Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Do you really need newborn-sized cloth diapers?

When considering purchasing cloth diapers, one might wonder if it's necessary (or worth it) to purchase newborn-sized cloth diapers.  The answer to that question may be yes, or no, and depends on the size of your baby at birth, your willingness to experiment with different cloth diaper styles, and your budget. Newborn cloth diapers might be something you can skip all-together.  However some families have had wonderful experiences with newborn cloth diapers, and newborn diapers were the reason they've continued cloth diapering.

What is unique about a "newborn" diaper?

  • Typically sized: Sized diapers may provide a better fit for very small babies, and also create less diaper bulk.

  • Sometimes "All-in-One" style: meaning the diaper is entirely one-piece and doesn't require folding, stuffing, or snapping additional pieces.  All-in-One style diapers are easy for parents to use.

  • Small Size: Intended to fit very small babies and even premature babies, will not work for older babies.

Down-sides to "newborn" diapers:

  • Could be expensive: All-in-One style diapers and other sized diapers can be more expensive than other diapering systems.

  • Used for a short period of time: Since babies grow so quickly, you won't be able to use the diapers very long.

  • Need a lot of them: Newborn babies can poop at almost every feeding, which means you will use about 10-12 cloth diapers per day.

Good things about newborn diapers

  • Umbilical cord stubs: It takes about 1-4 weeks for the sensitive umbilical cord to completely dry-up and fall-off.  Diapers designed for newborns typically have a low-rise feature to give extra space for the umbilical cord.

  • Less diaper bulk: Newborn babies are already very small, and extra diaper bulk is something some parents want to avoid.

  • Skin sensitivities: Newborn babies have incredibly sensitive skin.  Cloth diapers are a great choice for preventing rashes, and are the preferred choice vs. using disposable diapers.

Alternatives to newborn sized cloth diapers:

  • Prefolds or flats: Prefolds will fit baby no matter the size, because you fold the diaper and determine the fit.  Prefolds are also an inexpensive diapering choice, so you can easily afford to purchase the 26+ diapers you will need to diaper a newborn.

  • One-Size cloth diapers that have low weight ranges:  There are plenty of diapers designed to fit baby from birth through potty training, and many of these brands and styles fit babies starting at 6 or 7 pounds.  These sizes will accommodate most newborn babies.

  • Disposable Diapers: Although I usually shy from disposable diapers, you will be receiving a package of disposable diapers from the hospital.  Unless you are very organized, chances are you're not going to be cloth diapering while you're in the hospital.  Use up the disposable diaper package you receive, and chances are your baby will have grown quite a bit before you run out.  This will also allow time for meconium (black tarry poop) to pass out of baby, and avoid staining on cloth diapers.

For a good list of newborn cloth diapers, and one-size cloth diapers that will fit newborns, visit "My Life as a Work in Progress".  My recommendation for newborn cloth diapers is FuzziBunz Perfect Size diapers in extra small because they fit from 4-12 lbs, are less expensive ($14.95 per diaper), and dry faster than All-in-One style diapers.

The decision to buy newborn sized cloth diapers is a difficult one because no one can predict the size of their baby at birth.  Our daughter was nearly 9 lbs at birth, and had no trouble fitting into any of the One-Sized diapers we purchased.  We purchased prefold diapers before birth, and found those to be an incredible investment for use with a newborn.   I have heard so many positive things about newborn cloth diapers, that I don't think anyone should shy away from cloth because of uncertainty about the size of their baby, or tight budget.

1. Prefold cloth diapers are a great choice for newborn babies.  Here we see a 1 week old, 8.5 pound baby with an umbilical cord stub that is easily accommodated by the diaper.  This prefold is actually a "premium" size that will work from birth through potty training (therefore resulting in a little more diaper bulk).  You can purchase this diapering system through Cotton babies as a "try-it-kit".


  1. Great post! My husband and I discussed purchasing newborn sized diapers and weighed out these pros and cons. We did decide to purchase all different types of AIO, pockets and will also be using prefolds and covers. We'd like to avoid using disposables and since we are using a birth center we won't be getting a free pack of them so its a go!

  2. We used a diaper service (prefolds) for our first daughter, and as a seasoned cloth mama the second time around I want to have our own NB stash. I'm looking for fitteds and AIOs. Thanks for sharing this great resouce!