We didn’t start cloth diapering Avery until she was a year old. I had great intentions of starting right at the beginning. Did the research, even bought a few different kinds of diapers, but I was just too overwhelmed. It seemed too complicated and I just kept putting it off.
I would like to say that we finally switched over to save the environment after using disposables for a year. Or even to save money. But the real reason was because I heard that it helped kids potty train earlier. And if there is one part of parenting that I don’t care for, it is changing diapers!
Once we started, and I saw how easy it really was, I knew that if we were to ever have another baby we would start off in cloth.
Fast forward a few years. As I was going through everything getting ready for our new baby girl, I pulled out the old cloth diapers to see what we would need to purchase.
Even though I had mastered cloth diapering a toddler, I realized I knew absolutely nothing about cloth diapering a newborn. And I didn’t find a whole lot out there geared specifically toward newborns. So here it is. Everything that I learned, through research and good old trial and error, all in one place.
Here’s what you will need to cloth diaper your newborn:
With Avery, we used bumGenius 4.0 One-Size diapers, which are supposed to fit from birth through potty training. We loved them so I wanted to stick with them this time around. But almost everyone I talked to said that they didn’t fit very well until about 10 pounds. So I started researching newborn sized diapers.
Have you ever seen newborn cloth diapers? Oh my goodness they are tiny and so darn cute. But they can be expensive since they are used for such a relatively short amount of time. Some people opt to use disposables until their baby is big enough to fit into the one-size, and others choose to rent. I found a great deal so we ended up buying them, and I am so glad we did since she is still wearing them at 4 months. Plus, they are pretty easy to sell when you are finished with them, which will hopefully help recoup a lot of the investment.
We use the bumGenius Newborn Cloth Diapers. They are all one piece, fasten with velcro, and are basically a thicker, cuter version of a disposable diaper. Perfect for when you are overwhelmed and sleep deprived in those first few weeks. We have 24 diapers, and end up doing wash about every other day, sometimes a bit more often.
We started using cloth diapers on Alessia the day we came home from the hospital. She was a little over 6 pounds when we brought her home, and the newborn diapers were still a bit big on her. I felt like the top of the diaper was a bit too close to her cord stump and the leg openings could have been tighter. (She is 12 days old in the top photo, and about 7 pounds) But by the time her umbilical cord fell off they were fitting her perfectly, and they are just now starting to get too small at 12 and a half pounds.
I am so happy that we bought the newborn diapers instead of waiting for her to grow into the 4.0s. She was a lot tinier than we thought she would be at birth, so we have ended up getting a lot of use out of the newborn size diapers. And there is a huge difference between the newborn size and the 4.0, which you can see in the photos below.
The bumGenius newborn diaper is on the left, and thebumGenius 4.o, on the smallest setting with the newborn insert is on the right.
The bumGenius 4.o, on the smallest setting with the newborn insert is on the left and the bumGenius newborn diaper is on the right. (Not exactly sure why I switched sides in this photo)
bumGenius 4.0 on the bottom, bumGenius newborn diaper on top
For comparison, here she is in the bumGenius newborn diapers on the top, and the bumGenius 4.0s (on the smallest setting) on the bottom. She is 18 weeks and weighs 12 and a half pounds in these photos.
If you are looking to keep things simple and streamlined, cloth wipes are the way to go. Although it might seem like it would add even more work, the opposite is true. Instead of separating the disposable wipes from the diaper, you just throw the cloth wipes into the dirty diaper bag along with the cloth diapers and wash everything together. Easy.
There are a few different ways to moisten cloth wipes. You can keep the wipes dry and spray each wipe before you use it. You can keep the wipes dry and spray baby’s bottom before wiping. Or you can pre-moisten all of your wipes and keep them in some sort of a container so they are ready to use. After trying all three methods I found that keeping pre-moistened wipes in a wipes warmer was the easiest for us. And after figuring out how to fold them the right way, they pull out of the wipes warmer just like disposable wipes.
