Cloth for newborns

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

Although it is the traditional option, many experienced cloth users believe that flats and prefolds are often the best option for newborns when venturing into the world of cloth, then as the user becomes more experienced moving onto modern cloth nappies.

Cloth is actually easier to start when your child is a newborn. EBF (exclusive breast fed) poo doesn’t smell like solids poo. A newborn’s diet is milk, so their urine isn’t concentrated, so it doesn’t smell, 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.

See this page for information on nappy types and how many are needed.

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.

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 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.

Check out the Nappy Mojo if you live in New Zealand! They specialise in newborn and infant hire packs.

Nappy Mojo

If you live in South Australia, Stork Linen Service have been operating in SA for 30 years. They provide, deliver and launder terry towelling nappies, catering for both small scale domestic use and large scale childcare use.

They only charge 29c per nappy with a $5 delivery fee! Gift vouchers are available and are an excellent environmentally sustainable baby shower gift. Laundering is done in industrial machines. Contact Sandeep ph: 0450997934

Tips on cloth for newborns

  • 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
  • If wanting to use cloth at the hospital, ensure there is someone to take them and wash them, otherwise using disposables is an easier option for those few days
  • Using cloth can take a while to get the hang of, have a read of the Fit Guide which is often the first problem people have
  • Face washers and small inserts are an easy, effective way to boost absorbency
  • Meconium poo will wash out easily and won’t stain with a good wash routine

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 toweling
  • Length of use is limited ie. Will be outgrown quickly
  • Depending on the type, may need boosting (eg. fitted all bamboo/hemp types will not, but do require a cover)