Cloth diapering from birth is a daunting (but also totally doable) possibility. You're obviously here because you're considering it. Or maybe you've already committed! Either way, read on. Most newborn cloth diapers are trash, but a very select few brands are the perfect combo of cute, affordable, well-fitting, absorbent, and simple-to-use.
Short story? I love Esembly diapers in size 1 for their superior absorbency and awesome fit. But... they are a two-piece solution, which means you basically have to secure the diaper twice. #tradeoffs
If you want easier, Thirsties makes an especially great all-in-one newborn diaper, and Blueberry makes another good one. If you're cash-strapped, prefolds + covers are your friend ($5/diaper!). If you're feeling overwhelmed, disposables are a wonderful option. Everything else is probably not worth your time.
Oh, and if you're already on the cloth route, I'm just going to shove in this tangentially related plug for EC. It seems weird I know, but it's actually easier than you think and saves you SO MUCH LAUNDRY down the line.
Esembly vs. The Competition
Esembly diapers are a total workhorses. These things don't leak. In size 1, Esembly diapers will fit larger babies longer than most newborn cloth diapers (7-17lbs for Esembly vs. 5-14lbs for other brands), but for the same reason they may be too big for smaller babies fresh outta the womb. They cost $14 for inners, $18.50 for outers, and average about $16.75/diaper. You'll need ~20 of them if you plan to cloth diaper full time.
Because these diapers do not fold at the front for umbilical cord care, they are best used after the umbilical stump has fallen off. (This usually happens within the first two weeks.)
Things I Love: Zero leaks. Zero blowouts. Fits babies longer than most newborn cloth diapers. Awesome nighttime diaper. Great fit. Great value. Payment plan available. (Read more pros here.)
Things I Don't Love: Won't fit tiny babies (sub-7lbs) right away. Long drying time. No umbilical fold-down. Two step diapering process. Bulkier than other newborn diapers. Inner diaper gets completely soaked (as is its design.) (Read more cons here.)
— BUY ESEMBLY DIAPERS + ACCESSORIES —
Scroll to the bottom of this article for an exact shopping list!
USE CODE ALSOMOM10
for 10% off Esembly products
(They also have occasional sales up to 20% off!)
— NOT SOLD ON ESEMBLY DIAPERS? —
Here are some great alternatives...
Thirsties Newborn Diapers
Esembly ($16.75) vs. Thirsties ($16.25)
Thirsties are an all-in-one cloth diaper featuring a stay-dry microfiber terry soaker. Designed for babies 5-14lbs, they fit well and are quite absorbent, though not as absorbent as Esembly diapers. Unlike Esembly, they feature a fold down mechanism at the front for sensitive umbilical cord care when baby is super fresh. Because their size range skews smaller, they fit petite babies better from day one. For the same reason, larger babes grow out of them faster. Overall: They are a great diaper at a similar price point to Esembly. They are simpler to put on (one piece!), a little less absorbent, and skew smaller. (A 50th percentile baby will grow out of these ~2 months faster than Esembly diapers.)
Esembly (~$400 for 7 months) vs. Disposable Diapers (~$600 for 7 months)
This is clearly not an apples to apples comparison. On the one hand, you're doing a lot of laundry. On the other hand, you're producing a lot of trash (unless you're compositing). There's something to be said for making your life easier during those early postpartum months. If disposables will help (they likely will), it may be worth using them for the first 2-4 weeks and switching to cloth when life settles into a new rhythm. As far as cost, you’ll spend about $600 over 7 months for a premium disposable brand like Pampers Pure or Dyper, versus ~$300 + ~$100 in laundry expenses for the Esembly diapers over the same time period. (And then only $100/kid in laundry expenses for subsequent kiddos.)
Prefolds + Covers
Esembly ($16.75) vs. Prefolds ($5)
Yup, you read that right. Prefolds average out to about $5 a diaper and are by far the least expensive diapering option out there. They require a bit of fancy folding footwork at each change, but it's simple enough once you get the hang of it. You'll need about 24 newborn prefolds, 4 newborn covers, a pack of snappi fasteners, and a quick YouTube tutorial to get you started.
