How Much Does It Cost to Cloth Diaper a Newborn?


Is cloth diapering a newborn worth it? How much does it cost? Should I just buy one size diapers? Which prefolds should I use for a newborn? What all do I need to cloth diaper a newborn?

These are the questions most ask when deciding how to start their cloth diaper stash. I was conflicted about having a separate stash for the newborn stage, but decided that I wanted us to try it. If it seemed like a waste, then I could resale our lot. That is one of the beauties of cloth diapering–resale is awesome!

If you’re thinking about purchasing a newborn stash or curious about what you’ll need and how much, here’s some info for you.

I would recommend using covers and prefolds. Newborn covers aren’t as expensive as I thought and newborn prefolds can be used for so much more than just diapers. I use them as booster absorbancy for night diapers or even during the day in my one size pocket diapers. Newborn prefolds can go a long way past the newborn stage, plus they’ll stay in great shape to reuse for the next baby or to resale.

There are a lot of different opinions about this. I would say it depends on how much laundry you want to do and how often you want to do it and of course how much you want to spend. The more you have, the more time you have between laundering. I had a good amount starting out. What I found was that it would take me a little while to get a load washed, then dried, then back on the changing table, so if anything, having extras was nice so I didn’t have to worry about getting it laundered and back on the changing table quickly.


We also went with cloth wipes. My friend recommended this because they are soooo much more efficient than disposables. My husband especially found this to be true. The less he needed to wipe away the poop, the better. The cloth wipes just grab it all and wipe it away better. Some people get in to all the different kinds of solutions you can use to spray when cleaning the bum, but we just use water in a spray bottle. The wipes will last you through your whole cloth diapering experience, so typically, these are a one time purchase.

We bought ours from Amazon. You want something to hold the dirty diapers. I just put ours in a square hamper and set it next to our changing station. We do a dry pail which means we just throw the dirty diapers in there. Some do a wet pail, but I don’t feel comfortable describing that since I don’t have any experience. The wet bags will last you through your whole cloth diapering experience, so typically, these are a one time purchase.  TIP: It is a misnomer that you need to cover your dirty cloth diapers to keep the smell out. Actually, by covering them the yucky smell just manifests even more. Allowing air circulation keeps the odor at bay.

Minimum needed to start out:
6-8 covers

12 prefolds

2 snappis (like the safety pin to keep it all together)

wet bag (to keep dirty diapers in)

24 wipes

spray bottle

Comfortable amount to start out for less laundering demands (this is what we had):
12 covers

24 prefolds

2 snappis

2 wet bags

36 wipes

spray bottle

This depends on where you buy them of course. I would plan to spend $20-$30 per dozen. I read a lot of different opinions about which prefolds to use and I went with Green Mountain Diaper prefolds, called Cloth–eez. They are $25 per dozen.

As I was stocking up on diapers, I kept an inventory of how much I spend and where I bought them. Partially because I wanted my husband to see how much we would save in the long run and because I am one of those annoying people that likes to make spreadsheets and keep track of things. Covers greatly vary in price by brand. I bought 8 out of my covers used, so I spend less. Newborn covers range from $8-$10. Looking at our spread sheet, I spent $54.

Of course this depends on the size of your baby and how fast he grows! There are recommended weights and sizes that come with prefolds and covers. I found them all to be pretty accurate. I would say the only exception was with our prefolds. If your baby is too big to “wrap” the prefold on him, you can use the prefold by trifolding it and laying it in the newborn cover. We got longer use out of ours doing it that way, plus the prefolds fit very nicely in the covers to help with any sort of leaks. Our newborn stash lasted until Asher was a little over 3 months old. I think it is safe to say most newborn diapers, covers and prefolds will last you until about 3 months unless you have a real little chunker on your hands 🙂

I personally bought most of ours from Amazon so we could get the free shipping, however many diaper sites have free shipping and a point system that allows their customers to earn certain rewards. I already have that in a way with Amazon. The prices were pretty comparable from Amazon to the company sites. Here are a few of my favorite sites when ordering from other than Amazon:


Covers (8 avg $8 each) = $64

Prefolds (2doz avg $25 doz) = $50

Snappis (pkg of 3) = $12

Wetbag (2 at $17) = $34

Wipes (doz wash rags from store x 2) = $10


So the next big question is how much would you have spend on disposables?

Looking at Wal-Mart prices you could buy a pack of roughly 120 diapers for roughly $35. In the first couple months we were at about 8 diapers a day and have evened out to about 6-8, depending on the explosions that happen 🙂

The average diaper changes for a newborn are about 8 a day. Divide 120 diapers by 8 gives you a pack of diapers lasting about two weeks. So, you could say you might spend about $35ish on diapers about every two weeks, plus or minus a few dollars. This doesn’t include if you buy disposable wipes. You could roughly be spending $75 a month on disposables. This price would change a little as you go up in size in diaper but let’s just say you spend that much for three months.

That gives you $225 for the newborn stage in diapers.


Photo credit: moohaha via / CC BY-NC-ND

Now this is incredibly rough, basic math. These amounts can vary, especially depending on the brand you buy and how many you go through at any given time and where you buy them. Some folks buy them in bulk at a bulk store like Sam’s for a cheaper price, but then you get in to how much you pay for the membership price, how much you spend on gas to get them, etc. With cloth diapers you do have to take in to account how much it costs to launder them but from what I’ve read, it is marginal, plus there are the one time purchases to consider in the grand totals, like the wipes and wet bags.

Another topic that would be interesting to discuss is using One Size cloth diapers on your newborn. These diapers last from birth until potty training. I have a good set of those for after the newborn stage that I use now. I decided to build a newborn stash so I could have a good fit on the baby right away and I wanted diapering to be easy for me AND my husband, especially for middle of the night, tired diaper changes. I didn’t want to be messing with the fit until Asher was a little bit big enough to really fit the one size diapers. In the cloth diaper world, many protest about the smallest size setting in one size cloth diapers and how they don’t fit newborns that well. BUT, in order to save money, many just stick out for a month or so until baby fits them better. I bought many of mine used, so if they didn’t pan out, I could just resale them and the loss would be minimal. I ended up LOVING them and plan to use them for the next baby!

Overall, I believe it probably cost more to use disposables on a newborn. One thing about cloth is that there are so many more uses and I can use my newborn stash for the next baby as well, AND I will most likely be able to still resale them when I’m done. AND I can use them for more than one child!

It may be worth it to you spend the extra money on disposables. A good friend of mine made the comment that when she wipes her but she likes throwing it away down the toilet, why wouldn’t she want to do that with her baby?! Very true! In the end you should do what works best for your family. Cloth works for us. I don’t mind rinsing the poo off in the toilet if it saves me some money. Others might find that idea crazy!

Which diaper system did you use? Do you think it’s worth it to have a newborn cloth diaper stash or just use disposables until baby fits your one size diapers better?