Cloth nappies for newborns

Cloth is actually easier to start when your child is a newborn. A newborn’s diet is milk (either breastmilk, formula or a mix of both), so their urine isn’t concentrated, and their poo does not smell like solids poo. This means ammonia development isn’t usually a problem. Because of these reasons, it is actually more pleasant and easier to use cloth when your child is a newborn, than when they’re older.

Using cloth can take a while to get the hang of, have a read of the Fit Guide before your baby arrives.

If you plan on using cloth at the hospital, ensure there is someone to take them and wash them. Meconium poo will wash out easily and won’t stain with a good wash routine.

Soiled (poo) newborn nappies do not need to be rinsed, and can be added directly to your pre wash.

Buying newborn cloth nappies

There are two main options when using cloth nappies for newborns; prefolds/flats with a cover and sized newborn nappies.

Many experienced cloth users believe that flats and prefolds are often the best options for newborns when venturing into the world of cloth, then as the user becomes more experienced moving onto modern cloth nappies.

Not all types of nappies will fit, so buying a large number of one type may not be the best investment. Each child is different so trying different brands and styles is a wiser option. Over time a child’s body shape changes, what didn’t fit well at one stage, may fit better at a later stage.

  • Double gusset covers will prevent leaks
  • OSFM nappies with 4 rows of rise snaps will fit from a smaller size than 3 rows
  • Consider drying times for cooler months, or if a dryer is not an option, AIOs take longer to dry than prefolds, AI2s and flats
  • Face washers and small inserts are an easy, effective way to boost absorbency

Second-hand newborn nappies

Due to the short use length, buying second-hand is often a good option as they are usually in good condition (see our guidance on buying second-hand nappies).

Nappy hire

Another option is hiring from a nappy hire service.  Ask how the hire sanitises and whether they adhere to Australian Laundering Standards (or the equivalent standard for your country) ie. Sanitise using heat or chemical methods.

Prefolds, Terry Toweling, Flats, Muslin with a cover (PUL, Wool, Fleece)


  • Inexpensive
  • Dry quickly
  • Virtually indestructible
  • Generally hold poo explosions better than MCN’s
  • Fit for an extended time (birth to toddlerhood)
  • Can be used as inserts in covers later
  • Depending on level of experience can be easier or harder to use


  • Look bulky (subjective)
  • Depending on level of experience can be easier or harder to use

See Caring for Wool for more information on wool.

Prefolds, PUL cover, flats and a Snappi

Sized Newborn Nappies


  • Generally not as bulky
  • Depending on level of experience can be easier or harder to use
  • Absorbency can be boosted with face washers or small inserts


  • More expensive than flats/prefolds/terry towelling
  • Length of use is limited ie. Will be outgrown quickly
  • Depending on the type, may need boosting (for example, fitted all bamboo/hemp types will not require boosting, but will require a cover)