Saturday, February 4, 2012

Getting Ready for Baby--My Prefold Stash

I am about six weeks away from having baby #5. I had been contemplating cloth diapering since my second child. I started with my third, Skinny, but didn't continue because I was didn't have a stash. I had a total of four one size all in one diapers plus about a dozen Gerber prefold cloth diapers. I had problems with Skinny in the beginning. There's a reason he's called Skinny. Let me tell you, a one size isn't really for a newborn, let alone one who was 5lbs. Those diapers were HUGE on him. So cloth diapering went to the wayside while I did more researched and dreamed of saving money by using cloth diapers.

I learned a lot about cloth diapers; most of my research on the internet. My friends knew that I really wanted to cloth diaper by the time Rockbiter came along a few years later. I had heard about the miserable results of using Gerber prefold diapers, but that was all some of my friends had access to. Meanwhile, I had sewn a lot of flannel pocket diapers. I was on the lookout for diaper covers and settled on making some wool covers from recycled wool sweaters.

I found out why Gerber prefold diapers got such a bad rap in all those Diaper Forums I read. While the outside is covered with quite acceptable birdseye cotton, the padded part was a type of polyester batting. It leaks like a holey cup. It was around this time that I bought my first real honest to goodness prefold cloth diapers online. They were 2 dozen Unbleached Indian prefold seconds infant size from They were so wonderful. I saved a little by buying second prefolds and they worked so much better than those other prefolds.

Now in the world of Cloth Diapering today there are many different ways to diaper your child. Designer Diapers can be very expensive on the onset but save you money in the long run. Plus they are generally cute and decorative. I didn't go that way, which is not that I didn't want to, but I didn't have the initial investment to make which is why I made pocket diapers and the wool covers. I'm also practical; I know that I don't have to spend money on cute material which will only probably get stained. In the end I've tried a few different methods and have found my favorite, most practical and frugal way to diaper. Prefolds are for me.

I went with Indian Prefolds over Chinese Prefolds because the Indian were said to be softer. Unbleached because I didn't have to prewash as many times as the bleached prefolds. I have used these same 24 prefolds for nearly 2 years and they are holding up great. Quite simply, I love them. These diapers were a life saver when our family was without employment for a year. You can't buy disposable diapers when you have no money and what little comes your way goes to keeping the electricity on or buying essentials or any number of other things. So let me tell you a few things about prefolds.

1. When you first get them, they will need to be washed several times. Up to 3 to 5 times for Unbleached prefolds. I wash them in hot water right from the start. Warning, they are supposed to shrink 10% to 15%. Please know that you will have to adjust how you wash cloth diapers compared to your regular clothing. Most people use too much detergent to wash their clothes as it is, but you will need to use a lot less detergent to wash cloth diapers. The key to fresh diapers is more water, which means more rinsing.

  1. Use 1/4 of the recommended amount of detergent. I make my own laundry soap and use only a tablespoon of that powder for my regular clothes, for diapers I use about a teaspoon. When I happen to use store bought, I only use a tablespoon or less for cloth diapers.
  2. Wash first with cold water, this is where I add the detergent or soap in my case with extra rinse if you can. Then wash in hot water adding a half cup of white vinegar. ****NEVER use fabric softener on cloth diapers, especially prefolds**** The idea of the extra wash and rinse is to make sure that any detergent is completely rinsed away which is also why you use vinegar, which cuts through buildup. Detergent buildup on cloth diapers means the diapers will not hold onto as much liquid and will become more stinky. You will have to strip your diapers if you come across this hazard. I'll be having another blog post on stripping later on.
  3. Dry on the hottest setting. Now in the desert, I only needed to dry once using my wool dryer balls. But here in the humid South, I need 2 cycles. One full and a half cycle to completely dry these prefolds. If I had a clothesline, I would dry them that way. The sun is really good about helping with stains.

2.  Prefolds can be used many different ways. My chosen method of diapering is to do a newspaper fold and lay it into a diaper cover. I recently bought 3 dozen preemie/newborn sized prefolds to fit better into my newborn and small diaper covers and to reduce the bulk a bit. Also, the newborn size prefolds will make great diaper doublers for night time diapering and are small enough to use as a big wipe if I need it. I also am contemplating taking a few hours during the day to work on Elimnation Communication in which I'll just have the prefold on my #5 with no cover. So in total, my prefold stash consists of 36 newborn prefolds and 24 infant sized prefolds. This is all I intend to get. I wash every other day and frankly it does stink too much if I wait too long.

3.  Second Prefolds are a pretty good deal to get. These are prefolds that are not of the standard of "first water". Some of the stitching may be undone. One of mine came with holes. It was not problem to take some cotton thread and reinforce those seams and mend the holes. Seconds are a frugal way to spend your money.

4. What are the differences between newborn prefolds and infant prefolds? Newborn/preemie sized prefolds are 2x6x2. The middle padded section has 6 layers and the outer portion are 2 layers. Prefolds are all folded from one large piece of material and then stitched together, thus the term "prefold". These diapers come to you from the store about 9" x 13" and will shrink to about the size of a sheet of copy paper. Infant sized prefolds are 4x8x4; 4 layers of material on the outside and 8 in the padded area. Unwashed and new they are about 12" x 15" and shrink down to about 10" x 12" or so. I have no intention on getting more bigger prefolds since Rockbiter is potty training and had used the infant sized until that time.

I love prefolds. They are a very frugal way to cloth diaper. They aren't very trim, but they work. I've heard great things about hemp and bamboo fabrics, but really I know that these cotton prefolds work great for me and I have a system that works good for a great price; so I'm happy. Join me as I continue to take you into my world of cloth diapering these next weeks as I get ready for # 5.
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