We have 4 dozen all natural cotton flannel wipes from TooshieWipes, and it has been the perfect amount. I have never run out of wipes, and I use them liberally with each diaper change. They are super soft and wash up nicely.
Our pediatrician recommended using nothing but water on the wipes for the first month. After that I started adding a drop or two of the Lusa Organics Baby Wipe Juice mixed with water. It smells so nice and doesn’t have any of the toxic chemicals that disposable wipes do.
Washing & Drying
This is the part that confused me the most before we started cloth diapering. There are definitely a few steps that have to be followed, but once you get the hang of it, it is really easy.
This only pertains to newborn diapers, with exclusively breastfed babies, which is absolutely the easiest kind of mess to clean up. Since breastfed baby poop is completely water soluble, you don’t have to do a thing after taking the diaper off of the baby. Just secure the velcro tabs and then throw the whole diaper (& wipes) into the dirty diaper bag. Every other day, when it is time to wash the diapers, just carry the bag to the laundry room, unzip the bottom of the bag, (or open the top, depending on which bag you use) and throw the whole bag and all the diapers into the washing machine, poop and all. It seems really gross, but it is the same as throwing a towel with yogurt on it into the wash. Seriously.
To wash the diapers, I first run a cold wash, with no detergent, to rinse all of the waste out. Then I do a hot wash with cloth diaper safe detergent, and an extra rinse at the end. (This is all in a front loading HE washer.) After everything is nice and clean, I put everything into the dryer on low heat for one cycle, then lay the diapers out to dry the rest of the way.
If any of the diapers come out of the wash discolored, I hang them in the sun and within an hour they are perfectly white again. We have big windows in our laundry room, so I just strung some twine across the room to hang them from.
Our tiny newborn cloth diapers are actually easier to store than disposables. We used to buy the huge value size boxes of diapers, which took up a ton of closet space. Then we would keep a basket full on the changing table, which would inevitably run out in the middle of the night.
Now everything we need to cloth diaper fits right in the dresser that we use as a changing table. In one of the top drawers of the dresser, we keep all of the diapers and doublers, the wipes juice, a bottle to mix the wipes solution, a small jar of coconut oil, the extra dirty diaper bag, and any extra wipes. The diapers are all stored open flat like file folders, so I can see how many we have left and they are easy to grab and use. On top of the dresser is the wipes warmer which holds enough wipes to last a few days between washings.
Leaks, Blowouts & Rashes
We unfortunately had quite a few leaks at the beginning, until I realized that we just weren’t fastening the diaper tight enough. Our baby girl is really tiny, with skinny little legs, and since we weren’t attaching the diaper tight enough, there were gaps at her thighs which was leading to leaks. Once we solved that problem things were clean and dry. For a while. Then the leaks started happening again, mainly at night. This time it wasn’t a fit issue. We just have a heavy wetter who was outgrew the absorbency of the newborn diapers but not the fit.
The diapers are tiny and not really meant to be used with extra liners, but we had to do something to up the absorbency. So I took a bunch of Gerber organic pre-fold cloth diapers that we had used previously as burp cloths and turned them into newborn doublers. I cut them each in half, then zig-zag stitched the cut edge to finish them. For night time and naps, I fold the doubler in thirds and place it right inside the diaper. It does make the diaper bulkier, but it works like a charm to prevent leaks.
We have never once had a blowout in cloth diapers. And considering how many we had when we used disposables, that alone makes cloth diapering worth it!
The only time our little one has ever had diaper rash was when we used disposables for a day when we were out of town. She has never had a problem with rashes in the cloth diapers. If she ever has any red areas, we rub a bit of coconut oil (which is safe for cloth diapers) on her diaper area and it has cleared right up.
And thats it! This may be the longest post I’ve ever written, so if you read the whole thing I am impressed. If you have any questions, ask away. I will try my best to answer in the comments or in a separate post. I know I spent hours and hours searching for answers to the millions of questions I had when I started, so I would love to help save you time!