Should I get Newborn Cloth Diapers?

One week old wearing Thirsties Newborn All in One diaper in the Winter Woods print.

The questions regarding Newborn Cloth Diapers circulate heavily, usually along the lines of “how many should I get?” or “which brands fit smaller/bigger babies?”, but the BIG question often surfaces more than all: “Are newborn cloth diapers worth getting?”

That question alone is so multi-faceted that it is it’s own topic and requires its own blog post. With all the factors there are to consider, ask yourself some of these questions and then make a decision based on what you believe is best overall.

Are you making your decision for environmental reasons?

This question alone can be a huge make-or-break for people. If you are determined not to use any disposable diapers, to not contribute a single diaper to the thousands of metric tons of waste accumulating in landfills quite literally since the dawn of disposables, then you absolutely will consider cloth not just a preferred option but THE option. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise if this is where you stand. Moral compromise from peer pressure should never exist in any parent’s life, but the pressure is intense and critics harsh. Do what you believe is best for your baby/situation (and the environment). From here, the decision then boils down to would you buy new/used or just rent? More on that in a bit…

Are you planning on having more than one baby?

Whether you’re considering buying newborn diapers for a first, second, third, eighth, fifteen baby, are you planning on potentially more babies beyond this one? For some people, this makes newborn cloth seem to be a far more worthy investment and is one factor to consider.

Have you been gifted or believe you’ll probably be gifted a ton of newborn disposables?

To be honest, most baby showers and sprinkles are laden with diapers, and most (if not all) of those diapers will be newborn or size 1. Even when families announce that they’re going to use cloth diapers, people will believe they’re doing you a huge favor by getting you packs of disposables regardless. You can always return them for money to put towards what you want, but if you don’t want to hassle with it and plan to just use what you’re gifted, you may find yourself with enough disposables to carry you through until your baby can fit in one size cloth diapers.

Do you have big babies?

For first time moms, the applicable question is: were you or your significant other particularly large at birth? Some moms have babies in the 8-10+lb range that can fit in certain one size cloth diapers right from the get go, even under the umbilical stump, depending on the brand and which style cloth diaper they use. And, depending on the brand(s) and style(s) you pick, newborn-sized diapers may not be an ideal option for a baby who may fit in them for two weeks before needing a larger diaper. Even with brands which allow ample use of newborn diapers, it may not make much sense financially to invest in diapers when One Size can fit from the get-go or very soon after birth. But again, this really depends on…

What style/brand are you considering?

Some people shop newborn all-in-ones because of the ease and lack of desire to make anything “too complicated” on themselves, but if someone wants to buy, say, GroVia newborn all-in-ones, they may find themselves frustrated when their baby quickly outgrows the absorbency or size of the diaper rather quickly. One perk to learning how to use covers/prefolds is that there are many one size covers that can fit newborns who have prefolds pinned on, such as Best Bottoms, or sized covers like Thirsties Duo Wrap size 1 covers that last babies upwards of 18 pounds, which could be around 6 months, give or take, versus the newborn all-in-ones that may only last half that time. There are some exceptions, like the Diaper Rite newborn all in one that people brag on for it’s longevity, even finding fun in the challenge of seeing how big their children can be while still fitting in this very absorbent, accommodating diaper.  This becomes a considering factor for those who are contemplating the financial investment of cloth diapers. Are the all in ones worth using for only a month or two? If you believe you can get up to six months of use out of them, would you consider them worth having to reduce the wear on your One Size stash? Or would you use flats or prefolds that can be used continuously through your cloth diapering days? 

Are you buying new or used?

To be honest, newborn diapers, especially certain brand all in ones, really don’t get that much mileage on them, so-to-speak. Many used newborn cloth diapers are often in excellent condition with nothing more wrong than some shadow staining while only costing a fraction of retail price. For some, buying newborn diapers may not be a financially reasonable option when buying new, but buying used may open doors to the possibility of making it a financially reasonable investment, especially when you consider that buying used not only means you pay a fraction of retail cost, but you will get a higher percentage back of what you paid when you are finally ready to destash them. I’ve seen some parents even get 100% of what they paid for used newborn diapers because they bought a huge used lot but destashed in smaller lots. So if finances make you question the decision, buying used could mean getting most, potentially even all, of your money back! And then it’s just a matter of…

Can you afford it?

I mean, duh, its called an investment for a reason. But for some, affording it may be feasible, but only given adequate time for budgeting. How much time do you have? How much can you put aside for diapers? Do you think people who may buy from your baby registry will actually get you newborn cloth diapers? (Many people don’t like buying cloth diapers because they think “but this one diaper isn’t much of a gift and that same money could buy them several packs of disposables”. It happens a lot.) So, for some parents, sticker shock makes them back away and decide to stick to disposables for just those first few weeks. With enough planning, one could also take advantage of black friday or earth day deals, customer appreciation sales, or reward programs that can drastically reduce your overall investment as well, but this is purely a matter of timely planning or flat out lucky timing for procrastinators. 

