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The Ultimate Guide to Newborn Cloth Diapers

Newborn Swaddle Set

Are newborn cloth diapers really worth it?

This isn’t really a question we ask in terms of disposable diapers UNLESS we’ve been told we are growing a particularly large human.

Having newborn diapers and clothes is just a given.

Why are we second-guessing ourselves when it comes to newborn cloth diapers?

What are the different types of newborn cloth diapers?

Newborn All in One Cloth Diapers

Newborn All in One Cloth Diapers

An easy-to-use, one-piece cloth diaper, All In One Cloth Diapers have absorbent materials sewn into a waterproof shell making this cloth diaper as easy to use as a disposable diaper!

All in Ones are widely available in both “snap” and “hook and loop” closures.

Most Newborn All in Ones will have a snap down or notch/dip for the umbilical cord.

Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Caregiver Friendly
  • No stuffing or folding required
  • Stay Dry Options

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Longer dry times
  • Some families may need to boost their absorbency with a doubler
  • Must be washed after one use

Newborn Cloth Diaper Covers

Newborn Cloth Diaper Cover

The most versatile and affordable diapering system!

A newborn cloth diaper cover is a waterproof part that goes over a cloth diaper.

They can be used with any absorbent diapering system- flats, prefolds, inserts, and fitteds.

These waterproof covers are breathable and fashionable making them a great leak stopper for an adorable photo shoot.

Most Newborn cloth diaper covers will have a snap down or notch/dip for the umbilical cord.

Personally, I love newborn cloth diaper covers and they make up the majority of my newborn stash.

They’re cheap - which lets me #buyallthediapers - and there is no stuffing required.

Pros

  • Wipeable for use up to three times before needing to be washed
  • Affordable - you will only need between 8-12 covers
  • Can be used with any absorbent system
  • Paired over a disposable you can stay leak-free
  • Easy to hand wash and hang dry

Cons

  • Steeper learning curve

Newborn Fitted Cloth Diapers

Newborn Fitted Cloth Diaper

The ultimate solution for those heavy wetters and overnight solutions, Fitted Cloth Diapers are one part of a two-part system.

They are comprised of absorbent materials.

Yes, they look like a diaper, are shaped like a diaper, fasten like a diaper, but they need a waterproof cover to work as a diaper.

Fitted diapers are made from natural fibers to maximize absorbency.

We love fitted cloth diapers on newborn babies. They really help to contain those watery poos!

Yes, they are a little spendy, but they’re worth the extra expense.

If you are constantly changing sheets, clothes, or just plain over the leaks just do it - thank me later.

Pros

  • Highly absorbent
  • Made from Natural Fibers
  • Great for naps, long car rides, and overnight

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Long dry times

Newborn Prefold Cloth Diapers

Another great economical option, prefold cloth diapers are rectangular diapers with more layers of cotton (or chosen fabric sewn into the center, and less on each side.)

These guys are absorbent and CHEAP!

Yes, they’re a tad bulkier than flats or inserts, but the absorbency payoff is well worth it.

If you’re on a budget (or even if you’re not) prefold cloth diapers are one solution that works for nearly every baby!

Prefolds are available in cotton, organic cotton, unbleached cotton, bamboo, and even hemp!

Pros

  • Absorbent
  • Affordable
  • Easy to hand-wash
  • Bamboo and hemp options work for heavy wetters and overnights

Cons

  • Must be washed and dried 3-6 times before first use
  • Should be paired with a fastener
  • Different folds make require practice

Newborn Flat Cloth Diapers

Newborn Flat Cloth Diapers

Speaking of inexpensive - flat cloth diapers are a one-time expense.

Yes, I said one-time expense.

No need to size up or down for the age or weight of the baby.

Flats will suit your newborn cloth diapering days well into toddlerdom.

Flats can take a bit of time to fold, but you can just fold that piece of fabric into a pad and lay it in your favorite cloth diaper cover, but I highly recommend the origami fold and be sure to roll in the legs.

Also, flat cloth diapers are the easiest diaper to hand wash, but also wash up quickly and easily in your washing machine.

Flats are available in organic cotton, bamboo, and even stretchy hemp!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • One size options will fit newborns and toddlers
  • Natural fibers Easy to wash and dry
  • Wide variety of folds to suit your baby Can be used in all in twos, covers, and pockets

Cons

  • Needs to be folded
  • Should be paired with a fastener
  • Different folds require practice

One Size for Newborns?

Newborn One Size Cloth Diaper Hack

I must not tell lies.

You can get away with using some one-size cloth diapers on newborns.

Not necessarily from day one depending on the size of your squish, but say from about 6.5 to 7lbs.

Lighthouse Kids Company and Lalabye Baby fit really well on those chicken legs!

Rumparooz Pocket Diapers are a great fit from 6-ish lbs!

Yes, you have to work around the cord and they’re a bit bulky, but they work just the same!

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How to Wash Newborn Cloth Diapers

Gender Neutral Cloth Diapers

Step away from Google.

STOP!

I cannot tell you the number of issues and ruined diapers I’ve had from not listening to the manufacturers thinking “these other people know better.”

Hundreds of dollars of unusable diapers and way too much detergent later...I got my act together and listened to those making the diapers.

I promise you, no company or retailer wants you to ruin your stash.

Here’s my step-by-step guide to washing newborn cloth diapers:

Step 1: Start with a cold water rinse/wash with no detergent. This will rinse out any urine and solid residue.

Step 2: Perform a hot water wash cycle with detergent.

Do NOT use the sanitary cycle and be sure your water heater is not set above 120 degrees as temperatures hotter than that can damage your cloth diapers.

Step 3: Do a second cold or warm rinse, optionally you can add 3-4 drops of Lavender Essential Oil - a natural antiseptic.

Step 4: Toss in the dryer on tumble/low -

Tip: adding a dry towel or wool dryer balls can lessen the dry time.

Newborn cloth diapers should be hung dry.

For detergents, I recommend Tide, Arm & Hammer Sensitive, and Gain.

I DO NOT recommend using bleach, stain removers, borax, Biz, Bac-Out, Biokleen, or Oxy-Clean as they may damage your diapers.

When in doubt, reach out. If your routine sounds complicated - it probably is!

Taking care of your cloth diapers and washing cloth diapers couldn’t be easier.

For detailed wash and care, instructions check out our Wash & Care page.

How to Prep Newborn Cloth Diapers

Winter Cloth Diaper

Remember when I said to step away from Google?

This is one of those times.

DO NOT BOIL YOUR CLOTH DIAPERS!

This will ruin the inserts, snaps - basically the entire diaper. Prepping means that you are preparing your diapers for their first use.

This will vary slightly from brand to brand, but here’s a helpful guide:

Natural Fibers and Hemp: Wash and Dry 3-6 times with detergent. These will become more absorbent over time.

Microfiber: Wash and dry once with detergent.

How many Newborn Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

Coffee Cloth Diaper

“Need” is relative

If you want more for sick days, tummy bugs, or simply because they’re fluffing adorable the following does not apply to you.

For the newborn stash having 36 total changes is the “sweet spot” to allow you to make it two or three days before washing.

If you’re on a tighter budget I’d recommend 6-8 newborn cloth diaper covers and 18-24 flats or prefolds.

You’ll be washing more often, but you’ll still be able to make it through at least a day and a half!

Conclusion - Newborn Cloth Diapers

Newborn Cloth Diapering

Now that you have a basic overview of newborn cloth diapers, it’s time for you to find the perfect newborn cloth diaper!

Click HERE to start building your newborn cloth diapers stash!

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