When it comes to newborns, there are a whole lot of unknowns: Will baby be big? Will baby come early? Will baby be long? Will baby be small? (Just to name a few.) And this mystery directly affects how parents plan to cloth diaper that baby in the early days, weeks, and months. Now, one would think that I’d have this all figured out—cloth diapering a newborn—now that I have my second child. But honestly, it’s not that simple, even the second time around, so I went ahead and put together my top 5 tips for newborn diapering. Here you go:
#1 Don’t have expectations.
Every day is “new” with a newborn. Every day is an adventure and a learning experience, especially if it’s your first baby. But guess what…baby number 2, 3, 4…still wild cards. Like I said before, you still never know what you’re going to get! Sure, you may have learned a thing or two or three from cloth diapering your first, but take it from me: don’t expect it to be the same story the next go-around. My boys were just an ounce different in weight when they were born, and they still had vastly different diapering journeys from the start. I expected we would be in cloth 24/7 from the start with Abram because after all, we’d done this whole cloth diapering thing once before, right? Wrong. He came home in a perfect, prepped and pretty GroVia Newborn All in One, but later that week, we busted out the disposables. It wasn’t part of the plan at all, but I soon realized that the best plan was to not have a set plan at all. Abram was a big baby; we were in the middle of moving; toddlerhood was new to us; and so, when grandma brought home some disposables, we didn’t hesitate to use them up and fit cloth in when we could. Besides, we were still figuring out our groove with types of cloth, which brings me to my next point…
#2 Be flexible and open-minded.
I had a nice newborn stash all set and ready for both my boys. With my first, I had settled on a system before baby even showed up. My mind was made up. I invested most of my money into one type, one system: prefolds and Thirsties covers. And honestly, it worked just OK for us; we did love the brand, but one system just wasn’t practical. We soon found out a varied stash was ideal. This time around, I was much more open-minded. I allowed myself to be flexible with brands and types and tailored to different situations. I had quite a variety on hand—prefolds, flats, AIOs, wool, disposables, pockets, newborn sizes, size one and two wraps, etc. —and it worked out so much better, plus it was a lot less stressful. Abram grew out of newborn sizes within the first week; in fact, I’m pretty sure they never really fit well at all on my chunky man, but I tried anyway since I love them so much. And though I was a bit bummed he didn’t get to use the adorable, teeny tiny GroVia Newborn AIOs very long, I had other options ready to go, ready to try. We found out very quickly that Osocozy prefolds and Thirsties Size One Duo Wraps worked well, but we needed boosters pretty early on for our heavy wetter with a big appetite. Bottom line: None of this could have been predicted or planned for ahead of time.
#3 Don’t give up too early.
Blowouts will happen. Leaks are inevitable. This does not mean you fail. There’s almost always a simple solution to each mishap when it comes to cloth diapering a newborn. I remember getting frustrated with snaps on my newborns. They always seemed to leak. It didn’t take long for me to realize: Velcro was the way to go in the early days. It just worked better for us and guaranteed a snug fit around the waist. I also had a couple major blowouts up the back of Abram and thought I was doing something wrong. Turned out I just needed to go up a size on the rise snaps (because newborns grow SO fast). You also don’t fail if you resort to disposables for a while; maybe you need to catch up on laundry, or sleep, or go out of town. You can take breaks from cloth, especially when you’re recovering from birth or getting into a groove or have visitors in and out. Find what works for you and come back to cloth; just don’t give up altogether.
#4 Take advantage of your resources.
If you have a local diaper service, use it. If you can’t afford it, ask for it as a gift. Often you can rent diapers before you buy, and sometimes they’ll wash diapers for you too. This comes in handy, especially with newborns, when you don’t know how big baby will be or what diapers you like or you don’t have time to wash them. Being able to try different brands and styles before you buy is truly priceless and will likely save you money (and stress) in the long run. If you don’t have this luxury, there are tons and tons of online Facebook groups and websites (*raises hand for DDL*) to get opinions and advice from other cloth diapering parents. You can even find a lot of buy, sell, trade groups to score a deal on some secondhand diapers, which may not be a bad idea if you want newborn sizes at a steal price, since there’s no predicting if they’ll get much use (or any).
#5 Read, read, read reviews.
This expands on number 4 a bit. I find that people tend to write reviews when they are passionate about a product, whether it is positive or negative. Even though you always have to take another person’s review with a grain of salt, of course, I do still find reviews mostly helpful. I’m a review junkie. I like to write reviews and read reviews and like I said, it’s mostly because I’m passionate in one way or another. When I read reviews, I like to give those with experience the benefit of the doubt, even though I may form my own opinion at the end of the day. Cloth diaper reviews are no exception, and there are a lot of them out there (*raises hand* again for DDL). Read them. Consider them. They may steer you in a different direction or open your eyes to a brand that may better suit you and baby. If you don’t feel like seeking out reviews, at least keep reading, as I’ve highlight my two personal faves below.
GroVia Newborn AIO – I’m all about this brand. The quality is superb, and I’d say it’s arguably one of the best diaper brands out there, in my humble opinion. The newborn AIOs specifically have a quick-drying soaker sewn in, and three layers of hemp/cotton, topped with microfleece, which means major absorbency without the soaking wet feeling. They’re ultra-soft, and there’s nothing better than an uber-soft diaper going on a soft, sweet, new-baby bum. The only hang-up, as I mentioned earlier, is that they only fit from 5-12 pounds, give or take, and at $15.95 per diaper, these will add up fast. Honestly, that’s the name of the game with newborn diapers, but I still loved having a few of these around for Abram and Bennett’s first few weeks of life, even though Abram was busting out of them after 2 weeks (around roughly 10 lbs). They fit so snug, so my big boy didn’t get to enjoy them long. But the snug fit was a godsend with those runny, unpredictable newborn poops. Trust me: mamas are selling these used left and right; you can score these secondhand for a reasonable price, or you can buy just a few to rotate into your stash.
Thirsties Size One Duo Wraps – Again, I’m all about this brand, mostly because they make quality products that keep convenience and longevity in mind. Now don’t forget, these are just covers, so they require a flat, prefold, or fitted underneath. (I prefer prefolds secured with a Snappi for a snug fit.) I love that the PUL inside can just be wiped down and worn again (sometimes several times) before needing to be washed. Plus, the leg gussets are crucial for containing newborn poos. Leg gussets are your best friends in the first couple weeks and months of baby’s life, trust me. Plus they fit from 6-18 lbs, so Abram got about 4 months use out of them before jumping to size 2, even though they can last up to 9 months, depending on the baby. The aplix/Velcro has worked wonders for guaranteeing a good fit, but you can still choose snaps if you’d like. We’re going on 2 years with these covers, and so far, the Velcro still sticks and the PUL is not delaminating. They’ve been worth every penny, and the prints are to die for.
At the end of the day, newborns are unpredictable, and so is cloth diapering. Do yourself a favor and don’t stress too much on having a perfect diapering plan laid out before your baby arrives. Take these tips into consideration, and figure it out as you go, just as we do, day in and day out, journeying through parenthood.