A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

The Quick and Dirty Guide to Pre-fold Cloth Diapers

Print Friendly and PDF

With over five years' experience using pre-fold diapers, I've awarded myself a Master's degree in crunchy waste management. As my youngest is on the precipice of ditching diapers, I want to share some hard-won pre-fold knowledge before I forget it all.


It's not actually pre-folded (and a few other basics)

Actually, there's no need to fold a pre-fold, making diapers the easiest load of wash you'll ever put away. You do need to fold the outer two thirds in toward the middle before putting it on the baby, however. There's more padding in the middle third (the part of the diaper that's doing most of the absorbing), and less material on the outer two thirds. You could spend your entire pregnancy watching How-to-Diaper-Your-Baby tutorials, but this one is great. But really, you only need to watch one.

Start with a supply of two dozen diapers. You can always buy more and you'll definitely need to buy bigger sizes as your baby grows. You will also need:

1 | Diaper covers

Three or four is plenty, unless your baby has frequent blow-outs. The cover creates a waterproof barrier between the cloth diaper and the baby's clothes. You can get them with velcro or snaps. Snaps offer more adjustability and room to grow but are less convenient. Velcro, on the other hand, is more convenient, but if you plan to use the cover through multiple kids, velcro won't withstand all that washing and continue to adhere.

FEATURED VIDEO

2 | Snappis

The Snappi is a stretchy, “Y" shaped alternative to safety pins. They have hooks on each of the three ends, which secure the Snappi to the cloth diaper in the front and hold it together. You only need one per diaper but they're like pens; When you need one, you need it bad, and they tend to get lost and wear out, so you'll want back-ups.

Pre-folds aren't the most high tech, but they do the job (well)

Pre-fold diapers may not be the best cloth diaper ever. Like most of my parenting decisions, I chose them because they were the first good-enough option I tried. Plus, I was tired of making decisions about all the things. (Decision fatigue is real.) Everyone said to try different cloth diaper systems, to see which one would fit our baby best. My brain was exploding. I wanted fewer choices, not more.

So when my in-laws gifted us with a month of diaper service, and the only option for the service was pre-folds, we were thrilled to sidestep yet another choice. Once we ditched the service, we stuck with pre-folds, mostly to avoid making another decision. Plus, pre-folds worked. They fit. They didn't leak. They were impermeable to all but the most powerful blow-outs, and the diaper covers were so darn cute.

If you use a diaper service, pre-folds might be the only option. This might be an issue of availability, as the diaper service in your area might not do pocket diapers (a.k.a. all in ones), or it might just be cost-prohibitive.

According to Kelly Epstein, owner of Eco-Baby Diaper Service, while the national trend is for diaper services to launder pre-folds only, some are starting to service pocket diapers. According to Epstein, because of pocket diapers' high cost, it's generally viable for the service to launder pocket diapers only with an upfront deposit and/or a contract, and for a much higher fee. Prices vary, but a pocket diaper generally costs as much as a dozen pre-folds, and you can expect to pay about double for a service to handle pocket diapers, versus pre-folds.

Washing them is seriously not a big deal

There are about 1,438,443 Pinterest posts on washing cloth diapers, but they're all saying basically the same thing. All you do is:

  1. Collect them in a large wet bag. Ours lines a tall trash can with a swinging lid.
  2. Put them through the rinse cycle.
  3. Wash in hot water with a tablespoon of Charlie's Soap.
  4. Throw them in the dryer for 60-90 minutes on high or hang them out to dry in the sun. Note that if you choose the latter, they'll be about as soft as cardboard. In the summer, I pop them in the dryer for five minutes with a damp washcloth to soften them after they've been hanging on the line.
  5. Stack them up and put them away. (No folding necessary!)

You might as well use cloth wipes

You're already doing a load of diapers, so it's no big whoop to throw wipes in, too. My favorite wipes are double-sided, thicker and rectangle-shaped, because they're user friendly and require zero folding. I store them in a used disposable wipes container (minus the lid) with enough water to keep them perfectly wet. (For five long years my husband and I have argued over the perfect moisture level. This is obviously a judgment call.)

