Cloth Diaper Q&A: Cloth Diapering a Newborn

On the All About Cloth Diapers’ forum, Caitlin asked a fabulous set of questions.

Hello everyone!

I’m new to CDing, and my husband and I are expecting our first in September. Autumn, I have read through your cloth diaper book, and think that I may just be a little overwhelmed by all of the info. Which I would say is actually a good thing, because it contains such a wealth of knowledge, and from what I’ve heard, it is normal to be overwhelmed for someone new to CDing.

My plan thus far has been to use One-size pockets. For me, not having to buy new diapers for each size was a deciding factor, and I also like that pockets can be adjusted for absorbency. This is of course once our little girl can fit into the smallest setting…

I am rather confused when it comes to CDing a newborn. I’ll be honest, some of this is pure ignorance. I don’t even know how big most babies are when they are born, and at about what age they are able to fit into the smallest size of One-size diapers. Also, from what I have read, most newborns need to be changed about 12 times a day, if not more. The idea of spending a lot of money on NB CDs is daunting to me when they will only be worn for a short period of time.

This morning was the first time that I had even heard of rental services for NB CDs, which seems like an option. I guess for me, if I’m going to be spending $200 to rent the diapers, I would possibly hope to be able to buy something which could also be used in the future. I’m wondering if there is an option that would achieve this?

If I purchased prefolds and covers, could I later use the prefolds as stuffers inside the pocket diapers once my child was large enough to wear the OS pockets? Or would the NB pefolds not be large enough to do this? I’m also wondering, and again sorry for the lack of knowledge, if most prefolds are able to just be laid inside of a cover, or if you “wrap” them around the child, and then place a cover over them?

Sorry if this is confusing, I have a lot of questions in my mind right now, but I’ll leave it at this for now.

Thank you for any help, advice, and comments!



Caitlin, congratulations on the baby girl!  As with any new journey the full understanding looks so far away.  I can recall these emotions with many things I set out to learn (homeopathics, cloth diapers, parenting–still working on that one!)

But, the good news is, I can say from far into the race that it really doesn’t take long to get a working knowledge of the basics.

One sized diapers are a great and common choice for parents new to cloth diapering.  Some brands like Softbums work on babies as small as 5lbs!  I’ve also seen several newborn photos of fresh out of the womb bums in a Cutiepoops, Charlie Banana and Fuzzi Bunz Elite.

Most one sized cloth diapers aren’t going to fit your child until she reaches about 12lbs which could be 8wks or 4 months. I encourage you to also read The Life Expectancy of a One Sized Cloth Diaper to get a well rounded view on them.

You are correct, newborns will go through approximately 12 diapers a day.  You will quickly discover than newborn poop (I am only familiar with breastfed baby poop) is runny!  That is why I always use a fitted diaper or a diaper with a gusset like Lil Joeys.

There are several rental programs that allow you to earn a credit towards a purchase once you return your newborn diapers.  I compiled an extensive list of Newborn Cloth Diaper rental programs for your convenience.

It is completely possible to cloth diaper your newborn with prefolds and covers.  The covers you buy are the key to containment.  Proraps and Thirsties are excellent newborn covers, while Sweet Pea covers are a fantastic one-sized cover.

As I mentioned previously, newborn poop is runny.  Trifolding the prefold and laying it in the cover will not contain the poop well.  It isn’t necessary that you use pins to fasten the prefold.  There are handy accessories like the Snappi and Boingo that allow you to fasten a prefold without the worry of poking you or baby.

You may recall from the Ultimate Guide to Cloth Diapers that I entered the world of cloth diapers using prefolds and Proraps covers on my 15m old son.  At that age, trifolding a prefold works just fine.

Prefolds are extremely versatile and can be used a pocket insert when your baby moves into them.  However, the prefold will cause the diaper to be bulkier than if you had a single microfiber, bamboo or hemp inserts.  Prefolds also make great breast pads in the early days when you leak a lot out the side you aren’t nursing on while nursing.  I could soak a prefold in one feeding!  Maybe I’m strange :)

Right now all this information is hard to take in because you don’t actually have the baby there to experiment with.  Once baby girl arrives you’ll quickly discover that sometimes what you thought would work just isn’t going to cut it.  My encouraging comment is to stick to your commitment and work through the trials–which will come.

However, don’t beat yourself up if you use a disposable diaper here and there while you are working out the kinks.  Your main priority is to love and nourish your daughter.  Cloth diapering is not difficult and honestly, the newborn phase is the easiest!

I look forward to hearing about your diapering choices and the arrival of your daughter!

For more information on cloth diapering a newborn check out Cloth Diaper Q&A: What to Buy for a Newborn


*affiliate link in post. Thank you for your support! 




