How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Need?

Ok, just to be clear. When I say need, I am talking the absolute bare minimum. Then we will talk about numbers of diapers that are more convenient to have. And then we will talk about how many cloth diapers we actually want…LOL…just kidding. I know we all want to…buy…all…the…diapers!

The truth is, you really don’t need as many as you think. The actual number depends a lot on how often you want to be washing them. The number also varies based on the age of your child. A newborn will need more than a toddler.

Newborns poop A LOT. I remember that it seemed like every time I changed a diaper it had a number 2 in it! Newborns eat an average of every two hours. This also happens to be around the time they need to go. So it comes out to about 12 diaper changes a day. Sort of off topic, but I just want to mention I have a family member who will remained unnamed who has a newborn. He keeps commenting on how much I must wash my cloth diapers because he says they are going through a TON of (disposable) diapers with their daughter. I think to myself (and have opened my mouth a few times) on how many diapers they are throwing into a landfill and how I really don’t do that much more laundry than normal. Ok back to the facts!

If you want to wash every other day, 24 diapers seems to be a good place to be for the newborn stage. I only had 18 myself. I did a newborn cloth diaper rental from Kissed by the Moon. I got 4 different brands of diapers to try out and I hated one brand because they leaked every single time. I was able to wash every other day with the 18 I had. The 18 I had was enough to go through the entire first day and until the night of the second and that is when I washed. There are many moms that have less when they start. You could have 12-15 diapers and just wash every day. Cloth diapers are the best thing for your baby. Starting small is ok. Every cloth diaper change you do keeps one disposable diaper out of a landfill.

Toddlers (16 months-potty training) actually need less diapers than newborns. While it is true that around that age they start to poop more often again, they sometimes go a few hours in a dry diaper. So sometimes I only change every 3 or so hours as needed. Also at this point, they are sleeping through the night (hopefully) and only need one overnight diaper for those 12 hours. At this stage you could get by easily with around 18-20 diapers. (Again doable with less and washing more often.)

There are reasons to have more than that. I prefer to go 3 days between washes around here, which requires a few more diapers. Also, you can rotate which diapers you use so the same ones aren’t getting washed over and over again. This helps to extend the life of the diaper as it gets a little break from washing once in a while. To accomplish this you might find that 25-30 diapers is the ideal number.

Read through our new to cloth page to see what else you may need. Also, check our recommendations page for our tried and true favorites.

When asking how many cloth diapers you need, you have to understand that this is not an exact science and there is no exactly right answer. The number varies slightly person to person based on age of child, how often you want to wash and if you want to have a larger rotation to help keep every diaper from being washed every single load.

What do you find is the ideal number of cloth diapers in your stash?


About Autumn Beck

Autumn is a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, friend and most important a follower of Christ. She began cloth diapering in 2005 and has experienced many joys and trials throughout the years. You can read more from Autumn over at

View all posts by Autumn Beck

29 Responses to “How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Need?”

  1. Lyndsay Says:

    Great post! I know you wrote this a while ago, and I subscribe to your posts, not I just found out I’m expecting number two! We cloth diapered part time from about 4 months, until my husband realized how much money it would save us if we invested in good night time diapers, at 18 months we had fully integrated to cloth diapers and wipes! We currently use gDiapers, and Sbish OBF at night– the OBF are my absolute favorites. We will be buying some nb covers to go with our GDiapers plus more inserts for the days, and probably 2 or 3 OBFs in each size (we only have 1 XL). I wash every two to three days at this point, my daughter isn’t quite ready to potty train yet, and my husband told me I couldn’t buy any more diapers for her! I can’t wait to get tiny diapers for this new little one! I’m so glad I saved my entire stash because we really will save so much money!


  2. Emily Says:

    Maybe it’s just because we use only the BG Organic Elementals (AIOs) and there’s something different about what everyone else is using. But we only have 20 and use them on both our 18-month-old and our 3-month-old. We’ve only been using them for a 1.5 months and I do wash a load every night (to ensure that those dirty diapers will be dry enough for use two days later since they dry rather slowly) but I wouldn’t have to if I didn’t like having the time to leave them in the wash for a bit or not have to fold them right away when they are dry.

