Recently, some expectant moms asked for tips on building a newborn cloth diaper stash to use while practicing elimination communication from birth.
I had planned to write a blog post about creating a minimalist natural newborn cloth diaper stash back when I was preparing for my second baby (over a year ago!). Instead, I included the details of our experience with cloth diapering from birth in my posts about Preparing for Newborn EC and Practicing EC with a Newborn from Birth.
In this post I am going to share my dream ideal newborn cloth diaper stash to use as backup while practicing elimination communication.
If you are new to the concept, elimination communication is a gentle method of allowing a baby opportunities to pee and poop in the potty. Diapers are considered "back-up" in case there is a "miss" and you don't "catch" the pee in the potty.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Considerations for Building a Newborn Cloth Diaper Stash
I love the simplistic appeal of a uniform cloth diaper stash - a single type of absorbency and a single style of cover. However, I have come to realize that it can be helpful to have different styles of cloth diapers for different situations. Here are some considerations to think about when choosing the various types of cloth diapers to include in your newborn stash. It's nice to have:
- Non-waterproof absorbent cloth diapers to use at home during the day while learning your baby's signals and natural timing. Without a cover you can tell right away when the diaper is wet and change it to a clean dry one.
- Waterproof covers to add over absorbent layer, especially for leaving the house or nighttime.
- Snap-down rise that provides room for umbilical stump, especially if cloth diapering from birth!
- Option to use at night that is super easy to remove and replace.
Start with Just a Newborn Cloth Diaper Stash
I advise starting with only a newborn cloth diaper stash and waiting to see which types of cloth diapers you prefer and which ones fit well on your baby before investing in larger sizes or one-size diapers.
If you are hoping to receive cloth diapers as baby shower gifts, you could register for gift cards for the bigger sizes of cloth diapers. You may want to create an Amazon baby registry and use the Universal Registry Tool to add gift cards to Green Mountain Diapers or other cloth diaper shops.
I know with my first baby I felt pressured to get everything we needed before our baby was born. I was glad with my second baby that we started with just the newborn essentials and added what we needed as we went along.
Consider Using a Cloth Diaper Service for the First Three Months
A cloth diaper service that provides and washes cloth diapers makes cloth diapering super easy!
A cloth diaper service is especially nice during the newborn phase when babies pee and poop quite frequently (about every 20 minutes) and parents are in a state of sleepless exhaustion. You could do a quick search online to see if there is a diaper service in your area. The diaper service would deliver clean cloth diapers to your door each week and pick up the dirty ones to wash. You would just borrow the cloth diapers from the service, rather than purchase them yourself.
Cloth diaper services are even more eco-friendly than washing cloth diapers at home, since they wash large loads together.
If you live in Southern California, I highly recommend looking into Luludew Cloth Diaper Service. They offer multiple different combinations of cloth diapers and one of their packages is cloth prefolds and fitted diapers. They also offer All-in-One (AIO) diapers, covers, and wipes as options. If you want to save money, you could rent a bundle of diapers from Luludew to wash at home. They also offer their brand of cloth diapers for purchase.
We used Dolphin Diaper Service on Oahu with our first baby. They delivered the diapers via electric car! It was super nice not washing the diapers myself. They only offered prefold diapers and I wanted more options with my second baby, so I purchased and washed diapers in the coin-operated laundry room in our high-rise apartment building. It took a lot of time and I couldn't control the settings the way you can with a personal washing machine. A cloth diaper service is a convenient option if you don't have a washing machine in your home.
I explain all about cloth diaper delivery services in this video:
Consider Buying Used Cloth Diapers to Save Money
Buying used cloth diapers is a great way to save money and the environment. It's really easy these days to purchase used cloth diapers. Almost every brand of cloth diapers has a Facebook Buy/Sell/Trade group. There are also B/S/T groups for elimination communication supplies.
Here are some buy, sell, trade, and swap groups you could check:
- Elimination Communication & Diaper Free BST
- Green Mountain Diapers B/S/T
- Wool Love BST
- Truly Charis Trading Post
For a zero waste cloth diaper stash, you could repurpose used materials. You could sew your own cloth diapers using upcycled fabrics; sew wool sweaters into wool diaper covers; or cut an old flannel sheet into cloth wipes.
My Experience Cloth Diapering and EC'ing Newborns
I cloth diapered and practiced elimination communication with both my kids when they were newborn babies. My son was born in winter 2013 and weighed 6 pounds 15 ounces and my daughter was born in spring 2018 and weighed 5 pounds 13 ounces.
With my son, we switched from disposable diapers provided by the hospital to prefolds and size Small gDiapers gPants at a couple days old. The size Small gDiapers fit him well and sat nicely below his umbilical stump. For observation time, he wore a prefold and diaper belt while laying on a waterproof mat. We started offering the potty on a regular basis when he was one-month-old.