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About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

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14 Responses to “Cloth Diaper Q&A: Cloth Diapering a Newborn”

  1. Caitlin Says:

    Thank you for all of the advice ladies! I’m still trying to decide what to do, and I better hurry since she’ll be here next month! My husband thinks we should just do disposables until she can fit in the OS…trying to convince him otherwise.


  2. Emily D Says:

    I totally have to agree with Renee that you shouldn’t necessarily go out and buy all one type- before your baby is born (especially your first!) you can’t know how they will fit and what you will like. As Autumn said, newborn poo is super runny and if I used a prefold it would always get on the cover(and yes the infant size ones can be good for stuffing pockets and otherwise adding absorbancy). Of all my dipes (I have about 20 brands, at least a few of every style- AIO, AI2, fitted, pocket, flats, prefolds, one size and sized of each) I love fitteds the best. My sz nb-1 fitteds (semi- adjustable, similar to thirsties duo) lasted until she was 3-4 months- granted my babies are on the smallish side, probably around 12 lbs- but as I only paid $4 each on kijiji (new!), I thought that was worth it. My current fitteds are mostly bamboozle, and at 11 months she is still on the small setting so I see these lasting until potty- training!


    • Jessica A Says:

      Just wanted to say that I too am new to CD and was pretty bummed when I found that my new one size pockets would be to big for my most likely smaller than normal baby at the time. I was excited to find a killer deal on some preemie sized AIO Happy Heineys that were never used only washed. Then my 6lbs 8oz baby girl “Charli” had to stay in hospital and was not allowed to use the cloth diapers :( … I was worried that the 31 Happy Heineys would not fit when we got out! But they did but my happiness soon faded when I figured out that the absorbency was not enough for my baby, she just drank way more then the diapers could handle. So i decided to use up all the preemie & newborn disposable diapers I got from hospital, since I didn’t get any from shower or anything because I told everyone I was CD’ing. My daughter has had a rash the whole time basically and it only gets worse I had tried 6 different creams and supplemented with 3 different kinds of formulas but to no success or improvement! Then last night I decided to use one of my smaller pockets (Kawaii Pure & Natural PN2) and I used the liner outside of pocket in hopes of re-using diaper since I only had 2 of these kinds. Anyways my whole point is to tell you after only using the cloth diaper for 3 hours and the liner just laid out of the pocket inside, my baby’s rash was basically gone!!! I was so surprised!!! I mean, I read a little about CD being better for this but really 3 hours!!! So I refuse to use disposables now and now going to either hope all my one sizes work or buy some used ones from (Utah’s local craigslist). No way can I knowingly put Charli through that again. I feel better now like I’m doing something good for my baby and the earth, especially after my struggles with breastfeeding. So I am going to use this blogs advice and those of the comments as well and make sure my newborn gets the most out of CDs as possible!!! Thanks Autumn and all!


  3. Renee S. Says:

    My advice is go look for used ones on Craigslist and eBay. I put out a in search of newborn cloth diapers add and had a response within a day and fit an Amazing deal! Then I found 13 newborn kissaluvs on eBay for $80. I would also say don’t get sucked into only buying one kind because it’s cute or think it will work. I’d say get a few of each kind and then if they don’t work sell them, or keep for next baby, and buy more of what is working for this baby.


  4. Bonnie Says:

    I am new to cloth diapering (jumping in with baby #4) and I am in love with flatfolds. My mom showed me how she and her mom and her mom did it: lay the square out flat, fold in two corners, overlapping, to make an ice-cream-cone shape, then fold down the top to make a long skinny triangle. Then fold up the point at the bottom till it’s the right length for your baby. I can fold them to fit my little newborn, slap on a snappi and a cover, and we’re good to go. I have a couple of pocket diapers (good for speedy nighttime changes), but for these first few weeks the flatfolds are my fave!


  5. Karen Says:

    I had planned on part time cloth diapering my second baby as a newborn. I had purchased 12 prefolds, 3 covers and snappi’s. When she was born she was 9 lbs so she fit into the one size diapers that we had right away, so we didn’t need any disposebles after all. Some people tell me how large a 9 lb baby was (2 pounds larger than my first), some tell me its average, and some say its even small for a newborn. Even though she didn’t fit in her newborn diapers for very long they still have been very useful. They sit out at our house and whenever our kids spill something they grab one to clean it up. So much more absorbent that towels.

    Some other things to think about is that if you buy newborn covers you can reuse them for the next baby, and since they don’t see alot of wear and tear they have a good resale value. You can also look on craigslist or diaperswappers to find used covers to save some money upfront.


  6. Jessica Griffith Says:

    I started cd-ing when ds#2 was almost 3 months old. We used OS pockets with him, some prefolds, and a couple AIOs in the beginning. Towards the end of diapering him, I discovered fitteds and AI2. ::swoon:: Baby #3 is 5 weeks old, she is my first to cd from birth. We chose some prefolds, Swaddlebees newborn fitteds, Kissaluvs Size 0s, Bottombumpers Size Smalls, Wool soakers, and a various mix of covers. My favs so far have been the Bottombumpers size Smalls and the Swaddlebees. I love the BBs when we are out of the house and a swaddlebee with a wool soaker at night! Best Of luck! Just so you know resell on NB diapers seems to be good since they don’t use them long and they are still in good condition!