    Just thought I’d put my two cents in for anyone who is reading this and not wanting to buy 24+ diapers. Also, I changed probably 8-10 diapers in the very beginning with both our daughters, but once they are past about 8 weeks, I haven’t needed to change that frequently (8 times a day max with the three month old and about 4 times per day with our 18-month-old). Maybe they just aren’t as sensitive to the wetness as other babies?


  3. Stacy Says:

    Thanks so much for all the helpful information… I feel like I’m getting a handle on this. One thing I’ve started getting confused on: do you need covers if you’re planning on using only AIO/AI2? Some brands say their AIO have newborn inserts (BumGenius in particular)… do they work or do you still think a separate nb diaper is best?


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      No. Covers are only needed for fitteds and prefolds. An AI2 system consists of a cover and inserts. NB inserts are shorter to fit in the diaper when set on the smallest settings. I prefer nb sized diapers but many moms use one-sized diapers from the beginning.


  4. .tif Says:

    I don’t think a dozen diapers is enough for a newborn. I had 18 prefolds and was still scrambling to keep up with laundry; I think that when we get ready for #2, we’ll be looking to have at least 24. Sometimes, you could change a diaper at 3am and have to change again just as soon as you let go of the Snappi!

    We loved the Thirsties Duo covers because they fit from newborn to about 3-months (I had a bigger baby; he was 8lbs, 5oz at birth so he quickly outgrew newborn diaper sizes). I like getting more for my money and have always felt buying some of the sized stuff, especially NB/XS can cost more. Thirsties and a few other diaper brands are nice enough to have a 2-sized system, and I like that almost better than OS. Obviously a one-sized diaper isn’t going to fit a newborn (unless, perhaps, it’s a Softbums … which are my new favorite outing diaper).

    Anyway, with so many choices out there and so many differently shaped babies, it’s best to experiment a little in the beginning and then pick about 2 dozen once you find your favorites. Then you’re not washing too often and you’re not waiting too long between washings.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      A dozen diapers isn’t enough for a newborn. If you change every 2 hours it would take 12 for just one day. I recommend 24.


  5. Charlotte Says:

    Hi, I just found your website today when attempting to research cloth diapers. I was just wondering what the best brand of diapers is? I was thinking of getting the ones that are “one size” so I will be able to use them as the baby grows. I could really use some advice, as there are so many to choose from and this is my first baby.


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      Charlotte, make sure and check out the tabs at the top of the blog. One-size are great after about 12lbs. I always suggest using nb sized diaper for the first 2-4 months.


  6. Sherri Says:

    24. That is the simple and magic number. Why 24? That gives you 12 diapers per day for two days and then you wash. As your baby gets older, you will change less frequently and those same 24 diapers will begin lasting 3 days before it is laundry day. If you want more diapers than that, that’s just fine, but 24 will work out well.


  7. Greta Says:

    I am not sure how many AIOs I have – but not an outrageous amount (probably 30??). I do laundry every 2-3 days, but I also like filling up the diaper bag once a week for day care on Mondays and getting it back on Fridays. (I do get the dirty diapers back every night in a wet bag that I bring in every morning.) It saves me the trouble of bringing in a huge diaper bag every morning! And every diaper gets used! :-)


  8. barbara Says:

    Is there a “good” cloth diaper pail to use? What do you place the cloth diaper in after it is dirty?


    • Autumn Beck Says:

      a simple trash can with a lid works great. you can put the pail liner in and fold it over the top. i use a hanging wet bag for mine though. it’s much easier to attach it to the cabinet next to the toilet than have something else on the floor.


  9. Sara Says:

    I have 33 BG Pockets and use all of them! I do laundry every three or four days and usually end up using disposables while I’m washing the diapers because I’ve waited too long! :) These have been great diapers…they’ve made it through my two year old and are now used on my 2 month old and work just as well.


