Helping new and expecting moms through the messiness of pregnancy, babies, and toddlerhood.

How to Cloth Diaper Your Newborn: An Ultimate Guide

Thinking about cloth diapering your newborn baby? Wondering if newborn cloth diapers are really worth investing in? 

I was on the fence about using newborn fluff, but after cloth diapering two kiddos, I’m so glad we did. It was so nice to not have to deal with blowouts and trips to the store. Plus, those adorable prints are just irresistible.  

In this post, we’ll help you decide if newborn cloth diapers are worth it for your family, how many newborn cloth diapers you’ll need, and the best types of cloth diapers for newborns.We’ll also talk about how to use your fluff when the umbilical stump is still attached, how to wash your cloth diapers, and answer some other frequently asked about newborn fluff. 

*This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure here

Are Newborn Cloth Diapers Worth It?

Your baby might not fit into these very long, but if you’re planning on having more babies, then yes, newborn (NB) cloth diapers are definitely worth investing in. They’re also worth it if you tend to have smaller babies, as they’ll be able to wear them longer. 

You can always buy pre-loved (second hand) fluff or put them on your baby registry to save even more money. And, even if you only use your newborn cloth for 6 weeks, they’ll still be such great condition that you could resell them for some extra cash or to buy more one size (OS) diapers. They also make great doll diapers. 😉 

Newborn cloth is also plenty worth it because they’re healthier for your baby and better for our environment. Not to mention, they’re great at containing those newborn squirts

Every cloth diaper brand is different, so it’s difficult to say when you can actually begin using one size (OS) diapers. But, most OS diapers don’t fit well until your baby is 10+ pounds. And, you should be able to use most of your newborn diapers until your baby is about 14-16 pounds, sometimes even longer. 

When Should I Start Cloth Diapering My Newborn?

Most newborn cloth diapers will fit around 6 pounds, and there are even a few brands that fit around 4 pounds. But, when you start cloth diapering is really up to you. 

Obviously, if you have a wee preemie, you might not be able to use them for awhile. But, many moms do start cloth diapering straight from birth. If you’re planning on using cloth in the hospital, it might be a good idea to pack some all-in-ones (AIOs) to make life easier. 

Personally, we waited a few weeks with each baby. Just to give us time to adjust to life with a new baby without having to worry about extra laundry. Our first baby was only 5 lbs, so she didn’t fit into most of her newborn diapers yet anyways. It was also nice to not have to worry about the meconium staining them either. 

How Many Newborn Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

How many cloth diapers you need really depends on how much money you want to spend and how often you want to wash your diapers.

Newborns typically go through about 10-14 changes in one day alone. Sometimes even more. I remember there was a few days with our first where we went through 20 diapers!

So, if you want to wash every other day, I’d get a minimum of 24 NB diapers. But, even then, I’d have a small pack of backup disposables just in case. 

Really, 32-36 newborn diapers is more like it. You just never really know with newborns. And, that can be in AIOs, prefolds, flats, fitteds, whatever route(s) you decide to go.  

I think we ended up with about 34 NB diapers that we were able to use with both our babies, and that seemed to be a good amount for us. You’ll also want to be sure to grab 2-3 dozen wipes, if you’re planning on using cloth for those as well (which, I highly recommend). 

How Do You Use Newborn Cloth Diapers with the Umbilical Cord?

If your baby is itty bitty and their newborn diaper is rubbing against their umbilical cord stump, then it’s best to wait to use your fluff until the cord has fallen off and is fully healed. 

There are, however, several cloth diaper brands that have an umbilical cord snap-down on their newborn diapers to help prevent chafing and irritation during the healing process. Other brands have a nice big dip in the front to allow for the umbilical stump

Our first baby’s umbilical cord was already healed by the time we started using cloth with her, but we didn’t have any issues using the snap-down and dip features with our second. 

The Best Newborn Cloth Diapers

The amount of cloth diapers on the market can be overwhelming. Let me help make this process just a little easier for you by sharing our favorite newborn fluff. 

Best Newborn Diaper with Umbilical Cutout

The Blueberry NB Simplex is the best newborn all-in-one diaper out there. Hands down. It comes with a convenient umbilical cord snap-down feature, so your baby can heal while still wearing cloth. It has a great fit and comes in adorable prints. 

Blueberry’s quality is great, and their diapers seem to hold up better than many cloth diaper brands on the market. They fit babies 6-16 pounds, so your baby will also be able to wear them longer than most newborn fluff. 

