How to Pad Fold Flat Diapers

Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

First of all, what is a flat diaper? It’s basically a big square or rectangle of cloth that you fold and then wrap or pin around your baby. It’s your great-grandmother’s cloth diaper. After 4 years of cloth diapering, I thought it was high time that I went back to the basics and gave flats a test drive. But what kind to buy? Well, I wanted them to be soft and economical. Although the flour sack towels that you can pick up at Walmart or Target do work as flats, I know that they aren’t quite as soft or quite as absorbent as “real” flats, and that they have a seam at the edges that can create annoying bulk when folded up. And while receiving blankets can also be used like flats, they are typically made of flannel, which is not as absorbent as cotton.

And muslin flats, although very soft, are just too expensive for me, averaging $5.00 to $8.00 each.

So what kind of flat diapers did we decide on? I ended up buying some Eco Dia flats from My Tajos (NOTE: This shop is still online but does not appear to be actively doing business anymore). The small cotton diapers have a thin edge seam, which means that after you fold them up, there’s not a lot of bulk due to the hemming. The unbleached organic fabric is softer than bleached cotton or flour sack towels.

Before prepping they measured about 27×29; afterwards they shrank to 24×26.

My first experience with flats has been great! I can see why mothers say flats are so easy to wash and dry and get stains out of. There’s just one layer of fabric. I would estimate that drying time for a flat as compared to my Chinese prefolds and Flip organics is 50% less. This is my guess because it always takes a full cycle to completely dry my prefolds, but the flats are done about halfway through. That’s a huge difference and a hefty savings in energy.

Here is a comparison between a Flip organic cotton insert (trifold) and a pad folded flat:

Are they hard to fold? Is it really time-consuming? Honestly, no. I had this impression that flats were complicated and required expert folding techniques. Nothing could be further from the truth when you start with something super easy like the pad fold. Here’s what it looks like. For a modified newborn flat diaper fold click here):

This takes about 10 seconds. No big deal. And then you can lay in a cover or use pins/Snappi/Boingo to secure.

I truly love these flats! We have used them both day and night and the absorbency level is impressive. Because they aren’t too bulky, it’s easy to pair them with other inserts, to stuff them in a pocket or even to double up!

* How to Win a 6-Pack of Eco Dia Flats *



Share on FacebookPin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Share on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. I haven’t used flats, but I started out using prefolds, which seem to be quit thicker. I love them! I think I bought them for a couple dollars each and bought various covers. I love prefolds & covers versus the more modern cloth diapers.

  2. I love how easy flats are to wash, but I have a hard time with the folding aspect. Thanks for the pictures you shared!

  3. Now that I have seen your tutorial flats might be in our future! Especially being organic! Wow what a good deal!

  4. I’ve never tried actual flats, but these do look nice! I love seeing the comparison to the Flip inserts, we use those as our primary insert! I have receiving blankets I use as backup inserts, and while they work, I’m not crazy about them.

  5. I have 6 flats and I used them on my baby when she was a newborn. They’re a little small now but they worked pretty well when she was tiny. They aren’t the good kind of flat but they were free so I used them. 😉 I really want to participate the the hand washing challenge next year! I couldn’t do it this year I was still in c-section recovery mode.

  6. I haven’t tried flats yet. Thank you for doing this review. I was wondering about the difference in absorbency of the different materials for flats!

  7. I haven’t used flats before, but after the handwashing challenge happened earlier this year I was inspired to try out receiving blankets. We had such a big pile of them and never used them all! Now they are getting good use. I have also been able to find receiving blankets at consignment sales for a steal (I think I ended up with 10 for $5 or so.
    I am planning to cut them in half to use with our newborn next year. A full receiving blanket is probably too much bulk. And, when little one grows, we can just use two to pad fold and lay into the diaper.

  8. I am tempted to buy some flats for us and give them a whirl… daughter’s EXTREMELY sensitive bum has hindered out cloth usage as of late. I really want to get her back in her cloth but every time I do she busts out in a horrid rash. My hubby and I have like ZERO money right now so this would be awesome for us to win! If they work I know it would be worth it to invest in some!

  9. I’ve never tried flats but I’d like to do it. I’m really excited that you are offering organic stuff as giveaways. It’s really important to me to give my baby the best start possible–no unnecessary chemicals when possible!

  10. I’ve always wanted to try flats. I’ve heard they are some of the trimmest diapers around and launder easily. I also love that these are organic cotton!

  11. I love flats!! easy to use, and easy to clean.. and my baby-sitter ( a.k.a. “Nan”) is more comfortable with flats than all the “new” pocket diapers!

  12. I started cloth diapering with my third child. That was 9 years ago. Flats were never on my radar. Prefolds were what everyone used back then. I CD’d my daughter too and still don’t remember hearing anything about them. While preparing for the birth (and the cloth diapering) of my newest baby, now 7 weeks old, I kept running across people talking about flat diapers and I got really curious. I picked up some flour sack towels, big box baby store brand and a few unbleached OsoCozy flats. Now that we finally started cloth diapering our new little one I like the unbleached ones best. The others are not as soft. I’d love to try some organic flats. I also try to put the gentlest, least toxic things I can against my baby’s most delicate areas when I can afford it.

    I have to say, flats do take a few extra steps to fold up but I think it’d be worth it to have some organic soft flats. I also like that I can fold flats in different ways to best fit the different styles of diaper covers I have.