Blueberry Simplex Newborn Diapers
Esembly ($16.75) vs. Blueberry Simplex ($19+)
Blueberry Simplex are similar to Thirsties, but with an organic cotton inner layer rather than stay-dry microfiber. They fit well and are quite absorbent, though not as absorbent as Esembly diapers. They also feature a fold down mechanism at the front for sensitive umbilical cord care when baby is super fresh. Because their size range skews smaller, they fit petite babies better from day one. For the same reason, larger babes grow out of them faster. Overall: They are more expensive than Esembly diapers and slightly less absorbent. If I were buying new and at full price, I'd chose Esembly 10 outta 10 times. Or Thirsties. If I got a great deal on Blueberry diapers, I'd be totally fine with those being my primary newborn diapers as an alternative.
— WHAT ABOUT OTHER BRANDS? —
I've tried a lot of them and... they're not great.
Esembly ($16.75) vs. GroVia
GroVia newborn diapers are tiny, fitting babies 5-12lbs. They are not absorbent enough and leak easily. I recommend Thirsties as an alternative if you prefer an all-in-one diaper.
Esembly ($16.75) vs. bumGenius
Similar to GroVia, bumGenius newborn diapers are tiny, fitting babies 5-12lbs. They are not absorbent enough and leak easily. I recommend Thirsties as an alternative if you prefer an all-in-one diaper.
Rumparooz Lil Joey Newborn
Esembly ($16.75) vs. Rumparooz Lil Joey ($7)
Seeing a theme here? Similar to GroVia and bumGenius, Rumparooz Lil Joey newborn diapers are tiny, fitting babies 4-12lbs. They are not absorbent enough and leak easily. I recommend Thirsties as an alternative if you prefer an all-in-one diaper. Look into prefolds if you are trying to save $$.
Smart Bottoms Born Smart 2.0
Esembly ($16.75) vs. Smart Bottoms Born Smart 2.0 ($20)
These diapers are theoretically for babies 6-16lbs, but they are SNUG and do not fit well past ~11lbs. I recommend Thirsties as an alternative if you prefer an all-in-one diaper.
— HOW MANY DIAPERS DO YOU REALLY NEED? —
Esembly suggests having 24-28 inners and 6 outers. Personally, I find this to be overkill. 20 inners and 3 outers will do you just fine, requiring a wash every 2 to 2.5 days. (An Ubbi diaper pail will only fit about this many anyway.) If you want more diapers, you can always place a second order!
— LET'S TALK CLOTH DIAPERING IN GENERAL —
I run through all the reasons why cloth diapering isn't as hard as you think it is here, but basically if you're game for 2-3 extra loads of laundry each week, do it! Cloth diapering saves you a ton of money (between $500-$2300 per kid no joke) and is really quite simple once you get the hang of it.
That said, if you're the type who loathes laundry or just feels really overwhelmed by motherhood in general right now, disposables might be your friend. (At least for now. There's always next month / next baby!)
Here's what you need to know:
- Most "one size" diapers don't fit until baby is ~10lbs (and don't fit well until baby is 12-15lbs). Unless you birth a whopper, these one size diapers are clearly not your best bet for a fresh babe. You'll need special newborn diapers.
- Most (but not all!) newborn cloth diapers are garbage. They are tiny and not absorbent enough. There are only a small handful of great options. I've shared those with you here.
- If you want to cloth diaper from birth, great! Just remember that it's an extra ~3 loads of laundry each week, which in normal times is NBD, but in postpartum times can seem like a lot. Make sure you have a game plan to allow for rest, recovery, and getting that laundry done.
- If you're considering using a combination of disposable/compostable and cloth diapers from birth, also great! If you don't have a ton of help postpartum, this is a great way to take some pressure off.
— CLOTH DIAPERING SHOPPING LIST —
If it were me, here's exactly what I'd get...
- 16 Esembly Inner Diapers (in whatever size your baby is right now)
- 3 Esembly Outer Covers (in whatever size your baby is right now)
- ~10 GroVia All in Ones
- ~2 GroVia O.N.E.s.
- 2 Sets of Esembly Overnight Boosters
- 1 Pack of Esembly Wipes (they're best for tiny bums)
- 2 Packs of GroVia Wipes (they're best for bigger bums)
- 1 Spray Bottle (to wet wipes at your changing table)
- 1 Pack of Diaper Liners
- 1 Diaper Rash Balm
Everything else—including pail deodorants, wet wipe solutions, and flushable liners—you can skip.
USE CODE ALSOMOM10
for 10% off Esembly products
(They also have occasional sales up to 20% off!)
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This article was last updated April 2021.