For the Love of Flats (and Prefolds): 10 Reasons to Love Grandma’s Diapers

When many people first hear of cloth diapers, they immediately think back to the folding and pinning and plastic pants. They usually are relieved to find out that, hey, cloth diapers are modern, fun, and super cute! Not to mention user-friendly! In fact, they’re usually so excited to leave these “grandma” diapers that they never give them another thought.

I, on the other hand, love flats and prefolds. You heard me right. I love them! Why? What on earth could convince me to use such old-fashioned diapers? I’m so glad that you asked. :)

Flats drying during the Flats Challenge


1. There’s the folds. Yes, I actually love learning folds, trying them out, and even folding them! I’ve tried several: the origami, the corners, folded into a square and did a jelly roll and a bikini twist, the diaper bag, and the airplane. I’ve also tried the kite fold. Each one has worked for certain times in my little girl’s life, but my favorite has to be the diaper bag fold. Even though she’s outgrowing the conventional way of folding it, by widening the first two folds, I’m fairly certain that she’ll fit in it for a while yet!

2. Flats are so forgiving. With many types of cloth diapers, you have to be extra careful of which detergents you use. And while you can still get the stinkies with flats, it’s much less likely, especially with extra rinses. They’re also much easier to strip if they do get buildup. After using flats for most of my little girl’s life, using pockets, AIOs, and fitteds seem so much harder, believe it or not!

3. Flats can hold their own! While fitteds and pockets can easily hold lots and lots of liquid, especially with inserts and doublers, flats keep my daughter just as dry without having to spend nearly as much. Now, my DD is nowhere near the super soaker her cousin is. We have had only a handful of leaks since she has been in cloth full-time. But I can put her in a flat with a cover for a few hours with little to no wicking at all. They’re the best for long car rides, too! And after only a 45 minute boil with some original blue Dawn followed by a wash cycle, they were ready to dry and be worn. For overnight, I use a prefold covered with a flat, and she’s dry all night long! Yes, flats can definitely hold as much (sometimes more, depending on the brand) as the other modern diapers!

4. Flats and prefolds come with super cute covers! Seriously. Have you seen the colors and prints? Thirsties is one of my favorites to use, and their covers are just precious! Then there’s the Flip, Best Bottoms, Blueberry, Kissaluvs, Happy Heiny’s, Sustainablebabyish (YUM!), Little Beetle, Bummis, Applecheeks, Weehuggers…the list goes on and on! You can easily build a stash of just flats or prefolds and have your fun with lots of cover styles. LeSigh…so very pretty!

5. Prefolds come in sizes! Prefolds are much easier to fold and pin or snappi when they’re the right size! So much simpler than having to fold a laundry basket full of flats. And the better they fit, the easier they are to put on. Even when you pad-fold and lay in a cover. Of course, you could also lay the pad folded prefold or flat into a cover and use them like AIOs, pockets, or disposables.

6. As you can see, flats and prefolds are versatile. And depending on how diverse you want your stash, you can make them even more versatile! Hemp, cotton, bamboo…all are made into flat or prefold-like diapers. You can also use them as either doublers, inserts into your pocket diapers, or just as regular diapers. You can use pins, snappis, or neither. You can take all the time you need to put them on an itty bitty baby or make them as quick to use as necessary for a busy, preoccupied toddler. The possibilities are nearly endless!

7. Flats and prefolds travel really well. Now, they aren’t as user-friendly as the hybrid or AI2 diapers. You do have to fold them and cover them. But as far as an economic and easy-to-wash choice? They win, hands down! Prefolds take longer to dry (especially in AC when you can’t dry on the line), but my flats dry overnight, ready to be used again in the morning!

8. Cheap, cheap! Flats and covers are the least expensive way to cloth diaper your baby. Period. While covers can be pricey, you can buy 2 Dappi nylon covers for $5. And they hold up just as well as the more expensive brands. They might not be nearly as pretty, but they do their job! With either flats or prefolds, you can cloth diaper your baby for under or just over $100 easily.

9. Flats and prefolds also last. Melissa is still using some of the receiving blankets she used with her first cloth baby…and that was over three years ago! (Yes, she uses some of her receiving blankets as flats. They work great, and she didn’t have to shell out good money for them! What are you going to use all of those blankets for, anyway? Try them out as flats!)

10. When you’re finished with them, they make great cleaning rags. :) I actually have a dozen of the Gerber “flats” that I don’t use as diapers. Well, at least not often. Instead, I use several of them to clean. With as well as they work, I’m excited to try my other flats…one day. My mom still cleaned with the diapers that she had used on me when I left home for college!

So there you have it: 10 reasons why I love my flats and prefolds. While I do appreciate the ease of more modern diapers, in my mind, there’s nothing that compares to the versatility and durability of my simpler diapers.

What are your go-to diapers? Do you enjoy flats or prefolds, or are you a modern cloth lover?


About Jeniffer

Jeniffer is planning to homeschool her children and is enjoying teachable moments with her 1-year-old and 1-month-old daughter. She loves sharing about her parenting journey, from breastfeeding to cloth diapering to pregnancy and beyond!

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  • Cheryl

    When I was using cloth diapers full-time, my stash was primarily prefolds and flats mixed with some OS pockets for when we were out and about. It was the right combination for me; I wanted a few OS for convenience but using primarily flats/prefolds could meet our diapering needs at the price point I was comfortable with. I loved my flats for the first year. However, I do have to say that flat diapers do not hold as much as prefolds or other styles and this became a problem for us as our son was older. When he was somewhere between 15-18 months, we stopped using flats because they just didn’t absorb as much as the rest of our stash.

    • Jeniffer

      Cheryl, that’s a very good point. I forget that my little girl just isn’t a super soaker…and that she’s only 6 months. :) I think we’ll double up on the flats when we get to that point. But our stash is always evolving as it is, so we’ll see what happens when we get there. :)

  • Jill

    prefolds are great for newborns (mine is 8 days old)–especially with those ‘never ending poops’ that go through 3 diapers before you leave the changing table. I waited this long and then said to my husband.. well, what do you think? and he said, you know prefolds are great but I want some more (imitating strapping on an AIO)….. we have plenty of prefolds to go on the cheap, but if he’s willing to buy some more smalls, why not? after all, some of those changes will be mine, and easier changes are nice, too!

    • Jeniffer

      Jill, I definitely agree with you there! I think if we had the time and the resources, our stash would look VERY different than it does now. It does work for us though. And while I love the ease of AIOs, I don’t like the stink that comes with them. If I had a washer that actually had hot water, I’d feel very differently; but with having to hand wash for my wash cycles, it’s easier to not have to deal with the stinks. Congrats on your new little one! And yay for Daddy’s support, too!

  • Terri Babin

    I too am a lover of “Grandma’s Diapers” thank you for writing this awesome post! It was nice meeting you at the twitter party this evening, if you have a chance, please visit my blog at

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