With my daughter, I wanted to try different styles of cloth diapers to figure out which ones were really the best to use as backup for elimination communication. I read as many blog posts as I could find on cloth diapers for EC and watched videos on newborn cloth diapering. At the time, there really wasn't much guidance regarding cloth diapers for elimination communication.
Since I had already tried prefolds, I decided this time to build my stash around Cloth-eez Workhorse fitted diapers in size Newborn. The problem was, my daughter was tiny at birth (5 lbs 13 oz) and the Cloth-eez fitted diapers gaped around her thin legs, so the pee leaked right out the leg holes. Nonetheless, we persevered and cloth diapered from day one, leaky diapers and all! We also practiced elimination communication from birth with her.
I'd like to share what I learned from my experience with newborn cloth diapers and practicing elimination communication from birth to help you create a functional and easy to use cloth diaper stash.
My Dream Ideal Natural Newborn Cloth Diaper Stash for Elimination Communication Backup
Having cloth diapered and EC'd two newborn babies, I now have a better idea of which newborn cloth diapers I would want in my stash.
My ideal cloth diaper stash is also very much influenced by my preference for natural fibers (organic cotton, hemp, and wool).
Even bamboo viscose / rayon is not natural enough for my taste, since it is a semi-synthetic fiber made through harsh chemical processing of cellulose. Bamboo fabric is not as eco-friendly as it is touted to be!
Wool diaper covers are my favorite, for their amazing natural properties. If you prefer not to use wool, you could use Polyester (petroleum-based plastic) diaper covers made with a waterproof layer of PUL or TPU. Instead of a wool puddle pad, you could use an organic cotton pad with a hidden PUL waterproof layer.
My dream newborn cloth diaper stash to use as backup for EC would include:
- (24) Cloth-eez Prefolds, organic cotton, size Newborn
- (6) Cloth-eez Muslin Flats, organic cotton, newborn
- (2) Diaper belts
- (6) Newborn Fitted Cloth Diapers (from a mixture of brands)
- (3) Babee Greens Classic Wool Diaper Covers, size Newborn 6-12 lbs or Small 8-18 lbs
- Or 6-8 polyester cloth diaper covers, size Newborn
- (1) Pull-on wool cover, size Newborn (for wearing with fitted diapers)
- (6) Newborn All-in-One (AIO) Cloth Diapers (to use at night)
- (60) Organic cotton flannel cloth wipes (one wet and one dry for each diaper change)
- (1) Small Wool Puddle Pad to use as a changing pad
- (1) Large Wool Puddle Pad to use for diaper-free time and to protect the bed
- Or Komfi Baby organic cotton waterproof mat
- Wet bags for home and diaper bag (wool or PUL)
This comes out to 42 diaper changes. My newborns tended to go through about 20 cloth diapers per 24 hours, with offering the potty multiple times per day and changing the diaper as soon as I noticed it was wet. A stash of around 40 newborn cloth diapers should allow for washing diapers every other day.
We will talk about each of these types of newborn diapers in further detail below! You can click on an item in the list above to skip ahead, or read the whole article for all the details.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, I will earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support!
Update January 26, 2021: Here's my natural newborn cloth diaper stash for my third baby!
Styles of Newborn Cloth Diapers for Elimination Communication Backup
Cloth Prefold Diapers
A prefold is a rectangular cloth diaper with more layers down the middle and fewer layers on the sides.
I would build my newborn cloth diaper stash around prefolds because they are so versatile. For diaper-free time, my baby could lay on an open prefold on top of a waterproof pad. The prefold could also be secured around my baby's waist using a diaper belt.
Prefolds can also be worn with potty leggings or a diaper-belt top from Komfi Baby.
When using a waterproof diaper cover, the cloth prefold can be folded into thirds (trifolded) and laid inside the cover. I don't worry much about poop leaking, since we try to catch at least some of the poops in the potty.
Flat diapers are even easier to wash and dry than prefolds, so they would be a good choice if you will be hand washing or hang drying your diapers. Flats are also my top choice of cloth diapers to take traveling. I would opt for newborn sized half flats, since they would be trimmer when pad folding than one size flats. Simply pad fold them into a narrow rectangle and use with a diaper belt or lay inside a cover.
I recommend getting at least 24 size Newborn (orange edge) cloth prefold diapers or newborn half flats. You may also want to get 6-12 size Small (yellow edge) prefolds if you think your baby will quickly outgrow the newborn size.
At $2.75 per prefold, newborn prefolds are an economical option! At $2.58 per half flat, newborn half flats are also an economical option.
After you are done using prefold or flats as diapers you could still use them as burp cloths or cleaning rags.
You could also sew your own prefolds, or cut and surge fabric into flat cloth diapers.
With my daughter, I found it convenient to layer a lanolized wool puddle pad, cloth prefold, and cloth wipe, for her to lay on during diaper-free time.