  7. Melanie Says:

    I Started CD’ing when my oldest was almost potty trained and my 2nd was about 14 months, so I was able to start with the OS diapers, which was awesome. With my third, just born a few months ago, I got to tackle the CD’ing in a new way. I tried AIO, fitteds, and prefolds. I really liked the Osocozy newborn prefolds trifolded and laid in a Thirsties Duo wrap the best. So buttery soft! (It’s funny, because I HATE prefolds with older kids. Total mess.) I relied on the cover for containment and it did a decent job. Of course, the pediatrician told me it is normal for a newborn to poop anywhere between 7 times per day and once every seven days. Two of my kids, including this baby, have been weekly poopers, so I didn’t have to deal with it enough for it to be a problem. I also had an AIO I got from an Etsy shop that worked pretty well and wasn’t too expensive (Angelbottoms Plus). I will say that with a newborn, I greatly preferred Velcro/Aplix to get a good custom fit. As soon as she hit about three months, I preferred snaps like I used with my other kids for durability and stability (no coming undone when the baby kicks her legs a lot). If you want new, inexpensive fitteds, the Heavenly Angelbottoms fitteds were very nice and absorbent. I really loved the fit of Kissaluvs 0’s more than anything I tried, but they weren’t nearly as absorbent as those Angelbottoms fitteds. (BTW, if you buy any Angelbottoms, get the snaps. The Velcro she uses isn’t super sticky, so I preferred her snaps and then used a Thirsties cover with Aplix to get the good fit. Congratulations and good luck! We are here for you.


  8. Katie Santiago Says:

    I have been CDing my little guy with fuzzi bunz one size diapers since we ran out of the disposables we got from the hospital. I have not had any issues with leaking poo (he is a super heavy wetter so pee escapes regularly, but I am okay with that so we just change clothes when that happens).

    I will pass along the advice my mom gave me when my head was starting to explode with all of the cloth diaper options, “just pick a system and know that you will be able to make it work.”

    I do have 1 Charlie Banana (that I won from Autumn) that I like somewhat, I don’t like that I have to work more to get the insert out (can’t just shake it out).


  9. Shana Says:

    With baby number 1, we did disposables until her little thighs were thick enough to fit into our cloth diapers without leaking. About 6 weeks. By by the end I was getting antsy so I did purchase a few newborn size fitted.

    With the next baby, currently on the way, we’ll probably buy some prefolds and shells, or some fitteds.

    My advice to you – if you really want to start cd-ing right away – is that there is a pretty good after market value to cloth diapers. Sell them on diaperswappers. Give them to a friend.

    Also, after washing a prefold 100 times, there is no softer rag for runny noses, cleaning cars, cleaning whatever. Prefolds stay valuable to you for a long time.


  10. melissa Says:

    Congratulations Caitlin! I have a 5 month old daughter, my first, so I too was overwhelmed by all the cloth diapering options out there just a few short months ago. I wanted to share with you how I got started, and if you know how to sew as well my path may be even more helpful. I started with making about two dozen newborn sized pre-fold/trifold diapers, bought a couple of Snappis, and received 5 Thirsties Diaper Covers at my baby shower. I waited until the meconium had passed before I started using the prefolds, but the Thirsties are excellent for holding in everything my daughter can make! Once she was a bit bigger, I started using pocket diapers made from a pattern I purchased online and began using the prefolds to stuff the pockets. I made about 15 pocket diapers, purchased 3 fuzzibunz with a gift card, and wash every third day. Now that she is just starting on eating purees, I also made 5 of her infant prefolds into bibs with some simple snaps added at one end. I have had no problems with my method thus far, my daughter has never had diaper rash, and my babysitters picked up cloth diapering in a snap.
    Best of luck to you (and again)
    Congratulations on your little girl!


  11. Anne Says:

    I also used proraps (which are pretty cheap)and prefolds for the first month or so with my son until I could use my one size pocket diapers and one size covers (I only use one size diapers after that first month or two). I didn’t want to spend a lot of money so I bought 4 prorap covers, 24 newborn prefolds (12 chinese and 12 Indian prefolds) and 12 flats (flats are soooo versatile and can be used later). I end up using my old prefolds and flats as rags or changing pads all the time now and still sometimes use the flats with my 16 month old. I had enough diapers to wash them every other day (my son went through more than 12/day). I think I spent less than $80 on everything and used them for about 6 weeks before transitioning into OS diapers but as I said, I still get use out of everything except the prorap covers that I’ll use if we have another baby.


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