  10. Wendy Says:

    “I’ve found though that even if you have 40+ diapers (which I’ve had), you really only use your favorite dozen over and over.” So very true :) I would say I have about 30-40 diapers, but really only use the same dozen over and over, too :)


  11. Hope Says:

    THIS is great info…I’ve been telling new moms they need about 20 diapers for newborn, and they usually gasp….thanks for reassuring me that this is a pretty accurate number!


  12. Trenna Says:

    A big question I had was how many *covers* for a newborn, because I chose to do flats (which I still love most, even above our BumGenius).

    I got 36 flats, 4 Thirsties wraps, and 3 Imse Vimse Wool (machine washable) wraps.

    Washing every other day this has been far more than enough, even though I love the (Green Mountain) flats so much I steal them to use as burp rags.

    In context our son, despite being exclusively breastfed, delivers only one poo a day.


  13. Amy B Says:

    I have way to many diapers for one child….plus a great newborn stash for a child yet to be conceived. I do however make sure that I evenly rotate my stash. Diapers that are freshly washed go in the back of the pile so that each diaper gets used maybe once a week. I know, I know that’s way too many diapers! What can I say…..I’m addicted!


  14. Carisa Says:

    We need 3 dozen for comfort . When my 5 month old switched to the next size up, I couldn’t understand why I suddenly couldn’t get through a day and a half without raiding all the diapers in the diaper bag and bedroom . Turns out , my husband had snuck out and bought an extra dozen of the smaller size without me realizing it. Now with 3 dozen , I can go back to washing every 2 days .

    (And we reach for the prefolds first… she leaks out of the Flips and AIO we tried)


  15. Kristin Says:

    After reading this I thought I would count how many diapers I have for my 14 month old and baby due in a month…70 PLUS 36 prefolds in assorted sizes that we also use as burp cloths and 2 wool covers and about a dozen other covers in assorted sizes. My favorite are my 6 BG organics. I use these everyday and keep my 3 least fav, happy heinys, in the car for emergency diapers. there are times when I have had as little as 12 diapers though. I sell allot on Diaperswappers and buy allot new….i am in a buying phase I think. Regardless of the number I have, I always use my fav 6!


  16. Elizabeth Says:

    Wow, I was surprised when I read this! You are suggesting a lot more than what we’ve got! I started CDing at 4 months with 16 in my stash, and now at 19 months we have about 14 plus 3 flip covers and 8 flip inserts. I’ve gotten rid of some of those original 16 that I didn’t like and replaced them with ones I like better. I wash about every three days, when our 5 gallon bucket is full, which is a good schedule for us. Just enough so the bucket doesn’t get too smelly, and we never run out!


  17. days_fly_by Says:

    “I’ve found though that even if you have 40+ diapers (which I’ve had), you really only use your favorite dozen over and over.”

    This is the absolute truth, lol.
    I started out with 30 GMD infant yellow edge prefolds and then added in 22 cotton MEOS, fell head over heels in love and, *poof* suddenly the 30 prefolds became burp rags. just. like. that. Later added in 18 FuzziBunz OS (partly out of fascination, partly out of needing a daycare-friendly dipe), sold the cotton MEOS for 18 bamboo MEOS and a small stash of bamboo ME Sandy’s for going coverless, and after 8 months, it’s the MEOS that I’m still reaching for almost every single time. Those 18 diapers are in non-stop rotation. :)


  18. Yara Says:

    I love this! My cousin asked me Sunday “How many cloth diapers do we need?” and I honestly said I’m not the person to ask… I have TOO MANY (not that it’s a bad thing).
    I have lately been using me new diapers which are my new faves, with a few classics I am not willing to give up- my new fuzzi bunz, my new bum genius AIOs, a thirsties pocket, my bummis cover with the pandas on it… I’ve actually lost track of some diapers (anyone seen my grobaby with the bird print?)
    All that to say- yup… a dozen or so of your favorites get the most use ; )


  19. Lisa Says:

    What diaper covers did you use over the sbish fitteds for a newborn?


Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Sharing is caring!