    • I was the same way, Julie – used prefolds for years but never really considered flats. So glad I tried them, and yes the unbleached fabrics do tend to be softer. Do you do special folds or just the basic pad? I’ve found it’s very quick to do the pad fold, just a few seconds more than it takes to fold a prefold or Flip insert in three. Anne

  13. I haven’t used flats yet, thought I’d love to try them. I want to get some to learn how to use them. That way if the power goes out (just thinking about what happened with hurricane Sandy), they would be easy to wash and quick to dry!

    • That’s a great point, Carrie! Never thought of how flats would be ideal in a power outage because they dry so fast. I would say it’s at least half the time of prefolds, maybe even more!

  14. I haven’t tried flats yet.. They seemed intimidating before this review! I would love to try them because they seem like such a cheap way to diaper, plus I have a few really cute covers that rarely get use 🙁

  15. This is an awesome post Anne! I tried flats when my baby was a newborn but couldn’t get the folds just right (or I didn’t really try hard enough is probably more accurate). I’m looking forward to next year’s flats challenge though, I’m definitely going to give it another shot!

  16. I have prefolds and covers which work well most of the time. I would like to try these flats too after reading your review, Im interested.

  17. I loved how trim they were, but had some trouble getting a fold that didn’t leave weird flaps. They weren’t absorbent enough to last my little man very long, but he’s a VERY heavy wetter!

  18. I have never tried flats before, I have used prefolds though and they work pretty good, but they can be a bit bulky. I wonder if flats would be more trim since you can fold them in so many different ways?

  19. hi there, LOVE flats, was already planning to purchase these (just gotta pay off my credit card enough to order some first!!) lol but these are my top pick when I am able to. already own flats but was looking for a larger size and organic, happen to stumble upon these a few weeks ago and heard good things from a few other sources already too. if all works out i hope to create a whole stash with them to use in the home daycare here too!

  20. As you know I am just beginning to use cloth and after reading this I am certainly going to try some flats! I am now thinking to use mainly the wraps and flats/prefolds at home and use pockets for sitters and on the go. Love this very helpful review!

  21. my first baby won’t be arriving for a few more months, but I have a friend who is teaching me about cloth diapers & she LOVES flats. She uses them in pockets, pad folded in covers, with a snappi, any way she can and says they are her favorite because of the simplicity and versatility. I don’t have any for my baby’s stash yet, but I plan to by the time he/she arrives. Hopefully I’ll win these and can get a feel for how I like them.
    Thank you for the giveaway.

  22. I LOOOOOVE flats. They hold a special place in my heart. I have a ton of flour sack flats that we tie dyed. <3

  23. i just started stocking up on cloth diapers for my little one, i would say the best way to save some money is to use cloth over disposables

  24. My favorite fold was the Origami fold until my daughter got too big. Then the Jo Fold became my favorite. Flats are great because they are very versatile and wash so nicely.

  25. I haven’t used flats with my daughters, but I remember that was all we had when my brother was little. I’m 6 years older so I would change his diaper, and I remember folding and pinning (gasp!) and those awful plastic pants. Diapering has come a long way since then, and I’d love to try flats with modern wraps. Thanks for the chance!

    • That’s neat you remember using them on your little brother. My lil bro was in prefolds but I was too young to help with changes at the time. Thanks for entering the giving, Olivia, and being such a loyal blog follower! Anne

  26. My children are grown but all were diapered with flat cloth diapers. It was the only choice. And they make great dust cloths after the kids are grown. I still have a box of them.

  27. Flat diapers DO look like they would wash up easier and stain much less. The price point great! Looks like I have a new replacement for the raggedy dipes that were used on my first 6+ years ago!

  28. i just found out that i am expecting again and i would love to try flats i heard they make a good newborn diaper as well so i am really excited to try them

  29. I haven’t tried flats, but prefolds are used everyday in our home. Put a thirsties cover on top and we’re good to go!

  30. I have used flats when I first started to diaper. It cost me nearly nothing because i just used receiving blankets. They work great and wash very well.

  31. My little one was a preemie so she didn’t fit into an OS diapers for a long time. I did have tons of receiving blankets and I used those as flats. Those receiving blankets were incredibly absorbent. I bought a few Thirsties covers and we cloth diapered for almost nothing for about four months.

  32. love flats! They’re easy to get really clean. No repelling or stink issues ever. Inexpensive and trim, One size fits most. Double as receiving blankets, towels, stroller canopy, bib, burp cloth….. So many advantages.

  33. I love the cost effectiveness of flats and I do not mind using them at all! They can be great!

    sandysaveseveryday AT gmail DOT com

  34. Though they are cost effective, I have tried flats and just can’t do it. They always seem to shift in the cover, and I end up washing the cover with them. So they aren’t really saving me any money in that sense.

    • I wonder if maybe folding or pinning a different way would work? Or if you win, maybe you could pass them along to another mama who could use them! Thanks for entering! Anne

  35. I’m currently using tea towel flats to diaper my 9 week old granddaughter, with wool longies. Works great, and was cheap. I did dye them pink so they don’t get used in the kitchen. 🙂 ty for the giveaway!
    cokelush at gmail

  36. Pingback: Diaper Junction One-Size Cover and Unbleached Flats Review & Giveaway

  37. Pingback: 8 Ways to Get Started Folding Your Flats & Prefold Cloth Diapers » Irresistibly Green