Back to Blog

How to Fold a Cloth Diaper—6 Folds to Try 

mom changing baby's cloth diaper

how to fold cloth diapers

While cloth diapers have been used for ages to keep babies clean and dry, most of today’s new moms and dads were raised on disposables. The throw-away types are usually seen as the most stress-free and convenient method of changing baby, but cloth is making a big comeback. 

For one, modern parents are savvy with their money. Not having to buy boxes of diapers in different sizes helps families save thousands of dollars per year. Cloth diapers are also trending because they’re much better for Mother Earth than their disposable counterparts. Since it’s an eco-friendly practice that can easily be done at home, it provides peace of mind for those in our current generation who are more conscious about their environmental footprint than ever before. 

smiling baby wearing onesie

Whether you’re a parent who is thinking about padding your wallet or you want to help the environment (or both!), cloth diapers are the perfect way to give back and invest in what matters most. As an added bonus, alternatives to disposables are both absorbent and comfortable, especially when they’re made with organic cotton. Selecting a high quality material like organic cotton offers an ideal mix of a soothing touch and durability, so you and baby can enjoy the same set of diapers for as long as possible. Plus, it’s never grown with insecticides or chemicals, so you can trust it is as safe for your little one as it is plush on their skin. 

If you’re one of the moms or dads who is considering cloth diapers for your child, it helps to learn the basics about cloth diapers. Having a command of how to fold a cloth diaper, keep it stain-free and preserve cotton material will help make diaper changes and laundry sessions simpler than you think. It will also help you enjoy the most cost savings. When it comes to actually buying the diapers, some moms and dads will choose to purchase and use large cotton squares of cloth, also known as flat fold diapers. Others like the convenience of the pre-folded ones you see in most box stores. Either one is acceptable! You may even discover that you prefer having both on hand. 

The list of cloth diaper folding techniques below makes use of both styles of diaper (whether you’re using flat birdseye cloth diapers or prefolds). To find the right folds for your family, read over each one of the folding options. This group of techniques includes some of the most common cloth diaper folding strategies among parents today. While you will probably find that you prefer one over the other, each of them is sure to keep your little one dry and clean. When you try them all, you’ll see that you really can’t go wrong!  

The Tri-Fold 

The Tri-Fold is considered the standard cloth diaper fold. Some moms and dads you know may also call it the Pad Fold. If you’re new to the classic technique, have never used flat diapers before or are a newbie to pre-folded diapers, the Tri-Fold is a great fold to learn first. Once you master these steps, you can try branching out to the other folds. 

diaper tri-fold step by step graphic

If you’re using a pre-fold diaper..

  1. Fold the fabric into thirds at the seams to complete the Tri-Fold.
  2. Once you’re done, you can put it inside a waterproof cloth diaper cover.
  3. You can also fasten the diaper with a safe, soft fastener available at a baby supply store.

 If you’re not using a pre-fold diaper..

  1. Take your flat diaper and put it on the changing table so it looks like a vertical rectangle.
  2. Once you have it positioned properly, fold the material diagonally one third of the way across on the left side. 
  3. Make the same diagonal fold on the right side. When you complete this process, the two corners should now overlap at the bottom of the rectangle.
  4. Bring the bottom of the rectangle a third of the way up the diaper.
  5. Fasten the diaper or place it in a waterproof cover to finish up.

When choosing the right fold for your needs, it’s important to know that while this approach works great in the newborn stage, you may find it feels too loose as baby begins to become more mobile. Once you get used to the process and your little one is a few months old, you may want to switch to a more dynamic type. Each of the techniques below should provide you with more flexibility and security. 

The Angel Wing Fold 

Many of the moms and dads who use pre-fold diapers end up falling in love with the Angel Wing fold. It’s popular because it’s not only simple to learn and remember, but it also stays extremely secure through tummy time and scooting sessions, especially with the help of a fastener. Follow these simple steps and perfect the Angel Wing fold.

diaper angel wing step by step graphic

  1. Start this fold by deciding whether or not you’re using a protective diaper cover. If you are, you can begin by placing the cloth diaper inside. Make sure the diaper faces lengthwise and you should be good to go. 
  2. Fold the front half of the diaper into thirds. The back edges, or corners, of the material should remain unfolded so they resemble tiny angel wings. This is where the fold gets its name. 
  3. Once you see the wings, pull the front of the fabric upward and bring the wings to the front of the diaper.
  4. Grab your favorite type of fastener to secure the remaining pieces—and your little angel is now ready to explore.

