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Newborn Cloth Diapering
March 3, 2012 11:13 am | by
Prepping Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapering a newborn can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first child that you’ll be diapering. But then again, everything about newborns can seem a little intimidating, right? It’s because it’s new, not because it’s hard. Now that I have the diapering of three kids (and the potty training of two of them, more or less) under my belt, I’m going to go ahead and say it: diapering newborns is the easiest part.

Newborns don’t move around that much. Not that they can’t wriggle and squirm but at least they can’t get up and run away laughing in the middle of it. So there’s that. Plus, there is no extra step to laundry- just toss the diaper (even dirty ones) right into the washing machine. Really.

This isn’t too say that planning for diapering when you’re pregnant isn’t daunting. And those first few days (or, um, weeks) after the baby is born- when you keep asking yourself how they could just let you keep this baby without giving you so much as an instruction manual, let alone the 24/7 assistant you really need- can be a little overwhelming.

But not to fear! Parenting itself eventually becomes more comfortable and in the meantime we can help make the diapering part easy for you. Here’s my whole newborn diaper philosophy: When in doubt, change it out. That mantra is pretty much it. Their diapers can go right in the wash, so you don’t have to think about it that much. Seriously. No scraping or rinsing required. Diapers into pail (or wetbag), then into washing machine, then dry and you’re ready to roll again. My first two sons were born in the hospital, where we used the disposable diapers they provided while we were there and moved to cloth when we got home. But my third was a planned homebirth and his first diaper was a lovely soft cloth one. So it can be done from day one!

Living by my mantra (such as it is) means that new babies get changed. A lot. This is why I love prefolds for infants. They’re cheap, effective and it’s easy to have a big stash of them so you don’t have to do laundry every single day- no matter how many times you change a diaper. I also love that prefolds make it easy to adjust fit for you particular baby’s shape. (If you need a starting point for different ways to put a prefold on, check out this post about the prefold folds)

Prefolds do need a couple of accessories to make it a complete diaper: a fastener and a cover. Although some people just lay a folded prefold inside of the cover (without any type of fastener), I like to close that bad boy up. Especially since newborn poo tends to be a little loose. Snappis are a great option, and I like them, but I actually love using diaper pins too. It takes a few seconds longer but they are so sweetly old fashioned. Plus, that diaper isn’t going anywhere! With my oldest I used almost pins almost exclusively, with my second it was mostly snappis that I reached for, and for my youngest I didn’t reach for one more than the other. There is no wrong choice here.

For covers you have lots of options. You can go bright and colorful with Flip or Thirsties covers or more classicly simple with something like Econobum (I know a lot of people buy them because they’re inexpensive, but I have to admit that it was one of my favorite covers on my youngest because I loved the option with a hint of color at the edge!). These are also covers that fit multiple sizes, making them an even more economical choice, as they’ll be worn beyond the newborn stage!

If using prefolds seems a little too far removed from the convenience factor of disposable diapers, you can try fitted diapers. As with prefolds these diapers require a cover, but they come with snaps or aplix to fasten the diaper- no pins or snappis required.

For even more convenience, there are pocket diapers and all-in-one diapers. Pocket diapers are like a waterproof cover with a pocket to put an absorbent insert into. Often the fabric on the inside of the pocket diaper is designed to wick moisture away from that precious newborn skin (like with the bumGenius diapers). I remove inserts from the pocket before laundering but some people find that the inserts come out in the wash. Once clean and dry it’s easy to stuff the diapers all at once and have them ready to go, without any extra steps at changing time!

All-in-one diapers are just as they sound- a waterproof cover and absorbent inner diaper, all in one piece. There are no pieces to add, remove, or remember. I personally think that everyone should have at least one AIO diaper for their newborn. It’s great to be able to have in the diaper bag for outings and requires the least instruction for babysitters (or helpful friends and family). Personally, I love the bumGenius newborn AIO (though I have to admit that it’s the only AIO I’ve had for my kids, I never saw a reason to try a different brand). It’s great size, has a dip in the front so that it can comfortably be used before the umbilical cord falls off, comes in a variety of great colors and it is so. very. easy.

When I called a pregnant friend to ask what she would want to read about in a post about cloth diapering a newborn, one of the things she mentioned was getting her husband on board. It seems he was a little worried about the poo/washing machine combination (among other questions of logistics). I find that this is probably the number one question that people ask me about cloth diapering. And to them all I say this: No matter what type of diaper you end up choosing, poo is going to end up in your washing machine.

