A rectangle made of several layers of cotton (can also be a blend of cotton and hemp or bamboo). The rectangle is divided in three equal parts with the middle piece being the thickest and most absorbent. Because of this centre panel it requires less complex folding than a flat diaper (eg terry square).
HOW do I use a prefold?
To use a prefold you can either
a) snappi it onto your baby using one of a couple of different folding techniques or
b) trifold it (ie fold into thirds lengthways) and stick it in a cover
|Prefold simply trifolded and placed into a diaper cover|
There are a couple of different folds, the most popular three are:
Commonly recommended for newborns, since the prefold fits very snugly around the leg, containing runny ebf poop very well. Roll the two side panels tightly towards the centre panel of the prefold (roughly in the middle of the prefold), then place your baby on top (with baby's waist lined up to the top of the prefold), bring the bottom of the prefold up between baby's legs and fasten with a snappi or pins.
|Prepping for the jellyroll fold|
|Jellyroll fold on a toddler|
|Jellyroll fold - note the snug fit around the legs|
My favourite - this is quick and easy to do and requires no prepping beforehand. Simply place baby on the prefold, with baby's waist lined up with the top of the prefold. Now grab the bottom of the prefold and pull up between baby's legs and towards his/her waist, while simultaneously twisting the prefold so that the right side of the edge you're holding is on the left and vice versa. Fasten with a snappi or pins. Gives a nice trim fit between the legs to reduce bulk under a slim fitting cover. Also good to use if your prefold is slightly too long for your baby, since it uses up some of the length with the twist.
|Bikini twist fold on toddler|
A favourite amongst many parents for the sleek front appearance and relative ease of folding. Fold the side panels on to the centre panel, fanning out in the back. Then place your baby on the prefold, again making sure to align the top with his/her waist, bring the bottom edge up between baby's legs and fasten with a snappi or pins.
|Prepping the prefold for the angel wing fold|
|Angel wing fold on a toddler|
a) It's cheap! It is the second cheapest option after flats - a huge plus point.
b) It's easy to clean - no complicated washing routines necessary and you are less likely to encounter issues like detergent build-up or stink issues (common with synthetic fibres).
c) You can get a customised fit on your baby using different folds and a snappi
d) Trifolding and placing into a cover (especially if you pre-stuff a few diapers in the morning) makes diaper changes just as easy as using a pocket diaper or AIO, especially if the cover has flaps to keep the prefold in place.
e) Takes up very little space in the closet or diaper bag
f) A snappi'd prefold plus cover is almost foolproof for preventing blowouts with a newborn
a) Since it's made of natural fibres it can get stiff if line dried and may require a few minutes in a tumble dryer to soften up
b) There is a learning curve if you are intending on folding it and using a snappi - you'll have to figure out which fold works best and it's not easy when you have a screaming baby to contend with. After a few tries you should be a pro at it though.
c) If you are trifolding when your baby is a newborn, poop will (often) get on the cover so you will need more covers vs just using a snappi.
d) Daycare, babysitters and dads are often reluctant to use prefolds (see point b). Trifolding is an option to make things easier for them.