Can You Cloth Diaper Your Newborn in the Hospital?

By April Duffy •  Updated: 03/31/24 •  5 min read

Although it isn’t necessary to bring cloth diapers to the hospital for delivery, a growing number of families are choosing to do so.

Some parents prefer to start their children in cloth diapers immediately for environmental or health reasons. If you do decide to use cloth diapers in the hospital, there are a few things to take note of:

What Size Cloth Diapers Should You Bring to the Hospital?

If you’re hoping to start using cloth diapers right at birth in the hospital, know that you’re going to need newborn-sized cloth diapers.

The alternative, one-size cloth diapers usually only fit babies from about 8lbs onward, and even then a larger newborn baby is usually so spindly in the limbs that it’s difficult to get a one-size diaper to fit correctly.

Newborn cloth diapers on the other hand are made to fit newborns, and even premies, right. Many newborn cloth diapers even have a snap-down for the umbilical cord, to give it lots of space so that it doesn’t get irritated by the top of the diaper.

You will be able to use your newborn diapers for several months (in most cases, some babies are of course outliers), so as long as you’re starting from the get-go (and especially if you plan on more children) they definitely will not be wasted.

How Many Newborn Diapers Should You Bring to The Hospital?

Newborn babies usually don’t poop for the first few days after birth, which will reduce the number of diapers you’ll need to about 6-8 diapers per day for the average baby.

Depending on the length of your hospital stay, you will need about 1-4 days of diapers.

What Else Should You Pack in Your Newborn Cloth Diaper Bag?

1. Cloth Diaper Liners

Cloth diaper liners can be a great way to prevent meconium (baby’s first tar-like poop) from getting onto your cloth diapers, but rest assured, while it looks horrible meconium will not ruin cloth diapers. While in most cases meconium will not stain cloth diapers, some people do experience minor staining from meconium, but it is easily removed by the sun.

You can read all about meconium and cloth diapers here.

Fleece cloth diaper liners (not disposable ones, but the DIY fleece diaper liners) are also great for protecting your diapers from the Vaseline your hospital will also recommend as a diaper cream.

Alternate: Consider Hybrid Diapers

If you’re still worried about meconium (some parents are worried no matter how often they are reassured, and that’s ok), or doing a ton of laundry when you get home, another option is to use hybrid diapers while in the hospital.

This system sports a disposable insert paired with a reusable diaper cover. You’ll still reduce waste, most disposable hybrid diapers contain limited chemicals, and most hybrid diapers lack fragrance. You won’t have to worry about bringing diaper liners to the hospital, and will only need to return the soiled diaper covers home to be laundered, which are much more forgiving of a delay.

2. Wet Bag(s)

You may find it easiest to pack diapers into a wet/dry bag, with clean diapers on the dry side. You can place diapers in the “wet” compartment after they become soiled.

Alternately, some moms prefer to keep their clean diapers all fancy-looking in a diaper pod, and keep a single-pocket wet bag for the dirty ones.

Either way, you’ll need a wet bag for your dirty diapers to return them to your home for laundering.

3. Cloth Wipes (Optional)

If you decide to use cloth wipes in the hospital, premoistened wipes will be most effective. You can either bring dry wipes to moisten with water at each diaper change or pack wipes pre-soaked in your wipe solution.

What About the Disposable Diapers The Hospital Gives You?

Regardless of if you plan to use disposable diapers or not, hospital staff will open a package of disposable diapers when they prepare the delivery room.

An opened but unused package of disposable diapers will be thrown away when the room is cleaned for the next patient, so to prevent unnecessary waste, take the disposable diapers with you. You can donate them or give them to a friend.

Conclusion: Cloth Diapering in the Hospital is Easy

So, can you cloth diaper your newborn in the hospital? Absolutely you can! Just make sure to bring newborn-size diapers, pack enough for a few days stay just in case, and pack the accessories you’ll need like a wet bag to store the dirty ones in.

With that said, don’t forget that delivering a baby is hard work for you and your body. Even if you plan and pack everything perfectly to start cloth diapering right at the start, your body’s hormones may have other plans. Please don’t be hard on yourself if this happens; you’re definitely not alone!

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.