Prefold Cloth Diapers

Prefold cloth diapers are absorbent rectangular cloths sewn several layers thick.

They are divided lengthwise into 3 sections, with the middle section being the thickest, most absorbent section. They are thicker and more absorbent than flat fold cloth diapers.

Prefold diapers are normally used with a diaper cover to prevent leaks and hold the diaper in place. You may also fasten your prefold nappies with diaper pins or snappis.

Don't be fooled by the name. Prefold cloth diapers must be folded in order to fit properly on your baby.


Prefold cloth diapers are very affordable. They are also very versatile and can be used as a doubler in combination with other types of cloth diapering systems.

They come in fairly standard sizes (with a little variation among brands) as follows:

Preemie      4-10 pounds stitching: white
Infant 8-15 pounds stitching: dark green
Regular 15-30 pounds      stitching: blue
Toddler 30+ pounds stitching: light green

The stitching colors refer to fairly standard stitching colors that are used by many (but not all) cloth diaper companies. The color appears in the stitching at the top and bottom edges of the prefold diaper and can help you determine the size of the diaper more easily.

There are several types of prefolds available including:

  • Diaper Service Quality or DSQ - These are premium, high quality diapers
  • Chinese Prefold Diapers or CPF - Chinese prefolds are very popular and durable prefold diapers
  • Indian Prefold Diapers or IPF - Known for being very soft but are considered less durable than Chinese prefold diapers


Prefold cloth diapers are generally long lasting and can be used with several children, so you can expect to use your prefold diapers with subsequent children, or you may be able to sell your used diapers to recoup some of your costs.

They come in standard and diaper service quality. Diaper service quality (DSQ) are premium quality, and although the meaning of the term diaper service quality is not regulated, it is still an indication of the diaper quality, and therefore it is wise to look for this type of diaper. Lower quality prefold diapers are stuffed with polyester, which makes the diaper thick but not particularly absorbent.

Although prefold cloth diapers are fairly widely available in stores, many of the prefolds you'll find in stores are the lower quality variety stuffed with polyester. Purchasing cloth diapers online is generally your best bet for getting the better quality diapers that will make your cloth diapering experience a happy one.


When you start looking at prefold diapers, you may notice a series of numbers like 4x8x4 or 4x6x4 used to describe the diaper. These numbers indicate number of layers the diaper is made of. 4x8x4 means there are 4 layers of fabric on the left section, 8 layers of fabric in the middle, and 4 layers on the right section. In general, you'll want to look for diapers with more layers. 4x8x4 or 4x6x4 are considered the best, but do keep in mind, the weight and type of fabric has a large impact on the absorbency of the diaper as well.


  • Cotton - Cotton is the most common, good quality diaper material. Look for 100% cotton. Cotton cloth diapers with polyester filling are generally less durable and less absorbent.

  • Hemp - Hemp diapers are gaining popularity. These diapers are a blend of hemp and cotton. Hemp diapers are more durable than cotton cloth diapers, and hemp is more absorbent than cotton. Hemp does take longer to dry, and hemp diapers are generally more expensive than cotton.

  • Bamboo - Bamboo diapers are highly absorbent, so they can be made with fewer layers, which makes for a trimmer fit. Bamboo is very soft, antimicrobial, and made from a naturally organic and fast growing resource. Bamboo diapers are also typically more expensive than cotton cloth diapers.

Prefold diapers may be organic or not organic. Organic cloth diapers are more expensive than diapers that are not organic, but, for many people, buying organic is an important consideration and worth a little extra cost.

Prefold diapers may also be bleached or unbleached. Before you use unbleached prefolds, you must first wash them several times in hot water to allow them to reach their full absorbency.

Popular Brands

  • Gerber
  • Blue Penguin
  • Tiny Tush
  • Dappi

Approximate Prices

  • $1.00 - $5.00 per diaper, depending upon type of fabric and number of layers
  • You will also need to purchase diaper covers to use with your prefold cloth diapers, so this expense should also be factored into your costs as well.


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