It was two and a half years ago that we started our natural parenting and cloth diapering journey. Somewhere in the first half of my first pregnancy, we started digging deep into how we could be better stewards of both our environment and money even with children. While we knew we wanted to save money, it was also about not contributing to the country and world’s waste problem. This meant learning all about cloth diapers, including cloth diapering a newborn to get the most use and bang for our buck.
Many will tell you that cloth diapering a newborn is not worth it financially, and is too difficult in the first weeks. However, I have not found this to be true with either one of my daughters. Regardless of what kind of cloth diapers for newborns you might want to use, there is a way to make them economical.
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Types of Cloth Diapers for Newborns
Just like with regular cloth diapers, there are a variety of options. However, my number one suggestion for buying newborn cloth diapers, especially before your child has been born, is to get ones with an umbilical snap down. While this was not an issue with my older daughter, even the tiniest diaper on baby number two did not go under her umbilical cord because she has a shorter torso.
If you plan on cloth diapering your baby for the long run, I would suggest figuring our what you like when they’re teeny tiny before investing in the diapers that are going to be with you the longest. Even if you’re not going to have more kids and you’re going to buy new, it’s most economical this way because even if you buy 2 of each kind and then resell them, they have a great resell value. (I rarely see below 65%) Why? Because they are used for such a short period of time even with multiple kids.
- Prefolds/Flats– Prefolds can be used as something that is simply laid inside a cover or the traditional way with pins or a snappi. Flats require folding but you get a custom fit. Both prefolds and flats need covers.
- Fitteds – a great night option since they are 100% absorbent. They do need a cover
- All-in-Ones (AIOs) – Great for daytime use and you don’t have to have a cover or anything. They’re most like using a disposable diaper.
- Pocket Diapers – These are also going to be similar to disposables, except the absorbency is stuffed inside of the diaper and has to be pulled out for washing.
How to be resourceful in buying Cloth Diapers
Cloth diapers do not have to be a huge upfront investment. They can be done for much cheaper than one might think, plus they are so much easier than many give them credit for… especially if you have enough. In fact, breastfed baby poo can be rinsed and washed as-is, making the laundry fail-proof.
Find Used Cloth Diapers
My best tip for finding cloth diapers economically whether for a newborn or any child is to buy them used. On top of not spending full price, you don’t have to “prep” them for absorbency because they have been used before.
There are lots of cloth diaper swaps online, on facebook, and even in your local cloth diaper boutique. Both stores in our area sell used and even have seasonal sales that local moms can come to to destash what they don’t use anymore. I have gotten great deals this way. I have spent less than $100 on all of our newborn stash and it’s already taken us through 2 babies and it could easily last through several more. Plus if there’s a kind I don’t like, I just sell it or trade it. That’s especially true since not all babies, even in the same family, are the same size and shape.
Buy One size cloth diapers
Even with tiny babies, it’s possible to just use one size diapers, making them extremely economical since it would be all your child(ren) ever uses.
It just takes some creativity.
So even my 6-ish pound babies can fit into the one size diapers by using the newborn fold for one size cloth diapers. You do this by putting the rise snaps down one, folding the top area over, and snapping the tabs across the diaper on the very last rise snap row.
You can even criss-cross them for even smaller babies. [I have demonstrated this in the photo below with a Bum Genuis/Flip Style Diaper] But my kids really are pretty little. As for the one size all-in-two diapers (like from grovia) and one size fitteds (like from GoodMama), they fit my girls around 8 pounds. Some fitteds like Tail Feathers fit all the way down to 6 pounds and that was a huge blessing.
Newborn Cloth Diaper Reviews
Click the name of the diaper for more information and/or to buy.
Lil’ Joeys – these were our favorite with our oldest daughter. They fit well, had an umbilical snap-down, and had double gussets to hold in the poop… and she had a lot of it so these made a huge difference. Never had a blow out and that’s worth its weight in gold to proclaim.
Bee Changed – I just got 4 Bee Changed diapers this year for our second daughter. I love them. They are very similar to the Lil’ Joeys but a little bigger and the second gusset is not on the interior, but at the leg. They are extremely absorbent which means they take awhile to dry (like all nb AIOs) but I am ok with that since they do their job. PLUS, I love the concept of their company to help supply diapers when you purchase your own.
G Diapers – These diapers have a shell that you can then use either a disposable or reusable insert in. They also velcro around the back instead of the front. Personally, they’re not my favorite and it’s the only diaper I have ever had to deal with a blow out in even in the entire 2+ years I have been cloth diapering. Granted, some people really like them. They are just not for me.
Preemie Prefolds – Preemie prefolds are only a dollar new and can be used as wipes, washcloths, extra inserts, and last a whole lot longer than you might expect. In fact They lasted well beyond the 12 pounds I was told. Great investment for us because even with $30, we got 30 diapers, wipes, breat pads, etc.. Can’t beat that even to just have emergency back-ups.
Prefolds – Whether sized or traditional one, size, they’re a great option. Many families even make their own. We didn’t use them much with our nb, but have while traveling a lot.
Flats – it’s like baby diaper oragami which means the perfect custom fit. It also means they grow with your child and are the one and only true one-size fits all diaper. They can even be made cheaply out of swaddling blankets. They just weren’t for me because I am not that good at oragami…
Kissas – The size 0 kissas are fabulous. We have several because they have the umbilical snap down, elastic around the leg (so once a cover is used it’s like a double gusset), and are completely absorbent. This made life so much better with our first when the only reason she was getting upset at night was due to her diaper reaching capacity.
Sustainablebabyish – These diapers rock. They are fitteds like kissas, but have a snap-in insert for extra absorbency and can hold like 5x as much. So past that first week, these helped us rest peacefully at night. And what parent doesn’t want to get more sleep. You would buy the whole lot of them for that, right?! Plus, they also have the snap-down umbilical area. Perfect diaper. Seriously.
Thirsties Size 1 – These are my favorite newborn covers. There is so much flexibility with them because you can snap down the rise or expand it. They also come in snaps or velcro and the velcro gets a better fit when my babes are itty bitty. As newborns, the thirsties brand is all we use.
Thirsties x-small – still thirsties and still love them, just not as much. There was less flexibility in size range and didn’t go under belly buttons well.
FuzziBunz X-Small – I have said over and over, I am just not a huge fan of pocket diapers; however, I can handle them a little more with a newborn and/or if they just work really well. These guys do the trick. However, with baby #2, we have to wait until her umbilical stump fell off to use them so that was a bummer.
Swaddlebees Simplex – I like the design of these diapers. They by far are the longest lasting newborn diaper out there. They also have a tuck-in insert which means they are like an AIO, but dry much faster. They do have the umbilical snap down, but no extra gussets. Still a house favorite here on baby number two.
Tailfeathers Fusion – We really loved these with baby #1, but with #2, they did not fit below her umbilical stump. They are still a great newborn cloth diaper option because they are the smallest diapers I have ever seen and because they’re a fast-drying AIO.
How did you diaper your newborn?
Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!