They have rolled elastic around the legs and butt to help prevent leaks and blowouts, but like with any NB AIO, they just simply aren’t as absorbent as prefolds and fitteds. There’s only so much fabric you can fit into a tiny AIO. 

Pros

  • Umbilical snap-down feature
  • Easy for other caregivers to use
  • Last a long time
  • Made in the USA

Cons

  • Too big for under 6 lbs
  • Not as absorbent as prefolds/fitteds
  • More costly

Check price on Amazon and Nicki’s Diapers

Best Newborn Fitted Diapers

Fitted diapers are a great option for newbies, because they’re pretty darn absorbent and you don’t have to fret over folding. Cloth-eez Workhorse fitteds are 100% pure cotton, so they’re nice and soft against your baby’s skin and super simple to wash. 

Fitteds don’t have a waterproof outer layer though, so you’ll need to be sure to pick up a few PUL or wool covers to use with them. The good news is is that you can reuse the covers a few times before washing, so this option is pretty budget-friendly. 

Pros 

  • Great price 
  • User-friendly
  • Extra absorbent

Cons

  • Requires a separate cover
  • A bit bulky

Check price on Amazon

Best Bang for Your Buck

If you’re looking to save the most money, then prefolds really are the way to go. They’re the best cheap newborn cloth diapers you’ll find. They’re also the most absorbent option for newborn babies. 

We’ve been using OsoCozy cotton prefolds for three years now, and they’ve been great to us! They’re unbleached, super soft, and pretty darn durable. They also work great as burp cloths and changing pad covers

Much like with fitteds, you will need an additional diaper cover, but you can usually reuse the cover a few times before washing. Complex folds can be intimidating at first, but they really aren’t too difficult during the newborn stage. And, if you really aren’t a fan of folding, you can also just tri-fold it like a pad. 

Pros

  • Budget-friendly 
  • Versatile
  • Super absorbent

Cons

  • Require a cover
  • Folding can be daunting 

Check price on Amazon 

Best Newborn Cloth Diaper Cover

Rumparooz covers were our absolute favorite in the newborn stage. We’ve used them for two babies, and they’re still in such great condition that we can use them again if we decide to have a third.

They worked great with our preemie baby, since the fit ranges from 4-15 lbs. They also have a dip in the front for the umbilical cord stump. 

I love the vibrant colors and fun prints these come in. And, we hardly had any leaks and blowouts, as there’s elastic around the butt, legs, and belly, and double gussets around the legs

The cover is perfect for pairing with prefolds, flats, and fitteds, and you can reuse it multiple times until soiled. However, these pairings can make the fit a tad bulky, making it difficult to get pants over your baby’s bum. 

Pros

  • Dip in front for umbilical stump
  • Double gussets
  • Fun prints
  • Great for preemies 
  • High quality

Cons

  • Some moms have had issues with leaks around the sewn logo on the back 
  • Bulky fit with prefolds and fitteds

Check price on Amazon and Nicki’s Diapers

Best Cloth Diapers for Preemies

If you have a preemie, then Lil Joeys are the way to go. These tiny cloth diapers fit from about 4-12 lbs. I really wish we would have had a few more of these with our preemie baby. 

Lil Joeys come in a convenient 2 pack with vibrant colors. They have a handy snap-down feature for umbilical cord healing, and they also have double gussets around the legs to help prevent leaks. However, I’ve found that it’s pretty difficult to get poop stains out of these gussets.

And, like most NB AIOs, these aren’t going to be the most absorbent option. They also only fit until 12 pounds, so they might not fit your baby for very long. 

Pros

  • Perfect for preemies
  • Umbilical snap-down feature 
  • Double gussets 
  • Easy to use 

Cons

  • Don’t fit for long
  • Gussets attract stains 
  • Not super absorbent
  • More costly 

Check price on Amazon and Nicki’s Diapers

Tips for Cloth Diapering a Newborn with Prefolds

I truly believe that prefolds are the best route to go if you’re planning to cloth diaper your newborn. Newborn babies just go through SO many diapers in one day, that the cost effectiveness of prefolds just makes sense. Plus, when you’re done with them, you can use them as changing pads or cleaning rags. 

Prefolds are also one of the most absorbent options for newborn diapers. 

If folding seems too intimidating, you can also just fold it up like a pad. However, I will say, that the folds are helpful during the newborn months. And, they’re really not too hard to do, as your baby doesn’t move much yet. 

