How to Cloth Diaper Your Newborn with Flour Sack Towels

How to Cloth Diaper Your Newnborn with Flour Sack Towels - Maman Loup's Den

One of the puzzles of cloth diapering is whether or not it is worthwhile to invest in newborn cloth diapers.

Will one-size diapers truly fit on your newborn? 

How long will newborn diapers even fit on my baby? 

The answer to those frequently-asked questions is “It depends.” It depends on how big your baby is at birth. It depends on how fast she grows. It depends on which brand of one-size diapers you choose. It depends on your plans for future children (if you plan on having more babies, or split the cost with another pregnant mama, a newborn stash may be more affordable). 

So what if you’ve got your full stash of one-size diapers, but you want to make sure you can cloth diaper right from birth? Let me propose a very inexpensive solution: flour sack towels and newborn-size diaper covers.

Flour sack towels are just big cotton kitchen towels, easily found at Superstore/Loblaws (in Canada) Walmart or Target. I have a full post on finding and using flour sack towels here.

flour sack towels at Walmart

As you can see, flour sack towels (FSTs) are about $1.40 a piece at Walmart in Canada. (“Linges” is dishtowel in French, and I took this photo at my Walmart in Montreal.) 

Here’s a picture I took using a Bummis prefold, Öko trifold and BumGenius microfibre insert to give you a sense of how big a FST is unfolded:

Flour Sack Towel Size Reference

Of course, a FST is only one layer of cotton. The absorbency comes from folding it up to get multiple layers.

Essentially, you can use a FST on your newborn like Mamas used (and still use) flat diapers on their babies.

The way I first tried it on Little Miss Cub, when our washing machine crapped out and I needed something easy to hand wash—YES, I hand washed diapers for a week—was using the Mini Kite Fold, which I learned from Kim at Dirty Diaper Laundry.

Flour Sack Towels in Mini Kite Fold in Thirsties Cover - Maman Loup's Den

The snug fit of our Thirsties XS diaper cover (Thirsties were my favourite newborn covers) over this fold makes it perfect for containing blowouts. 

As you know, I like to choose the path of least resistance when parenting. So after a few mini kite folds, I decided I just wanted to use our FSTs and covers like any “all-in-two” diapering system:

Flour Sack Towel Folded inside Newborn Cloth Diaper Cover ~ Maman Loup's Den

Above, I’ve folded the FST to fit in our tiniest cover, our Thirsties “preemie” size. 

Flour Sack Towel in a Pad Fold for Newborn Cloth Diaper Covers - Maman Loup's Den

Like this, we were easily set for two hours of absorbency. (The equivalent of using a prefold.) What I liked doing, to stretch the time between changes, was boost my pad fold using other boosters in my stash. Assuming you are using your flour sack towels as a bridge before using your one-size covers, you are likely to already have some boosters in your stash!

For example, I folded a BumGenius newborn microfibre insert inside my flour sack towel, creating an absorbent core!

BumGenius Newborn Insert Inside a Flour Sack Towel ~ Maman Loup's Den

I also used a Funky Fluff hemp booster:


If you want, you can also use microfibre dishcloths from the dollar store inside your flour sack towels! (Remember, do not put the microfibre against baby’s bottom, always cover it in the cotton FST.)

Our earliest fitting one-size diaper covers were our Best Bottoms. Here it is on its smallest rise, with an AMP hemp booster on top of our FST. Note that for a stay dry feel, you can cut up a fleece blanket to create a liner!

Best Bottom Cover used with a Flour Sack Towel ~ Maman Loup's Den

Benefits of using Flour Sack Towels & Newborn Covers:

  • Choose an easily rinsed newborn cover (Thirsties are my favourite) and you can get away with buying 6 covers and 24 towels to get you through til your one-size stash fits.
  • Combine with the boosters from your one-size stash to add absorbency.
  • Newborn covers have the umbilical cut out, allowing you to use from birth.
  • Your flour sack towels can be used as burp cloths or rags, or as boosters in your one-size stash once you’re passed the newborn phase.

Have you used Flour Sack Towels as a cheap cloth diapering hack?

21 responses to “How to Cloth Diaper Your Newborn with Flour Sack Towels”

  1. Caroline M.

    I can’t get over the amount of energy you have for cloth diapering, I’ve cloth diapered 1 and a half children 🙂
    it’s not so easy. Kuddos for all your efforts, energy and your hard working at reviewing all these cloth diapers (and others). I appreciate it!

    1. Lindsay

      Comments like this are what keep me doing what I do. Thank you SO much!

