One of the questions I see come up a lot with first time cloth diaper users is “Do I need a separate newborn sized diaper stash, or can I skip straight to one sizes/larger sized diapers to save money?”
It’s a valid question. A newborn stash of 36 newborn prefolds and five basic newborn covers can run over $100. It is still cheaper than buying disposables (and if this is your first child and you plan to have more, you can just reuse the newborn stash for the next child, making it even more cost effective), but when you are already spending another hundred or two or three on the stash that will get your kid to potty training, well—it can seem a bit unnecessary to spend that extra $100 on a few diapers that will only fit your kid for a few weeks.
My first child, my daughter, was 6lbs 11oz when she was born. She dropped to 6lbs in her first week of life and definitely needed a newborn stash. She was tiny! Even a couple of brands of newborn diapers were big and gaped at the legs for the first couple of weeks. She was drowning in newborn sized sleep n’ plays; one size diapers pretty much ate her up. Being a first time mom, I assumed that all future kids would also need the newborn stash and carefully stored the diapers once she grew out of them when she was about two months old.
My second child, my son, was 9lbs 2oz at birth. No one saw that coming, not the midwife, not me. I had stupidly assumed all future kids would be around 7lbs because how often is there that big of a weight difference between kids when there’s no gestational diabetes or other medical issues at work? Still, I put a newborn prefold on him the moment we got home from the birth center and thought little more about the issue…until three weeks later when the prefold no longer fit around him. I grabbed the next size prefold, sized “small, about 6 weeks to 3 months,” slapped it on him and again thought nothing more about it…until three weeks later when the prefold no longer fit around him. I pulled one of my daughter’s one sized all-in-ones off the shelf and it absolutely fit him well—he wasn’t even on the smallest snap setting! Here he was, a month and a half old, and he had completely outgrown both newborn and small sized diapers in both size and absorbency. Of course the thought crossed my mind: “Huh. I wonder if I needed the newborn stash at all.”
It does seem like I probably could have just stuck my son in one size diapers from the beginning, sold off the newborn stash, and used the proceeds to buy a few more one size diapers, since my kids were now sharing a stash full time. After all, most one size diapers proclaim proudly on their packages, “Fits 8-30lbs” and here I had a 9lb newborn. Since every baby is different, I am sure some parents have been able to use one size diapers on their newborns and everything fit wonderfully. But at least with my children, I do think the newborn stash was necessary. A 9lb newborn is still shaped completely differently than a 9lb 2 month old. Newborns don’t always have the chubby legs and tummies brought on by a few weeks of formula or breastmilk outside the womb, their limbs are still are scrunched up, and the sensitive umbilical cord stump must not be overly irritated. These things affect the way diapers will fit. A one size diaper on the skinny legs of my 9lb newborn gaped, providing plenty of opportunity for runny newborn poop to fly out the sides and get all over everything else, while I remember that a one size diaper on the chubbier legs of my 9lb 8 week old fit a bit better.
Even though my son was out of newborn and small diapers by 6 weeks of age, I carefully packed everything up and stored it away for a potential third child. It may seem like an unnecessary expense for only a few weeks, but it was crucial to keep poop from getting all over everything he sat on or wore. From my experiences I do recommend using newborn diapers for the first few weeks, either cloth or disposable, before moving into one size diapers.