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What Do You Need To Cloth Diaper a Newborn?

And other ages, stages, plus diaper care and more!
Continued from Everything You ever Wanted To Know About Cloth Diapering.

Can I cloth diaper a newborn?


There are only two things that you really have to consider when using cloth with newborn babies. The first is size. As we all know, newborns are tiny little bundles of cute. Though one-size diapers often say that they will fit a newborn, this may not be true depending on how big or how small the baby is at birth. It is usually best to go ahead and get newborn sized diapers, unless the baby is about ten pounds.

Another consideration is the breastfed baby. If you, or the Momma-to-Be intends to breastfeed, it’s best to go with diapers that have good elastic banding at the legs because breastfed newborns can often poop a bit more than formula fed babies. When utilized properly, you will find, however, that cloth protects from blow outs much better than disposables.

From there, as baby grows, it’s the same concept as with disposables and sizing will depend on the style of cloth diapers you choose.

What types of cloth diapers are there?

The Fish is wearing a Swaddlebees fitted, they’re now known as Blueberry– and are insanely cute.

All In Ones, or AIO: An all in one diaper is just what it says it is. It’s a diaper that has the diaper and cover already together. If you want a cloth diaper that is the most like disposables- these are the ones you should look for.

Pockets: Pocket diapers are diapers are diapers that have an opening where you will put an insert, or even a flat or pre-fold diaper. Assembled ahead of time, these are a convenient, easy to use option and are perfect for heavy wetters or night time diapering due to the customizable nature of the diaper.

Fitteds: Fitted diapers are usually cotton, save for elastic at the legs. They do look a bit more like disposable diapers, but will require covers. When used with a good cover, fitted diapers are perfect for avoiding blow outs and maximum leak prevention.

Pre-Folds: Pre-folds with covers are usually the least expensive option in cloth diapering. A good starter pack for a pre-fold system is 24 diapers and 8 covers. They are the fluffy cotton diapers that have been already folded, then sewn into place.

Flats: Though very common, these are not the easiest to use. They are great to have on hand to use as doublers and liners, or even just general purpose.

How do I prepare diapers for the baby?

This will depend on the style and type of diaper you choose. Many people have differing opinions on what you should do prior to using cloth diapers. Pre-washing is a good idea for any cloth diapers, but technically speaking pocket diapers and AIOs can be worn right out of the box.

Pre-washing of any cloth diapers can shrink them. This is something most manufacturers allow for when sizing, and because of this they may be cut to that after-pre-wash size. Hemp or cotton pre-folds tend to come feeling stiff or flat. If that is the case, they have been “fabric sized” and you do want to wash them prior to use. This will also help you to “fluff” them, which will result in a much more absorbent cloth diaper, softer to the touch for baby’s sensitive skin. Many cotton fabrics come in bleached or unbleached options. When you do purchase unbleached, be that hemp or cotton, they may still have a layer of natural, waxy oils on the top. You will want to pre-wash and dry them multiple times to strip that away so they are more absorbent- anywhere from 3-5 wash and dry cycles. After these initial cycles, you should not really need to do anything more to the diapers to keep them functioning well, unless there’s a build up issue.

How do I keep my cloth diapers fresh and clean?

First, let’s talk about how you store your dirties until wash time. A large, dry diaper pail system generally works well. Diapers go in the sealed bucket with a lid and taken out when it’s time to wash them. If you use a cloth diaper pail liner, simply carry it into the laundry room when you do your diapers and toss it right in with them. If you or the Momma To Be is breastfeeding, there is no need to even wash out poo diapers, because breastmilk poo is water soluble and comes right out. Formula fed babies or older babies on solids will need to have the poo washed out before. You can do this by swishing in a clean toilet, (Keep your pail near the toilet) you can use a portable sprayer, or scoop into the toilet with a special scoop. Wet pails are also an option, but always keep wet pails where small children cannot access them.

Diaper rash is very rarely a concern with cloth diapered babies. However, if you find your baby needs a barrier to prevent this, or it is an issue, use a layer of fleece or flannel between the diaper and your baby. Special diaper liners can help, and flushable liners add a convenience factor. Diaper rash creams and other barrier lotions can cause your diapers to not be as absorbent as they could be. Other potential causes of rashes in cloth diapered babies are detergent type- which will we address now.

When washing your cloth diapers it is always best to use detergents that don’t have any fragrances, dyes or phosphates. A great tip is to simply switch to that kind of detergent for all of your laundry so you never have an issue with build up in your machine, which can get into the diapers.

The rule of thumb when using any detergents to wash your cloth diapers is, if you open the machine during the final rinse and still see suds: you are using too much. It takes about half of the recommended amount of detergent for the load size. So, for a small size load of diapers, simply use half of what the label says is appropriate. Too much detergent can not only decrease the absorbency of your diapers but it can also cause a rash.

To wash cloth diapers, it’s often best to use three wash cycles. That is, first, cold wash normal- either with or without detergent. Either way you go will rinse out the diapers and it will allow them to soak. The soaking step is essential. A general rule of thumb is to make sure that your washer has enough water in it after the diapers are inside to allow for a good soaking. Your second cycle should be a sanitizing cycle, that is, use hot water and this can generally be accomplished by utilizing the handy “extra soiled” cycle most washers have. The final cycle should be another rinse cycle, but can also just be another full run on a light setting with no detergent. You can then either dry your diapers according to manufacturer’s recommendation in the dryer or hang them to dry. Hanging often results in the “crunchy” feel, but an air-fluff can remove that after the fact.

There are a number of different schools of thought in cloth diaper washing and drying, but essentially, use of these tips will keep them fresh and clean.

One thought on “What Do You Need To Cloth Diaper a Newborn? Leave a comment

  1. I am getting ready to cloth diaper our fourth baby. I started using cloth when my first was three months old and haven't used anything else since. After trying lots of different kinds of diapers I've decided that my favorites are flats and one size covers. It's pretty awesome to be able to put the same diapers on my newborns that I can put on my two and a half year old. It makes packing a diaper bag super easy and they are also the easiest to wash and dry.


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