Cloth Diaper Prefolds – They Are Not All Same
I was talking with a good friend and she told me a story of her exposure to cloth diapering. At a friends house, she witnessed a complete blowout where the cloth diaper did not absorb or hold anything in. The baby was then placed in the toilet for the usual ‘dunking’ of baby to wash the mess up. At the witnessing of this whole process, she vowed not to use cloth diapers!
After a good laugh, this story got me thinking about what went wrong and the message it sent about cloth diapering. There are, in parenting, times of unavoidable blowouts. But with a diapering system that is absorbent and has the right fit, these times should be the exception, not the norm. Don’t fear the cloth diaper!!
In an attempt to address one area of problems in cloth diapering, let’s take a look at prefold options available for purchase and their features.
Watch for quality of fabrics used, their absorbency properties and filler materials used. These can vary and greatly affect the performance of the diaper. Common fabrics used in prefolds are birdseye cotton, gauze, twill, flannel, terry cloth and stretch terry. These fabrics have different absorption rates, softness and different drying times. All of these are important factors as we obviously want the best of all worlds; great absorption, soft and quick-drying!! I discuss fabric absorption details greater in The Complete Cloth Diaper Book.
When purchasing prefolds, you’ll notice 3 numbers given in reference to the diaper, such as 4-8-4. The three layering numbers refer to the number of fabric layers of the three panels of the prefold diaper with the middle panel being the thickest. Thicker diapers are generally preferred for home diapering due to the added absorbency. The things to consider when selecting thickness are absorbency, quantity of diapers you have available to you, drying times and bulkiness. Six and eight layer prefolds are the most common, but four and ten layer options are available for a preemie, or a larger, heavy wetter. Obviously, more layers are better for more absorbency, but it will also be a thicker diaper so keep that in mind in terms of fit and drying time.
There are many sizes of prefolds to accommodate for different age and size babies. This is an advantage because even though you can fold the larger ones to fit a small baby, it will be QUITE bulky and make dressing your child an interesting experience. Try fitting tiny newborn pants or sleeper over a little bowling ball tushie!! So, you can make or purchase prefolds ranging in sizes for preemie to mega toddler. The dimensions range from 9.5″ X 13″ to 17.5″ X 23″.
Many people are only exposed to the prefolds found in retail storefronts (grocery stores, department stores, large baby stores, etc.). For discussion purposes here we’ll refer to these as gauze prefolds (some are found with birdseye cotton as well). There is, however, another option in prefolds. This second type of prefold available seems better equipped to avoid some problems seen in the story above. We’ll refer to this prefold as Diaper Service Quality (or DSQ). These two types of prefolds offer a vast difference in thickness, softness, absorbency, fabric and overall performance.
First, we’ll look at gauze prefolds. They are commonly made from gauze and sometimes birdseye cotton (There is a flannel version, but after trying them I believe they are meant to be used as burp cloths as opposed to diapers!). I have only seen them offered in one size. These will thicken and become somewhat more absorbent when washed. Overall, however, I find them to be lacking in softness and absorbency. A blowout would occur much sooner in gauze than DSQ because the DSQ would absorb while gauze diapers would deflect a bit due to their fabric nature. The gauze diapers never seem to reach the thickness, softness and absorbency levels of the DSQ diapers. Gauze diapers do, however, have their place for great use. They are great folded in thirds lengthwise and inserted into pocket diapers. Used in this manner, they provide quite a bit of absorbency and are a wonderful solution for the older, heavier wetter. I also find these to work great for use with my newborn as they are less bulky and more trim to fold down on her tiny body. I did have to modify the size a bit to avoid the bulk. I just serged the edges down to the size that worked for my baby. Or, you could use these with an extra soaker/doubler inserted to boost the absorbency. These are about half the price of DSQ prefolds. Note: These prefolds are sometimes labeled DSQ, but are not truly near the quality of DSQ!
Diaper Service Quality, or DSQ prefolds are thick, absorbent, heavy-duty and soft. I have found them to be much more absorbent. They can often be purchased directly through diaper services or at a variety of online retailers (I have not seen them in storefronts yet!). Twill cotton is a common fabric used in these heavier diapers. Unbleached cotton prefolds will last longer than bleached white cotton. This is because the bleaching process wears on the cotton fibers. Some mothers also prefer the unbleached in order to ensure their babies tushie is not exposed to chemicals/bleach and because the bleaching process is harsh on the environment. Online retailers of DSQ diapers will often offer both bleached and unbleached for purchase. Before I wrote The Complete Cloth Diaper Book, I sold various diapers online and unbleached prefolds were very popular. Once you use a true DSQ, you will definitely know the difference.
If you or a friend are in the market for prefolds and are looking for greater absorbency and softness, you may want to purchase true DSQ’s.
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Buying Diapers in Bulk Question?
i have a friend who has recently had a baby (not even 1 month old) i wanted to buy her diapers in bulk to help her out.
on amazon.com they sell a 234/pk for $42.99 shown below
my question is how long before a baby gets over 15 pounds on average because i wanted to buy (2) 234 pks for her but dont want to waste because they get to small as he grows (baby)?
and do you know any other good places to buy diapers in bulk?
thank you to all the answers i will look into wipes too and getting size 2 and 3 bulk packs, i didn’t realize how short a baby is in size 1 for.
Buy her size 3, or one size 2 and another size 3, that’s when they use the most of one size, I’m a mother of two and i’m talking from experience, he he. Let me tell u that’s the best gift that u can get her, she would save a lot of money, you are a good friend.
Bulk Email – We Buy Used Diapers