Though many mamas desire to use cloth diapers for their little ones, the thought of using them soon after the birth or with a newborn is often a bit overwhelming. I think the general impression is that it is much more difficult than it truly is.

After mentioning the other week that I was finding it a relatively simple thing to diaper my own newborn, I received several requests for more info on just how to go about using cloth diapering with wee ones. In this post, I will address the key questions and concerns to hopefully reassure those wanting to use cloth and give some helpful advice as well! Not wanting to just give me own opinions and experience, I’ve also asked a couple of other bloggers who are new mamas for their input (Lindsay of Passionate Homemaking and Michele of Frugal Granola), as well as the friendly staff over at Kelly’s Closet and Nicki’s Diapers. As a result, this post ended up quite lengthy, but I hope that you will find it truly helpful and informative!

So here we go…

What types of cloth diaper systems work best for newborns?

Kissaluv newborn Michele: We’ve been using Kissaluvs (size 0) diapers with Enoch from the
beginning (which I bought from Lindsay, off of craigslist, ironically)
:). They’ve worked great! He’s a heavy-wetter, but I haven’t had to use
the diaper doublers that I made, yet. I love that they have a fold-down
snap in front to allow for the umbilical cord. We use them along with
newborn size Proraps or Bummis snap covers.

Lindsay: If you really want to cloth diaper right off the bat,
or you have a smaller newborn, my recommendation is to go with the
infant size prefolds and newborn covers. These are a good investment as
they last forever and can also be used for burp clothes or rags in the
future. The newborn size prefolds really are not absorbent at all, so I
recommend the infant size and folding it the opposite direction,
horizontally into thirds. This makes for a smaller more absorbent

So overall, after beginning cloth diapering my second little one, I
found that using infant prefolds is the most economical option and
transitioning quickly to one size diapers. Then he is set for the rest
of his diapering life.

Kelly’s Closet: One Size? While most one size diapers
are designed to fit from birth to potty training – this doesn’t
necessarily mean they will fit your little one at birth. Newborns tend
to have itty bitty legs and therefore the diaper is more likely to leak
than after a few weeks when your little one has had some time to
“thicken up.”

Therefore we highly recommend prefolds and diaper
covers during the early weeks for daytime use. Prefolds and diaper
covers, while intimidating for most folks, is really quite simple and
straightforward. Simply fasten the prefold on to baby and then fasten a
cover over the prefold and you’re ready to go! Prefolds also a bit
easier to wash and care for compared to pocket diapers.

Prefold Cloth Diapers

Diaper Covers

with all that said – for those late nights when you’re sleep deprived
and just the thought of driving one more diaper is ready to make you
cry – we also recommend some X-Small sized pocket diapers or All-in-One
diapers such as the bumGenius Deluxe All-in-One 3.0 diapers. These will
make the middle of the night diaper changes very quick and easy!

Nicki’s Diapers: I highly recommend using newborn size prefolds and Prorap Classic
diaper covers size newborn
. The newborn
prefolds fit tiny babies nicely without a lot of bulk and the Prorap
Classic diaper covers size newborn have a great umbilical cord cutout
allowing you to use this diaper cover as baby’s first diaper.  This
combination also contains the newborn explosions very well with no up
the back leakage as experience with disposable diapers.  This system
fits up to about 10 lbs whereas at that point a one size diaper system
will start to fit.

Hemp liners Stephanie: Personally, I find that we have the greatest leak protection when using a fitted diaper with a cover like Bummis or Proraps. Though I really enjoy using pocket and one-size diapers, I have had a few more leaks with those as they don’t seem to fit quite snug enough on a newborn unless you purchase the extra small sizes, which hardly feel worth it to me considering how long baby wears them for. The one-size do work okay once they’re past the first week or two (depending on how big your babies are- I have babies that are under 8 lbs), but I find that they’re fairly bulky once folded small enough to fit a newborn. That said, it is so nice to have a quick, one-piece diaper (like a pocket diaper) to use for middle of the night changes, rather than messing around with a fitted or prefold and a cover in the dark. I have also noticed that in order to get through the night or long naps, regardless of which system we use, extra liners or doublers are a MUST! I really love microterry inserts/doublers, and have just ordered some hemp doublers because I have heard that they are even thinner but just as absorbent as the microterry, and I am all about less bulk and dry bums!

How many diapers do you need to have and how often will they need to be washed? 

