Are you thinking about using newborn cloth diapers with your baby? Are you concerned about the environment and want to keep disposable diapers out of the landfill? Or maybe you’re looking to save money? There are so many reasons why people feel pulled to use reusable diapers with their baby. All are great reasons to cloth diaper!
Let’s talk about newborn cloth diapering. I’ll start with this: we love cloth diapering. Why? It’s better for baby (no chemicals), we can tell when it’s wet, it’s better for the environment (less trash), and mostly A LOT less money.
I wanted to see how it would work out, and so I didn’t invest too much, but we’ve already more than paid them off, and I’m now looking into our long-term stash of diapers. But this is not meant to be preachy, just a review of what we did and what I would do differently if I had to do it again.
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Newborn Cloth Diaper for First Time Parents
Before I get to exactly what we did and how we ended up with our stash, here’s what I would get if I had to do it all over again from the beginning!
This generous package will make cloth diapering easy, because you will have everything you need! You will have plenty of diapers even while some are in the wash, and using prefolds for newborns guarantees you will not have a blowout! (Caveat- using prefolds correctly with a snappi)
The All-in-ones are not a must have, but they are really nice to have for night time. You can stuff an extra prefold into the back of the all-in-one and that works really well overnight even if you have a heavy wetter. The other reason I like to have them is if you have anyone else helping with baby, they are really easy!
Preparing a Newborn Cloth Diaper Stash
Here’s the whole story of how I got to the above recommendations! Or jump down to my latest update.
For the newborn phase I decided to get prefolds + covers and it was a great decision. A friend of mine told me to get 4 dozen prefolds and 5 covers. She was right. This allows us to do laundry only twice a week!
Newborn Prefolds I Got
- 18 Green Mountain Diaper newborn prefolds (5-10 lbs)
- 18 Indian prefolds infant size (up to 15 lbs)
- 12 Green Mountain Diaper small prefolds (10-15 lbs)
Newborn Cloth Diaper Covers
For covers I was pretty indecisive so I just got a whole bunch of different ones to figure out what I would get long term:
- 1 Bummis super bright (4-9 lbs)- was great size-wise for the first month, but I wouldn’t get it again
- 1 Thirsties x-small velcro (6-12 lbs)- I like it a lot for fit and would get again even though the edges get moist and need to air out longer between uses
- 1 Thirsties Duo size 1 snap (6-18 lbs)- I really like this one too, even more since I don’t have to worry about velcro getting mangled in the wash
- 1 Econobum– love the stretchiness but these are way too big for a newborn (Update: didn’t last long term)
- 1 Flip Cover– again good stretchiness but too big for a newborn (Update: quality has gone down over the years)
Initial Newborn Cloth Diapering Suggestions
If I had to build my stash from the start this is what I would get:
- I would just get 2 dozen newborn + 2 dozen infant size prefold cloth diapers.
- I would only get Thirsties covers for the newborn phase
So how’s it working for us?
Really well! We go through about 10-12 diapers a day, changing at every feeding + whenever he goes number 2 or seems uncomfortable. We don’t have to worry about “wasting” a diaper if he pees on a fresh one during a changing.
Twice a week we do the laundry. We wash once on hot with normal Kirkland detergent and an extra cold rinse. Occasionally we add a little bit of bleach to get them extra clean and stink free.
We’ve been hang drying them, which works out really well in our weather, saving a bunch on drying them and getting a “bonus” sunning, which keeps them stain free.
(I can get away with such a “lazy” routine because everything we have is cotton which is super easy to wash).
Has it been cost effective?
Most definitely yes! We finally calculated the increase in our utilities (water + electric), 4 dollars + 9 dollars monthly, respectively, and I can attribute about half that to diaper laundry (the rest to all that other laundry we’ve been doing). So that’s about 90 dollars a year.
Plus the initial investment was about 200 dollars= 300 dollars for the first year. (I plan to buy more diapers of the larger size to get us through the rest of the year, so that the expected totally is about 500).
Cost Compared to Disposable Diapers
For reference a pack of diapers here in Mexico is just over 5 dollars (no discount for bulk in this country) and we would use just over half a pack a day 12 diapers out of 20 in size 1.
As you know, as the diapers get bigger there are less per pack, so proportionately we would use the same amount even when he starts going through less per day.
Long story short that’s 3 dollars a day in diapers, which is 1100 dollars for the year. This is not including the cost of wipes, which for us are nothing since we wash the flannel ones with the diapers.
Wrapping it Up
So that’s all about our experience cloth diapering a newborn so far. I have to say it is one of the decisions I feel best about. I’m very excited to shop for our one-size long term diapers!
Oh P.S. When we used disposables for 3 days on a trip, M had this to say:
Day 1- “they stink”
Day 2- “these are so easy”
Day 3- “these are gross”
I would agree with all of the above statements.
Update for 2021
Updating our Newborn Cloth Diaper Stash
With our second baby, we got a couple all in one newborn diapers, which were so nice to have! With our third baby I got even more newborn all-in-ones for a total of 6, treating myself with convenience. 🙂
With our fourth baby we did not get anything else, at all, whatsoever, in any size.
The Thirsties covers, which were my initial favorite, were also the ones that lasted through all four babies without delaminating completely!
Update on Cost Savings with Cloth Diapers
In terms of cost, with one baby we “broke even”, with multiple babies, we saved a ton of money!
Update on Laundry with Cloth Diapers
Laundry update…we had to update our laundry routine every time we moved, to account for different water mineral levels and different washing machine set ups. But what you really want to know is what laundry detergent to use for cloth diapers, right?
In the northeast, New Jersey and New York, I used Seventh Generation Free and Clear!
In Texas, the water is much harder and I have been using Rockin’ Green Hard Rock, plus Borax and/or Washing Soda as a booster. As a point of reference, our water hardness is 177 ppm.