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Cloth Diapering a Newborn

I love cloth diapering newborns.

I know many mamas — even those who are firmly committed to cloth — prefer to use disposables in the early weeks.  It’s less laundry to do and it’s hard to get diapers that fit those tiny newborn bottoms and skinny newborn legs.  But despite that these things are true, I still prefer to cloth diaper right from the start.  Let me tell you why.

I didn’t cloth diaper my first from birth.  I only got interested in cloth just a couple weeks before she was born, and there was no time to do research or buy diapers.  Plus, I can sew, and I didn’t like the idea of paying $18 per diaper when I knew I could make them a lot cheaper if I sewed them myself.  I really had no idea what would work, though, as far as pattern, style, size, materials….  I sewed up a couple that looked cute but seemed way too small.  Once I had a baby to try them on, I realized they were really quite big, for a newborn, and they really didn’t fit that well.  Or work that well.

(Now…if you’re not not like me, you can just buy them and trust that they will probably fit your baby fine.)

Over the next few months, I sewed various styles and sizes and versions of the diapers.  Around 6 months I hit upon a style that worked okay (I was designing my own — and yes, I still use these diapers as back-ups).  I still wasn’t thrilled and decided I wanted snaps, so I bought a snap press and tried yet another design, since my daughter was outgrowing the ones I’d made anyway.  Those were nice diapers and are still in heavy use over 2 years later.

Based on that design I created “small” and “newborn” sizes, too.  I chose pockets, which I stuffed with prefolds.  They are all snap diapers.  In anticipation of my second baby, I sewed 25 newborn pockets, and about 24 small pockets.  I have about 12 “small” pockets from my old stash still in use too (I like a really large stash, 36 of each size.  It is not necessary, it just makes my life easier.  Paying $18/diaper I’m sure I wouldn’t have so many, but when I sew them they cost around $2/diaper, so it’s not a big deal).

So, I was prepared to cloth diaper in the newborn stage.  I really hadn’t liked using disposables at all the first time; they leaked, the newborn poop easily shot out the legs and up the back (making more laundry for me), they smelled yucky…I just didn’t like it.

Literally an hour after he was born, Daniel was wearing a cloth diaper.  They were no big deal to wash, especially since we were already washing diapers.  Ben (my husband) did all the laundry in the early weeks, until I could get up and do it, and he did not mind at all (he hates disposables too).

So why do I love it so much?

1. Newborn poop is well-contained: strong elastic makes for fewer blowouts.

2. Some styles allow a nice, tight fit, even around skinny legs: pockets did allow for a few leaks in the first couple weeks (but not after that, and only a couple times), but prefolds with covers using FOE never leaked.

3. Washing diapers from a breastfed baby is brain-dead easy: the poop completely washes away without any pre-rinsing or treatments whatsoever.  Even a formula-fed baby probably doesn’t need too much “extra care” in the wash (I say, because often times I still do nothing to the diapers…though my kids eat almost entirely solids…oops.  But the diapers always come clean and never stain, so…).

4. You never run out of diapers: In a serious pinch you can fold up a receiving blanket and stick it inside a cover while you quickly wash some diapers.  But you don’t have to run to the store.

5. They last awhile: Babies grow notoriously fast.  If you’re buying disposables, you always have to check if your baby has outgrown the newborn size and is ready for stage 1.  What if it happens in the middle of a package?!  Newborn diapers usually fit until about 10 lbs. (which for my babies around 2 months old), so I’m not scrambling around for more diapers.  By the time they need new ones, I’m healed and up and around again and I can pull out the bigger ones — which, of course, I already have, just in case they wake up too big one day!  (My “next size” fits from 10 – 30 lbs., so they fit Daniel at 2 months and still fit him quite easily at 20 months…and I can get one on Bekah in a serious pinch, at 32 lbs. — who only uses them at night anyway.)

6. One diapering system, all the time: no need to decide when to switch, wait for the baby to grow big enough, etc.  Plus, since I stuff all my diapers with prefolds, I still use those newborn prefolds now to stuff Daniel’s daytime diapers.  Yes, that’s actually enough for him.  I use the infant size to stuff the “night” diapers for both kids.  I have only ever needed these two sizes to cover from birth to potty training, and I used a couple different cover or pocket sizes to accommodate the kids as they grew.  So simple…so cheap.

That’s why I love it!

I recommend, for most people, to simply use newborn prefolds with covers for the early weeks, since the covers can often “grow” with the baby, and the prefolds can later be used as inserts or doublers.  They’re also really cheap.  You can easily get a couple dozen good-quality prefolds for $40, and with 3 – 4 covers you’re looking at less than $100 to cloth diaper for the first couple of months.  Reuse it for other babies or use it a bit longer (some styles have a newborn/small cover that goes from 7 – 15 lbs.) and you save even more.

Do you cloth diaper newborns?  Why or why not?

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