The Newspaper Fold 

If you like the Angel Wing fold and want another similar technique in your cloth diapering toolbox, try the Newspaper fold. 

diaper newspaper fold step by step graphic

  1. Bring the front of the material about a quarter of the way up your baby’s diaper area.
  2. Fold the remaining third of fabric exactly as if you were doing the Angel Wing fold.
  3. Pull the front up so the diaper fits your child properly. The wings that you see at the back of the Angel Wing fold should now be visible in your Newspaper fold.
  4. Wrap them around the front of your baby’s body, securing the cloth snug, but still not too tight.
  5. If your infant is smaller than average, you may want to make the fit more secure by folding the top of the diaper. This extra step also works very well for baby girls.
  6. To keep your little one as dry as possible, enclose the fold in an absorbent diaper cover.

The Bikini Twist Fold 

Besides having a playful and feminine name, the function of the Bikini Twist also makes it an excellent option for baby girls. Since it has more padding in the middle of the diaper than some other folds, it’ll hold more moisture in all the right places. You may also have a little fun doing it! Of course, you can use it on little boys, too. Complete the Bikini Twist by following these quick and easy steps!

diaper bikini twist fold step by step graphic

  1. Place the diaper flat.
  2. Twist the material 180 degrees at the very center, ensuring that the fabric stays curved in the middle.
  3. Pull the front of the diaper upward to provide the best fit for your child.
  4. Once the diaper is secure on your baby, take the top corners and tuck them into the back.
  5. Bring the back corners to the front and keep everything tight with a fastener.
  6. You may also want to use a waterproof cover with this one, since from experience it tends to offer less protection than other options for baby’s bowel movements. As we like to say, anything to prevent a diaper blowout!

The Jelly Roll Fold 

If you’re one of those parents who is into the whimsical name and approach of the Bikini Twist, the Jelly Roll fold is also for you! This time, instead of twisting the cloth, you’ll be rolling it. 

diaper jelly roll fold step by step graphic

  1. Start by placing a pre-folded diaper on your changing table.
  2. You’ll start the actual fold by rolling the left and right edges of the cloth toward the middle. Keep them wound tight, as if you’re making a burrito.
  3. Place your baby on top of the diaper.
  4. With the edges still as tight as possible, pull the bottom up and between his or her legs.
  5. Locate the back corners of the diaper and wrap them around to the front.
  6. Secure the two corners with a fastener and you’re done in seconds.

The Diaper Bag Fold 

If you spend a lot of time out and about with baby, it’s helpful to learn the Diaper Bag fold. This technique gets its name from how easily each folded diaper fits into a bag or backpack. You can complete the first few steps during naptime and then take them out to finish up when a change is necessary. 

diaper bag fold step by step graphic

  1. Lay the diaper flat and fold it into thirds.
  2. Bring the bottom of the diaper up over your child.
  3. When the fold is centered, crease the front section into thirds so the two sides of it are directly on top of each other.
  4. Move to the back of the diaper, folding it down to create the angel wings and a little extra room for blowout protection.
  5. Place your little one on top of the diaper, pull the front up and wrap the wings around their waist with a fastener. Time to continue with the day’s travels.

Folding Cloth Diapers Like a Pro 

As you begin practicing your folds, you may find that baby gets fussy. Prevent unnecessary tears by trying new folds on a stuffed animal or baby doll first. Grab a teddy bear from your older child’s closet or buy a life-sized doll at a dollar store. When you get as fast with your fold as you would with a disposable diaper, begin trying it on baby. This approach is especially helpful if your little one is new to cloth diapering. In some instances, it also takes a while to find the type of diapers that work best for you and your child. You may start with the pre-folded variety, only to like the flat folds better. It’s also common to need certain materials and folds for specific situations, ages or childhood developmental stages. Be patient with yourself and remember that flexibility is key in diapering—and in life! 

woman changing newborn diaper

While it’s true that cloth diapering takes more preparation and planning than using disposable diapers, think about all the ways it benefits your family and your baby! The money you save on keeping your child dry and fresh can go toward buying new baby clothes, investing in feeding supplies or putting away for their college savings. Plus, it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce your household trash, eliminates the need to buy a diaper pail and the soft cotton feels great on baby’s skin. If you have the time and energy to remove stains, regularly wash your diapers and master the folds, you are doing your family, child and the planet a great service. 

Now that you have plenty of folds to try, make sure you continue to practice—and protect baby on the daily—with the best cloth diapers available. Gerber Childrenswear offers a range of cloth diapering supplies you need to make baby’s changing sessions a cinch. Pick up everything from packs of pre-fold organic cloth diapers and flat fold cloth diapers to gauze and birdseye diapers and waterproof pants. With so many materials and folding options now available to you, using cloth diapers in your home is not only beneficial, it’s also super easy!

Shop Now