions, you can change the diaper without getting the mess everywhere – just open up the cover, remove the snappi, and wipe your baby’s bum. 

Bummis diaper cover

One more thing about prefolds, and that is how to pick a good quality one.  Not all prefolds are created equal.  First, you want one that is 100% cotton (or hemp or bamboo, but the point is you want natural fibers).  Some Gerber prefolds actually have a layer of polyester in the center to pad it up, but unfortunately polyester is NOT absorbent.  Once you have narrowed it down to all natural fibers (let’s assume cotton), the next step is to figure out how many layers are in the diaper.  Most standard diaper-service quality (DSQ) prefolds are 4x6x4.  That means they have 4 layers of fabric on the side, 6 layers of fabric down the center panel, and 4 on the other side.  Slightly more absorbent and thicker are the “premium” prefolds, which are 4x8x4.  I prefer those because they are more absorbent.  Finally, you will encounter Chinese and Indian prefolds.  Chinese prefolds are a little sturdier, made from stronger fabric and the edges are sewn with stronger thread.  They tend to pill a little bit more than Indian prefolds.  Indian prefolds are softer than Chinese, but they are a little less durable.  Personally, I can’t really tell a difference by touch, but I prefer the Chinese because they last longer, and since we pass diapers down in our family of soon-to-be 4 kiddos, that’s important.


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