Prefold diapers are just large squares of cotton, and won’t provide any moisture-proof barriers on their own. That’s where the diaper cover comes in. A diaper cover has that hour-glass shape like a disposable, and is used on the outside of your prefold. It’s the cover that has the snaps or fasteners, and it usually has a sturdy water-proof layer on the outside.
To get the most use out of your prefold diaper covers, get a design that has some adjustable sizing. They accomplish this with a row of snaps or a longer strip of Velcro to allow you to change how snug the fit is around the waist. There is a limit to how much adjusting you can do though, so don’t expect a diaper cover to last from newborn right up to toilet-training. You should only need 2 or 3 sizes over the course of your diapering, usually a smaller than a larger one as your child outgrows the largest setting of the smaller cover.
Watch the leg openings as well as the waist when getting the right fit. The elastic should fit snugly around the legs without pinching or gaping, or you run the risk of leakage.
Waterproof or Not?
Though it seems like the obvious route is waterproof, not everyone goes that way. The typical style of diaper cover is made with some sort of plastic layer (usually polyurethane laminated fabric, or PUL). Depending on the make, there may be an additional fabric layer so that the PUL does not touch the skin. This keeps all the moisture inside, and prevents leaks.
But you can also go with a wool cover for something a little more natural than the PUL option. Wool is wonderfully absorbent, and can handle a lot of moisture before letting any of it through. The catch is that it will start to leak once it’s held its maximum liquid load. As long as you change out the cover before that happens, you’re good to go. Just remember that the cover has a thick layer of cotton on the inside to really do the absorbing.
Colors and Designs
Unlike the prefold diapers themselves, the covers are where you can get creative and flashy. Covers come in a huge range of designs and you can be pretty fun with your choices. Even though they may be covered by additional clothes, there is no reason why your prefold diaper covers have to be boring.