Well, I have officially folded up and put away all of my newborn diapers for my third (and last!) child. These newborn days are flying by so rapidly. I’m so excited to see my daughter grow up, but realizing I’ll never have such a tiny baby again is also a bit depressing!
Anyway, I wanted to take some time to share my thoughts on a controversial topic in the cloth diaper community– are newborn cloth diapers worth it? If so, how much money should you invest in a stash?
Why Did You Choose to Cloth Diaper?
The first thing you need to consider when deciding if it is worth it to purchase a newborn cloth diaper (CD) stash is what your priorities are when it comes to CDs.
Did you choose CDs to save money?
Did you want to reduce your family’s waste?
Are you trying to avoid the chemicals in disposable diapers?
Is your baby allergic to disposable diapers?
The answers to some of those questions may guide you in the right direction– for example, if your child is allergic to disposables, you don’t have much of a choice! A newborn cloth diaper stash would be worth it for you.
But some of these questions have more gray area. If you want to cloth diaper to cut costs, then you’re going to need to find out which is cheaper (and it’s not necessarily what you would think!)
Most of us use cloth diapers for more than one reason, and that’s okay. But as you decide if a newborn cloth diaper stash is worth it, think about what your top priority is for using CDs.
What Kinds of Diapers Do You Want to Use?
Cloth diaper prices vary widely. If you want to save money, buying a stash of 30+ organic newborn all-in-ones is not going to be cheaper (unless you find a great deal on some used diapers).
However, purchasing flats or prefold diapers would be a great option to save money.
If you are not concerned with the costs, then you could really choose whatever kinds of diapers you want. However, not all newborn diapers are created equal. I do have some recommendations at the end of this article.
How Long Do You Use a Newborn Stash?
How long you use a newborn stash for matters because you probably won’t want to buy a newborn stash of diapers if your baby will only be in them for two weeks, and you will probably not want to avoid buying a stash if your baby would wear newborn diapers for several months. So how much use do you typically get out of a newborn stash?
There is a lot of debate when it comes to answering this question. My experience is that you don’t use a newborn stash as long as you might think. My daughter completely outgrew her stash by 10 lbs (2 months old), and the absorbency started struggling between 8 and 9 lbs. My kids are notoriously heavy wetters!
However, I know some people have stretched out some of their newborn diapers until 4 or 5 months with their baby. I have no idea how as that would not have worked with any of my three children, and I have used a wide variety of different brands and styles. For my family, we move into our one-size diaper stash at 10 lbs. That is just what works best for us.
One of the biggest concerns I have received as far as saying one-size can fit around 10 lbs is that they would be far too bulky and they worry that their baby would be uncomfortable. Cloth diaper bulkiness varies between brands, but it is not true that one-size is too bulky at 10 lbs. Here you can see my 10-lb daughter in her first one-size diaper–a Smart Bottoms organic all-in-one.
Is it bulkier than a newborn diaper? Yes… but she doesn’t fit her newborn diapers anymore, so it’s time. No sense in making her wear diapers that don’t fit right to avoid bulk!
Is it *too* bulky? Nope! Definitely not bulky enough to be uncomfortable.
Some brands will fit a 10-lb baby better than others, but in general I have not had any issues with this. Here are some pics of my daughter (also at 10 lbs) wearing a Thirsties Natural all-in-one and a Lalabye Baby Diaper.
How Much Should I Spend on Newborn Diapers?
If your goal is to save money, then you will need to assess how much you would spend on your preferred brand of both disposable diapers and cloth diapers.
As an example, Pampers Swaddlers newborn size are $0.29/diaper at Target. The Up & Up brand is $0.12/diaper. Most people will use 8-12 diapers a day in the newborn stage. I will use 10 as an average.
10 diapers a day for 10 weeks (the amount of time I used newborn cloth diapers for) would be 700 diapers. That would be $203 for the Pampers and $84 for the Up & Up.
If you want to save money, you would probably opt for the Up & Up brand–your goal for your cloth diaper stash purchase would be to spend less than $84.
If you don’t necessarily need to save a ton of money but don’t want to pay much more than you have to, then I would aim to spend around $100 or less.
However, it is easier to spend a lot on a newborn stash than you might time. Mine cost about $300 between prefolds, flats, workhorses (fitteds), covers, a new diaper wet bag, and a few all-in-ones, though I also reused some newborn diapers I had from my first two children.
Are Newborn Cloth Diapers Worth It?
