Newborn Cloth Diapering: The Basics

Using cloth diapers on a newborn may something you are looking forward to, or dreading, or both.  There is no easy way to put this- it is hard.  Not hard in the sense that using the diapers on your baby is hard, that is the easy part.  It is hard because there are so many options to choose from yet you don’t everything you need to know about your baby in order to make the best decision!  So frustrating, right?!


The video embedded into this post will shed some light on many of the options available to you.  Other than the unknowns of how big your baby will be (will they even fit into newborn diapers, and for how long?) other factors in deciding what to buy when come right down to price.

Newborn diapers will fit babies up to about 14-16 pounds but this will depend on your baby’s build as well.  One Size diapers, by comparison, fit beginning at 10+ pounds so if you had planned on starting with one size diapers you probably won’t be able to.

I’ve broken down a few different variables in the newborn diaper choices for you.  I didn’t include a few because they are just too obscure and would be confusing to new parents.  Those are best left to a “201” style post.

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Velcro Diapers on newborns-[/typography]

Velcro/Hook and Loop/ Aplix/ Touch Tape.  These are all the names for what we all commonly call Velcro.  On newborn diapers, a velcro option is great because it is easiest to use for everyone.  With an entire area to choose from, you can get a perfect fit around the tiny waist by pulling it tightly and then securing.  The downside is that depending on the diaper, the velcro could rub the tummy or the umbilical stump of the baby if it rolls down at all and faces their skin.  Knowing this in advance, you can keep an eye out and make adjustments if you see this happening.

Velcro diapers on newborns pros/cons

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Snapping Diapers on newborns-[/typography]

For older babies and toddler snapping diapers are superior to velcro diapers because they are durable and prevent babies from removing their own diapers.  For newborns, it is more of a toss-up and up to user preference.  Snaps are more durable but the span of time the diapers are in use is shortened to just a few months.  If you’d like these to continue being used for the next child, or for re-sale, snaps could still be a better option for heavy use over many children.  Newborn snapping diapers do have the advantage of often coming with an umbilical stump snap down which give the stump room without rubbing the diaper.  I showed many snapping options like the GroVia newborn, Smart Bottoms, Lil’ Joey, and Kissaluvs.  The downside to snaps is that they are harder to put on for new parents and older caregivers.  On newborn diapers, this is magnified since the diaper is tiny and the baby is tiny!  Plus babies love to froggy leg, making any diaper change more challenging.

Snapping diapers for newborns pros/cons

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]All-in-Ones for newborns-[/typography]

All-in-Ones are definitely the easiest way to diaper, newborns or toddlers, because they are simple to put on and simple to wash/dry.  It is a one step process all around.  They can come in velcro or snaps.  The obvious pros of ease of use are also their downfall.  Many of the popular AIO’s for newborns have sewn down soakers like the Lil’ Joeys, Kissa’s newborn All-in-One,  GroVia Newborn, and bumGenius newborn All-in-One.  Cleaning and drying these is tricker.  Some options like the new Smart Bottoms newborn have a snap in soaker (Snap-in-One) that is semi attached, making cleaning and drying easier.

All-in-One diapers for newborns pros/cons

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Fitteds for newborns-[/typography]

I can’t say enough about fitted diapers for newborns.  The entire diaper is absorbent and often they are made from natural materials like cotton.  This combination is absorbent enough for the heaviest wetter, and for babies who begin sleeping for longer stretches of time, pairing a good fitted with a good cover can mean they baby wakes up with dry sheets (or you wake up with a dry lap!).  My favorite for my son was the Kissaluvs 0 (KL0) shown in the video.  I also showed the Sustainable Babyish newborn fitted.

Fitted diapers for newborns pros/cons

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Flats and Prefolds for newborns-[/typography]

Prefolds and flats are the way to go if you want to save money and find an effective diaper.  Either option can run as low as $1 upwards of $12 a piece, but the heigher end prices reflect flats or prefolds made from higher end materials like velours or bamboo.  In the video we used newborn Bummis (shown under a cover only) and in the stacks of prefolds, geffen baby prefolds (under the Thirsties cover) and the green edge in the product shots.  The flat shown was also a Geffen Baby with the orange edging and it was a pre-flat, not a true flat.  To use prefolds or flats you will need a Snappi or a Boingo to close them, or pins if you dare!

