If you've spent any time in cloth diapering forums or chat groups, you've likely seen this question posted hundreds of times, “Do I really need newborn cloth diapers?” My answer is yes and no. Confused? Read on.
Guestimating your newborn size in-utero is like a game of chance, as doctors and midwives almost always overestimate your baby’s weight. Take my son, for example, who was estimated to emerge at around nine pounds, but made his entrance into the world at a measly seven pounds, and then left the hospital at six pounds. We had to scramble to purchase newborn clothing (we had skipped that size and purchased all 0-3 months), and he ended-up wearing that newborn size for the first two months. At six feet tall, and topping eight pounds as a baby myself, I never imagined I would have a baby so small! Thank goodness for the two packs of preemie-sized prefolds I had purchased on a whim.
Most one-size cloth diapers are rated for babies eight pounds and up, featuring snaps on both the rise and the waist to allow the diaper to grow along with your baby. If you have a small baby you’ll find yourself scrambling for a good diaper fit with a one-size cloth diaper. In this case, I definitely advocate for newborn diapers. If you’re a first time parent reading this, you need to be aware of the explosive poos your baby will be having for the first couple of months, so having properly fitted diapers are important (unless you want to spend a lot of time changing diapers, clothes, and messes).
If this isn’t your first time at the rodeo, and you know that you tend to have larger babies (8+ pounds), then it’s a safe bet that you can launch right into one-size diapers from the beginning. If you’re using prefolds, you can skip the preemie size, but I would suggest adding a sized cover or two to your stash, just to be on the safe side (you never know when that diaper cover might come in handy with a cloth diapering emergency).
If buying an entire newborn cloth diaper stash isn’t in your budget, there are many ways to get creative in your shopping. Since newborn diapers are used for such a short amount of time, you can often find great deals on used newborn diapers, or even deals from people who decided that cloth just wasn’t for them. I was washing diapers daily when we started with eighteen prefolds, so I recommend having at least twenty-four diapers to start (thirty-six to be in a really comfortable position). If you opt for buying new, you’ll be happy to hear that newborn diapers typically hold their value because they’re used for such a short period of time.
If you’re newly pregnant, or anticipating pregnancy, I would advise you to set aside money each month during your pregnancy to purchase cloth diapers and accessories. I knew that I was going to cloth diaper before I got pregnant, and already had the research done when my pregnancy test was positive, so I was able to purchase diapers in monthly increments (we were on a VERY tight budget back then) and I utilized used cloth diapers to fill out the remainder of our stash.
Lauren B. Stevens is a freelance writer whose work can be found on The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy and Care.com. When she’s not doing cloth diaper laundry, or chasing her rambunctious toddler, Lauren writes about parenting and women’s issues on her blog, lo-wren.com.