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Should I Buy Newborn Size Cloth Diapers?

Should I Buy Newborn Size Cloth Diapers?

This is a question we get a lot here at Cloth Diaper Kids.  Should you buy newborn cloth diapers, or go straight to one size cloth diapers.  Those itty bitty newborn diapers look so sweet and adorable it is sure hard to resist them, but to invest in a whole bunch of tiny newborn diapers that get outgrown so quickly can be a major deterrent to considering them at all.  It’s easy to see the value and convenience in a one size diaper that can adjust from smaller to larger, but as we’ve discussed before, the majority of one size diapers do not start fitting babies nicely until they reach about 10lbs.  So what do you do during that grey area between newborn and 10lbs (about 8 weeks)?  Is the newborn cloth diaper really worth it or not?

Well, you have a few options.  You can:

  • Go for a one size diaper that can fit smaller babies and just accept the fact that they will be very bulky, but functional for that first 2 months or so until baby grows into them better (assuming you have an average size newborn).  For this option, consider Rumparooz (best), BumGenius 5.0, Elementals, Freetime or Flip, AppleCheeks One Size, Funky Fluff One Size or AMP One Size.
  • Plan to use disposables for the first few weeks.  (This will probably cost you about $100-$150 for newborn disposables in about an 8 week span).  Or use up any newborn diapers that were gifted to you in baby showers etc. and then move into one size diapers
  • Build your cloth diaper stash with sized diapers instead of one size.  If you choose a sized diaper system like Applecheeks or Thirsties where there is 2 different sizes: size 1 (7-20lbs), size 2 (18-40lbs) then you will get a better fit on your newborn.  Yes they will still be a little bulky, but they will function well and have less total bulk than a one size variety.
  • If this isn’t your first baby or you know you’re likely going to have a bigger newborn, like in the 9lbs range, then you can probably get by very nicely be going straight to one size or sized diapers without the need for newborn diapers anyway.

But now, what if one of the above situations doesn’t really fit for you and the tiny diapers are calling your name?  Here’s a few situations when investing in newborn specific diapers really is worth it:

  • You’re passionate about cloth diapering right from day 1.  Does sensitive skin run in your family?  Trying not to contribute at all to landfills with diapers, or concerned over chemicals next to your newborn’s skin?  Then newborn cloth diapers are probably a good investment for you so you can confidently cloth diaper from day 1.  Since you won’t know baby’s size until they are born, a newborn specific diaper is the only way to ensure a functional fit for sure.  Skinny legs, narrow waists and boney bums can make one size or sometimes even sized diapers difficult to fit on a tiny baby.  Newborns can be notoriously hard to fit as they come in such a variety of body shapes and proportions.  A diaper designed with the newborn in mind is your friend here.
  • Another thing to keep in mind if you’re wanting to cloth diaper right from the beginning is the umbilical cord.  It’s going to stay with baby for at least a week or so and you want to make sure it’s not irritated.  The newborn diaper brands we carry are specifically designed to either sit below the belly button or have a snap down or cut out in front to avoid rubbing in this sensitive area.  Yes you can cover the umbilical cord with a one size diaper, but you'll have to fasten it loosely to accommodate.
  • If you don’t like the idea of bulkiness with your baby’s diapers, then newborn size will be what you want.  In addition to the fitting points mentioned above, newborn diapers are trimmer, will fit better under clothing and look proportionate to baby’s small size.  The aesthetics of a well fitting newborn diaper are often especially appreciated if you want to do any newborn photography with your new bundle of joy.  Whereas sized or one size diapers will sit up high at about mid chest on your new baby.
  • If you’re planning on having more than one baby, then this is where the dollars and cents start to kick in.  Sure, your baby may only wear them for the first few weeks or months, but this means they see very little wear and tear so you can easily use them on more than one baby or they will be in great condition to re-sell on the used market enabling you to re-coup some of your investment while still enjoying the benefits of newborn cloth.
  • Do it cost effectively.  There’s no denying that newborn diapers CAN be expensive if you choose an All In One (AIO) variety for example, but little cotton prefolds and newborn covers are an excellent and cost effective choice too.  In fact, we recommend newborn prefolds quite often as a cost effective way of bridging the gap till one size diapers.  Why?  Well, they’re inexpensive, organic, easy to wash, fast to dry, relatively trim and the natural fabric absorbs pee quickly and easily without the need for compression making them less prone to leaks up the back (compared to synthetic fabrics) since newborns spend lots of time laying down.  Yes, there’s a small learning curve to using prefolds and you’ll want to use a Snappi to avoid using pins, but once you get the hang of it, lots of mamas love them and newborn prefolds make great absorbent burp cloths, cleaning cloths or diaper doublers later on for your bigger diapers.  
  • And last but not least, newborn diapers are especially good for preemies, multiples and small babies.  We carry brands that fit from as small as 4lbs and at a weight like that you’ll easily get many months of use out of newborn cloth.  Our first baby for example was born at 36 weeks at just 4lbs and he didn’t top 15lbs until around 6months old.  That’s a lot of use for a newborn diaper.  Well worth the cost.

Hopefully that helps you decide whether newborn size cloth diapers are right for your baby.  And as always, we love questions, so ask away if there’s anything else you’d like to know!

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