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How to Fold Cloth Diapers

Medically Reviewed by Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN
10 different ways you can fold your prefold or flat cloth diapers.

Have you decided to use flats or prefold cloth diapers, but now find yourself overwhelmed thinking about how to fold them?

Folding diapers can seem intimidating at first, but it doesn’t have to be. Some moms even find trying new diaper folds to be fun.

We’re going to teach you ten different ways to fold cloth diapers with step-by-step instructions. With a little bit of patience and practice, you will be a diaper-folding expert in no time.

Flats or Prefolds?

You might have chosen to use flats and prefolds because you want to save money, or maybe you just like the idea of using a more traditional method of diapering. But what exactly are flat and prefold diapers, and how do you tell the difference?


When you tell your grandmother you will be using cloth diapers, the first thing that will come to her mind is flats. Flats are the most traditional kind of cloth diapers, and the idea of you using them might make her shudder with the memory of safety pins and rubber pants.

In A Nutshell

Flats are basically just a large, flat sheet of cloth that creates a diaper when folded up. They are the most budget-friendly cloth diaper because you can make the actual flat out of basically any piece of fabric.

You can use dish towels, flour sack towels, receiving blankets, and even old t-shirts to make flat diapers if you want to.

Flats only need to be bought once, and you can use the same diapers from birth until diaper training. They are easily doubled to create more absorbent layers, and they aren’t super bulky under your baby’s clothing.

Also, flats are low maintenance. They are easily washed and quick to dry, making wash day a lot less of a headache than other diapering methods.


Prefold diapers, like flats, are a piece of fabric that can be folded to create a diaper for your baby. But unlike flats, prefold diapers come somewhat, well, pre-folded.

Prefold diapers are smaller and thicker than flats, making them already absorbent.

Instead of folding the diaper to create layers to make it absorbent, you really only have to fold it to fit your baby.

Prefolds are the second most affordable diaper option after flats. Like flats, they are easy to take care of and can be doubled to create more layers for heavy wetters.

But unlike flats, one diaper will not get you through birth to potty training. Prefolds come in fitted options — some brands offer two sizes, and some offer up to nine sizes to grow with your baby.

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What Else Do I Need?

While cloth diapers have come a long way in the years since your grandmother was using them, flats and prefolds still need a few extra accessories to use them.

Instead of safety pins, today you can keep your prefolds and flats closed with a Snappi. A Snappi is a t-shaped rubber tool with plastic teeth on each end. These teeth attach to your baby’s diaper to keep it together.

Rubber pants are out too, although I’m sure you can still find them if you wanted too. A waterproof cover is still necessary though since flats and prefolds are not waterproof themselves.

Many moms today choose to use diaper covers made out of a waterproof fabric called PUL. The covers look like the outside of an all-in-one or pocket diaper and closes with either snaps or Velcro straps. Many covers come in one-size options, so they can be used from birth to potty training.

How to Fold Prefold Cloth Diapers

I’m going to let you in on a little secret — all of the methods for folding prefold diapers can also be used for flats. Many of the ways to fold flats can be used for prefolds as well. But not all, as flats are bigger, so you can fold them more.

Here are five easy ways to fold a prefold diaper. And remember, any of these methods can be bulked up by adding another prefold (folded into the Pad Fold) in the center of your diaper.

1. Angel Wing Fold

The angel fold is one of the most popular diaper folds for both prefold and flat diapers.

Angel Wing Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

To do the angel fold, you lay the diaper on your changing surface, then fold just the front half into thirds. For this fold, you leave the back half lying flat. It’s called the angel fold because the flat back corners are referred to as ‘angel wings.’

You then fold the front part over your baby and wrap the wings around your baby’s sides until they touch the front. Use your Snappi to attach the wings to the front and put the cover on top of the diaper.

2. Jelly Roll Fold

The jelly roll fold is very popular with newborn and exclusively breastfed babies because the rolls help contain any liquid stool from leaking onto the cover. I used this fold even as my children got older, especially if they had an upset stomach.

Jelly Roll Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

For this fold you lay the diaper flat, then roll the edges inward toward the front of the diaper. You want the back of the diaper to remain flat. You then fold the front part up onto your baby and wrap the back around your baby’s waist to attach with a Snappi.

3. Pad Fold

The pad fold, also often called the tri-fold, is the simplest of folding methods. It basically turns your prefold diaper into an insert. It can be used inside a traditional cover or stuffed inside pocket diapers.

Pad Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

Start with the diaper lying flat on your changing pad. Fold one section over at the seam, into the center of the diaper. Then fold the other side on top of the first.

Lay the diaper inside a cover, as shown, or place it inside a pocket diaper to use.

4. Newspaper Fold

The newspaper fold is a common variation of the angel fold. It can be used if your diaper is a bit too big for your baby, or if you have a little boy that needs a little extra absorbency in the front.

Newspaper Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

With this fold, you start by laying the diaper flat on your changing surface, then fold the front section up a quarter of the way. You then fold the front section lengthways into thirds, leaving the back flat to form the wings.