You don't have to be a purist

There's nothing wrong with using a combination of disposables and cloth diapers. I changed my kids into a disposable whenever we went somewhere, at bedtime, and on those days when I just couldn't handle one extra thing. I also have a container of disposable wipes available at all times, because sometimes a cloth wipe just can't get into all the folds and creases. Remember, no one is grading you on your crunch factor. Do what works for you.

The liners are genius

I almost quit cloth diapers when our daughter started solids. I didn't have the sprayer you attach to the toilet, nor was there room in the bathroom for a diaper pail. I couldn't fathom carrying a poopy diaper from the bathroom back to the baby's room after wringing it out in toilet water. I know people do this, and I think it's awesome (I am literally in awe of them), but I just cannot.

Enter the liner. It's like a flushable panti-liner for diapers. The poop sticks to the liner, so you just hold the diaper over the toilet and let the liner and the poop fall in. While they aren't perfect, they will keep about 95% of the poop off the diaper about 90% of the time. Pro tip: Hold the diaper close to the toilet to avoid excessive splashing.


I'm not here to convince you to use prefolds. But if, like me, the myriad options of strollers, carseats, carriers, bouncy swings, and cribs sapped your decision-making energy before you arrived at the diaper question, I assure you, there's nothing wrong with using prefolds without researching every other option. If nothing else, prefolds are by far the most economical option. You can spend the money you've saved on sitters.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

As mamas, we naturally become the magic-makers for our families. We sing the songs that make the waits seem shorter, dispense the kisses that help boo-boos hurt less, carry the seemingly bottomless bags of treasures, and find ways to turn even the most hum-drum days into something memorable.

Sometimes it's on a family vacation or when exploring a new locale, but often it's in our own backyards or living rooms. Here are 12 ways to create magical moments with kids no matter where your adventures take you.


1. Keep it simple

Mary Poppins may be practically perfect in every way, but―trust us―your most magical memories don't require perfection. Spend the morning building blanket forts or break out the cookie cutters to serve their sandwich in a fun shape and you'll quickly learn that, for kids, the most magical moments are often the simplest.

2. Get on their level

Sometimes creating a memorable moment can be as easy as getting down on the floor and playing with your children. So don't be afraid to get on your hands and knees, to swing from the monkey bars, or turn watching your favorite movie into an ultimate snuggle sesh.

3. Reimagine the ordinary

As Mary says, "the cover is not the book." Teach your child to see the world beyond initial impressions by encouraging them to imagine a whole new world as you play―a world where the laundry basket can be a pirate ship or a pile of blankets can be a castle.

4. Get a little messy

Stomp in muddy puddles. Break out the finger paint. Bake a cake and don't worry about frosting drips on the counter. The messes will wait, mama. For now, let your children―and yourself―live in these moments that will all too soon become favorite memories.

5. Throw out the plan

The best-laid plans...are rarely the most exciting. And often the most magical moments happen by accident. So let go of the plan, embrace the unexpected, and remember that your child doesn't care if the day goes according to the schedule.

6. Take it outside

There's never a wrong time of year to make magic outside. Take a stroll through a spring rainstorm, catch the first winter snowflakes on your tongue, or camp out under a meteor shower this summer. Mother Nature is a natural at creating experiences you'll both remember forever.

7. Share your childhood memories

Chances are if you found it magical as a child, then your kids will too. Introduce your favorite books and movies (pro tip: Plan a double feature with an original like Mary Poppins followed with the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns!) or book a trip to your favorite family vacation spot from the past. You could even try to recreate photos from your old childhood with your kids so you can hang on to the memory forever.

8. Just add music

Even when you're doing something as humdrum as prepping dinner or tidying up the living room, a little music has a way of upping the fun factor. Tell Alexa to cue up your favorite station for a spontaneous family dance party or use your child's favorite movie soundtrack for a quick game of "Clean and Freeze" to pick up toys at the end of the day.