Are you willing to deal with poop?

Even the most determined moms find themselves so hormonal and sleep deprived that the thought of dealing with poopy diapers makes them collapse. Some moms may think “well, I’m 100% planning on breastfeeding, so I’m not too concerned about poop because it’s water-soluable”. True, but what if something prevents you from breastfeeding? Be real with yourself. I was able to breastfeed 3 of my kids until they were 6-8 months before my supply dried up against my will (thanks to a period that always returns 2 months postpartum and screws my supply up worse and worse with each passing month with nary a galactagogue in sight capable of bringing my supply back). With my fourth baby, I assumed I would breastfeed at least 6 months with a determination to try to reach the one year mark, only to find my son had a very bad bubble palate, lip tie, and tongue tie, all which made it near impossible for him to adequately nurse while subsequently destroying my nipples. He needed a bottle; he was losing weight, even after releasing his ties and trying to teach him to latch properly with syringes/tubes and nipple shields. So formula unfortunately came quickly into the equation before he was even 2 weeks old. Are you going to be willing to deal with the poop, even in normal circumstances? And with that…

Are you able to do the laundry?

This question is actually quite in-depth, as there are so many factors here to consider: if you know you’re going to have a c-section (due to previous c-section, placental previa, breech baby, or any other more-obvious reason), are you going to be capable of keeping up with the laundry to ensure your baby has diapers? If not, do you have a reliable source of help who can? Even if you aren’t planning a c-section, they happen by surprise, too. Are you prepared with ample help to maintain cloth diapers should you find yourself in such a predicament? I would hope so, but unfortunately this is not always the case and therefore needs to be honestly considered. Then, even if you have an uneventful delivery, are you prepared to deal with the added laundry burden during those first few weeks when you’re going through sleep deprivation and bodily changes which make just going to the follow up appointment exhausting? Do you have someone who can help you, too? In my personal experience, my husband could never get off work longer than the time it took to get me home from the hospital. It wasn’t unusual for him to drop me off and say “see ya this evening, call if you need something” and leave… because the reality of our lives was that taking time off wasn’t affordable. With a mother in law that worked full time and my mother living out of state unable to come, help seemed scarce. I had to take care of all my kids and the baby, and the house, and the laundry, and cook dinner, all by myself. It was exhausting and can be downright impossible for some moms! Thank God for food trains and compostable plates!

Would rentals or a diaper service make more sense?

If you’re not interested in (or intimidated by the idea of) navigating the Buy/Sell/Trades or any selling platforms to either buy a stash or destash afterwards, then maybe renting newborn diapers are for you! Certain websites, like My Sweet Pickles, offer newborn rental services. It removes the financial hassle of finding deals or reselling diapers. There may still be an upfront deposit cost, but that is entirely refundable and so for around $35/month, you can borrow newborn diapers to use until your baby is ready for your One Size stash! This may only be a month or two and totally worth it for those who like the idea of being able to return the diapers without hassle. Depending on where you live, you may be in an area with a diaper service still in use, as well. Some people love gifting new moms with a diaper service rather than an actual cloth diaper because they feel they are giving more. This may be worth looking into as well for those who have a concern regarding laundering diapers properly or just having the time/energy to do the diaper laundry.

These questions are really just intended to get the gears turning in your mind and help you answer that question. The only person able to tell you what is best for your situation is you! It’s important to be honest with yourself, too. I hear of some moms who get so excited about newborn cloth diapers that they tell themselves “yeah, I got this!” and find themselves overwhelmed when their blessing arrives because they never anticipated a c-section, baby with colic, breastfeeding issues, postpartum depression, insane sleeplessness, or any other potential circumstance that would otherwise make using cloth a struggle or downright impossible!

My key advice: ask yourself the posed questions, answer yourself honestly, and if someone gifts you newborn/size 1 disposables even though you decide to use cloth, keep them until after baby outgrows them. If you don’t use them, return them for a refund/store credit or sell them, but don’t assume you won’t need them and return them only to find yourself at the store buying a pack because you suddenly found yourself overwhelmed and in need of them.

I will make a separate post about my experience using newborn cloth diapers after this next baby arrives, as I’m preparing to use cloth for the first time in the hospital! I used newborn cloth diaper for my fourth baby, but not until I was home from the hospital. That experience will be in the same future post!

I will talk a little about my experience using newborn cloth diapers with my fourth baby in a Youtube video linked here once it’s made!

I hope you found this article conducive to your decision-making! Are you planning to use cloth? Why or why not? Please share your experiences or things moms should consider that I haven’t touched here in this post! And have a blessed day!

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