If you’re planning on using the different folds, then be sure to invest in a few snappis to hold the prefold in place. 

Practice on some stuffies before your baby arrives, and try out some different folds to see what you like best. Jelly rolls are awesome for newborns, because the rolls help hold their loose poops in, preventing the covers from getting soiled each time. 

How to Wash Newborn Cloth Diapers

Newborns poop a lot. But, the good news is that breastmilk is water soluble, so if your baby is exclusively breastfed, there is no need to rinse the breastmilk poo before throwing your diapers in the wash. Hooray! 

You just need to be sure to run a rinse and spin or short wash cycle before your main wash in the machine. And, since newborn cloth diapers are so tiny, you may need to bulk up your diaper load a bit otherwise they won’t get cleaned properly. You can bulk up your load with hand towels, mama cloth, or OS fluff if you have another kid still in cloth.

Everyone’s exact wash routine will be a little different, as it all depends on your machine, what detergent you’re using, and your water hardness. In general, you should have a short wash or rinse cycle and then a main wash with the soiled setting on heavy. 

If you’re using a synthetic detergent, you can use all cold water, but if you’re using plant-based, you’ll need to use hot water in the main wash. Many moms use trusty Tide, but I prefer plant-based and have had good luck with Seventh Generation Ultra Power Plus. 

You can find a full list of recommended laundry detergents on the Fluff Love University Detergent Index

More FAQ for Cloth Diapering a Newborn

  1. How often should you change your newborn’s cloth diaper? In order to prevent diaper rash and leaks, try to change your newborn with each feeding or every 2 hours. You might find yourself changing every 30 minutes sometimes with those newborn squirts. I wouldn’t worry about trying to find a nighttime solution just quite yet, as you’ll want to be keeping track of your baby’s wet and dirty diapers during those first weeks. However, if you get lucky and have a baby that sleeps through the night, then you can start trying out these different overnight cloth diaper solutions
  2. What kind of diaper cream should I use?  Some diaper creams can cause repelling issues with cloth, so you’ll want to be sure to use one that is considered cloth-safe. We like to use plain coconut oil and Bordeaux’s Natural Butt Paste, but you can find a full guide to cloth-safe diaper creams here
  3. Which brand is best? There’s really no right answer to this question, as every parent has different preferences and every diaper will fit your baby a little differently as they grow. However, with that being said, I would aim for quality over quantity. I have found the higher priced diapers typically last much longer than the cheaper ones. We have had some good luck with a few cheapies though. I’ve tried so many different brands, and I really like Rumparooz and Blueberry for newborns and Smart Bottoms and Best Bottoms for one-size diapers. 
  4. Are there any OS diapers that work well for newborns? If you tend to have bigger babies or just don’t want to invest much in a specific newborn stash, then you can try to hack some OS diapers. It’s usually just difficult to use OS with newborns because their little legs are so skinny. However, some moms have been able to use Lighthouse Kids Company diapers by 7 lbs and Best Bottoms at 8 lbs. 
  5. How do you combat leaks with newborns? In full honesty, leaks are kind of hard to troubleshoot with newborns. It can sometimes be difficult to get rid of gaps around their tiny chicken legs and find the right amount of absorbency. Plus, they’re just always peeing and pooping. If you really want to avoid leaks as much as possible, I highly recommend giving wool covers a try.

That Precious Newborn Fluff

Your baby might not be in newborn fluff for long, but it’s certainly worth it, as it’s economical, healthier for your baby, and better for our environment.

Newborns do poop quite a bit, so it’s best to have around 32-36 diapers. And, the great news is that there’s no need to rinse the breastmilk poo since it’s water soluble. 

I recommend trying out a few different brands and styles before purchasing your entire stash, but if you’re looking to save the most money, then covers and prefolds or flats are the way to go. Prefolds are also one of the most absorbent options for newborns, have great longevity, and are super versatile. 

But, no matter which route you go, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with how precious your newborn looks in all those cute fluffy prints. 

What About You?

Are you planning on using cloth for your newborn? Share your best cloth diapering newborn tips and tricks with us in the comments below, and be sure to share this post with other moms-to-be. 

Got More Questions?

Didn’t get all the answers to your questions? Need more tips and tricks to get you started with cloth? Be sure to check out these related posts: 

Cloth Diapering 101: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started with Cloth Diapers

25 Brilliant Tips for the Cloth Diaper Newbie

9 Cloth Diaper Hacks You’ll Wish You’d Known Sooner

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