It’s just a fact of life with babies. The few times we used disposable diapers with our kids when they were young, there were usually “blowouts.” This is what parents call a dirty diaper that has escaped the confines of the diaper- up the back, down the legs, sometimes even up the belly. It is truly amazing how it can seem to defy the laws of physics. So into the washing machine those clothes go. Because the beauty of newborn poo (if one can find beauty in this) before solid food enters the diet, is that it can be easily rinsed away.

Parenting is a dirty job. Cloth diapering is no dirtier than using disposables. And many argue that they actually feel better about it because they have better luck keeping diaper messes in the actual diaper when they use cloth, so at least it isn’t get all over clothing. Plus, cloth diapers are pretty darn cute. Not that all life decisions should be made based on cuteness alone… but c’mon, how adorable are the cloth diapers?!?

My point is that you shouldn’t be intimidated by cloth diapering a brand new baby! Believe me, I wouldn’t have stuck with it if it were difficult or required extra effort. After all, I don’t leave all the dishes for my husband to do because I’m a fan of extra work. You can do it and Cotton Babies is here to help. You can call customer service with questions if you need help figuring out what to order or if you need help with your cloth diapers once they’re in use. Cover your sweet new baby in love (and it’s bottom in a cloth diaper).

About the Author

Claire is an Army wife that may not have been cut out for homemaking. Follow her adventures as she, her husband (Sergeant Handsome), their three sons and two dogs try to keep it together over on her personal blog, The Half-Hearted Housewife, where love means never having to do the dishes.



  • La Familia Crespo said...
    May 29, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    How many prefolds would you suggest to start w/a newborn. I used cloth w/my 4yr old but not until she was about 6months old. How many would be a good # to start w/for a newborn?

  • Katie said...
    March 4, 2012 at 12:49 am

    What about keeping the cord stump dry? When I first put my BGs on my daughter, they covered her stump so I went back to disposables until it fell off. Is that not as big of a deal as I thought?

    • Heather said...
      March 5, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      It varies a bit with each baby, depending on size and shape, but you should be able to fold/roll the top of the bumGenius newborn down a bit to go just under the stump. The PUL should keep moisture away from the umbilical cord until it falls off. If we can answer any more questions, please give us a call at 1-888-332-2243.

    • Elaine said...
      March 8, 2012 at 4:10 am

      Because my daughter is ridiculously small for our 3.0s, there was no way not to cover her stump. (Seriously, these diapers are like half as big as her… )

      While the cord stump wasn’t 100% dry, it didn’t seem to be an issue. (I was keeping a close eye on it, making sure it was clean each diaper change, etc.) The stump fell off two days ago (day 6), and her belly button is almost completely healed up. The biggest ‘problem’ I’ve had with it is the stump left a ‘goo spot’ on her diaper. Even that doesn’t seem to be a big deal as the spot has washed out in the laundry.

  • Anonymous said...
    March 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    We had no issues cloth diapering my 10lb 4oz baby. In fact, he grew out of the prefolds and covers within a few weeks! I love my diapers!

  • Jessica said...
    March 3, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Great round up of newborn cloth diapering options! I used fitteds with my daughter and plan to use them again when my son is born. I also loved having a few all in ones for grandparents to use, but I found that even the smallest all in ones didn’t fit until she was a few weeks old.

  • She Looks Like a Mom said...
    March 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Lindsey – While I personally don’t have experience with this (my baby was in disposables in the NICU for her first 20 days), I’ve heard other mothers mention using a disposable liner to catch the first meconium poos.

    Thanks for this article! It’s been two years since I’ve had a newborn in cloth, and we’re expecting a baby this June. This post was a much-needed refresher course. 🙂

  • tobecontinued said...
    March 3, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I am currently cloth diapering my newborn and agree-prefolds+cover is easiest! I prefer snappis to pins since I have a curious 2 year old that might find pins and do who knows what with them!
    @lindsey: I used liners until the meconium was all out of her system so the black poo didn’t stain my diapers. At the hospital I just let her be in sposies.

  • Lindsey said...
    March 3, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I’m concurned about that first poop. My midwife says its very sticky and hard to get out of cloth. Has anyone had this issue or any advice on how to get ito out?

  • Elaine said...
    March 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I just had a 6lb baby… (6-14 to start… milk just came in yesterday, so we’re below that atm). The 3.0s are a bit ridiculously large on her – but still functional!

    (Our budget doesn’t allow for us to buy more diapers. So we’re adjusting to having some things too big for a week or two… Then we’ll be good for years! )

  • Anonymous said...
    March 3, 2012 at 11:35 am

    I’ve cloth diapered in the past but it wasn’t for a newborn. I’m a little concerned about the bulkiness of the cloth diapers on a newborn, although I do tend to have larger babies (8.5-10lbs). I’m excited to try it out. Thanks for the post!