As many people start into cloth diapering, the choices are endless and completely overwhelming at times. At least, I know it was for me. I started with pockets b/c from what I read online it seemed like the best choice. I quickly realized they weren’t a great fit for my super skinny son. I found Diaper Pin shortly after and the world of CDs had opened up! I dabbled with lots of different things – AIOs of various brands, fitteds, other pockets, PFs, snaps, aplix, PUL, fleece, and the list goes on and on. This is about the time we started having issues with our wash routine (crummy well water paired with an even crummier washer) and the thick, multi layered diapers just wouldn’t get clean enough!

One thing I never thought to try, and honestly didn’t really know existed was a flat diaper. Looking at them they are pretty ‘Plain Jane’ and many people thought I was crazy to give up all the new fangled ones and replace them with flats. It made washing so much easier though so I made a point to try and make it work (I still had my doubts). I started with pinning them which worked well, but a bit time consuming with two in diapers. That’s when I discovered pad folding! It was so easy to change a diaper – even more so than some of the pockets and fitteds!

I still had a pretty good mix of other things and my husband asked me if I could just stick with one or two systems since he was getting a bit confused and was scared he was going to mess something up. I decided to stick with flats because they were the only thing I could get stink free at the time. I stocked up on PUL covers from FSOT and off we went! (Wool and fleece are also options, just not in our main rotation).

Two and a half years later with baby #3 using the same covers and diapers we are still going strong. We use them full time – day and night, home and away. There are so many benefits that I don’t think I could ever list them all but here are some of the reasons why they are the only diaper in our system now:

  • Inexpensive (mine paid for themselves within a couple weeks of use – that was over 2 years ago!)
  • Durable -Fit a wide range of shapes and sizes
  • Very absorbent
  • Easy to wash
  • Dry fast (either on the line or in the dryer being both time and energy saving)
  • Can abuse them with little worry – super hot water, bleach, ironing if major disinfecting is needed, etc. You can even tie-dye them for fun!
  • Can be used with pins, a snappi, or just laid in a cover as a form of an all-in-two
  • Multi purpose – what other diaper is there that can double as: snot rags (as my husband calls them), post partum mama cloth, towels, blankets, nursing covers, aprons/smocks, sun shades, dust rags, blindfolds, use them for peek-a-boo, forts, super hero capes, and the list goes on and on! You are only limited by your imagination :)

Truly, they are an awesome diaper to try, even if they are “old fashioned.” When placing your order consider throwing a few in… you can’t go wrong! If they don’t work as diapers there are so many other things you can use them for you are bound to get your money’s worth no problem. They even have a good resale value! If your child doesn’t do well with wetness against their skin you can always add a fleece liner to help keep them dry (an easy and inexpensive way to do it is to buy your own from the craft store and cut it into whatever size and shape works best for you).

Also note that there are different sizes – usually small or large. Smalls are great for itty bitty babies and as doublers later on. The larges work for any size really, but best for around 15 lbs and up. There are also better quality ones which make a big difference. The Gerber ones you can find at most big box stores just don’t compare. Online stores like Little Lions, Green Mountain Diapers, and Diaper Rite are good places to start.  Check out the product reviews for flats at Diaper Pin.

Pad folded in a cover:

One way to pin:

Another option (the origami fold – easy and fun after a little practice!):

A diaper from that same batch 2 years later on my third child (also origami folded)

Fun tie dye! This is a size small:

Renee Coley

Renee has been happily married to her husband since 2005 and is a stay at home mom with her 3 little ones Joah (8/07), Morgan (5/09), and Lillian (4/11). Thanks to she has discovered the world of cloth (diapers, kitchen, mama, and family), a whole host of great resources and awesome friends :)

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10 Comments on What’s so Special About Flats?

  1. This what my stash mainly consists of and I couldn’t be happier. We also cloth fulltime, wash ourselves and line dry and it’s yhe best decision I could have ever made.

  2. Rita says:

    We love flat diapers. Especially for line drying in the summer. I also think they are cooler than pre-folds then too. thanks for the great article.

  3. maria lapointe says:

    where do you go to buy flat diaper online?

  4. Shelley says:

    What size and brand of flat is the one you show padfolded in a Flip cover? I like how that looks. :)

    Thanks for the article! :)

    • Renee says:

      The one pictured is either a Little Lions brand or an older Green Mountain Diapers size medium. The LL ones haven’t really been available lately from what I understand, and sadly GMD did away with the medium size :( The larges are a little bigger so they won’t look/fit exactly the same, but after a few washes they work well. I have some organic larges from GMD that when I first got them were too big and bulky, but after a little bit of time they fit perfectly with even more absorbency. I have been using them pad folded with medium sized covers on my 10 month old for quite a while now without any issues. When you first get them they are HUGE but shrink down quite a bit and over time will lose most of the ‘fluffiness’ (which is what made them so bulky when I first tried to use them).

      Let me know if you have any more questions!

  5. Shelley says:

    Thank you! I am lucky enough to have a dozen Little Lions but I never did get the medium GMD’s. That is good to know about the Large GMD’s. I think next time I get flats I will try some of those.

  6. Lucia says:


    Great article! I have a newborn (born Feb 24th!) boy and have the Bummis starter kit that has 2 Bummis whisper wraps and the small flat folds. I’ve tried them twice, using one flat diaper each time, just folded differently (once along the seams so that the absorbent center is lengthwise, and once across the seams so that only the very center has the absorbant part) Both times, it leaked (wet diapers only). Any suggestions on how to make this work? Thank you!

    • diaperpin says:

      I’m glad you like this article! There tons of experienced moms at our forums that can answer this question for you.

    • Renee says:

      There could be a variety of reasons for the leaks. What you have are called prefolds and are essentially pre-folded flats (hence the name). I know with unbleached items (not sure what yours are – if they are white, they are bleached… tan-ish are unbleached) you have to prep them to get all the oils out or they aren’t very absorbent. The more you wash them, the more absorbent they get. Another option is that they are a little too big right now and are gaping at the legs/waist – with a sudden flow of urine on a newer PF sometimes it’ll run right out. Also, some kids are just heavier wetters than others and the sudden flow just can’t be absorbed fast enough. You might want to consider fastening the diaper on for now to see if that helps – you can use pins or a snappi. If you don’t have either you can try folding it as though you were going to fasten it, but just use the cover to hold it in place… that way you have some gussets around the legs and absorbency around the hips. Boys are especially tough b/c their little boy bits can get pointed all different directions and sometimes they pee right out of the top of the diaper! Not that I know from experience or anything 😛

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