9. Say "yes"

Sometimes it can feel like you're constantly telling your child "no." While it's not possible to grant every request (sorry, kiddo, still can't let you drive the car!), plan a "yes" day for a little extra magic. That means every (reasonable) request gets an affirmative response for 24 hours. Trust us―they'll never forget it.

10. Let them take the lead

A day planned by your kid―can you imagine that? Instead of trying to plan what you think will lead to the best memories, put your kid in the driver's seat by letting them make the itinerary. If you have more than one child, break up the planning so one gets to pick the activity while the other chooses your lunch menu. You just might end up with a day you never expected.

11. Ask more questions

Odds are, your child might not remember every activity you plan―but they will remember the moments you made them feel special. By focusing the conversation on your little one―their likes, dislikes, goals, or even just craziest dreams―you teach them that their perspective matters and that you are their biggest fan.

12. Turn a bad day around

Not every magical moment will start from something good. But the days where things don't go to plan can often turn out to be the greatest memories, especially when you find a way to turn even a negative experience into a positive memory. So don't get discouraged if you wake up to rain clouds on your beach day or drop the eggs on the floor before breakfast―take a cue from Mary Poppins and find a way to turn the whole day a little "turtle."

Mary Poppins Returns available now on Digital & out on Blue-ray March 19! Let the magic begin in your house with a night where everything is possible—even the impossible ✨

After a pregnancy that is best described as uncomfortable, Jessica Simpson is finally done "Jess-tating" and is now a mama of three.

Baby Birdie Mae Johnson joined siblings Ace and Maxwell on Tuesday, March 19, Simpson announced via Instagram.

Simpson's third child weighed in at 10 pounds, 13 ounces.

Birdie's name is no surprise to Jessica's Instagram followers, who saw numerous references to the name in her baby shower photos and IG stories in the last few weeks.

The name Birdie isn't in the top 1000 baby names according to the Social Security Administration, but It has been seeing a resurgence in recent years, according to experts.

"Birdie feels like a sassy but sweet, down-to-earth yet unusual name," Pamela Redmond Satran of Nameberry told Town and Country back in 2017. "It's also just old enough to be right on time."

At this moment in time, Simpson and her husband, former NFL player Eric Johnson, are probably busy counting little fingers and toes , which is great news because it means Simpson's toes can finally deflate. She's had a terrible time with swollen feet during this pregnancy, and was also hospitalized multiple times due to bronchitis in her final trimester.

FEATURED VIDEO

We're so glad to see Simpson's little Birdie has finally arrived!

You might also like:

Spring is officially here and if you're looking for a way to celebrate the change in the season, why not treat the kids to some ice cream, mama?

DQ locations across the country (but not the ones in malls) are giving away free small vanilla cones today, March 20! So pack up the kids and get to a DQ near you.

And if you can't make it today, from March 21 through March 31, DQ's got a deal where small cones will be just 50 cents (but you have to download the DQ mobile app to claim that one).

Another chain, Pennsylvania-based Rita's Italian Ice is also dishing up freebies today, so if DQ's not your thing you can grab a free cup of Italian ice instead.

We're so excited that ice cream season is here and snowsuit season is behind us. Just a few short weeks and the kids will be jumping through the sprinklers.

Welcome back, spring. We've missed you!

You might also like:

The woman who basically single-handedly taught the world to embrace vulnerability and imperfection is coming to Netflix and we cannot wait to binge whatever Brené Brown's special will serve up because we'll probably be better people after watching it.

It drops on April 19 and is called Brené Brown: The Call to Courage. If it has even a fraction of the impact of her books or the viral Ted talk that made her a household name, it's going to be life and culture changing.

Announcing the special on Instagram Brown says she "cannot believe" she's about to be "breaking some boundaries over at Netflix" with the 77-minute special.

Netflix describes the special as a discussion of "what it takes to choose courage over comfort in a culture defined by scarcity, fear and uncertainty" and it sounds exactly like what we need right now.