Flats and prefolds for newborns pros/cons

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Dual Sized diapers for newborns-[/typography]

To save money and have your diapers fit from birth and beyond early infancy there is the “dual-sized” diaper option.  These diapers aren’t newborn diapers but they aren’t full one sizes either.  Dual sizes usually begin fitting babies around 6 pounds and last up to 20.  Examples are Applecheeks Size 1 and Thirsties Duo Wraps and All-in-One’s in Size 1.  One of my favorites for my son was the Happy Heiny Mini One Size (not shown in the video.)


[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Covers for Newborns-[/typography]

If you choose a system like fitteds, flats, prefolds (or contours, like a fitted but without snaps or velcro) that needs a cover to be waterproof, there are still several options within this category.  Most covers are made from PUL or TPU which is a waterproof material.  The best type of newborn cover will have “double gussets” around the legs.  This extra wall of protection is helpful in containing those watery newborn poop explosions.  Wipeable covers are a bonus.  If the interior of the cover is shiny you can wipe off any small messes and reuse the cover.  It can be advantageous to anyone trying to get by with a smaller number of covers on a budget.  If you go to dual sized covers, the Thirsties Size 1 is a good one that comes in both snaps or velcro.   They also make an extra small for newborns, which was a favorite of mine.  The Kissaluvs Newborn cover fit Tinaya very well and as a bonus, can work with their two-step inserts as an all-in-two.  Wool and fleece are other cover options.

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]All in Two diapers for newborns-[/typography]

I didn’t cover any all-in-two options for newborns because I don’t think they are the best option.  The point of AI2 systems is to save money by reusing the cover and using several snap-in or lay-in inserts, changing when they are dirty.  With newborns, they usually poop often and the poop is runny and goes cover to cover.  Trying to use this as a full-time solution will leave you disappointed because often, the cover won’t be useable.  Even using covers and pad folded flats or trifolded prefolds can be risky!  I’m not saying you can’t have ANY, but to base your newborn diapering method on AI2’s would be frustrating.  If you go in understanding that you will need more covers (probably 8-10 for a newborn) in order to wash every 1.5-3 days and you are OK with it, then this system would be fine.

[typography font=”Crafty Girls” size=”20″ size_format=”px”]Find what works for you![/typography]

In the end, many of you will opt to try a little of each.  Few parents rely on a system that is 100% one brand or style of diaper.  What works for many parents, and the method I used, was to have inexpensive prefolds and covers as the bulk, and have cute fitteds and all-in-ones for when I was going out of the home and wanted easier diapers to change.  Like I said in the video, cloth diapering should be fun and not stressful.  If your partner and family are able to support your decision to start from day 1 (even in the hospital if you deliver there) then please do!  If you would rather wait a week until the stump falls, that is good.  If you want to wait a few weeks and start with one size diapers, well, that is your choice too!  This post is purely here for reference and support no matter your choice.  Every family will do things differently, will choose different diapers, will love different diapers, and will all be doing a wonderful thing by cloth diapering their baby at any age and stage.

In the video I also mentioned ways to save on newborn diapers such as diaper rental programs, diaper services, and buying used.  If you want more resources on this topic there is a post already: Cloth Diapering a Newborn Without Breaking the Bank


Between all that photoshopping and filming and video editing I’m not sure I have much else to add to this post!  A special thank you to my beautiful and surprisingly cooperative newborn cloth diaper model, Taniya, who allowed me to change her a record number of times and hardly protested except when she needed a good burp.  The diapers used for this video and post were primarily sent by the brands themselves- GroVia, Kissaluvs, Geffen Baby, Applecheeks, Smart Bottoms, Bummis, and Chelory.  The Sustainable babyish, Lil’ Joeys, and Tini Fit by Tots Bots were provided by Dream Diapers (one of my awesome advertisers).  The Thirsties, Econobum, and bumGenius diapers were purchased by me for this post/video.  I’ve been working up to this video for a while and the demand has been high.  I hope it has lived up to the expectations and the hype!


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