The Cost of Cloth Diapers – Prefolds and Covers

Everything you need to know about prefold cloth diapers

Everything about prefold cloth diapers!

When people think of cloth diapers, prefolds are usually the first thing that pops into their head. Prefolds are flat, quilted, diapers that you fold and put on the baby, usually using diaper pins or a snappi. You can also just fold the diaper into the cover. Depending on the size, they have multiple layers to make them more absorbent and the middle section of the diaper has even more layers.

Pros to Using Prefold Cloth Diapers

Prefolds are one of the cheapest cloth diapering system. They wash and dry easily and hold up well. The cotton allows your child’s skin to breath making diaper rash less common. The child can also tell when he or she is wet when wearing a prefold so potty training is (generally) easier.

Cons to Using Prefold Cloth Diapers

There is more of a learning curve when it comes to folding prefold diapers and because of that household helpers and daycare have a harder time using them. They are harder to use on wiggle worms since you have to put the diaper on using a snappi, pins, or nothing, and then put on the cover.

How to Fold a Prefold Cloth Diaper

The easiest way to fold a prefold diaper is to fold it into thirds and fan out the back a bit. Bring the front around the top of the belly and the back corners up to meet it. The fold that is created around the legs of the baby will help contain any blowouts (poop escaping the diaper via the sides, yes it does happen – even in disposables). If the diaper is a bit too long for your baby then fold the back down so it fits.

Types and Costs of Prefold Cloth Diapers

Organic cotton prefolds are made of organic cotton and are an unbleached color. The infant size covers babies 7-15 lbs and the baby size covers 15-30 lbs. They need to be washed and dried 3-5 times before they are used in order to get full absorbency. Click here to see OsoCozy Diapers.  If you wash every other day you will need approximately 2 dozen of the infant and 2 dozen of the premium sizes. If you bought them all at once then it will cost approximately $109.

Unbleached cotton prefolds are the same, but the cotton used is not certified organic. Both types are 4x8x4, which means the outside thirds have 4 layers and the middle zone has 8 layers of material. Click here to see Dandelion Diapers. If you wash every other day you will need approximately three dozen of the Size 1, two dozen of the Size 2, and a dozen of the Size 4. You can purchase the larger ones as your child grows. If you bought them all at once then it will cost approximately $155.

Hemp prefolds are another option. Hemp is a naturally antimicrobial material that is more absorbent than cotton. This means you can have a trimmer, and softer, diaper. The hemp prefolds come in Size 1 (6-18 lbs) and size 2 (18-40 lbs) and are only 2 layers. Click here to see Thirsties Duo Diapers. If you wash every other day you will need approximately 22 of the Size one diapers and 16 of the Size two. If you bought them all at once then it will cost approximately $304.

Gerber prefolds… don't do it!! These are not diaper quality prefolds. They are great for spit up, but they do not make good diapers.

Additional Costs for Prefold Cloth Diaper Systems

All prefold diapers will need a cover when you want to make them waterproof. Figure in one cover for every 4-6 diaper changes. You can re-use covers as long as they are not soiled. Do not get the pull on vinyl “diaper pants”. They are cheap for a reason. Go with a few good covers. Click here to see some of your options for covers. You will spend $8-$20 for each cover depending on what you want. If you get 6 covers for each size (most come in an infant size and a larger baby/toddler size) then you will get 12 total covers for a cost of around $175.

You will also need a few snappi’s (I recommend four – one for the diaper bag, two for everyday use, and one for back-up). Click here to see snappi's. These also come in 2 different sizes so it will add approximately $30 to the total cost.

Total Diapering Cost if you Use Prefolds:

Depending on the type of prefolds and covers you use, you can expect to spend $235-$575 for the entire time your baby is in diapers. The average child is trained at 34 months so it will cost:

  • $2-$4 each week

One disposable diaper package should last about a week so you can directly compare costs. Remember that cloth diapers also retain some of their value so you can re-sell them when you are done and/or use them if you have additional children, making the cost for the second baby $0.


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