With my son, the first time I tried diaper-free observation time, the pee arched from the bed where he was laying across our tiny studio apartment to the couch. I realized that bare-bottomed time wasn't going to work with him and took out the diaper belt I had purchased from EC Wear.
A diaper belt is worn around a baby's waist and can hold a prefold or folded flat in place.
I prefer a lanolized wool diaper belt, since it can repel or neutralize urine. A cotton diaper belt is also an option, but it will probably need to be washed much more often. I would start with at least two small diaper belts. Some are simply a stretchy elastic band covered in soft fabric, while others can be adjusted with Velcro.
Newborn Fitted Cloth Diapers
A fitted cloth diaper is absorbent and shaped like a diaper. It is not waterproof on its own, but a waterproof cover can be worn over it.
I would get 6 newborn fitted diapers, from a mixture of brands. I learned with my daughter that not all fitted diapers fit the same! It helps to try various brands on your baby to see which ones work the best.
Fitted diapers are great for using without a cover at home, so you can tell right away when they are wet. You can add a waterproof cover for going out or nighttime. Fitted cloth diapers are a preferred option for pairing with pull-on style wool diaper covers.
I prefer newborn fitted diapers with a snap-down rise to allow for the umbilical stump. That way they are easier to use from birth.
Babeegreens offers a newborn fitted diaper with umbilical snap-down that comes in either organic cotton or organic cotton / hemp. It's a tiny fitted diaper that would fit well from birth on a 5 or 6 pound baby.
Luludew offers a newborn (size 1) cotton velour (non-organic) fitted diaper with a row of rise snaps that allow the fitted diaper to sit below the umbilical stump.
Loveybums offers an organic cotton NB/S fitted diaper with either snaps or Aplix closure. Having used the size large Loveybums fitted diapers on my toddler, I know that I prefer the snap closure and the cotton velour. Unfortunately, Loveybums newborn fitted diapers don't have a snap-down rise to accommodate the umbilical stump. That's too bad, since I love their soft organic cotton velour fitteds!
I was able to use no-closure newborn Cloth-eez Workhorse fitted diapers on my daughter from birth, but it required folding down the front and then securing the tabs with a Snappi, which was a bit tricky. The leg holes on the workhorse fitted diapers were too big at first on my daughter (5 pounds, 13 ounces). After the umbilical stump fell off, the snap version probably would have been more convenient than the no-closure version.
At $12 - $23 a piece, fitted cloth diapers are much more expensive than cloth prefolds. If you are looking for a budget-friendly cloth diaper stash, you could opt for all prefolds or flats.
Newborn Wool Cloth Diaper Covers ~OR~ Polyester Covers
Wool cloth diaper covers are soft, natural and breathable. Once lanolized, a wool diaper cover acts as a water resistant layer over an absorbent cloth diaper.
Babeegreens Classic Side Snapping Wool Cover
Wool diaper covers that wrap around a baby and secure with snaps or hook and loop are easy to use during the newborn phase. Once a baby is standing, I prefer to use pull-on wool diaper covers.
My favorite newborn wool diaper cover is the Babeegreens Classic Wool Cover. The newborn size is intended for 6-12 pounds. It was the only cloth diaper in our stash that fit my daughter from birth (5 lbs 13 oz). I was so glad to have the newborn size! If you have bigger babies, you might be able to start with size small which is for 8-18 pounds.
What I really like about the Babeegreens side snapping wool cover is that it fits snuggly enough that I could trifold a prefold and lay it inside the cover. Then I could put it on my baby in one simple step of snapping the sides. This was much easier than first securing the prefold in place with a Snappi and then snapping the cover. Elimination communication involves frequently removing the diaper for diaper changes and pottytunities, so I like to make the diapering system as simple and easy as possible!
The Babeegreens cover can also be worn over a fitted diaper. It just requires two steps: first fastening the fitted, and then the cover.
Since wool is breathable, it's okay if a wool diaper cover goes over the umbilical stump. I just didn't like the cover bumping my baby's umbilical stump. I would use covers as little as possible until the stump falls off.
Pull-On Wool Cover
I would get one pull-on style wool diaper cover to pair with the fitted diapers. Either an interlock wool cover from Truly Charis or a Disana knit wool cover. That way I only have to snap the fitted diaper and not both the fitted diaper and cover.
For an interlock cover I would either get XS wool bubble shorts, since they are nice and roomy and easier to pull up and down, or a pair of newborn size wool longies that would serve as a pair of long pants.
The knit wool Disana covers (size 3-6M) are nice and stretchy and look like they would be easier to pull on than an interlock wool cover.
Polyester Cloth-eez Wrap Cover
If you prefer not to use wool diaper covers, then I would recommend getting 6-8 polyester (PUL or TPU) wipeable newborn diaper covers.
