Cloth Diapering a Newborn: Yes, you can!

How to cloth diaper your newborn on the cheap

{This is an old post, so the covers mentioned are no longer made. I’ve also since had another baby. Find all my more recent newborn diapering posts here.}

Almost everyone I talk to who is interested in cloth diapering tells me they plan to start when baby’s a few months old. There’s something intimidating about cloth diapering a newborn when the newborn phase in and of itself seems so complicated! I put baby Cub in cloth when he was 4 days old, and haven’t looked back. For Cub #2, I plan to start cloth at the hospital. There are a lot of newborn-sized diapering options. I don’t know of any one-size diapering systems that fit perfectly right from birth for most babies, so from all the Facebook group posts I’ve followed, Mamas recommend that their peers have a newborn-sized option for the first few weeks. That being said, many of these options would cost you upwards of $500, since I strongly recommend having 24 diapers for the newborn stage. 

Want a cheap and easy solution to get a fluffy butt right from the start? If you buy exactly what I list at full price, you’re looking at $125 (with GST). I’ve got lots of ideas on how to reduce that price tag, though!

What I suggest you buy:

Bummis Super Lite Covers, newborn (6-10 lbs) [update, 10/10/2014: The Super Lite cover has been discontinued and replaced by the one-size Simply Lite, however, if you are in Montreal, Boutique Bummis on St. Laurent is still stocking them until they run out of fabric.]

Bummis has other models of newborn-size diaper covers, and I have some of all of them. The ones I preferred hands down were the Super Lites because they fit the trimmest and looked the cutest. At first I was closing the Velcro tabs so they almost touched in the middle, and as Wolfie grew, the tabs grew further and further apart. You can use the same covers multiple times, so you could probably get away with fewer than 8 if you don’t mind rinsing them off and hanging them to dry in between. (For that messy newborn poop!) You can use them through multiple changes if there’s no poop on them. Even if there is some poop, rinse it off and hang the cover to dry. You’ll be able to use it again in a matter of hours.

4 packages of preemie size prefolds (24 in total)

Prefolds are just rectangular pieces of fabric with more layers in the centre for absorbency. You fold them to fit inside the cover and away you go. Newborns poop a lot. I counted 11 poops and 14 pees in one 24 hour cycle, and that was a slow day. You have a lot less laundry to do if you’re just washing a handful of covers and then the soiled prefolds. You can read about the different sizes of Bummis prefolds in this post. Preemie-size prefolds are very small, and labelled for up to 9 lbs. When baby outgrows this size, you can use them as boosters, as rags or as burp cloths.

All you need to cloth diaper a newborn!

If you’re concerned about how small the preemie prefolds are, and that you might not get enough use out of them, you might consider buying the middle size, known as “Infant.” Here’s the difference in how I used both sizes on my newborn:

Options for prefolds on newborns

The larger size of prefold is too big to just fold as a rectangle into a newborn cover: you’ll want to fold it around baby and secure it with a Snappi. As baby grows, this size is perfect to trifold in most one-size covers, or even to use in the pocket of most pocket diapers until baby is about 20 lbs.

If you really want a one-size cover that will fit your newborn, I would suggest trying Bummis’ new Simply Lite. Of all the one-size covers I’ve tried, this one seems most likely to work very early on. You can read about that cover in this review.

Frequency of changes: Now, cloth is not as absorbent as disposables, which are full of super absorbent polymer than holds liquid in the core as a gel. You need to change baby when he’s wet, whereas disposables can hold many pees (I still think you should change him as soon as he’s wet, even in a disposable.). Unlike prefolds, pocket diapers and AIOs usually have a stay-dry layer that helps keep wetness away from baby’s skin. You might find baby is more prone to a rash if you let him sit in his wet prefold for too long. (You can try cutting up a fleece blanket, or buying fleece liners to create this stay-dry layer.) That being said, I don’t think anyone would disagree that when there’s poop, it’s diaper change time (in a ‘sposie or in cloth).  Consider my stats: 11 poops and 14 pees in a 24-hour period. Assuming you would change baby as soon as he poops, regardless of what type of diaper he’s in, I only had 3 pee-only diapers in a full 24 hours. Newborns poop all the time! Almost every change involves poop anyway. I confess I didn’t use a lot of cloth overnight when Cub was very small. I would definitely recommend adding a booster to your prefold if you want to increase absorbency for longer stretches of sleep. (My favourite, which I used when he was tiny and continue to use now that he’s over 25 lbs, is the AMP 3-ply hemp booster.)

