How to cloth diaper during the newborn stage: what to expect and tips for success

How to cloth diaper during the newborn stage: what to expect and tips for success

Did you know that newborns can go through over 300 disposable diapers in their first month?! 🤯

We sometimes hear that families are planning to wait to use their cloth diapers until they’ve had some time to get settled with their new addition. As fellow moms, we totally get trying to reduce stress and keep things simple!. But what if we told you that cloth diapering your newborn is just as easy as disposable diapering AND because your newborn goes through so many diapers there are tremendous savings to be had during the newborn phase? 👀

In this blog post, we’ll break down:

  • What to expect cloth diapering your newborn
  • How many diapers you should have in your stash for your newborn
  • Tips for getting the best fit
  • How to cloth diaper around the umbilical cord stump
  • What to know about cloth diapering during your baby’s circumcision healing
  • Everything you need to know about meconium and cloth diapers
  • And of course, what to do with the poop!

New born baby sleeping wearing Esembly Cloth Diaper

How Soon to Start

If you’re diapering with Esembly, there’s absolutely no need to wait to use your cloth diapers. They are designed to work beautifully on babies from birth to potty training!

Our Size 1 diapers start fitting at approx 7lbs. Many babies are born at or above that weight. If yours is smaller, still give your Esembly diapers a shot. They may be a little poofy but will totally do the job! If not, rest assured babies grow VERY quickly in their first weeks of life and they will fill them out before you know it!

Stash Size & Washing Recommendations

Bassinet with Esembly inner and outer cloth Diapers

Since small babies can go through so many diapers in such a short amount of time, you’ll need to make sure you have enough diapers on hand to get you to washing day every 2-3 days. 

You may be tempted to “buy enough cloth diapers so you only have to do your washing once a week”, but unfortunately, this approach causes more issues than it’s worth. (such as ammonia build-up or issues with mold/mildew). Diapers really need to be laundered every 2-3 days.

That said, washing newborn cloth diapers couldn’t be easier! At this point, the poop is water soluble (as it is for the duration of the time your baby is on a milk-only diet) – meaning that no pretreatment is required. This goes for both poop and pee diapers! Simply toss them into your Pail Pouch/wet bag/diaper pail/etc and launder per our instructions every 2 - 3 days. 

For a deep dive into our recommended washing routine check out this blog: The Complete Guide to Washing Your Cloth Diapers at Home: The Esembly Way 

As for how many diapers you'll need, we'd recommend the following for a full-time Size 1 stash: 

  • 24 Size 1 Inners (8 Size 1 Inner 3-Packs) – “Inners” are our “fitted diapers”. This is the soft and super absorbent part of the diaper.
  • 6 Size 1 Outers – These are our waterproof cloth diaper covers that layer over the Inner to make a leak-free blowout-proof diaper! (bonus: they can also double as an adorable swim diaper on their own!) 

Your Size 1 stash will last from birth through about 17 lbs. (we talk a bit in this post about why we chose sized diapers over a one-size option). Planning on diapering part-time or have a unique situation? Take the quiz on our website for custom quantity recommendations. It’s like having your own personal shopper!😊️

Special Techniques and Tips for Cloth Diapering Newborns

Fit Tip: The “Ruffle Tuck”

Newborn on bed wearing green cloth diaper with the ruffle tuck technique

If your baby has tiny little bird legs and you find there is a large gap between their thigh and the elastic of the diaper, we’d recommend a "ruffle tuck." 

Snap the Inner (aka fitted diaper) on the smallest setting then take your finger and push the cotton ruffle around the legs inside the diaper so it plugs up the gap. Secure the Outer (aka cloth diaper cover) on over the Inner as usual. That little “ruffle tuck” will help keep the mess inside the diaper until your baby’s legs chunk up and fill it out.

Need a visual? Check out a quick demo on our Instagram here

Umbilical Cord Stump

In the first few days after birth, your baby's umbilical cord stump may still be attached, but rest assured, it is safe to use your cloth diapers. To prevent irritation and discomfort, we recommend trying the following fit tip: 

Secure the Inner on the baby and snap at the loosest setting. Fold the Inner down and in (curling the top of the Inner back towards your baby, and tucking it in like a shirt). Then, secure the Outer over the Inner, but fasten it very loosely. This little trick ensures that the diaper doesn't touch or rub against the delicate cord stump, but any mess stays contained within the diaper.

The good news is that the stump will generally dry up and fall off within 3-7 days. (It just might feel like an eternity!)


If you've chosen to circumcise your baby, you will be told to apply petroleum-based products like Vaseline or Aquaphor to the area until it’s fully healed. Unfortunately, petro-based products are NOT cloth-safe and will damage your diapers (you can read all about understanding cloth-friendly skincare here). 

Instead, many families have had success using our Everyday Balm or Alba’s Unpetroleum jelly (both of which are cloth-safe). Just be sure to check with the person performing the circumcision to make sure they give their medical seal of approval.


As mentioned, Esembly diapers were designed to be used right away, which means there is NO NEED to use disposables to protect your Esembly diapers from meconium. As long as you have a good wash routine, the meconium will wash right out just like regular baby poop. 

For anyone who doesn’t know, meconium is a baby's first stool. It’s usually greenish-black and quite sticky, made up of materials the baby ingested in the womb. It's passed in the first 24-36 after birth before the baby's poop changes in color and consistency.

Insider Tip: Because meconium is very sticky, we recommend using our Everyday Balm to help easily wipe it off your baby’s bum. Here’s how:

  1. Clean and dry your baby’s bottom then rub in a nice layer of Balm before putting the diaper on. That layer will help prevent the meconium from sticking to the skin.
  2. You can also use some balm on a cloth wipe to help remove the sticky meconium from the skin.

newborn baby sleeping weathering a white cloth diaper from Esembly



Want to learn more?

Our co-founders host a free, virtual, Cloth Diapering 101 class every month to help cloth-curious parents get all the tools and information they need! You’ll learn:

  • How to use the Esembly diapers and accessories 
  • How to easily and effectively launder your Esembly diapers
  • The impact that your choice has on the planet, your wallet, and your day-to-day. 

You'll leave with the confidence to Live Less Disposably and a 20% discount code to use on your first order. 🥳 We hope to see you there!

Sign Up for Our Next Cloth 101 Class


Have Questions? Sign up for our next Cloth 101 Class!