Cloth Diapering Your Newborn: Prefolds and Flats


Using a prefolds or flats inside a waterproof cover is probably the most popular way to diaper a newborn, and the folding doesn’t have to be complicated. Prefolds and flats are very economical, ranging from $1 to $3 apiece; a small stash of 6 to 8 covers won’t cost you an arm and a leg, either (my favorite newborn cover is only $10). They also grow with your baby and can be used later for other things (doublers, burp cloths, cleaning rags, etc).


There are a lot of choices available when it comes to newborn prefolds. Besides the standard cotton diapers, you can find bamboo and hemp blends. I tested some of each kind. This photo comparison shows the difference in length when folded in thirds.


Geffen hemp jersey prefolds are made of a super thirsty blend of 4 layers of 40% hemp and 60% organic cotton which is very soft and smooth. It doesn’t quilt up like regular prefolds. Each size has a different color of stitching at the edges. My orange-edged newborn prefolds are some of our most reached-for diapers simply because I don’t have to change Ingrid every 2 hours or so like I would with a regular prefold. They are also cut shorter and wider and fit perfectly in newborn covers. Overnight, our Geffens work great with a small doubler. And they are easy to use; simply fold in thirds and lay in a cover. The fabric does stain easily. You can find them at Dearest Diapers, Nicki’s Diapers and Kelly’s Closet.

Imagine SmartFit prefolds (same as Nicki’s GreatFit prefolds) are my second favorites! They are cut a little shorter and also wider than regular prefolds (see the GroVia and Bummis above) so you don’t have to fold down the back or front to fit in a cover; and more width means more coverage. Folding the edge down adds bulk and can make the waistband of a cover gape open a little. You can choose cotton or bamboo/cotton prefolds from Imagine; I prefer the bamboo blend as they are both softer and a little more absorbent. You can find SmartFit prefolds with FREE shipping both at Nicki’s and Diaper Safari.

GroVia bamboo prefolds are super soft, but for some reason not as absorbent as the Imagine SmartFit prefolds I tested. They are also longer, so to fit in a newborn cover I have to fold down either the front or the back, creating excess bulk. When folded in thirds, the GroVia prefold is also more narrow than the SmartFit. They are sold in packs of 3 and can be found at Sweetbottoms Baby (with free shipping), Diaper Junction and Kissed by the Moon.

Bumkins unbleached cotton prefolds are similar to many “standard” prefolds that you’ll find on the market in terms of size and absorbency. There are 6 layers of absorbency in the middle and 2 on either side. Their newborn prefolds are actually labeled “preemie” and have a limited size range of 5 to 9 pounds. Absorbency is average. They are also long and narrow, so they don’t fit as well in our newborn covers. You can find Bumkins prefolds in packs of 6 at Dream Diapers.

This photo shows how the shorter SmartFit prefolds are cut to fit into covers better:



Flat diapers turned out to be easier than I thought, especially when I created the Mini Pad Fold. I tested a couple of different flats from Nicki’s, and also tried using old receiving blankets but they were too big and bulky for my newborn covers.

Imagine unbleached cotton flats come in sizes small and large. The smalls I’ve used on Ingrid measure about 24×24.5 after washing and drying. They are softer than bleached cotton but comparable in absorbency. The edge seam is very low profile and doesn’t create much bulk at all when folded up.

Imagine bamboo flats are actually blended with cotton but are even softer! I’d like to replace all my cotton flats with these, and the price isn’t that much more. They look pretty much the same but the measurements for size small are a little different: after prepping they measured 22.5×26.5, so definitely not as square as the plain cotton flats. The shorter length actually helped them fit better in newborn covers, however, so I liked that. The edge seams on these are also low profile and don’t create excess bulk when the diaper is pad folded. The bamboo flats are slightly more absorbent, so this is another plus and the reason I use these more.

Imagine printed flats are made of cotton but come in several cute patterns. I tested the dino print on bleached (white) cotton. After prepping they shrank to about 24.5 inches square. Though adorable, they aren’t as soft as the unbleached cotton and bamboo flats. Their absorbency is comparable to any regular cotton flat diaper.

Here is a photo comparison of three different types of flats pad folded, so you can see the marked difference in length:


And a photo of the small Nicki’s flat diapers mini pad folded and tucked into a newborn cover:


Happy diapering!


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  1. Pingback: Newborn Cloth Diaper Reviews, and a BIG Giveaway!

  2. I love prefolds for newborn stage because they are cheap (you go through a lot of diaper changes during those first few months! ) and they are not as bulky on such a tiny little bum! 🙂

  3. I just ordered nicki’s nb great fit bamboo prefolds yesterday. As far as I can tell, they are the same as the imagine smart fit ones. Do you know if there is any difference?

    • Hi Tamara, Imagine bamboo prefolds and Nicki’s bamboo prefolds are pretty much the same diaper – same sizing and materials. Each offers a different incentive. With Imagine prefolds (priced a bit higher) you get free shipping. With Nicki’s prefolds, they donate to their Buy 1 Give 1 program. Thanks for your question! ~Anne

  4. I used prefolds and covers on my daughter when she was a newborn and in the past two years have probably tried every single type of diaper since. Now she’s 28 months and we’re now using flats and covers, they are so versatile and easy to wash. Our next little one (due in the spring) will be a flats and prefolds baby, for sure! Sometimes it’s best not to mess with simplicity!

  5. I’m new to the CD world, so bare with me, please. Prefolds can be used instead of inserts with any kind/brand of cover, or is it specific to a certain kind/brand? Thanks! I know the article is about newborns, but can you use the Prefolds as the child gets older? Thanks!

  6. I can’t wait to try out some prefolds and covers on my newborn! I was planning to use disposable until he fit better into the AI2s we have, but I’m hoping the prefolds and thirsties covers I have work well enough to avoid disposable altogether!

  7. I love flats! Especially Imagine Baby flats. The prints are soooo cute! And they are very easy to use and work with both my newborn and toddler!

  8. I’m planning on using prefolds and coves when my son is born. Haven’t bought any yet. Planning on getting imagine when they are back in stock.

  9. I love using prefolds with a newborn. Other types of diapers were to bulky on our little guy. I never tried flats, but the Nicki’s cotton dinosaur print is so cute!! There are so many choices out there.

  10. I loved the ease of flats and prefolds with covers but didn’t discover them until my little was about 6 months. This time I will be all flats and prefolds all the time!

      • Time for more questions – do you prefer flats or prefolds? Is one trimmer than the other? What’s your favorite cover? How many covers do I need to have a sufficient stash for a newborn? HELP! I have about two weeks left and I’m late in the game on this. 🙂

        • For a newborn, probably prefolds. It’s just a bit quicker to folded in thirds and lay in a cover. 8-10 covers for a newborn is plenty, and allows for more frequent #2 accidents since their poo can be very runny or messy at the beginning. If I had to pick three of my favorite newborn covers they would be (1) the Sweet Pea (2) Blueberry Mini Coveralls and (3) Buttons. Buttons aren’t “newborn” but they are a one size diaper that did fit our newborns and they are super cute and affordable. Thanks and congrats, Kim! ~Anne

  11. Would love to try Geffen pre-folds with my new baby coming in May. I have tried regular non-brand prefolds & they worked for us with first baby but something more absorbing would be great. 🙂