  2. Nadia Poirier

    That is exactly how I cloth diaper my 13 months old at night! I fold a baby flanel sheet, put a Kawaii microfiber insert inside the fold, with a fleece blanket as a liner. And as a cover, I use one with leg gussets. Thirsties, Rumparooz and Sweet Pea are my favorite (and cheap!) brands for a cloth diaper cover. 🙂

    1. Lindsay

      Amazing! If that stops being absorbent enough, kick in some hemp and you’re golden!

  3. Carlin

    I am debating between flats and FST towels when #2 arrives. I’m with you, and would prefer to padfold the FST in the cover and be done with it. Did you find the cover with a padfold was enough to prevent leaking of the breastfeed poo?

    1. Lindsay

      So, if your cover fits well and has double leg gussets, totally! (Like Thirsties sized covers… LOVE LOVE! That said, you definitely get some poop on the cover, so be prepared to rinse it off and hang to dry. I don’t think I ever had any poop OUT of the cover with my Thirsties!

      1. Carlin

        Wonderful! Thank you! FSTs are by far the most economical way we’ve found to cloth diaper. So happy to learn they work well pad folded with a cover.

  4. Sunnie

    Where do you get the snappis at? Thanks, great post, I pinned it!

  5. […] It’s the age-old question: do “one-size” diapers truly fit on newborns? We had a significant newborn diaper stash to test drive for blog reviews, so I did not try a one-size option on Little Miss Cub until she was almost two weeks old. That said, at that age, she weighed the same as many newborns (probably about 7.5 lbs). For sure, there are no one-size diapers that I know of that are suitable for use when the umbilical cord is still attached (correct me if I’m wrong!). Here’s my post about bridging that gap using bridge that gap using flour sack towels and newborn covers. […]

  6. […] 1. Use Prefolds – Although this type of diaper is the least like disposable diapers, they are the most economical. These diapers are what people typically think of when they think of cloth diapering: large squares of fabric that must be pinned to baby. The prefold diapers of today are much different than the big squares that our grandparents used. Many prefolds have extra padding sewn into the middle for absorbency. Even safety pins are outdated in favor of diaper fasteners which close the diapers without the risk of a pin stab. On a really tight budget? Maman Loup has a great tutorial on how to cloth diaper using flour sacks towels. […]

  7. Marji

    Thanks for the great idea! I’ve been using FST’s and covers on my newborn and they work so great! Super absorbent, cheap, easy to hand wash (yep we’re hand washing lol), this is a great system so far!

    We’re in Montreal too! Glad to see another cloth diaper-er in the city!

    1. Lindsay

      Hi Marji! Actually we are in Calgary now, but still lots of family and friends back in Montreal! FSTs are the way to go for handwashing!!

  8. […] out of a cover which means you can buy less of them. For even more savings consider using flats or flour sacks inside your newborn diaper covers. If you want to exclusively use diaper covers and prefolds / […]

  9. Marie Cole

    I think this is what I”m going to use to cloth diaper the next baby! It’s so simple and cheap!

  10. Alissa

    Have you tried any other economical flat options for newborns? I heard of people using a 27×27 square from 100% cotton t-shirt. They said this was helpful because of the stretch. I also have quite a few hand-me-down flannel receiving blanket squares in right size ballpark. Curious about absorbency if you did ever try those. I’d like the tees because we line dry and they’d be less crunchy. I have buttons covers (very similar to best bottoms) and definitely could have used them way sooner than I did with my first so this is my go-to plan for #2 in 2017. But, definitely hoping to go the free option of tees/flannel if possible.

    1. Lindsay

      Hey Alissa! I haven’t tried them personally, but I really think that receiving blankets or t-shirts would be as good if not better than FSTs!

  11. […] Don’t forget to check out my post about using FSTs on a newborn! […]

  12. janie vezina

    love flour sack towels, although by time i realized it was a cd option littles was around 4 months

  13. Orla

    I saw online where a family cut Flour Sack towels into halves and quarters to make tiny, pin-on diapers for their tiny newborn. FSTs were cheap enough that they did not worry about cutting them up, and then giving them away or using as boosters when the baby grew. With tiny preemies that only pee one or two spoonsful at a time, parents do not need to worry much about waterproof covers. You can make DIY fleece covers. Non-sewers can even make tie-on fleece covers. (DIY info available online)

    So a supply of towels (always useful for kitchen and baby clean up) and some fleece to make a few covers, or some already made in preemie size, (which you could give to charity if you do not need) and you will have some preemie supplies at home, in case your baby is tinier than expected.

    Hope someone finds this helpful.

  14. Kaitlyn Collar


    My prefolds were too large for my newborn so as of today I’m trying flour sack towels. However my newborn just reeks of urine now even when the towel isn’t soaked through. Did you experience this? Do you have a solution?

    1. Lindsay

      Hi Kaitlyn! So you’ve likely got a wash routine issue. How are you washing? Here are some excellent posts to help you find the right solution:

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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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