All about prefolds and covers and fitted diapers

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Q: What are prefolds?

Prefolds are pure cotton cloths that you need to “pre-fold” in 3s (like a business letter) before you can diaper your baby. Think of these as the old-timey cloth diapers that your grandmothers used. They need to be fastened together with either safety pins or a plastic fastener like a snappi. Prefolds can be used alone, but nowadays most people prefer to use them inside a waterproof cover.  Avoid the Gerber birdseye prefolds, the fabric is thin and gauzy and completely useless against heavier loads. The heavyweight version from Gerber is okay, though there are much better choices from brands like OsoCozy cotton prefolds and Grovia which come in regular bleached cotton or organic unbleached cotton.

The best prefolds are:

  1. OsoCozy Prefolds Unbleached Cloth Diapers, 6 Count
  2. GroVia Prefold Cloth Diapers
  3. OsoCozy 6 Pack Prefolds Bleached Cloth Diapers
  4. Thirsties Duo Hemp Prefold
  5. Gerber 5 Count Heavyweight Gauze Prefolds

Q: What are covers?

Diaper covers are made of thin waterproof material, usually PUL, or other types of polyester. They come in all sorts of colors and designs. Covers go over absorbent cloth like prefolds or other inserts. Unlike AIO or even AI2 diapers which need to be changed out each time they are soiled, the great thing about covers is that they can be reused. Just remove the prefold and swap in a clean one inside the cover. If you are careful about keeping leaks inside the prefold, you should be able to reuse the same cover for an entire day.

The best diaper covers are:

  1. Rumparooz One Size Cloth Diaper Cover Snap
  2. Bumkins Cloth Diaper Cover
  3. BB2 Baby One Size Printed Black Gussets Snaps Cloth Diaper Cover for Prefolds
  4. Thirsties Duo Wrap Snap
  5. Buttons Cloth Diaper Cover – One Size

Q:What are fitted diapers?

Fitted diapers are similar to prefolds as they are designed to be used inside a diaper cover. The main difference is that they are pre-cut into a diaper shape so you do not have to mess around with folding or fasteners. Fitted diapers can have snaps or velcro (hook and loop) closures. I prefer snaps as they last forever unlike velcro which loses strength after washing and can get caught on other items in the wash. Fitted diapers are made with many materials, from cotton to hemp to bamboo.

The best fitted diapers are:

  1. Organic Cotton & Hemp Fitted Cloth Diaper
  2. Mother-ease One Size Cloth Diaper (Unbleached)
  3. Mother-Ease Sandy’s Cloth Diaper – Bamboo

Pros of prefolds, covers, and fitted diapers

  • Covers can be used several times before they need to be washed, so you end up doing less laundry.
  • There’s more choice in materials for prefolds and fitted diapers compared to AIO diapers or inserts for pocket diapers.
  • Since prefolds and fitted diapers wrap all around your baby’s butts, there’s less chance of leaking compared to pocket diapers and AIOs which only have absorbent layers in the middle. This makes prefolds a great choice for overnight use.
  • Prefolds and fitted diapers can be laid flat in one layer, making them easier to wash and dry quickly. This means you can get by with less down-time between sets of diapers and thus need to have less diapers in your stash!
  • Prefolds are inexpensive compared to other diapering systems.


  • Some people hate folding prefolds on top of keeping a squirming baby in place and all the laundry and everything else that needs to be done. A good compromise are fitted diapers, which do not need to be folded after every wash.
  • Not newbie friendly! I would avoid giving prefolds or fitted diapers to babysitters or daycare workers who are not familiar with cloth diapers. There’s way too many things that could go wrong, from forgetting about the cover to doing up the fasteners incorrectly. Go with all-in-one diapers like kushies if you want your baby’s caregivers to use cloth.
  • You’ll need to buy new sets of prefolds as your baby grows. Sizes range from newborn to 12+ months. Don’t worry too much! Prefolds usually come in large packs of 6 or more and each diaper only costs about $2-$3.

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