Cloth Diapering a Newborn – Prefolds, Fitteds and Covers

cloth diapering a newborn: prefolds & fitteds

So your ready to start cloth diapering your newborn babe using the tips and suggestions I gave you last week, but now you’re wondering what styles and types of diapers you should use. This week, I’m going to tell you about my favorites, and what I used on my new babies.

Newborn size prefolds

Prefolds might seem a little scary because they are the type of diaper that you think about when you picture our moms using cloth diapers. I didn’t try prefolds until my oldest daughter was about five or six months old, but once I did, I was hooked. They really are easy to use (no pins required!), they are so versatile, and best of all, they are just about the most inexpensive option out there!

I buy my prefold diapers from Green Mountain Diapers (I have no affiliation with them, I just love their diapers!) because they have prefold sizes that are the best fit for babies. They offer orange-edge newborn sized prefolds that are a perfect fit for brand new babies.

Prefolds are one type of diaper that I will buy new, first of all because they are so cheap, secondly because they are hard to find used, and they are heavy so shipping costs a lot, and because I know I will keep them and use them for multiples babies, and then when I’m done with them on babies they will make perfect cleaning rags!

How to use a Prefold Cloth Diaper

cloth diapering a newborn: prefolds & fitteds

I usually use a snappi with my prefold diapers. They are quick and easy to put on, and you don’t have to worry about poking your baby like you would with pins.

There are lots of different ways that you can fold prefold diapers, (you can find tons of directions and instructions online, just google it), but I just go with the simplest, and easiest for me.

cloth diapering a newborn: prefolds & fitteds

Fold the diaper into thirds, open up the back and lay the baby on top, fold the front up, bring the wings around the sides, and attach with a snappi. I wish I would have taken pictures/video with Blair when she was still a bitty newborn, but I guess I was still in that newborn fog, so a baby doll will have to do for our model. They’re less squirmy anyway.

how to put a prefold on a baby

After you fold the prefold in thirds, open up the back and lay the baby on top.

how to put a prefold on a baby

Fold the front up and bring the sides around to meet it.

how to put a prefold cloth diaper on a baby

Attach the snappi on the left, stretch it over to the right and attach, and then stretch it down and attach.

how to put a prefold cloth diaper on a baby

Folded this way, the prefold forms a nice gusset around the legs of the baby, which helps to keep messes contained.

A prefold is not waterproof, so you have to use some type of cover. I use both wool covers (more on those another day), and PUL (poly-urathane laminate) covers, which are a light, plastic-like, waterproof material.

This is where I would, again, suggest getting newborn sized covers. I used Thirsties x-small covers with Brenden and they were great. This time around, I tried to use a multiple sized cover on Blair, the Thirsties Duo Wrap, and really didn’t like the fit when she was a little newborn, the leg gussets just didn’t fit right.

how to put a prefold cloth diaper on a baby

This is Blair in a small size Thirsties cover at almost 3 months old. Again, sorry I didn’t take pictures when she was a tiny newborn!

Put a wool or PUL cover over the prefold, and you are ready to go!

Now, prefolds do have to be changed fairly often because they will feel wet against the baby’s bum, and babies pee a lot. But that’s another reason why they are great – you can get a dozen or two of them for a reasonable price, and have enough to make it through a few days of cloth diapering.

Fitted Diapers

newborn fitted cloth diapers

There are many, MANY brands of fitted diapers out there, but basically they are all made of an absorbent material like cotton, bamboo, hemp, etc. They have elastic around the top and legs, and they have aplix (Velcro) or snap closures. You put them on a baby much like a disposable, but they are also not waterproof, so you need to use a cover on the outside.

Newborn sized fitted diapers are especially nice because many of them have a snap in the middle that snaps down and out of the way for before a baby’s umbilical cord stump has fallen off.

Fitteds can run anywhere from fairly inexpensive, to way over the top expensive. I bought three used fitted diapers for Blair in cute girly prints, just because I wanted to. They are so cute that it’s hard to resist!

I do love fitted diapers though because they are so absorbent, and they hold in the newborn poo explosions like nothing else! I would recommend having a few (3-6 is probably a good place to start) fitted diapers in your stash, because they are nice to have on hand, and you may find that you really like them.

To help keep the baby’s bum feeling a little drier with either prefold or fitted diapers, and for keeping the diapers from getting stained by the bright yellow breast-fed baby poop, you can put a fleece liner inside the diaper. This is totally optional, but really easy to do. You can either buy fleece liners, or make them yourself by cutting out rectangles from a simple piece of fleece.

newborn wool diaper cover

Just like with prefolds, you need to use a cover over fitted diapers. Here’s Blair in a wool cover knitted for her by her Grammy Susan.

So those are the basics of using prefolds and fitted cloth diapers on a newborn baby. Please let me know in the comments if you have any questions that I didn’t answer here, I would be happy to answer them for you as best as I can! Or if you used fitted diapers on your newborn, let us know which brand you like the best!

Also, be sure to read this post for more information about the basics of cloth diapering.

What was your experience with using prefold or fitteds with your newborn? Or what questions do you have about using prefolds or fitteds and covers?


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  1. says

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  2. AmyM says

    My babies were small- just 6 pounds, so pre-folds were great. Another plug for Green Mountain- they have diapers that are even smaller than those is this post and extra small covers. They are listed as part of their “preemie package”. I actually used all my pre-folds for both my children and was then able to re-sell my cloth diapering supplies locally. I kept a few fitted diapers around for babysitters and grandparents.

  3. Katie says

    My son is not quite six weeks old, so I only have experience with the newborn stage of cloth diapering!

    I have a couple small size Fuzzibuns pocket diapers that I keep in the diaper bag, since they’re easier to deal with while out and about, but mostly we use prefolds and I love them. I have never ever had a prefold leak on me. Sometimes the poo leaks onto the cover so you can’t reuse it between washings, but it never escaped from there, even when he was small. He’s so long and skinny that even newborn size pockets gapped around his legs and that was…problematic. And messy. :-(

    We don’t even bother fastening the prefolds with a Snappi or anything. I just lay it ot in the angel fold inside the cover, fold the prefold up in front, and wrap the cover around that. Everything stays in place just fine. Maybe once he’s older and actually moving around that will change? I don’t know. I also have some covers with flaps that help hold the prefold in place. With those you don’t even need to open the back corners of the prefold.

    Anyway, in general I’ve found cloth diapering to be much easier so far than I expected! We started at about two weeks, once his circ was healed and the meconium was definitely done with.

  4. Shelby says

    Wondering if I can use any prefold/insert with different brands of covers? Buying different brand names, when I can just buy one type in stock seems so expensive! Which prefold/inserts do you recommend?

  5. Breann says

    I am just wondering where you bought the cute fitted diaper that blair is wearing in the picture? It is so adorable!


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