Monday, February 25, 2013

Cloth Diapering 101: The Prefold

Courtney K shares her wisdom on cloth diapering with prefolds. This is an old post from her personal blog, but updated to include some extra and more relevant information. Enjoy!

As cloth diapering gains popularity, I've had tons of mommy friends, new and old, who want to get in on the fun. The problem is "where do you start???" It seems easy until you Google "cloth diapering" and you realize all the choices. It can be overwhelming! I was fortunate enough to have a friend who started while I was pregnant. I got to watch her try 'em all out, learned all the lingo, and by the time my belly popped, I knew exactly what to buy and from where! But we don't all have a good friend whose mistakes we can learn from and everyone has to start somewhere. I decided to blog a bit about them and today I'm gonna feature the infamous prefold!

Do not run, ladies and gents! Stop in your tracks; this is not your grandmother's cloth diaper. For some, the prefold is not for you. Many people want their cloth diapers to be exactly like a disposable, only washable. That is not the prefold; however, here are a few reasons you might want to take a closer look at the prefold:

1. This is by far the CHEAPEST! You can get a high quality dozen prefolds for around 20 bucks. You only need about 18 dipes, though some choose to have more. 18 gets you to washing every other day.

2. They are the SIMPLEST! Not in the action, since they do require a cover, but they are cotton, nothing more, simple, easy to clean, natural, cotton!

3. STREET CRED! Some might not care about this, but let me tell you, vintage ladies love to see you using what they used, and once you master the prefold, anything found on the floor of your van can become a diaper in a snap! if need be. :)

Choosing your prefold

They come in various sizes (four that I know, maybe more?), but here are the three I own.

Premie/newborn (green): These are so small, I don't think anyone should ever buy them. Seriously, they are for 5-lbers or less I'd say. I only use these for layering or butt wiping; trust me, you don't need these!

Infant: PERFECT, these are the best size to start with.  They will get you up to about 15 lbs, give or take a lb. These are the most common and come in a few varieties. Bleached (really white), Unbleached (cream colored), Egyptian or Chinese, etc, but really it doesn't matter. I've had both, they all worked great, just buy what you find the best price on.

Premium (tie-dyed): Usually these are white, I paid a bit extra to have some dye,d which is fun but white ones are great. These are great for when you outgrow the infants or if you are starting out with a kiddo bigger than 15 lbs.

A prefold is really a layered piece of cotton that is a little thicker in the middle.  Unlike the flat dipes of the old, there is no real folding.  You might fold it down in front while your baby is a newborn or fold it a bit more narrow for a skinny, but truly there is nothing to it, you can do it! 

For holding a prefold in place (if you clicked the video, you are already in the know), pins are a thing of the past!  This draws flocks of vintage ladies with pin-scarred fingers to the church nursery changing table.  Nowadays, we use Snappis!  A Snappi is a Y-shaped stretchy band and on each tip it sports a plastic version of an Ace bandage hook.  The hook digs into the dipe and holds it in place, but will not prick your finger or, more importantly, your baby. 

Snappis do not make good bed companions, so keep 'em
the dipes where they belong.  I have been bitten
by a 
rogue Snappi or two in the middle of the night!
To finish it off, a prefold requires a cover.  However, while prefolds can fit sizes for longer, the covers will need to be sized up more often/quicker.  Fortunately, you do not need as many covers as prefolds.  You can use a cover three or four times before you switch it, more if you let it air out between changes.  I'd recommend owning four or five covers.   

Covers can come in a varieties of colors.  You will be shocked.  Many are PUL, a kind of plastic waterproof cover, but trust me it is a soft baby-friendly version of plastic.  These come with snaps or velcro.  I like snaps for babies who like to remove their diapers; I like velcro for cross-eyed mommies at 2 a.m.  These cost about 10 bucks each.  A few of my favorite brands are Bummies and ThistiesI also like covers like Econobum covers because they grow with Baby from newborn to toddler.  While PUL covers are the most common and probably the easiest, there are more options!  Fleece covers (like the one above) are super cute.  (Yes, fleece is moisture-wicking, so this keeps the baby and all your stuff dry.)

Wool is another great option!  You can get wool shorts or pants or simply a wool diaper cover.  You have to lanolize wool, which is really just a soak in the sink with a lanolin product, but they are your cover and your pants.  I love these because in my mind wool was how they had to have stuff done back in the day.  Before plastic (PUL) and all the fancy stuff, there was cotton and wool.  Two of my favorites spots to score super cute woolies are Cabbages and Kings for new and the Spot's Corner on Hyena Cart for lightly used.

I love diapering in simple prefolds made from natural cotton. They are so versatile.  You can add a soaker for overnight or a heavy wetter, or simply double up.  (That's what I use those teeny ones for now.)  You can dye them however and have fun.  We never have rashes and they are easy to clean!  Give them a try, you won't regret it!  One of local babywearing members even sells dipes and covers of all types:  Nappies and More...

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