Michele: I have about 30 newborn cloth diapers; if I
get behind on the laundry and run out, I just use a prefold diaper with
a Snappi (to close), along with a cover. Since I’m using “mama cloth” pads, and we still have some
nighttime cloth diapers to wash for our toddler, we just toss everything
into a washer load each day.

Kelly’s Closet: As
far as how many diapers a newborn will need – our general rule of thumb
recommendation is 8-12 diapers per day – and it would be best to have a
minimum of a 2-day supply. This will allow you to wash the diapers
every other day (if you want to go slightly longer between washes then
you will be a few more diapers accordingly).

Stephanie: I would say around 20-24, which will allow you to wash every 2-3 days. My newborn babies seem to go through a good 8-10
diapers a day, so that will be a pretty comfortable amount. Though I can get by with about 4 covers for my older babies/toddlers, I think that you need to have more like a minimum of 6 for newborns, just because with more frequent changes (and poops!) you are more likely to have soiled covers more quickly. On this note, I have learned that it’s a necessity to keep lots of diapers around- in the diaper bag, near baby’s bed at nighttime, etc. Always have more on hand than you think you need!

What do you do about meconium poops? 

Michele: We only had a few disposable diapers on hand (free samples
that came in the mail), which we used for the worst of the meconium
poops. After that, we just used a flushable liner in his diapers until the
meconium was gone. We
also oiled his bum with every diaper change to make it easier to clean
those sticky meconium poops off. (I used hemp oil, but pretty much any
oil would be fine.)

Lindsay: I love cloth diapering to the extent that I wanted to place my new
infant Titus into cloth diapers immediately upon his arrival. The
husband was not so key on that idea due to my need to rest and the
lovely meconium that arrives through the baby’s bowels shortly after
birth. This substance is not fun to wash out. (That is a warning! ;)
Anyway, so we did use disposables for the first week of his life.

Seventh gen diapers Stephanie: I confess, we also did a few days (I think 5 or 6?) of disposables and I was glad that we did. I think that it would be feasible to use cloth from day 1, with disposable or old cloth liners for the meconium, if you have extra help around the house to deal with the extra laundry that will be produced (in addition to the other things you will need help with). One good option for those who really want to avoid conventional diapers is to pick up a package of newborn Seventh Generation diapers (or a similar brand that is unbleached and chlorine free), just to get you through those first days. It is also a blessing to not be worrying about extra loads of laundry in those early days, when there is already so much extra laundry just from regular newborn life (spit up, wet blankets, changing outfits often, etc.). **As an aside, you can often get a $2 off coupon for Seventh Gen diapers by signing up here**

What about the umbilical cord? 

Michele: We’ve been using Kissaluvs (size 0) diapers with Enoch from the
beginning…I love that they have a fold-down
snap in front to allow for the umbilical cord.

Prorap cover Stephanie: Prorap covers dip slightly to accommodate the cord (and I found that the Bummis covers came fairly low as well). We did find that in general any cloth diaper tended to rub a little bit and after it fell off (while it was still tender) we put a bandaid over her belly button to keep it from getting rubbed and from bleeding. After about a week, this wasn’t necessary anymore. Regardless of what you use, you can try to fold it down or position it a bit lower to keep it away from the cord.

How often do they need to be changed? 

Kelly’s Closet: Newborns are such precious little beings, so fresh
and innocent to their new world outside of the womb! Diapering a
newborn, however, can be a tedious task because they typically “go”
frequently (typically between 8-12 times a day – and almost every
diaper change is poo). Just as soon as you change that precious pint
sized bum – the inevitable gurgle and explosion tells you you’re going
to be doing it again!

Stephanie: I have found that newborns really need to be changed often, as little diapers just don’t hold as
much as big diapers. It seems to me that I change Johanna’s diaper about once per feed cycle (so usually every 2-3 hours), as well as anytime I specifically know that she has wet or dirtied her diaper, and there are sometimes longer gaps between changes if she sleeps well at night (maybe up to 4-5 hours). Usually doing a change 15-20 minutes after each feed works well,
or else just before they go down for each nap. Trying to change the diaper
of a hungry newborn right when they wake up just isn’t practical,
unless you enjoy listening to crying and trying to change a really
unhappy, squirmy baby!

Other tips or general advice?

