When you're using cloth diapers on a newborn, you deal with less poop than you would if you were using disposables. Both my babies always blew out of their disposable diapers, and poo stays contained in prefolds and covers very nicely. And since you don't rinse out exclusive breastmilk poo, it goes straight into the wetbag, and then straight into the wash. No touching poop -- I promise.
When I was pregnant with River, we considered cloth diapers for a time, but then decided to go with disposables. I was really overwhelmed with the choices and didn't know anyone else who was using cloth diapers, and therefore, no one could personally answer my many questions. I didn't want to invest a whole lot of money and then decide it wasn't for us. Looking back, I so wish I had started when he as a newborn! Cloth diapering a newborn is stupid easy. If you exclusively breastfeed for six months, you get six months of practice before you have to start rinsing out those poopy diapers over the toilet. And even if you decide to make the switch to disposables when your baby starts eating solids, you will still have saved a lot of money during those first six months. Although, of course, I totally recommend continuing on using cloth. ;)
Here are few tips I have for using cloth diapers with a newborn.
Start with prefolds. Trust the prefold. Both pockets and all-in-one diapers are really hit-or-miss, not to mention a huge investment. They are expensive and not every brand works for every baby. One baby will fit great in one brand of pocket diapers, and another will blow out every time they wear them. A great example of this is BumGenius. I have a friend who has an entire stash of BumGenius for her son. She loves them. River always blew out of them. And on Austen, they work fine. It's a mystery.
Prefolds work for everyone. They really do! There is no trying all these different $25 diapers to find the perfect one, and I've never met someone who doesn't love a Thirsties cover. They are so affordable and so absorbent, and if you are afraid of using Snappies or pins, don't be -- prefolds can simply be folded into the cover. No fasteners required. Prefolds and covers, like I said, contain poop really well, for all ages. Both my children leaked out of pockets about as often as they leaked out of disposables. I love 'em, but they are just not as reliable as prefolds. I can probably count the number of blow-outs we've had with prefolds and covers between both kids on one hand.
Besides this, most newborn babies will not fit into one-size pocket diapers. Even my 8-pound baby looked scrawny in pocket diapers snapped down to the smallest size. It wasn't until she was about two months old that they fit well.
Have a lot of prefolds in your stash. Newborns pee and poop a lot. In the first few weeks of Austen's life, I felt like I was changing her diaper every hour. Sometimes I was! Have enough and keep some in every room.
Use cloth wipes. Cloth wipes work so much better than disposables. You'll use three cloth wipes for a seven-wipe job... trust me! Buy a few used receiving blankets and cut them up into squares and use a homemade wipe solution. Have a lot on hand, and you won't absolutely dread changing 15 diapers a day.
Use a diaper-friendly detergent. Newborn skin is so sensitive. Don't try to get by with using whatever detergent you have on hand. Buy something trusted and gentle, such as Country Save or Rockin' Green. Make sure your diapers are rinsed thoroughly of detergent before they are tossed in the dryer. Urine will activate the chemicals and will burn your precious baby's skin. Remember: gentle detergent, and rinse well.
Different folds contain poop better. I was lazy when it comes to prefolds; I simply fold them and lie them in the cover. But the "jelly roll" works best at containing liquidy infant poo. If you use this roll you will not have to change the cover as often.
You really don't have to rinse out the poop . No, really. Even though I knew this, I still rinsed River's EBF poopy diapers out. I didn't trust that it would be rinsed completely clean and come out fresh. Once when he was already on solids, I tried washing his diapers without rinsing them by hand first... bad decision. After the first rinse cycle, I peeked in the washer to see bits of digested foot stuck to the sides of the washer. Sorry to give you a lovely mental image. I was worried this might be a problem when washing newborn poopy diapers, but by the time I was pregnant with Austen I was so sick of rinsing out diapers, and that alone was enough to convince me to at least try throwing the diapers, poop and all, straight into the washer. And lo and behold, EBF poop is water soluble, and the diapers came out stink-free and completely clean! Austen was exclusively breastfed until she was ten months old and I did not have to rinse one single diaper of hers over the toilet until then. (If the thought of leaving diapers sitting with poop on them sounds gross, don't worry -- EBF poop doesn't smell like poop!)