The Cloth-eez Wrap Cover size 0 would be a great option for the first couple weeks when the umbilical cord stump is still healing. It has two umbilical cord stump snap down options and two rows of rise snaps. It can fit a 4-10 pound baby. On the smallest setting it can be paired with Preemie or Newbie prefolds or Birdseye half flats. On the larger setting it can be paired with Newborn prefolds, Newborn Workhorse fitted diapers, or half flats.
The Cloth-eez Wrap size 1 fits 7-14 pounds, but does not have a snap down for the umbilical cord stump. It can be worn over newborn sized cotton diapers.
I would opt for a couple in each size. It's nice to have at least something that fits well from the very beginning if you will be cloth diapering from birth.
You can find answers to frequently asked questions about wool diaper covers by watching my Wool Diaper Covers 101 video:
In this Wool Care Guide you can learn multiple ways to wash and lanolize wool diaper covers:
Newborn All-in-One Cloth Diapers
I would consider getting 6 newborn all-in-one cloth diapers for nighttime. I normally don't recommend all-in-one cloth diapers for elimination communication backup, but I think they would be very convenient to use at night. During the first week or two, I remember changing my daughter's diaper 10 times at night! I wanted something that was super easy to change and that didn't leak.
My top choice is the newborn all-in-one cloth diaper by Blueberry Diapers (organic cotton absorbency). The inside is made of the same fabric as an organic cotton prefold. The umbilical snap-down means these would be great in the very early days.
Two other brands that offer newborn all-in-one cloth diapers that can be worn while the umbilical stump is still attached are Thirties (organic cotton / hemp absorbency) and the Smart Bottoms (organic cotton / hemp absorbency).
Here are some additional factors to consider when building a natural cloth diaper stash:
I would purchase or make 60 organic cotton flannel wipes to use with the cloth diapers. With my second baby I started out with 48 cloth wipes, but it wasn't enough during the first few weeks, so I ended up buying 12 more.
For each diaper change I would use one wet cloth wipe and then one dry wipe to pat dry. I just use plain warm water to wet the wipes. No fancy wipes solution needed. Another option is to rinse your baby's bottom with running water in the sink and then pat dry with a cloth wipe. It just depends where you will be doing diaper changes and pottytunities.
During diaper-free time I would also keep a cloth wipe under my baby's bottom. If just a little shart (poop fart) got on the wipe I could easily switch it out for a clean one.
I've tried a few types of cloth wipes, and my favorite are thin flannel wipes, since they are nice and soft. I don't need anything too grippy (like Birdseye cotton) while practicing EC. Fortunately, I usually only need to clean a tiny bit of poop, rather than dealing with an entire poop in the diaper.
I really like the OsoCozy wipes, and Luludew offers a super cute wipes bag set for taking in your diaper bag. I normally take dry wipes in my diaper bag and wet them as needed. If you pre-moisten the wipes I recommend taking them out of your diaper bag as soon as you get home, so they don't mold.
Wool or Organic Cotton Puddle Pads
While practicing elimination communication it's helpful to have waterproof pads. They are great for diaper-free time or when using a cloth diaper without a waterproof cover. You can either use a lanolized wool puddle pad topped with something absorbent, like a cloth prefold or receiving blanket, or you can use an organic cotton pad with a hidden waterproof layer.
I also like having a small wool puddle pad to use as a diaper changing pad.
Little Bunny Bear in the UK offers super soft wool puddle pads. We loved using them for our daughter. Babeegreens in the USA offers wool puddle pads. Holy Lamb Organics sells wool mattress protectors on Amazon USA.
Komfi Baby in Canada offers organic cotton waterproof pads.
I show how I use wool puddle pads in my video demonstration of newborn elimination communication supplies:
Waterproof Wet Diaper Bags (Wool or PUL)
One of my favorite accessories for cloth diapering are waterproof wet bags!
It's nice to have 2 large hanging wet bags or 2 reusable diaper pail liners for use at home.
Smaller wet bags are great for packing in your diaper bag. I like to pack clean cloth diapers in the dry pocket of a wet/dry bag and move them to the waterproof wet pocket as they get used. A wet/dry bag is also great for packing a travel potty.
Some of my favorite brands offering wet bags are Planet Wise (cotton and PUL), Organic Caboose (wool), and Logan and Lenora (polyester and PUL).
In this video I show some of the wet bags that I use for packing my cloth diaper bag:
That wraps up building an ideal newborn cloth diaper stash for practicing elimination communication from birth. You may also want to read our post on the Best Cloth Diapers for Elimination Communication Backup or our Tips on Preparing for Elimination Communication with a Newborn.
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Are you planning to cloth diaper and practice elimination communication with your expected baby? Please let me know if you found these tips on building a newborn cloth diaper stash for EC helpful. Do you have any additional questions?