Michele: Here is a recent post on some things I’ve sewed for
diapering: Cloth Wipes and Diaper Doublers

Bumgenius Lindsay: My honest opinion is
that you really do not need to have a separate newborn diapering
system. Most people will feel more comfortable using disposables for
the first several weeks, and that is completely understandable. You are
adjusting to life with a new little one and many really don’t want more
laundry during this stage. If you have an average size baby, you should
be able to transition to a one size cloth diaper after this point. Most
one size diapers fit babies at 8 pounds and I have found this to be so
with several brands (Fuzzi Bunz, Bum Genius & Happy Heiny’s are in
our collection). My little guy was born at 7 lb 4 oz and transitioned
into one size pocket diapers at 2 weeks. Not bad.

that week, we transitioned Titus into Kissaluavs Fitted diapers size 0
with newborn Prorap covers. I thought this was the best most
recommended newborn system. I didn’t think he would fit so soon into
the one size diapers as I mentioned above. I really wanted to love
these diapers because they were so soft and comfy on his little bum.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed by how quickly their wonderful
softness disappeared. A few washings later and they were rather rough
on his skin and caused irritations. He also soaked through them in less
than an hour sometimes, which resulted in more frequent changes. I had
to use a extra doubler inside the fitted diapers, causing excess
bulkiness. I found they just were not worth the money to purchase
unless you have a really tiny baby (5 lb or so). They grow out of them
so fast! Considering how many diapers a newborn goes through, and at
$11-12 per fitted diaper, it is an expensive route. Thankfully we
purchased most of ours used. It would have been far cheaper to use
disposables for those first two weeks than buying a whole newborn

So overall, after beginning cloth diapering my second little one, I
found that using infant prefolds is the most economical option and
transitioning quickly to one size diapers. Then he is set for the rest
of his diapering life.

Kelly’s Closet: Changing the diapers is the easy part –
it’s picking a cloth diaper that is the challenge. Every baby is unique
and while there are cloth diapers that generally work for the majority
– getting a good fit in a cloth diaper can take some trial and error.
Therefore, before investing in a big stash of diapers we highly
recommend sampling a few diapers to get a feel for what works best for
your baby (and what fits your personal preference). If nothing else, is
frustrating to invest a few hundred dollars on a stash of diapers only
to discover they don’t work well for your little one! Therefore, after
researching the brands you would like to consider- order 1-2 of each
diaper and try it out!

Stephanie: Though I have traditionally gone the route of fitted diapers with covers (and don’t get me wrong- I still think it’s a great system and one that I’m not about to stop using), I have recently begun to use some pocket diapers, including some that are one-size. I am falling in love with these one-size pockets, mostly because they work for both my son (almost 2 1/2) and
my daughter (1 month)! This is a real bonus for any mom who finds herself with two littles in diapers at the same time. It means that I can bring a few one-size diapers out with me, and know that I have something to fit either kiddo, depending on who needs the diaper changes. I don’t have to make sure that I have several newborn options as well as several for the toddler, which only results in a very stuffed diaper bag (and an aching shoulder). It also helps to ease the amount of diapers that I need to store in their bedroom and on the change table, and just helps to keep things simpler overall. Though they certainly cost more up front, I am beginning to see how the cost just might be well worth it in the long run, as well as allowing me to have one more compact and easily storable system instead of 3 different size sets of diapers hanging around my house!

Brand Recommendations:

Bummis snap cover Stephanie: A really absorbent newborn fitted diaper or prefolds with Bummis Super Whisper Wrap
are also pretty decent).

Michele: Kissaluvs Size: 0
with Proraps or Bummis Snap covers

Lindsay: Infant Prefolds
with Prorap or Bummis Super Whisper covers, and then a one-size pocket diaper like BumGenius, Happy Heiny or Fuzzi Bunz

Kelly’s Closet: Prefolds and diaper covers, as well as a few x-small or one-size all-in-ones, like BumGenius.

Nicki’s Diapers: Newborn size prefolds and Prorap Classic diaper covers size newborn, until baby begins to fit a one-size diaper system.

**As a bonus, Nicki’s Diapers has kindly offered a 5% discount to all readers who would like to make an order, using the code FIVE. They carry all of the diapers brands that have been mentioned in this post, and I also noticed that they have a great newborn package with everything you need to get going and to help you get a feel for what type of diapering system you prefer.

Want more information on cloth diapering but aren’t sure where to get started? Checkout Confessions of a Cloth Diaper Convert, a 200+-page eBook full of useful advice about how to get started cloth diapering!

Any more questions on cloth diapering a newborn? What about other tips, suggestions or brand recommendations from all the other cloth-diapering mamas out there?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.