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Cloth Diaper Tip: How to cloth diaper a newborn baby

Posted by Becca on 8/13/2013 to Cloth Diaper How-To
Before I had my baby, I had grand illusions of discovering all the ins and outs of perfectly cloth diapering a newborn and sharing all my neatly refined wisdom with you in perfectly packaged form.newborn,cloth diapers,cloth diapering

Now, I know that's not going to happen. I'm not gonna lie, cloth diapering a newborn is tricky. I've even advised some new-to-cloth friends to just go with disposables at first and I'm not even sorry about it. There are a lot of things to keep in mind--some with regards to the diapers, some having to do with your baby, and some are just things that come with the post-partum period you'll be going through when you're taking care of a newborn.

With regards to my newborn, he's pretty huge. I had been hoping for a nice, small 8 pounder because I gained 20lbs less with Baby Bear than with Bunny, but he was, in fact, 4 ounces heavier than her, weighing in at a whopping 9lbs 9oz after a super quick, all natural birth where I only had to push through about 5 contractions. I didn't realize that a 9 plus pounder could come out so easily! Wow! But that's another post for another day. In any case, his size has much to do with the limited amount of newborn experience that I can share with you. I know about cloth diapering 9 pound babies, but I don't have experience with a “normal” sized 7 pound baby.


So, the first thing that you have to take into account with cloth diapering a newborn is size. Newborns come in all shapes and sizes. Most are around 7 pounds. Some are teeny tiny at 5 pounds full term and some are as large as 10 or 11 pounds. That's a lot of different sizes to consider when trying to come up with a cloth diaper stash before your baby is born. My midwife seems to think that your baby's size has a lot to do with yours and your husband's birth weights. I was 8 pounds 12 ounces at birth and my husband was 7 pounds 3 ounces at birth. According to her, this means that I wouldn't have a baby smaller than 7pounds 3 ounces. Then, of course, if you have had children already, you sort of know what size children your body typically produces. Since my daughter was 9 pounds 5 ounces, I knew that I'd have a large baby. I took that into account as I started amassing my stash.

The Umbilical Cord

umbilical stump,cloth diapers,newborn One of the most difficult things for me, currently, is the umbilical cord. I'm terrified of accidentally ripping it off, or covering it in the diaper where it won't be able to dry properly and might get soaked in urine or feces. I have a bunch of handmade AIO diapers, a few store bought AIOs, plus some newborn prefolds and fitteds and some handmade covers. Not all of these diapers actually fit underneath his little cord which means that my newborn cloth diaper stash is diminished until the cord falls off. It also means that I can't use my one size pocket diapers either--though a couple of them would definitely fit him at this point. When my daughter was a newborn, all I had were one size diapers and after trying them once with the cord, I decided it was a bad idea and I waited to use them until it fell off.

The Laundry

A newborn goes through A LOT of diaper changes! Well, after the first 2-3 days, that is. My little Baby Bear went through about 6 diapers in the hospital as he expelled all the meconium in his system, and then he spent a day and a half peeing only once or twice. About the time I was ready to freak out and call the doctor because I was sure he was either tongue tied or that I wasn't producing enough milk, he began soaking his diaper about once an hour or two. This meant that even though I have 27 diapers that make the cut as far as fit and space for the umbilical cord, I have to do a wash every day in order to keep on top of things. When you're sleep deprived and experiencing a drastic change in hormones, that can be a lot.

Post Partum Issues

Birthing a baby is a lot of work. Apparently, it takes about 2 weeks for everything to initially fall back into place (ie: uterus, lungs, bowels, etc) and because of this, my midwife gave me strict instructions that for two weeks I am only allowed to take care of the baby and myself. Following these directions is hard for me, but I feel that I've come to a compromise where I have mostly obeyed her rules while still doing a couple of tiny chores that help me feel that I am in control of my life. Giving birth naturally means that I feel a lot better the second time around, but it doesn't mean that I can do everything as I wish I could. My body is easily exhausted at the smallest tasks--from wiping down a table to a quick trip to the grocery store. I really wanted to go to church right away and I felt great the Sunday five days after delivery so we went. Halfway through the service my head was nodding and I felt like I'd run a marathon. And this is just how I felt physically. Emotionally, you're drained because you're not getting enough sleep and your hormones are bonkers. Also, you may or may not be experiencing post partum depression or baby blues. All of this plays a role in whether or not you will be up to the task of washing and using cloth diapers all the time, right away.

cloth diapers,newborn diapers

So my advice to you? It won't hurt to try to cloth diaper full time. I'm doing it and surviving--but this is my second child and my second baby in cloth diapers. I was prepared… sort of. Just don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work out.

Buy a package of disposables. I didn't, but even though I'm greatly opposed to the idea of placing even one of these diapers on my baby's bum, it would be nice to have even just one package of them to help ease the load when I'd rather lay in bed or snuggle with my newborn on the couch.

Get a variety of diapers. Whatever you do, don't invest in just one kind of diaper. Personally, I've found that newborn prefolds and newborn AIO diapers fit my son just fine but most of his fitteds have too high of a rise currently. Of course, his newborn diapers only just fit him, as large as he is, but they are doing the trick until his umbilical cord falls off.

Don't invest in too many expensive diapers. Share a stash of newborn diapers with a friend. Buy diapers used off eBay. Wait for deals on the tiny dipes throughout the duration of your pregnancy. Rent newborn diapers. Buy sample packages. Stick with prefolds. The thing is, you don't know what you will like, what will work, or what will fit until that baby comes. However, if you have bought loads of the more pricey diapers, have no fear! They have a really good resale value so you'll be able to recoup most of the money spent.

Don't feel like a failure if you have to postpone cloth diapers until things even out in your household. You can use disposables. It's okay. It's like using paper cups and plates when you have a party because you just know you won't be able to handle all of those dishes and enjoy your guests.

So, I'm curious. How many of you have cloth diapered a newborn--especially one smaller than 9 pounds? What did you do differently and what advice do you have to moms and dads using cloth diapers right from birth?