how to cloth diaper a newborn

Are you having a new baby and want to cloth diaper them from the very beginning? Congrats! And don’t worry, cloth diapering a newborn can be pretty simple, and very similar to cloth diapering an older baby. Earlier in our cloth diapering series we’ve talked about different types of cloth diapers and how to wash them, so feel free to look back if you missed something.

With all of the different types of cloth diapers, there are obviously different ways you can go about cloth diapering your newborn. I’m going to try to cover the basics, but feel free to ask a question in the comments, or to Ask A Bestie if you’re wanting more info!

With my baby Gideon, I cloth diapered him from birth. I was gifted a cloth diaper service for the first 2 months of his life, so I didn’t have to buy anything special besides a couple of newborn sized covers. I’ve helped Sarah gather up a newborn diaper stash for her soon coming little one, so let me share what she got!


One-size covers are fantastic, but they aren’t designed to fit newborn babies. Typically the size range on them starts at 8 or 9 pounds, while most babies are born around 6 or 7 pounds. This might not seem like a huge difference, but newborn babies don’t come with all the chunk and rolls that we love. They usually are pretty skinny, so getting one-size covers to fit well without leaks may be a challenge. They also will just be so enormous and unnecessarily bulky on your new little one!

Some people have plenty of success using one-size diapers on newborns because they have bigger babies. Some people use disposable diapers until their baby fits in one-size. But I feel that those first few weeks are such a hard transition for baby to the world anyway, I want to make it as comfortable as possible by putting them in cloth instead of a loud crinkly plastic diaper filled with chemicals.


Obviously you can’t just have covers! Sarah got some newborn sized prefolds. You could use a regular size one if you wanted to cut down on costs, but again they will be pretty bulky. I would aim for the higher side in regards to quantity for a newborn. You will be healing and don’t want to be having to stay on top of doing diaper laundry every single day. Plus newborns go through A LOT of diapers in the beginning, even upwards of 15 per day!


When Gideon got older, I stopped using Snappis and started just trifolding the prefolds and laying them in the covers. But newborns have poop that is almost liquid, and you’re going to want to keep that all contained in the diaper! If you padfold, you’re going to need a cover for every single diaper change… that’s a lot of covers! Using a fold like the angel fold will keep poop inside the prefold and off of the cover… and off of you! Then that cover can do the work of just keeping you dry, instead of trying to hold in poop. This is going to help keep those dreaded blowouts at bay! We’ve never had a blowout using cloth, and I think using Snappis in the beginning really helps!


I know so many people are afraid of cloth wipes! They really are super easy, and so good for your baby! If you use disposable wipes with cloth diapers, you’ll have to separate the wipes from the diapers every time to make sure you don’t put them in the washer (I’ve done it! It’s awful!). I’ll have a post coming in the next couple of weeks on cloth wipes, so stay tuned!

That’s it! Your newborn stash doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. You don’t need overnight diapers because newborns will not be sleeping through the night. You’ll be up changing and feeding them every few hours, so an extra absorbent diaper isn’t necessary.

One last tip! If you are planning on using cloth as their very first diaper, some people are worried about meuconium (the baby’s first poops, typically black and tar like). This shouldn’t be a problem for your diapers! If it stains them, you can sun them (link to laundry post). But a great tip my nurse gave me when I had Gideon: cover your baby’s bum in coconut oil, and keep it oiled! It will make the meuconium easy to wipe off. Before we did this, it took forever and tons of scrubbing to try to get it off of him. No one wants to scrub a baby’s fresh new butt skin!

That should be everything you need to know to cloth diaper your newborn! Have you used cloth before, or are you just starting to look into it? Let me know in the comments below! I have more cloth diapering posts headed your way, but if you have anything specific about cloth you want to know, be sure to Ask a Bestie!