The answer to this is personal for each family. We all have different reasons for using cloth diapers.
But for the average family… maybe not. The average family probably uses disposable diapers for the first week or two until the umbilical stump falls off, and until they feel a little more adjusted to life with their new baby. Then they may start using newborn cloth diapers until their baby is in the 10-12 lb range.
All babies are shaped a little differently, so it’s possible your baby may not be ready for one-size diapers at 10 lbs like my babies were. However it’s hard to know how your baby will be shaped until they get here! My babies are on the skinnier side (though my second child had very chunky thighs) and I found that by 2 months of age (around 10 lbs) they all fit just fine in one-size diapers.
Babies grow at different rates (and are born different weights), but they will hit the 10-lb mark generally speaking anytime between 1 month and 3 months old. Do you want to have a newborn cloth diaper stash for that amount of time? If so, then YES! It’s worth it. It’s worth it if it makes you happy to do so. So many people are excited to get right into using cloth diapers, and I don’t blame them!
But if money is a consideration for you, I don’t know that cloth diapers are the cheapest way to go until you get to one-size, and I would probably skip buying a stash.
However, it’s not impossible to save some money with newborn diapers. Here are some tips for saving money on a newborn cloth diaper stash:
- Opt for gently used newborn diapers. Many people sell off their newborn stash when they are done with it to recoup some of the money they spent. They hold their value well since they are only used for a short time. Check some BST (buy/sell/trade) groups on Facebook or your local Facebook marketplace to see what you can find.
- Sell your newborn stash when you’re done with it and see what you can make back on it. You can apply that money to some one-size diapers!
- Stick to flats and prefold diapers–these are the cheapest per diaper.
- Stay minimalist with your diaper stash. Remember that you will only need them for a couple months–you don’t need to try out every single newborn diaper there is. I had about 50 diaper changes worth of CDs and that was way too many for me, even with how much newborns need to be changed. Having about 36 changes (about 3 days worth of diapers) would be a comfortable number, though you could probably get by with 24 if you are willing to do laundry a little sooner. There are going to be many people that tell you 24 is nowhere near enough, but you can definitely make it work if you want to, and you will save a lot of money by doing so.
I will be honest–while I love all types of cloth diapers in a one-size stash, I am heavily biased for a newborn stash. Here is my recommendation after having 3 babies in newborn cloth:
Prefolds & Fitteds ALL THE WAY.
Prefolds & fitteds are highly absorbent and rarely leak (unless you have gone way too long without changing). Prefolds are budget-friendly, and while fitteds cost a little more, they are great for a reluctant spouse or grandparents to use. They are also nice when you just want to get a quick change.
I absolutely loved my prefolds & workhorses (fitteds) from Green Mountain Diapers. They are amazing! I love them so much, I ordered the next size up to use now that we have moved into our one-size stash. Their customer service is awesome, too.
As a runner-up, I also like all-in-twos for the newborn stage, but be prepared to swap out the cover more often because it is hard to contain the poop to the insert with a newborn. You can buy newborn inserts (Flip makes some), or you can simply pad fold your prefolds and lay them in your cover! It is a great system for when you can’t find your snappis/boingos/pins.
Here are some of my grievances with other types of newborn diapers and why I recommend avoiding them:
- Newborn pockets – either I have giant hands, or I don’t even know. I cannot seem to properly stuff a newborn pocket. It takes forever because it just bunches up since there isn’t much room for my hand. They give me rage, heh.
- Flats – a lot of people love them, but diaper changes with flats take too long for me. My babies have all scream cried every time they got their diaper changed those first few weeks & months. My daughter just recently grew out of that, so I am using my flats more now, but they were a little too time consuming for me when dealing with a screaming baby.
- All-in-ones – The newborn size all-in-ones have really weak absorbency. My kids started out-peeing them long before they grew out of the actual fit of them. With my daughter, she started leaking everytime she wore one when she was about 8 to 8.5 lbs. However, my husband loves them…but he is rarely the one to deal with the aftermath of the leak, LOL!
There is my take on whether or not a newborn diaper stash is worth it. In short, don’t feel guilty if you want to skip it. You likely won’t save tons of money with them, and can easily spend more money if you get carried away. You’ll be in one-size cloth diapers before you know it.
BUT if you do want to use them, it can be worth it– just buy smart! I do regret spending so much money on my stash, but I don’t regret using them. I loved them!
Check out more information on building a newborn cloth diaper stash here.
Do you like using newborn sized cloth diapers? Let me know in the comments!