Monday, January 18, 2010

Adventures in newborn diapering

If you want to be successful with cloth diapers, I firmly believe that using cloth diapers from day one will greatly increase your likelihood of success. If it's all you know, you'll get used to it pretty quickly. Starting out with disposable diapers with the intention to switch to cloth diapers once you're 'settled' (whatever that means -- it's been nine years since we welcomed our first child, three kids later, and I still don't feel 'settled'!) may not work out that way. Using disposable diapers for those first few weeks can be a slippery slope, once you're hooked on the supposed 'convenience' of wrapping up the waste and tossing it, you may find it hard to transition to cloth diapers.

From the get-go, disposable diaper manufacturers will do their best to woo you with free samples, whether it's at your pediatrician's office, or sandwiched in a parenting magazine, these companies have deep pockets, and your loyalty is worth thousands of dollars to them. It's big business to convince parents that they must purchase a product for the first three years of each child's life. Do you think disposable diapers keep your baby's bottom dry for your baby's comfort? No, they do that to ensure your baby will be wearing disposable diapers as long as possible -- when a baby doesn't feel wetness against her skin, she is likely to potty train at a later age. The longer your child is in diapers, the bigger their bottom line.

If you consider the cost of certain brands of newborn disposable diapers, you can see that one company is trying to gain customers initially by luring them in with a cheaper price:

Why the disparity in price? Proctor & Gamble (the manufacturer of Pampers) is gambling that if they can get your baby into their diapers from day one, you will become a loyal Pampers user. If you compare the cost of both brands in larger sizes, you can see the initial savings of buying Pampers diapers for your newborn are eventually lost:

So, what are your newborn diapering choices?

I've said it before, and I've said it again, everyone should give prefolds a chance. They're cheap, and they work. You can use infant prefolds with a baby who weighs 8+ lbs, they'll be bulky to start, but newborn babies tend to put weight on quickly in those first few weeks, so the bulk is a short-term issue. We also sell preemie prefolds which can be used with babies who weigh 4-9 lbs. At $17.00/dozen, preemie prefolds are a justifiable purchase even if you only use them as diapers for a couple of weeks, after which you can use them as wipes, or doublers.

If prefolds absolutely, positively do not appeal to you, size 0 Kissaluvs are our most popular newborn fitted diapers, fitting babies who weigh 5-15 lbs. At $14.95 each, they are significantly more expensive than prefolds, however, they are well worth the money. The elastic around the legs in combination with the texture of the cotton sherpa do a great job of keeping newborn poop where it belongs, in the diaper; the umbilical cutout prevents the diaper from rubbing against your newborn's cord stump. In terms of how long your baby can wear these diapers, you can comfortably get at least 2-3 months of use out size 0 Kissaluvs, depending on the build of your baby. My son was born weighing a whopping 9 lbs 11 oz, and he was able to wear his size 0 Kissaluvs for a good 5-6 months, until he weighed 17 lbs (he was a long and skinny baby).

If quick-and-easy is your thing, we sell Fuzzibunz XS pocket diapers, at $15.00 each, they are cheaper than Kissaluvs (Kissaluvs require a cover), however, they are not as absorbent as Kissaluvs (though with a newborn, absorbency generally isn't an issue since they are pooping every five minutes for the first 4-6 weeks). Fuzzibunz XS pocket diapers fit from 4-12 lbs, they are similar to disposable diapers in that they go on in one piece, they are trim, and they will keep your baby's skin dry.

Some people have the attitude that since newborn babies grow so fast, it's pointless to invest in newborn diapers, however, regardless of what type of diaper you put on your child, you will be spending money. Infant pottying is an option that can drastically reduce how many diapers you might use, however, I realize it's not for everyone. If you want want to use cloth diapers with your baby from day one, but you don't want to make a large investment in your newborn's diaper stash, we offer a newborn diaper rental that allows you to rent 20 size 0 Kissaluvs and 10 XS Fuzzibunz for $15/week, the equivalent to what you would spend on disposable diapers. If you were to purchase these diapers, you would spend $450.00, though if you factor in future children and/or resale value, purchasing newborn diapers is generally a worthwhile investment.

So, how many diapers will I need?

A typical newborn will require 10-12 changes a day, due to the pooping-every-five-minutes thing I tend to mention a lot (hey, I want you to know what you're getting into!). You could buy a dozen diapers and make do with washing diapers daily, however, this will make cloth diapering feel like more work than it really is. Purchasing 24-36 diapers will see you washing diapers every 2-3 days, it not only lessens your workload, it will also reduce wear & tear on your diapers (good for resale value, or if you want to use your diapers with future children).

So, is there anything else I need to know?

Meconium (your baby's first poop) is really not the big deal people make it out to be. There's a belief that meconium will stain cloth diapers, parents-to-be often ask us about it. Some parents will actually use this as an excuse not to use cloth diapers from birth, however, I can assure you, meconium, like breastfed poop, washes out fine. It's thick, it's tarry, but it washes away just fine. You don't need liners to protect your diapers, don't sweat it!
If you're using a diaper that requires a cover (like a size 0 Kissaluvs, or a snappi-ed prefold), you can get away without using a cover for the first couple of days because your newborn will be peeing such a small amount. Letting your baby go coverless for those first few days is a great way to air-out your baby's cord stump.

