4th Annual Flats and Handwashing Challenge- Day 5: Flats Experience; Folds you love, and Are they working?

For many of our readers, flats are not a challenging part of this week. I love seeing all the folds you use on the Facebook group and hearing about how often you use flats throughout the year. I also get a huge thrill when someone new to flats says she is ready to donate her other diapers and use flats for the bulk of her stash. They really are so easy to use and even easier to wash, perfect for folks who struggle with their wash routine and hard or soft water issues.

Today we’re blogging about how flats are working for us, what folds we love, and what’s working (or not).

When I was pregnant with Harper, my good friend Tara came over to visit and brought along some cloth for me to try out. She demonstrated how to use a receiving blanket as a flat and quickly and expertly performed a variety of folds. I remember videotaping it on my phone; it was mesmerizing watching her hands fly and the cloth go from shapeless material to a perfect little diaper. I was more than a little intimidated, imagining I could never learn to fold with such precision and ease.


Eventually I faced my fears and began practicing folds on my own, trying different styles to see what works best for my baby. Of course, as she grows and her eating and nursing habits change I’ve noticed what worked before doesn’t work as well now.

foldflat1My go-to is always the pad fold. A simple tri fold, I can easily store my flats and tuck them in a cover that my husband and his parents are comfortable using. There are no Snappis or Boingos to adjust, and it’s very hard to mess up. Over time I realized I could fan out the back a bit (depending on the size and stretch of the flat you are using, you may want to experiment with how much pull you’ll need) and on my trim daughter I’m able to fit the diaper around her waist and Snappi it for full coverage. This comes in really handy if I’m anticipating a heavily soiled diaper soon, as it is better for keeping everything in place. Sometimes I’ll roll up the legs a little, too, just to make sure my mobile nineteen month old won’t need an outfit change. I also like using this fold if I’m using a wool or felt cover since I won’t have to worry about the pad folded flat shifting as I pull up the cover.


My favorite of the more beautiful and complicated looking folds is the origami fold. I find it works well even on my smaller flats, and still has enough absorbency to keep Harper happy until her next change. In these pictures I’m showing Harper in the classic origami fold with the legs rolled and tucked. A common variation I often rely on is the happy anteater fold, which is similar to the origami but when you’ve finished your folding you pull each of the wings up which creates a tighter fit on skinny thighs without rolling and seems to give me an easier time securing the diaper in place. I don’t know why it’s called the happy anteater; to me it looks more like one of those wacky waving inflatable happy tube people you see at used car lots.


Flats are working really well for me, my only complaint would be how stiff they get if I leave them on the line too long. We have very hard water in my part of Florida so the minerals definitely contribute to the issue. I face a similar stiffness with all my organic and cotton diapers, so I’m fairly used to troubleshooting it. If I were using the dryer, I could toss them in with a wool dryer ball for a freshen up cycle and within minutes the softness would return. Since that’s not an option this week (especially in the woods) I rely on my own manpower, and I break them in again by twisting, scrunching, shaking, and folding them until I’m satisfied. Harper especially likes helping with this part, so I’ve been taking the dry flats into the tent and sitting down on her little rug with her, letting her have her way with the laundry bag as I work. Once they are soft I give them a quick easy fold and tuck them into the large rectangular basket I brought along to house her diapering supplies.

I’m looking forward to reading your posts about flat folding and your experience with flats so far. You’re all so inspiring, I can’t wait to see what you’ve written!

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