Cloth Diapering a Newborn, It doesn't have to be overwhelming!
Cloth diapering your baby from birth can seem like an overwhelming task, but you really only need a few things to get started cloth diapering!
Obviously to cloth diaper your newborn, you’ll need diapers! But the question is, how many? What kind? It’s a good rule of thumb to have around 12 diapers per day for a newborn, so you will want to have approximately 24 diapers if you plan to wash every other day and 36 diapers if you plan to wash every 3 days. Of course, this is a general estimate; you may find you need fewer or more diapers for your baby.
There are a lot of options for cloth diapers on the market for newborns. Many cloth-diapering families find that so-called “one size” diapers do not fit newborns well, so you may want to consider purchasing cloth diapers that are specifically designed for babies less than 10-12 lbs. Newborn-sized diapers are available in many styles – all-in-ones (AIOs), pocket diapers, fitted diapers, and flats/prefolds and covers. Which style you choose is a matter of personal preference and budget. Many families choose prefolds and covers because they don’t want to make a large investment in diapers that will only fit for a limited time.
Cloth-diaper safe rash cream and detergent
There are rash creams that aren't safe to use with cloth diapers. They create a barrier inside the diaper that impedes absorption and can leave a residue that is very difficult to remove. Rash creams that are safe to use with cloth diapers do not affect absorbency and wash out with a normal diaper laundry routine. They can be easily found at online cloth diaper retailers and any store with rash creams.
Just as many diaper creams are not compatible with cloth diapers, many detergents aren’t as well. Using the wrong laundry detergent can cause repelling (diapers will not absorb wetness) or skin irritation, or simply won’t get your diapers clean enough. Although there is some reported success with brands found at local chain stores, there are countless brands available through online retailers that are specifically tailored to cloth diaper laundry.
Wetbag or pail liner
You will need a place to store soiled diapers until laundry day; wetbags or pail liners are the perfect place to put those dirty diapers. A wetbag is a waterproof bag that keeps odors and moisture contained. They come in many different sizes: there are very large wetbags that can hold an entire load of diaper laundry all the way down to small wetbags that can be kept in a diaper bag for storage of one of two diapers on the go. If you would rather use a diaper pail, a pail liner is a convenient way to keep your pail dry, clean, and odor-free. Both wetbags and pail liners can be tossed in right along with your diaper laundry so they too are clean and ready to go for the next diaper change.
You may want to consider using disposable liners for the first few days as meconium can be difficult to remove from your diapers. They are placed between the diaper and baby and can either be thrown away or flushed (depending on brand) during diaper changes. Stay-dry liners, which are made from fleece, may also be useful if you plan to use prefold/flats and covers. They keep baby’s skin dry, which is more comfortable for your baby and can lead to fewer diaper rashes.
If you are expecting and plan to cloth diaper from birth, congratulations and good luck with your cloth diapering journey!
Jenn is a long-time cloth diaper educator and a passionate small business advocate. She has worked in the reusable diaper industry for over a decade, helping millions of families as well as hundreds of small businesses via her websites All About Cloth Diapers, Thinking About Cloth Diapers and Cloth Diaper Geek. Her goal always to provide simple, reliable information.