This is the first blog entry of a series of three - newborn, older baby and toddler. I will try to go through different diapering systems, and leave you my advice on how they may work as your baby grows. If you are totally new to cloth diapering and all this cloth diaper addict lingo confuses you, I suggest you also read this page on our main site.
I think there are three main considerations when you start your cloth diapering adventure with a newborn.
1. Blow-out containment.
2. Ease of use, since a lot of new parents are new at diapering all together.
3. Frequent changes
The containment factor: Here we go, the very graphic part of the story!
Because newborn poop is very runny and can be quite… dare I say… explosive, elastics are really nice. Really, really nice…. I also liked to have the two layers of protection that a fitted or snappied prefold and a separate cover gave me. If the diaper did not contain it all, the cover caught the balance before it made it on the clothing. For the records, we only had to deal with a tiny baby’s major blow-out on clothing while using disposable diapers (and once only in a pocket diaper.) As far as my experience goes, pocket diapers do contain runny poop much better than a disposable, but not as well as a separate diaper and cover do. We had a few pocket dipes on hand and liked to have them in the bag on outings, and also at night since our baby was a daytime-only pooper.
Which bring us to ease of use. Magic word for new parents: Hook and loop (i.e. Velcro!). It is nice, not intimidating and easy for daddy to deal with in the middle of the night. Be warned here, as this series of posts progresses though, you might not like Velcro forever… Other great choices for the ease of use are pockets and all-in-ones. However, for the reasons above, I do not recommend a complete stash of pocket and all-in-one diapers to start, but do try them, a lot of parent just swear by them so they might work out great for your family as well.
The ease of use is also linked to the frequent changes. Newborns seem constantly wet and they poop a lot too. You may have to change a diaper 16 times a day, including night, so you will want to make sure it is easy.
Another side consideration is the umbilical stump for the first few days or weeks, depending on when it falls. We really disliked a PUL cover rubbing on our tiny baby’s stump, so for most of the time, we just kept her in a fitted diaper without a cover, laid her to sleep with a lap pad underneath her and changed the clothing with the diaper for the first little bit. We were given gazillions tiny sleepers anyway. Since then though, I have learned to use fleece and wool, and my next baby will most likely be wrapped in wool from the start.
The last thing to keep in mind is that newborn diapers won’t fit for long. Buy good quality diapers but please do not spend too much on newborn/small size. A lot of parents who do fancier diapers in bigger sizes prefer to do cheaper options for the newborn.
Some parents use cloth in the hospital, some don’t. A huge benefit of using cloth from the get go is that you can feel those wet diapers right away rather than guessing if a disposable is wet. These first wet diapers are quite an important indicator if baby is getting milk and believe me, it is not fun to take a disposable apart to figure if it was actually wet! And yes, worried first time parents do silly things like that! A downside of dealing with cloth in the hospital is to bring them back home for a wash, but really you can see it as a first experience in traveling with cloth diapers. If you like cloth diapering you will probably end up doing several overnight travels with them anyway so one more or less won’t make a big difference in the end. You will also have to wash the meconium, which is not as bad as you might think. It does wash fine; no special pre-treatment is needed and doesn’t stain any more than other bowel movements. If you are really worried about it, you can just put a disposable liner in the diaper.
My personal recommendation for a newborn is to get fitted diapers and PUL or wool/fleece covers as a main system for those first months, a few pocket/AIO diapers to see if you like them too, as well as a dozen or two of good quality infant size prefolds as a back up in between wash days while you figure out how to use them and see if you actually like to use them as a main diaper. Prefolds are cheap and versatile, so having some on hand from the start is just great. They will be useful in the future as inserts/doublers in bigger diapers or to wipe the slide at the park, wash the car, and one of our team member can even turn them into training pants for you.
I also recommend a big stack of cloth wipes. They will be a lifesaver and some of them can even be folded in a tiny diaper as a doubler.
On this note I will congratulate you on your new baby - you are not reading this just for fun, are you? :-)
- To be continued with the older baby/crawler part soon…