• Sally

How we fold flat nappies and prefolds



We have always used prefolds in our newborn nappy (diaper) stash. They are relatively cheap, and you can easily fold them for a snug fit on your baby each time (and we found them less bulky on tiny babies than most other styles). We had some stretchy bamboo prefolds that we’d bought before X was born, along with a couple of other styles, and rapidly added more prefolds to our collection once we got the hang of using them. As babies grow out of the smaller sizes, they make great ‘boosters’ for night nappies, and also great cloths for wiping up spills around the house (we now keep a stack of them under our kitchen sink).


When the time came to take X travelling, and we were facing the prospect of handwashing nappies, it wasn’t much of a jump from prefolds to flat nappies. I had initially been intimidated by the idea of flats, giant squares of unwieldy fabric, and also didn’t know they came in fabrics other than terry towelling, which I dismissed as too bulky for my tiny newborns. We settled on birdseye and muslin flats (birdseye are excellent for tiny newborns), and ended up folding the flat nappies in much the same way as the prefolds, there are just a couple of extra steps at the start to get them down to size.



Both prefolds and flats come in a variety of fabrics, and they both require a waterproof cover over the top (although we would often leave the cover off in hot weather if we were outside, and we would also often lie a non-mobile baby on a towel or waterproof change mat and leave the cover off for naps). PUL (polyurethane laminate) covers are the most common, you can get ‘sized’ covers or ‘OSFM’ (one size fits most), and can choose between velcro or snaps to fasten. I tend to go with sized for the first 6-8 months as they are less bulky, but OSFM are more common.


While we started out with PUL, we ended up mainly using wool covers for our babies. You can get wool covers in the standard ‘nappy cover’ style, with Velcro or snaps, or can use little wool shorts or leggings (these are great once babies can stand, as they double as clothing). Wool is more breathable than PUL, so is a great option for sweaty babies in warmer climates (we used very thin wool for daytime, and thicker wool for nights). It was the solution to our heat rash/nappy rash problems. Wool covers are aired between use, we only washed them around once a month. Washing involves a quick handwash in wool wash, before soaking in a lanolin bath (dissolve a pea-sized amount of lanolin in hot water, along with a drop of wool wash, then add to a tub of luke warm water and soak covers for an hour or two). If the nappies start to smell or aren’t as waterproof as they once were, you know it’s time to wash/lanolise again. Thick wool shorts also make great ‘pyjama pants’, worn over training pants for children who are starting to stay dry overnight.


Everyone seems to have their own preferred folds for flats and prefolds, some will use different ones for boys or girls or different sized babies, but we only ever used one type of fold. I experimented briefly with a couple of others, but it was easier to just stick with what was working for us. I believe this is called a ‘Jo fold’ (for flats) or ‘Angel wing fold’ (for prefolds), but sometimes these names are shown to mean other things. If this technique doesn’t work for you, search ‘flat nappy folds’ and you will find dozens of alternatives, with photo or video tutorials for each (and maybe even a printable poster to stick next to your change table). For older babies and toddlers, you’ll also often see ‘padfolding’ recommended (just fold it into a long rectangular pad and lie inside a cover – no need to try and wrap it around a wriggly toddler).


This is how we fold flat nappies:

1. Lie out nappy in front of you in a big diamond.


2. Fold each corner into the middle, to make a smaller square. The square needs to be roughly the same size as a prefold you would use for that baby (if you are familiar with them). The corners will overlap more for a tiny baby (sometimes almost the whole way to the other edge), less for a bigger baby (they may not overlap at all for a large toddler). After a couple of times, you will get used to the right amount.


3. Fold the outer thirds of the square into the middle, so you have a long rectangle in front of you (the nappy is now ‘padfolded’). We usually store nappies semi-folded at this stage, either as a long rectangle or folded in half again and put into a wetbag along with a cloth wipe for taking out and about)


4. With your long rectangle in front of you, fold out the ‘wings’ at the back, keeping the front together.


5. Tuck the back under, away from you. This adjusts the length to fit your baby, and also gets a snug fit around the waist (to contain newborn poo). If you want to use a booster, you can lie it along the middle at this stage (alternatively, you can ‘double up’, folding 2 nappies on top of each other or, for tiny babies, I actually prefer placing the booster separately in the cover, outside the main nappy).


6. Lie your baby on top of the nappy.


7. Fold up the front section, between their legs.


8. Wrap around the two wings, keeping everything together in the middle with your fingers.


9. Fasten nappy with a Snappy.


11. Tug up the front of the nappy to remove any slack.


12. Roll in the loose fabric at the back of the thighs (again, this helps to contain liquid poo).

Done!


13. Put a cover on, checking no bits of nappy are sticking out (I run a finger around and poke any bits back in) and the waist and legs are snug, and you’re done.



To fold prefolds:

You could just skip to ‘step 3’ above, but I will show the whole process here:

1. Lie the nappy in front of you, with the thicker section running 'up and down' the middle.


2. Fold the outer thirds of the square into the middle, so you have a long rectangle in front of you (the nappy is now ‘padfolded’). We usually store nappies semi-folded at this stage, either as a long rectangle or folded in half again and put into a wetbag along with a cloth wipe for taking out and about)


3. With your long rectangle in front of you, fold out the ‘wings’ at the back, keeping the front together.


4. Tuck the back under, away from you. This adjusts the length to fit your baby, and also gets a snug fit around the waist (to contain newborn poo).


5. Lie your baby on top of the nappy.


6. Fold up the front section, between their legs.


7. Wrap around the two wings, keeping everything together in the middle with your fingers.


8. Fasten nappy with a Snappy.


9. Tug up the front of the nappy to remove any slack.


10. Roll in the loose fabric at the back of the thighs (again, this helps to contain liquid poo).

Done!


11. Put a cover on, checking no bits of nappy are sticking out (I run a finger around and poke them back in) and the waist and legs are snug, and you’re done.