Newborn Cloth Diapers Overview and Answers

Using cloth diapers on newborns is a different experience than infants and toddlers. Your baby is small. Newborn cloth diapers are small. It’d hard to get a good fit on a newborn. You’re also exhausted since you have a newborn! We’ll do our best to answer some of your questions about cloth diapering newborns. But more than anything we want you to know newborns are tricky, it gets easier quickly, and we are here to help.

When To Start Cloth Diapers Newborn

A rule of thumb for when to start cloth diapers is the baby’s weight range. A range of 5-12 lbs is normal from manufactures. But this is just a rule of thumb. It’s an awfully wide range, in our opinion. Every baby is different and many diapers are different. It will depend more on the size of their legs, waist, booty, etc more than how much a scale says they weigh. It’s never too early to try cloth diapers. But the sooner you try the more troubleshooting you will need to do.

Cloth Diaper Newborn Umbilical Cord

Something else to consider is the umbilical cord stump. Any diaper that you decide to use on your newborn should always fit below the belly button, until it’s completely healed. Covering the cord stump could mean it could become soaked in urine, get covered in feces, and or not get the air it needs to dry properly. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to use disposables for a week or two.

Some newborn diapers are adjustable. You just snap it down to avoid the umbilical cord stump. If you don’t have these special cloth diapers then you can go with disposables until your baby is ready. You need to worry about getting sleep at this stage, not cloth diapers rubbing up against umbilical cord stumps.

What is the best cloth diaper for newborn with umbilical cord stump? There are many to choose from. If you want to buy new, here are a couple we’d recommend.

How Many Cloth Diapers Newborn

You will need a few more diapers in your newborn stash than you will your infant/toddler stash. This is because newborn babies pee and poop a lot more than older babies.

How many cloth diapers does a newborn need depends on how often you expect to do laundry. In general a newborn will go through 14 cloth diapers a day.

For more information see How Many Cloth Diapers You Need: The Answer.

Newborn Cloth Diaper Fit

Newborn diapers are much smaller than all other one size cloth diapers. They are cut to fit tiny and thin waists and legs to hopefully avoid leaks.

Newborn Cloth Diaper Sizes

Cloth diapers in newborn size are recommended for 5-12 lbs. But no two babies are created equal. Waist and leg size will play a big part in how well cloth newborns fit.

How to Measure Size (Diapers in General)

  1. Rise. Put a diaper on your baby. Measure the distance starting at the top of the back of the diaper, through the legs up to an inch or so below the belly button. Easiest way to do this is with yarn or string, and then measure that string against a tape measure or ruler.
  2. Waist Area. Now take the diaper off. Start an inch or so below the belly button. Measure the circumference around the tummy. This is where the diapers elastic will be, so make sure it’s not too tight.
  3. Legs. With the diaper still off measure the circumference of a leg. Start at between a leg at and the groin (where the crease is). Avoid the fatty part of the thigh. Just picture where the elastic of the diaper will be.

Newborn Cloth Diaper Measurements

Using the above information on sizing, see the below table. This is rough. Every diaper maker may do things differently, but this is close. The main take away from this is a disposable N or 1 will be the same thing as a cloth diaper newborn or extra small.

Disposable SizeCloth SizeWeightWaistRiseLegs
N or 1Newborn / XS6 – 11 lbs8 – 11 in.12 in.4 – 7 in.
Size 1 or 2Small8 – 16 lbs10 – 14 in.14 in.6 – 9 in.
Newborn Cloth Diaper Measurements

Please don’t get hung up on the measurements. Every child is different and at this phase parents are (overly) concerned with percentiles and how their child compares with others.

Newborn Cloth Diaper Leaks

It is harder to get a good fit on a newborn baby then it is an infant or toddler. There are ways to make it easier. Invest in a variety of different newborn fits. This will give you a chance to try a variety and see what works best for your house. If you are part of a local cloth diaper community, most moms are happy to pass around newborn size, since they’re used for such a short period. There’s also a large used market for newborn size diapers. Because these diapers are so gently used, you should be able to recoup your spend, if you plan to resell.

But do not let the new born phase scare you off of cloth diapers in general. If you decide to switch to disposable diapers for newborn, still give cloth diapering a try when the baby is a few months older.

Newborn Poop

Newborn poop is a little different than normal poop. Newborns are on a liquid diet. If they are breastfeeding, that poop is water soluble and can go directly into the washer, if you’re comfortable. This means no extra steps of shaking or rinsing poo.

If you use formula to feed your baby than that poop is not water soluble. It will need to be rinsed before tossing into the Cloth Diaper Pail or the washing machine. See Cloth Diaper Poop Top Accessories for some products that may help.

Bottom Line It Will Be OK

We are here to answer some questions but the question of “should I cloth diaper my newborn” is tough. That’s because you will need to answer it. The size of the baby and finding a good fit is tricky. So it’s up to you to determine how much troubleshooting you want to do vs just going with disposables until your baby is a tad bigger.

We know you want to do cloth diapers. That’s why you’re here. Whether you cloth diaper a newborn or wait just know that cloth diapering gets easier. You can do this. You can do anything!

Congrats on your new little baby, and Happy Fluffing!

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