How to Fold a Prefold Diaper: 7 Folds to Make You a Pro!


Opening up a package of prefold cloth diapers for the first time can be a little concerning and may make you wonder how on earth you’re going to make these things into a diaper. But don’t let their simple, rectangular appearance scare you off prefolds are actually one of the best and most flexible tools in your diapering toolbox.

#1) The Simple Padfold (or Trifold)

The padfold, also called the trifold, is the easiest fold to do. Simply fold your prefold vertically into thirds along the seams, and lay it lengthwise along the inside of your diaper cover. This usually works best when you have a snug-fitting diaper cover, such as a Thirsties Duo Wrap.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Lay out your favorite cloth diaper cover, and place the prefold down the center so the thicker panel in the center is in the center of the diaper cover.

Step 2: Fold the thinner side panels into the center—in other words, fold it along the seams.
If you like, you can then lay a cloth diaper liner on top of the trifold prefold (pictured above) to make clean up easier, and/or give baby a “stay-dry” layer against their skin.

Step 3: Lay baby on top of the diaper, and secure the diaper cover snugly.

#2) The Reverse Padfold (or the Girl Fold)

The reverse padfold (or trifold) is also sometimes called the girl fold as it puts the most absorbency into the center of the diaper.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Lay out your favorite cloth diaper cover, and place your prefold across it so that the thicker panel is criss-crossing the center diaper cover at it’s thinest part.

Step 2: Fold the diaper into thirds horizontally instead of vertically. This will keep the most absorbent part of your prefold in the center of the trifold, as shown above.

Step 3: Lay baby on top of the diaper, and secure the diaper cover snugly.

#3) The Newspaper Fold (or the Boy Fold)

This fold got its name because it is supposed to resemble a folded up newspaper, but it’s really just a modified pad fold.

The newspaper fold is also called the boy fold because it places more absorbency in the front of the diaper, where boys need it most.

Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Lay out your prefold diaper and fold up the bottom few inches, horizontally.

Step 2: Fold the sides of the diaper in along the seams vertically. This will effectively double the absorbency in the front of the diaper.

Step 3: Lay baby on top of the diaper, and secure it snugly with your diaper cover.

#4) The Angel Wing Fold

The angel wing fold is actually the most popular fold for those using a diaper fastener, like Snappis, Boingos, or diaper pins, to keep the prefold secure around baby before putting on a diaper cover.

Securing your prefold with a fastener makes the diaper trimmer, and helps keep it in place. A fastener is especially helpful when using a wool diaper cover that doesn’t hold the prefold as snugly to baby as a PUL cover does.

Here’s how to do this fold:

Step 1: Lay the prefold diaper flat on the diaper cover (if using a PUL cover).

Step 2: Fold the diaper into thirds along the seams, leaving it open in the back so you can bring the wings around your baby’s sides. Place your baby on top.

Step 3: Bring the folded front half of the diaper up and on to your baby’s tummy, then fasten the back “wings” to it with your fastener or the diaper cover.

Pro Tip: Any excess diaper can be folded down in order to fit within the cover.

#5) The Diva Fold

The diva fold is essentially a reverse angel wing fold. It allows you to still use a diaper fastener, but the diaper is trimmer in the front and the bulky extra fabric and the fastener in the back, behind baby.

Because the extra absorbency is at the back, this fold is good for back sleepers and girls if you’re not using a Snappi or Boingo that could cause some uncomfort. If your baby is a tummy sleeper and you do want to use a Snappi this is a good fold to prevent them from sleeping on it, but you’ll probably want to boost the front with a bit more absorbency.

Here’s how to do the diva fold:

Step 1: Lay the prefold diaper flat on the diaper cover (if using a PUL cover).

Step 2: Fold the diaper into thirds along the seams, leaving it open in the front this time so you can bring the wings around to fasten it (if desired). Place baby on top.

Step 3: Bring the folded front half of the diaper up around baby’s sides and fasten it with your fastener or the diaper cover at the back.

Pro Tip: Any excess diaper can be folded down in order to fit within the cover.

#6) The Bikini Twist Fold

This fold works well for babies with chunky thighs. It’s not the greatest for runny poops though (for that I recommend #7).

Here’s how to do the bikini twist fold:

Step 1: Lay the prefold diaper flat on the diaper cover (if using a PUL cover).

