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: