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September 14, 2018 4 min read

Many thanks to Elizabeth Guthrie for her super-awesome tips for using prefolds with a newborn. Elizabeth is the founder and former owner of cloth nappy boutique, Nest Nappies, in Brisbane. If you’re after fantastic customer service and real life advice and experience, we highly recommend a visit to Nest Nappies where Elizabeth’s former sidekick, Vashti, now runs the show. 
We are sincerely grateful for Elizabeth’s time in compiling this post for us back in 2014. The information is as relevant then as it is now, and if prefolds are on your mind for when baby arrives, this is a must-read.
Using Prefolds on a Newborn: What's the Secret?

Helping families to successfully cloth nappy from birth is about introducing them to products that are flexible, cost effective, fast drying and able to be used for a significant period of time (ie, more than a few months). The added challenge is that most of our customers come to us before their baby has arrived, which means we need to provide them with a product that is extremely flexible in regard to sizing, shape and fit to give them the best chance of success when their baby arrives.


It’s no secret we love a good Basic here at Nest!  It’s not a prerequisite to love Traditional nappies if you work here but it sure does help!  More than 75% of our customers are first time parents wanting to cloth nappy their babies from birth (or soon after) and most of them walk away with at least one kind of Traditional nappy in their shopping bag!  


Along with fitted nappies, prefolds are one of our biggest sellers and with good reason.

  • Prefolds open out flat so they dry quickly (though this can vary according to fabrics)
  • With different folds they can be modified to fit any baby, regardless of shape and size.
  • They are economical.
  • The separate nappy and cover means you get two lines of protection from leaks and can easily re-use the waterproof layer if it isn’t soiled.
  • Prefolds have a life span well beyond the newborn stage and can be used as pocket nappy inserts, lay in inserts, or night boosters (not to mention vomit cloths, breastpads, floor wiping cloths, pram seat protectors!).
  • They are an extremely cost effective birth to toilet training option.
  • Three simple folds means a quick turn around from washing line to storage – no more sorting through inserts and snapping them into shells – just fold at the line and put them away!
  • Available in a variety of fabrics including bamboo terry, bamboo stretch, cotton, hemp and/or microfibre. 

Prefolds consist of two main layers of fabric, sometimes with three or four extra layers of absorbency sewn into a centre panel. This creates a flat nappy with three distinct panels. Despite the name, the nappy still requires three quick folds to get it ready for use.


When using a prefold on a newborn, take the nappy, which has already been folded into a pad and lay it on the change table. Spread out a small section of each of side panels at the top to create two ‘wings’. Pull the front of the nappy up between your baby’s legs and then wrap the side panels from the back around your baby’s tummy and fasten at the front with a Snappi (you can just pull a good fitting cover over the nappy and skip the fastener). This is commonly referred to as the ‘angel wing’ fold.


If the prefold is too long for your baby you can shorten it by doubling over the front panel when you pull it up between your baby’s legs. This is particularly good for boys as it gives lots of absorbency up high where they need it most. Alternatively a less bulky way to shorten the prefold is to fold it angel wing style and then fold down the fanned out fabric at the back. This is also a great tip if you have an explosive poo-er as it creates a bit of a ‘scoop’ to catch anything that might try to escape out the back!

Another tip for using prefolds on a newborn is to ‘scoop’ the fabric between your babies legs so it’s not so wide. Lay your baby on the back piece and then as you pull the absorbency up through their legs pinch the nappy so the piece sitting at their crotch is nice and thin, it will make a ‘scoop’ which helps to catch everything and makes it easier to get a tight fit around the legs. When fastening the back wings up and around your baby’s tummy, be sure to pull the fabric nice and tight around the hips and legs. As you pull the fabric it will create a gusset which should wrap snuggly around the legs and help minimise leaks.


A good fitting PUL cover will ensure your prefolds are nice and trim and won’t leak. It pays to invest in one PUL cover for every 3 to 4 prefolds in your stash (ie 2 covers for 6 nappies, 4 for 12 etc). We also recommend a Snappi for fastening your nappy in the early days. Microfleece liners laid inside can help make cleaning a breeze, whilst keeping your baby nice and dry.

For some great folding techniques and tips for fitting pre-folds on a newborn, check out this video put together by the girls at Nest Nappies.

Nest Nappies is located at 15 Latrobe Tce, Paddington, Queensland. They can be contacted on 07 3217 5200 or by EmailJoin the Nest Nappies Facebook community.

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