Step 2: Grab the bottom right corner with your left hand and the bottom left corner with your right hand, and then twist the diaper over (your arms will no longer be crossed).

Step 3: Bring the front half of the diaper up to the baby’s tummy and fasten the diaper cover. Any excess diaper can be folded down in order to fit within the cover.

#7) The Jelly Roll Fold

The jelly roll fold is also called the newborn fold because it helps to contain bad messes by creating a double-gusset-like fold around each leg.

If blowouts are a concern of yours thanks to those explosive newborn poops, this is the fold for you.

Here’s how to do the jelly roll fold:

Jelly roll fold for prefold cloth diapers: step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Lay out your prefold diaper and fold up the bottom few inches, horizontally.

Step 2: At the folded end, starting with one side and then the other, roll the diaper from the outside in towards the center. Roll until the rolls sit along the seams, leaving it open in the back so you can bring the wings around to fasten it (if desired).

Step 3: Holding the rolls in place with your hand, lay baby on top and then bring the rolled front half of the diaper up to the baby’s tummy, and bring the back wings around the sides.

Step 4: Fasten the back wings to the front with your fastener or the diaper cover.

Pro Tip: Any excess diaper can be folded down in order to fit within the cover.

How to Fold a Prefold Diaper for a Boy

There’s not much difference between using cloth diapers for girls or boys, but when it comes to using prefold diapers and covers with your baby, there are certain ways you can fold them to ensure the absorbency sits where you need it most.

So, how should you fold a prefold diaper for a boy? When using a prefold diaper on a boy, the newspaper fold or the boy fold is the way to go. Both of these folds effectively double the absorbency in the front of the diaper, as shown above.

How to Fold a Prefold Diaper for a Girl

Again, there’s not a ton of difference between diapering a boy or a girl, but since prefolds are so customizable, placing the absorbency where you need just makes sense.

How should you fold a prefold diaper for a girl? When folding a prefold diaper for a girl, choose the reverse pad fold, or the diva fold. Both of these folds place the most absorbency at the center and back, which is where girls need it most.

How to Fold a Prefold Diaper for a Side Sleeper

If you have a side sleeper, putting some absorbency in the center and at the sides of your diaper will be key. You’ll also want to make sure that the cover is firm against the baby’s leg crease, to prevent leaks.

The bikini twist is going to work well for you because it will put lots of absorbency in the middle of the diaper, while also keeping the bulk away from the leg crease. The bikini twist also allows you to fold both the top and bottom of the diaper around the baby’s sides for lots of absorbency where you need it most.

How to Fold a Prefold Diaper for a Tummy Sleeper

If your baby has mastered rolling over and refuses to sleep on their back, sticking to “boy folds” that place the absorbency in front is a good idea.

The Diva fold (if your baby is a heavy wetter, add a booster in the front) or the newspaper fold, covered by a diaper cover that has a tummy panel (strip of PUL on the inside at the front) you can tuck the prefold into is the way to go.

How to Prefold Diaper a Newborn

While other diaper systems like pocket diapers and all-in-ones are convenient, they don’t tend to fit newborns well, and often leave leg gaps which lead to diaper leaks. Prefolds on the other hand are great for newborns as they tend to fit sooner and it’s easy to get a custom fit around a newborn’s twiggy (but adorable) legs.

Prefold diapers are also often made from natural fibers, making them great for a newborn’s sensitive skin.

Since newborns often wet in tiny amounts almost constantly, but poop in runny poop-splosions, prefolds are also ideal because they are inexpensive to have many (in fact they are one of the cheapest ways to cloth diaper) and easy to wash.

If baby is very sensitive to moisture in those first few weeks or months, they are also easy to use without a diaper cover to allow air flow onto the bum at all times; just know they are not waterproof without a cover.

So, if they are so perfect, what fold is best for newborns? Without a doubt the best way to fold a prefold cloth diaper for a newborn is the jelly roll fold. While it’s one of the more complicated prefold folds, it’s perfect to get a nice firm seal around a newborn’s tiny legs, and it’s also great for containing those newborn poops.

More Information About Prefold Diapers

Now that you know all the folds, you can get more information about prefold diapers (and my recommended brands) here.

Or, if you’re all set, you can move on to learning how to wash your prefold cloth diapers here.

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