When I first considered using reusable diapers for my daughter something kept putting me off – I simply had no idea how to fold cloth diapers.
I understood the benefits and felt it was the responsible thing to do.
However, as someone who can barely tie my shoes some days I worried that this was going to be a huge stumbling block on my quest to find an eco alternative to disposable diapers.
How to Fold Cloth Diapers: A Parenting Click Guide
There are many types of cloth diapers. If you are going to use the type that needs to be folded, it is best to have a new one ready before changing the diaper.
You can also fold several and thus have a package ready to use when it is needed.
There are two types of cloth diapers that need to be folded before use:
- The pre-foldeds – a rectangular piece of cloth, with extra layers in between that makes it more absorbent.
- The plane – large square of fabric of the same thickness throughout the area.
There are many ways to fold both types of diapers. Some forms are better for boys and others for girls. Some work better for newborns and others for older babies. To help you get started, here are two techniques, one for pre-bending and one for the plane. Both are easy to make, absorbent and can be used in most babies.
“Angel wing” fold for pre-folded diaper
Step 1 – Extend the diaper so that the short parts of the rectangle are up and down.
Step 2 – Divide the diaper into three equal parts and fold the third of the left side over the middle one, (look at the picture to make it easier.)
Step 3 – Repeat the action with the third on the right side. Now you have a rectangle three layers thick.
Step 4 – Take the upper ends of the diaper, open them and press them towards the table. There will be a V figure. The top of the diaper now has a kind of “wings.” You will use the wings later to hold the diaper closed.
Step 5 – Compare the length of the folded diaper with that of your baby’s diaper cover.
Step 6 – If the diaper is too long, fold it from the bottom up. The diaper should be a little shorter than the cover so it can fit inside.
Now you are ready to change a cloth diaper.
Flat diaper fold
Step 1 – Spread the diaper.
Step 2 – Fold the diaper in half. Bring the left side over the right by making a rectangle. (Look at the photo to make it easier.)
Step 3 – Fold the diaper again bringing the bottom up. Now you must have a four layer square.
Step 4 – Fold the left third over the center.
Step 5 – And the same with the right third. Now you must have a rectangle again.
Step 6 – Broaden the top of the rectangle and adjust the folds. The widest area will go in the back of the diaper. The narrowest part will go ahead and go up to cover your baby’s belly.
Step 7 – Compare the length of the cloth diaper with that of the cover.
Step 8 – If the diaper is too long, fold it from the bottom up. The diaper should be a little shorter than the cover so it can fit inside.
Now you are ready your cloth diaper is good to go.
Tips for folding cloth diapers
You could insert material that increases its absorption capacity into the center of the diaper, something that’s super helpful if you’re looking for a cloth diaper for heavy wetter.
This insert is placed before making the folds or you can also put it on top when you have finished folding. T
hey are made of absorbent material such as bamboo, hemp or cotton.
To keep your baby as dry as possible, place a cloth or disposable lining on the pre-folded after finishing the folds. (The lining touches the baby’s skin, so place it between your baby and the diaper.)
These lining is usually made of paper or cloth. Disposable liners make it easier to remove the poop and help protect diapers from creams and lotions.
You can also use cloth liners to protect diapers. Wash them separately (lotions and creams can reduce the absorbency of diapers).
Once you know how much you need to fold the diaper to adjust the length, you could do it at the beginning. If you plan to do several at once, you can fold them into a rectangle (as shown above) to store them.
When it’s time to change the diaper, you just do the final steps.
The Bottom Line
So there you have it, by following our steps and with a little practice you’ll know exactly how to fold cloth nappies so that they’re secure and keep baby dry.
Image by lyn lomasi
Ellen Fetters, is a former Children's and Young People's Nursing Practice with an BSc from the University of Sunderland. After completing her SCPHN - HV she then worked as a Health Visitor within the local community.
In 2017 Ellen left nursing to launch Parenting Click, an online parenting resource aimed at creating happier families through better parenting.
She lives with her husband, beautiful baby girl, and two darling dogs. She spends her free time writing, running and learning how to become a better parent.