All Prefolds Are Not Created Equal

Whenever I hear someone say, “I’m not really sure if I’m going to like cloth diapers, so I’ll just start out with some inexpensive Gerber prefolds…” I cringe and think “…then you’re not going to like cloth diapers.” For some reason, Gerber prefolds are on the shelves in Targets and Walmarts galore; I’m sure it’s mainly because people use them as burp cloths.

So what’s the Diaper Wrecker to do? Waste $17 at Target on these “premium” Gerber prefolds to prove my point, that’s what!

Prefold Cover Image

Contents: cotton and polyester. Meh.

Gerber Prefold Packaging

After washing them up a few times with my regular diaper laundry they became pilly and not even a tiny bit softer than the way they felt straight out of the package. Plus, the fibers seemed pretty loosely woven, which seems contrary to their claim that these are “premium”. Premium compared to what? Leaves?

Gerber Prefold Close Up

I have, use, and love two different kinds of (real) prefolds – GroVia’s bamboo/organic cotton prefolds¬†and the BabyKicks hemp/organic cotton prefolds. The GroVia prefolds are thick and super-soft and a little bulky. The BabyKicks are less bulky and they don’t look as pretty, but they have this awesome stretchiness that makes them so much easier to fasten on a baby. So I was curious how the three brands compare.

I present our contestants:

Prefold Absorbency Test

I did some quick absorbency testing to see how Gerber stacked up. Each prefold weighed dry, submerged in water until fully saturated, hung to drip off for 20 minutes, and then weighed wet. The difference between the dry weight and wet weight was calculated as the diaper’s absorbency. Now, this is only what I’d call “theoretical absorbency”. In reality, when worn by a baby, the diapers would leak at that capacity, due to the shifting pressure of baby’s weight. However, this theoretical absorbency is fine to use for comparison purposes since they’re all being tested the same way.

However, it’s not fair to compare the results of the straight-up absorbency of each prefold, because they’re all different sizes – and the Gerber was the smallest. Instead, you get a better understanding by looking at the ratio of absorbency (in grams) to area (in square inches). Gerber’s absorbency by area was almost half of BabyKicks’ and GroVia’s!

Comparison of Prefold Absorbency

And it’s not as if Gerber prefolds are so dirt cheap that the price justifies the limited absorbency. At $1.79 each, they’re only slightly cheaper than Cloth-Eez (a brand I used on my son as a newborn). GroVia prefolds range from $2.67 each to $5.33 each depending on size; BabyKicks start at $6.59 up to $8.79. However, those are just what I had on hand and use for my child. There are plenty of other quality prefolds available – what’s your favorite brand?