April 19 is still pretty far away though, so if you need some of Brown's wisdom now, check out her books on Amazon or watch (or rewatch) the 2010 Ted Talk that put her—and our culture's relationship with vulnerability and shame—in the national spotlight.

The power of vulnerability | Brené Brown

FEATURED VIDEO

If Marie Kondo's Netflix show got people tidying up, Brown's Netflix special is sure to be the catalyst for some courageous choices this spring.

You might also like:

My husband and I recently had a date night that included being away from our son overnight for the first time since he was born three years ago (but don't let your heads run away with a fantasy—we literally slept because we were exhausted #thisiswhatwecallfunnow). It was a combination of a late night work event, a feeling that we had to do something just for the two of us, and simple convenience. It would have taken hours to get home from the end of a very long day when we could just check into a hotel overnight and get home early the next day.

But before that night, I fretted about what to do. How would childcare work? No one besides me or my husband has put our son to bed, and we have never not been there when he wakes up in the morning.

Enter: Grandma.

I knew if there was any chance of this being successful, the only person that could pull it off is one of my son's favorite people—his grandmother. Grammy cakes. Gramma. We rely so much on these extended support systems to give us comfort and confidence as parents and put our kids at ease. Technically, we could parent without their support, but I'm so glad we don't have to.

FEATURED VIDEO

So as we walked out the door, leaving Grandma with my son for one night, I realized how lucky we are that she gets it...

She gets it because she always comes bearing delicious snacks. And usually a small toy or crayons in her bag for just the right moment when it's needed.

She gets it because she comes with all of the warmth and love of his parents but none of the baggage. None of the first time parent jitters and all of the understanding that most kids just have simple needs: to eat, play and sleep.

She gets it because she understands what I need too. The reassurance that my baby will be safe. And cared for.

She gets it because she's been in my shoes before. Decades ago, she was a nervous new mama too and felt the same worries. She's been exactly where we are.

She gets it because she shoos us away as we nervously say goodbye, calling out cheerfully, "Have fun, I've got this." And I know that she does.

She gets it because she will get down on the floor with him to play Legos—even though sometimes it's a little difficult to get back up.

She gets it because she will fumble around with our AppleTV—so different from her remote at home—to find him just the right video on Youtube that he's looking for.

She gets it because she diligently takes notes when we go through the multi-step bedtime routine that we've elaborately concocted, passing no judgment, and promising that she'll follow along as best as she can.

She gets it because she'll break the routine and lay next to him in bed when my son gets upset, singing softly in his ear until she sees his eyelids droop heavy and finally fall asleep.

She gets it because she'll text us to let us know when he's fallen asleep because she knows we'll be wondering.

She gets it because just like our son trusts us as his mom and dad, Grandma is his safe space. My son feels at ease with her—and that relaxes me, too.

She gets it because when we come home from our "big night out" the house will be clean. Our toddler's play table that always has some sort of sticky jelly residue on it will be spotless. The dishwasher empty. (Side note: She is my hero.)

She gets it because she shows up whenever we ask. Even when it means having to rearrange her schedule. Even when it means she has to sleep in our home instead of her own.

She gets it because even though she has her own life, she makes sure to be as involved in ours as she can. But that doesn't mean she gives unsolicited advice. It means that she's there. She comes to us or lets us come to her. Whenever we need her.

She gets it because she takes care of us, too. She's there to chat with at the end of a long day. To commiserate on how hard motherhood and working and life can be, but to also gently remind me, "These are the best days."

After every time Grandma comes over, she always leaves a family that feels so content. Fulfilled by her presence. The caretaking and nourishment (mental and food-wise) and warmth that accompanies her.

We know this is a privilege. We know we're beyond lucky that she is present and wants to be involved and gets it. We know that sometimes life doesn't work out like this and sometimes Grandma lives far away or is no longer here, or just doesn't get it. So we hold on. And appreciate every moment.

As Grandma leaves, I hug her tight and tell her, "I can't thank you enough. We couldn't have done this without you." Because we can't. And we wouldn't want to.

You might also like:

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.