Is Cloth Diapering a Newborn Worth It? The Math and Other Considerations

By April Duffy •  Updated: 07/02/24 •  7 min read

As a new parent, navigating the world of diapering can be overwhelming. One of the first decisions you’ll face is whether to invest in newborn-specific diapers. This article will explore the pros and cons of newborn diapers to help you make an informed choice.

TLDR: Pros and Cons of Newborn Diapers

I go into a lot of detail on the math and other variables behind the decision of whether or not newborn cloth diapers are right for you, but if you’re not a reader, here are the basic pros and cons:

Pros of Newborn Cloth DiapersCons of Newborn Cloth Diapers
Smaller size: Newborn diapers are designed to fit the tiny bodies of newborns, ensuring a snug, comfortable, and leak-free fit. This is especially important for premature or small babies who may have difficulty finding diapers that fit properly.Short lifespan: Newborns grow rapidly, and newborn diapers may only fit for a few weeks or months.
Money Savings: Newborns wet and soil their diapers far more frequently than older infants (sometimes as often as every 20 minutes or so) which means while you won’t use newborn cloth diapers long, you will be changing them a lot! Cost: Newborn cloth diapers add another upfront cost to diapering as you will need to purchase a new set of diapers in a short period of time.
High Resale: Because many folks opt not to use newborn cloth diapers (making used ones rare) and because they often aren’t used long enough to show much wear, they have some of the best resale values if you choose not to keep them for future children. Limited Types: Newborn cloth diapers are typically only available in a few styles and designs. This means that you may have less choice in terms of the look and functionality of your baby’s diapers.
Umbilical cord snap: Some newborn cloth diapers feature a special snap to fold the diaper down in the front for the umbilical cord, preventing irritation and promoting healing. This is a convenient feature that can help keep your baby comfortable and prevent infection.Limited availability: Newborn diapers are not be as readily available as one-size diapers and are not offered by all brands.

Factors to Consider

Baby’s Projected Size: If your baby is small, likely to be born prematurely (including twins or multiples) or has had a slow growth rate during your pregnancy, newborn diapers may be a good investment.

Convenience: If you prefer the convenience of having diapers that fit your baby perfectly, newborn diapers may be worth it.

Environmental Impact: If you’re concerned about waste, consider using cloth diapers or larger sizes that can be used for longer.

Budget: Newborn diapers add another layer of upfront cost, so consider your financial situation.

How Long Do Newborn Cloth Diapers Last?

Babies grow quickly during the first four months.

According to Ask Dr. Sears, a breast-fed baby will gain 4-7 oz a week during the first month, and an average of 1-2 lbs per month for the first six months.

This article also referenced a 1992 study, titled the DARLING study, which showed that breastfed and formula-fed infants grow at basically the same rate in the first few months (though formula-fed babies tended to gain weight faster between four and six months of age).

Using those weight gain numbers, and assuming a small starting of 6 lbs, we can estimate how long those newborn cloth diapers could last that newborn. Here’s a sampling of some popular newborn cloth diapers with estimates for how long they will last you:

BrandType/StyleWeight RangeApprox. Length of Wear*
Charlie BananaReusable Pocket Cloth Diapers (Newborn)6-16 poundsAround 6-7 months


Duo Wrap Cloth Diaper Cover (Snap Closure)
6-18 pounds
Around 7-8 months

Kanga Care
Lil Joey Cloth Diaper

4-12 pounds

Around 3-4 months
Newborn All in Ones

 5 – 12 pounds

Around 3-4 months

*Once again, this assumes a birth weight  of 6 lbs; it also assumes a growth of 1.5 lbs a month but most are born larger, and many babies will gain weight faster, meaning these diapers will last much less time.

**Diaper covers must be paired with diaper inserts like prefolds, flats, or flour sack towels.

Were Newborn Cloth Diapers Necessary for Me?

For me, long before my daughter was born, I was looking for the perfect cloth diaper solution that would be easy to use, allow me to try different types and brands, and most importantly, save me money on diapering. In the end, I opted not to buy newborn cloth diapers, and here’s why:

Would I do things differently today?

Yes, absolutely I would.

Now that I have actual experience using cloth diapers, and have helped tens of thousands of parents and caregivers use cloth diapers from day one through my website and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners community, I know that my fears were completely unfounded.

Newborn babies go through a lot of diapers, often 8-12 per day. This means that you will need a large stash of diapers on hand, which can be expensive if you are using disposables. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, can be used over and over again, saving you a significant amount of money in the long run.

Additionally, the resale value of newborn cloth diapers is high because of their rarity (many parents opting not to use them). Since babies only wear newborn diapers for a short period of time, they are often in excellent condition when they are ready to be sold secondhand as well. This means that you can recoup some of the cost of your investment by selling your newborn diapers once your baby outgrows them.

If I had to do it all over again, I would start using cloth diapers from day one, even though I likely won’t be having other children to use the newborn diapers on as well. The cost savings and environmental benefits are simply too great to ignore.

Conclusion: Are Newborn Cloth Diapers Worth It for You?

Whether or not newborn diapers are worth it depends on individual circumstances. If you have a small baby, value convenience, and can afford the higher cost, newborn diapers may be a good option.

However, if your baby is larger, you’re on a tight budget, or you prefer to minimize waste, larger sizes or cloth diapers may be more suitable. Ultimately, the best decision is the one that meets your specific needs and preferences.

April Duffy

April is the founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners and author of The Cloth Diaper Wash & Care Handbook. Since 2015, April has helped well over 75,000 parents and caregivers cloth diaper their children through this website, her book, her YouTube Channel, and the Cloth Diapers for Beginners Facebook Group.