Laundry: Super easy! Use some kind of wet bag to line a large pail with a lid. I love my Bummis Fabulous Wet Bag, but you can also order one from my Mom! With 24 prefolds, you can probably get away with doing a load every 1.5 to 2 days, especially if you throw in a few disposables overnight (which I did). I recommend changing a newborn every 2 hours (when she’s awake). Close the Velcro tabs on your covers before throwing them in the pail, and throw the soiled prefolds in as is. No need to rinse or soak: breastmilk poop is water soluble! I just pull the wet bag out and dump its contents, then it, into the wash.

When Cub was small, I was still obsessed with only using a “cloth diaper safe” detergent. Honestly, I used a bunch of the recommended options, including Rockin’ Green, and I also paid very little attention to my wash cycle. I only started having stink issues when we started using other fibres and Cub started on solids. I can’t tell you what the best detergent is for your newborn fluff, since I’m still on my quest to figure that out. Cotton prefolds and covers are very, very forgiving (compared to microfiber and even bamboo and hemp), so don’t worry too much as long as the diapers are coming clean! (And they might come out stained… but that doesn’t mean they aren’t clean. I leave freshly washed (and wet) prefolds out in the sun to remove the stains.)

Want to do it even cheaper?

I fully endorse buying a stash of newborn diapers second hand. Newborn diapers are rarely used more than 3 months, so you’re almost guaranteed to get them in great shape. Watch retailers for sales. Bummis products don’t go on sale that often, however, Black Friday promotions and Boxing Day promotions see major cloth retailers marking down everything. usually offers a discount on Bummis products around Canada Day, since Bummis is Canadian! (If you’re a first-time buyer, code MamanLoupsDenAgain will save you $10! exp. June 29, 2014) If you live in Montreal, hit up the Boutique Bummis on St-Laurent. They have sale bins in the back where they sell “seconds” quality covers for 50% off.

You can also make your own prefolds. There’s nothing really fancy about them: if you can sew in a straight line (I cannot), then you can make them yourself. Check out Pinterest for patterns!

Keep in mind that you can re-sell your newborn stash for part of what you paid, and use that money to fund your one-size diaper stash when your baby’s ready!

Do you plan on cloth diapering your newborn? If you are a cloth diapering pro, what worked best for you when your Cub was teeny tiny?

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10 responses to “Cloth Diapering a Newborn: Yes, you can!”

  1. I can’t seem to find super lite covers. Has Bummis stopped making them? What would you recommend instead? Bummis Super Brite? Bummis Original? A different brand?

  2. […] stash right away. However, that is not the norm. Maman Loup’s Den offers a small guide to cloth diapering your newborn without breaking the bank.  And keep in mind how much you can save by using the same newborn stash […]

  3. […] diapering began for me with Bummis: prefolds and covers are the most economical newborn diaper option around! I feel pretty lucky to consider Boutique Bummis my local cloth diaper dealer shop. Cub was […]

  4. […] sized diaper options: why buy different sizes when there are one size options? (Granted, I had used newborn sized covers/prefolds for the first 3 […]

  5. and waking grass. People had thrown off gray raincoats and slipped on sandals. It was hard not to feel wonderful.On May 1, in our 700 year old town, across the square cheap nfl jerseys in house brand portfolio to include Peripheral, Sound Quest and Best Kits Harnesses. In 2006, AAMP of America began focusing heavily on shifting its corporate cheap nfl jerseys ensure they have the products and tools necessary to find successful carrying AAMP of America merchandise. Additionally, he plans to approach markets outside what is

  6. Certainly, cloth diapers are very good for newborns. I have been cloth diapers and I must say that it has been a wonderful experience. I strongly recommend it

  7. […] also impressed with the construction, which marries many of the qualities I enjoyed using newborn prefolds and covers with the benefits of a one-piece design that will suit those looking for a diaper as similar to a […]

  8. Sarah

    This is an excellent article. I found a similar fit with a thirsties size small cover but they also make size XS which would compare with the Bummis. Even better if you find it used.

  9. Theresa Hover

    We’re going to try cloth diapering from the beginning. My plan is to use prefolds and covers. I think we’ll get a dozen of each new born and infant, that way my husband can trifold and I can snappi, and then the infant ones will get a used longer. Thanks for the pictures showing how those two sizes can be used differently on the same size baby!

  10. […] With Cub, I used prefolds and covers for around $100, as I explain in this post. […]

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Welcome to my Wolf Pack!

My name is Lindsay and I am a 40-year-old mama of four trying to live an eco-friendly, budget-friendly life! I am a substitute teacher and Child Passenger Safety technician in Calgary, Alberta. Join me on my adventures!

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