You place it on your baby folding the front part up, then wrap the wings around your baby’s waist and attaching it all with a Snappi.

5. Bikini Fold

The bikini fold is mostly used for little girls since they need more absorbency in the middle, whereas the newspaper fold gives boys absorbency in the front. I don’t recommend this fold for exclusively breastfed babies, since it’s not very efficient at holding poop.

Bikini Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

To do the bikini fold, lay your diaper flat, and then twist the middle at a 180-degree angle. Pull up the front, then tuck the front corners behind your baby before wrapping the back corners around the front of your baby’s waist. Close the ends with a Snappi and you’re done.

How to Fold Flat Cloth Diapers

Flats are a bit more versatile compared to their prefold counterparts. That’s because there is simply more diaper available for you to fold.

1. Diaper Bag Fold

The diaper bag fold got its name because it’s easy to fold up ahead of time and compact when folded, so you can easily place it in your diaper bag to take with you when out and about.

Diaper Bag Fold - Cloth Diaper Fold

To do the diaper bag fold, lay your diaper flat. If it’s a rectangle shape, place the longer end facing you.

Next, fold the two sides into the center, almost touching each other on the edges. Then, fold the bottom part of the diaper up to fit your baby’s size.

Next, fold the front part of your diaper into thirds at an angle, so the two sides sit on top of each other. Then fold the back of the diaper down a few inches to create wings and a little pocket, which will prevent leaks if your baby decides to poop.

Finally, lay your baby on top of the diaper, pull the front part up to reach your baby, and wrap the wings around baby’s waist before fastening with a Snappi.

To Pack It

If you want to pack this fold into your diaper bag, fold the diaper in half after you fold the back down. Then wrap the wings around the front of the diaper before putting it into your bag.

2. Airplane Fold

Airplane Fold Cloth Diaper Fold

The airplane fold is a fold that has most of the layers in the front of the diaper, making it great for heavy wetting boys.

First, lay the diaper flat on your changing surface and fold the bottom part up to make your diaper completely square, if needed. Depending on the size of your diaper this might be four or five inches.

Now, fold the bottom two corners into the center of the diaper so they are touching in the middle. Then, fold the middle point of the diaper into the center as well.

Next, you will take the top left of your diaper, which was previously unfolded, and fold it towards the center. Do the same on the right side. If you want to, you can overlap these two parts to create more bulk in your diaper.

Once that is done, fold the two overhanging top corners down into the folds of your diaper. You can then place your baby on top, fold the bottom part up on your baby, then wrap the wings around your baby’s waist to hold the diaper closed.

3. Triangle Fold

The triangle fold is a really easy fold for beginners. I like it because it’s quick to use and there really isn’t a way to mess it up.

Triangle Fold - How to Fold Cloth Diapers

To do this fold, first lay your diaper out. If your diaper is a rectangle, make sure first to fold one end up far enough to make the diaper square. Then simply fold the diaper in half to form a triangle, making sure the point is facing you.

Lay your baby on the diaper, so the point is between baby’s legs, then fold the point up. You can fold the back of the diaper down to fit the length of your baby. Finally, wrap the wings around your baby’s waist and secure the diaper shut.

4. Kite fold

The kite fold is a fun fold, and it gets its name from the kite shape you make in the first few steps of the folding process. This fold is a bit harder to master, but once you do it’s great because it offers six layers of absorbency when it’s complete.

Kite Fold - Folding Cloth Diapers

To do this fold, first lay your diaper down flat on your changing surface, positioning it so that one corner is directly facing you on the bottom. If it isn’t a perfect square, fold down one side to make it so. Next, fold the right corner over to the middle of the flat, then repeat with the left corner.

Next, fold the top corner down to the center of the diaper. Then fold the bottom corner up about a quarter of the way, then fold it over again to meet the center’s top corner. Lay your baby on the diaper and fold the bottom up, before wrapping the wings around your baby and securing the diaper.

5. Origami Fold

The name of this fold alone might intimidate you, but don’t let it. This fold isn’t super hard or complicated. And because the bulk of this fold’s absorbency is in the middle of the diaper it is great for both boys and girls.

Origami Fold - Folding Cloth Diapers

To do this fold first lay the diaper flat, then fold the diaper in half from bottom to top. Then fold the diaper again to make a quarter fold, going from left to right. Next, you will pull the top layer of the top left corner to your left to make an upside-down triangle, then flip the entire diaper upside down.

On the right you will have a square — pick that up and fold it over to the center of the diaper. Next, rotate the diaper so the wings are on the top. You can fold over the top part of the wings if you need to adjust for your baby’s length.

Finally, lay your baby on top of the diaper. Fold the bottom up over your baby and wrap the wings around their waist. Secure the diaper and you’re good to go.

Headshot of Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Medically Reviewed by

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN

Mary Sweeney, BSN, RN, CEN is an oncology nurse navigator and freelance medical writer. Mary has 4 years of experience as an officer in the Navy Nurse Corps. including emergency/trauma, post-anesthesia, and deployment medicine.