Your baby will likely experience some type of a diaper rash around two weeks of age. All of our babies did, and a lot of our customers' babies do. Your newborn's skin is very sensitive, and no matter how quickly you change her after a poop, it's hard to avoid poop sitting against her skin. Airing her bum out is the best way to heal her skin, leaving her diaperless on an old blanket is the quickest (and cheapest!) way to get rid of a diaper rash.
Using cloth diapers from birth is completely feasible. If it's all you know, there will be no adjustment. If you need help, ask for it, friends and family will gladly put a load of diapers into the washing machine if it means a little more face-time with junior.


  1. LOVE this post! we used prefolds for our newborns and LOVED them. thanks!

  2. We started with prefolds as soon as we got home from the hospital, and I thought the huge cloth diaper butt was adorable. But we did have trouble with the diaper/cover rubbing on the cord stump and irritating it, causing it to bleed a bit and stain some clothes. I tried folding the diaper umpteen different ways but never managed to really protect my (skinny) daughter's cord stump properly. We ended up using a mix of disposables and prefolds until the stump fell off - and then it was prefolds all the way until I discovered the magic of FuzziBunz. ;)

    When we (hopefully) have another baby, I think we'll try either the Kissaluvs (I hear they have a cutout for the cord?) or XS FB's.

  3. Sad to say, we were one of those people who started with disposable with the good intentions of switching to cloth. But happy to say that once we switched (after the cord fell off - 2.5 weeks in), I'd never go back! We did use disposables on some overseas flights, and had blowouts each time! Boooo disposables! Needless to say the flight home we used cloth... Another reason we didn't continue disposable? We never bought any diapers - we just used the ones that we were given as gifts (diaper cake). I wouldn't have a clue what 'stage' to buy now! I think our next baby will be cloth from the start! (so thanks for all the newborn info in this post!)

  4. We started using cloth in the hospital and I do not regret a moment of it. Yes it was a bit of work as I had a c-section so they had to go home to be washed and brought back but it was so worth it. My son was 6 lbs 11 ozs. We used Monkey Doodlez and Diaper Works (XS), and prefolds. We used biodegradeable liners for the mucomium (black poop) and it all worked out.

    You knew who our baby was as there was a small stack of colourful cloth diapers beside the bassinet in the nursery.

    We love our cloth and have never had a blow out with my daughter we have many with disposables in the beginning...

    I am so happy we started from day 1.

  5. susie, is there a specific cover you would recommend for newborns?

  6. Great post. We have been thinking of using a cloth diaper service for the first 6 weeks. It will be our first baby. And my mother is law is paying for the service. ( bear bottoms)
    anyone have any experience with this service? Good,bad? I don't have any intention to use the service after the first six weeks. Um mainly because I already purchased a few cloth diapers
    and plan to get a few more; see what kind I like best so I can buy for when the service is done.
    I an totally see how you wouldn't want to switch afte using disposables

  7. Great post! Ditto to everything you said (and coming from experience).

    Even though we planned to cloth diaper, purchased cloth diapers in advance, lots of wellmeaning people bought us disposable diapers saying that we would want to use them for the first little while... So we did... and I did have a hard time getting my son into cloth after that (mainly because my husband became resistant).

    But as soon as we did start using them at around 6 weeks, we never looked back! And like a previous poster mentioned, all of a sudden we didn't have the explosive poops like we were getting with disposables.

    Next time around I want to use Kissaluvs - they look so soft and comfy! Great to hear you have a rental program!

  8. Hmmm...I thought your newborn diaper rental program was $20/week (not $15/week) - I paid an $80 deposit for the 4 weeks that signed up for at the KW shop...

  9. Kelly, you receive a gift card for $20 when you return the diapers ($5.00 credit for every week you keep them).

    susie :)

  10. Meg,
    My friend used Bear Bottoms and she liked them to start. It was worth it to her in the beginning when babies go through a lot of diapers but once they start pooping less and sleeping more at night, the cost is too much to justify (compared to disposables).

    I used disposables for a few weeks, then prefolds for a few weeks and then BumGenius. I was committed to using cloth and I'm pretty stubborn! When I told people I was planning to use cloth they all shook their heads and told me how difficult it would be! One year later and my daughter is still in cloth and I love it! My next baby will be in cloth from Day 1!


  11. Great post! With #1 I used BG 3.0's starting when he was about 3 months old but with #2 I borrowed some sz.0 Kissaluvs....I SO wish I'd done it with #1 as well. They are SO great! And as for covers, I am a HUUUUUGE fan of the Thirsties adjustable size ones...size 1 fits from newborn....used it from day 1 on a 7lb skinny scrawny girl!

  12. We used cloth from the start with our daughter Agnes. She is also cloth diapered in daycare, and I think for her whole 2 years of life we bought 2 packs of diapers. One of them is still in the trunk of my car, as we bought it for a trip and ended up using cloth and laudering while we were away. What swayed me the most was an article in Mothering magazine that talked about super absorbent polymers found in dispos, and I knew then I didn't want any of that near my baby's bottom.
    I actually *love* folding dipes after they come out of the dryer. My husband thinks I am nuts for folding them in the first place. They are just so cute, and I love the look of a baby bum in fluff.

    Melissa F