How to Make Cloth Diapers Smaller (With Pictures & Video)

Cloth diapers can seem very big on babies, especially newborns and babies that are smaller in size.

It may sound confusing at first that a one-size cloth diaper can fit practically from birth to potty but it’s true.

See all those snaps on your cloth diaper?

They’re there for a reason.

Cloth diapers can be made smaller by changing up the pairing of the rising snaps, replacing bulky inserts with thinner ones, or by doing newborn hacks on one-sized cloth diapers.

To learn in more detail how to make cloth diapers smaller read on and try it for yourself.

Change Up the Front Snaps Pairing on the Cloth Diaper

A typical one-size (OS) cloth diaper has three rows of three (or two) snaps on the lower front of the cloth diaper. 

The lowest two snap rows are there for the topmost row (of the three) to snap into.

Same one-size cloth diapers on different sizes: smallest, medium and biggest

By snapping the topmost row into the bottom-most row, you’ll get the OS diaper in its smallest size.

By snapping the topmost row into the second row, the OS diaper will be set to medium size.

By leaving the diaper as it is (no snapping), the OS diaper will be the biggest of all three options.

Remove Bulky Inserts and Replace Them with Thin Ones

If your idea of making a diaper smaller means to make the diaper less bulky, there’s a solution as well.

Replace any bulky inserts (like pad folded prefolds or thick bamboo/hemp inserts) with thinner boosters, made of bamboo or hemp.

It isn’t necessary to fully replace the inserts, you may only need to change one of them to make the diaper significantly trimmer. 

For example, you may have gotten two thick microfiber inserts in your favorite pocket diaper. Replace the bottom insert with a thin bamboo or hemp insert and you’ll increase absorbency while making the diaper less bulky at the same time. Win-win! 

For more tips on the trimmest cloth diapers, check out this post where real moms shared their favorite trim options.

Do Newborn Hacks on a One-size Cloth Diaper

If you’ve tried both of the above options to make your cloth diapers smaller and they are still too big for your baby, you can try to do a newborn hack on the OS diaper.

Newborn hacks on one-size cloth diapers

There are a few variations of the newborn hack. Moms report that these two work well for most babies when they reach 8-10 lbs, however, this is largely dependent on your baby’s body constitution. 

Your baby might have thicker thighs and a thinner waist (or vice versa) than a different baby with the same weight and the diaper won’t fit the same way.

That’s why it’s important to try out the hacks in practice. If you can’t get a good fit at the moment, your baby might need a couple of days or weeks to grow into the diaper.

You can only do a newborn hack multiple ways if you have two snap rows at the top of the cloth diaper because you’ll have more options to combine the snaps differently.

Here’s how to do a newborn hack if you only have one snap row at the top of the cloth diaper.

Buy Newborn-sized Cloth Diapers for a Better Fit

If you want to start using cloth diapers with your baby right away, I highly recommend investing in some newborn-sized cloth diapers. They’ll probably fit an average baby at least for a couple of months unless your baby is well above average in size.

I used to think this was a waste of money and that I would just use disposable diapers until the baby grows into one-size cloth diapers.

I’ve thought a lot about it and noticed how quickly newborn-sized diapers are being bought and sold in my local Facebook group about cloth diapers. That changed my mind and I began thinking how it’s a waste of the landfills to use disposables if I want to use cloth diapers anyways.

I purchased a couple of newborn-sized covers, small prefolds, and some fancy all-in-ones for the doctor appointments. 

They served us great until they started to feel tight at around 2-3 months. I sold them all quickly after we didn’t need them anymore and managed to recover 50-85 % of their original value, depending on how much they were used. They were worth it for me.

Do Cloth Diapers Shrink and Become Smaller with Use?

Most natural fabrics will shrink with washing, so if you’ve just received some prefolds or boosters and they seem too big to you, don’t worry. They will shrink and will fit your covers or pocket shells much better!

Natural fibers, such as cotton, bamboo, and hemp will shrink about 5% after the first wash and possibly up to 20% if they haven’t been pre-shrunk by the manufacturer.

By using the dryer you’ll likely cause some additional shrinkage to the natural fabrics so take that into account when drying cloth diapers.

This probably won’t be a major factor in making your cloth diapers smaller but it can help.

Synthetic materials do not shrink in the wash or the dryer and neither does PUL.

Why are cloth diapers so bulky?

Cloth diapers are bulkier than disposables when dry but can be the same size when wet. The reason for this is in multiple absorbent layers in cloth diapers, which are responsible for fluid absorption. Chemicals take care of that in disposable diapers, which expand when wet.

As already stated above, cloth diapers don’t need to be especially bulky to be absorbent. There are many trim options available – check out this post where I list the trimmest cloth diapers as voted by real moms here.


When I first became a mom, it shocked me how much more waste we produced by adding a tiny little member to our family. Since then, it's become very important to me to be more sustainable as a family. I'm excited to share with you what I'm learning along the way!

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