How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Really NEED?

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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!

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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. Before you buy any read through our new to cloth page to see what else you may need. Also, check our recommendations page for our tried and true cloth diaper favorites.

The number of diapers needed 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.

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?

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About Jennifer Reinhardt

Jennifer is a 33 year old WAHM to one beautiful little girl named Sophia. She closed her business, Curves, when she found out she was pregnant so she could stay home with her. Jennifer fell in love with cloth diapers even before Sophia was born and searches for ways every day to share the love!

View all posts by Jennifer Reinhardt

18 Responses to “How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Really NEED?”

  1. Tiffany Says:

    We have 9 covers 30 or so flats 6 fitteds 14 prefolds 4 elementals 1 freetime, maybe 12 pockets and entirely too many doublers and mf inserts to count. I also have 5 fleece lined WAHM covers I dontreally care for but work nicely for an extended nap. I wash when the pail is full; about every 4-5 days as we dont have a washer and dryer. I hand wash and hang nightly anything with pul tho so they dont really sit. Everything we have is pre loved and bought off a locsl swap site. We started with a diaper loan, two small covers and 1 os cover. I have bought/sold and traded and gone full circle. Most of our flats are fst and recieving blankets. I know this isnt about cost but Ive spent over time maybe 100$ (my stash has prints snd some really nice dipes too!) and my list doent include my loan which as of yesterday has been sent back. LO is 4 months and I sent back more than we borrowed… everything that was too little :) Its safe to say, ill never go back to disposables… oh and i made half my fitteds out of prefolds.


  2. Maggie Says:

    I have over 100 but I have a fluff problem I’m just now starting to sell them off but it doesn’t help bc I find more I like….it’s the thought right?!! Lol I want one more kid anyways what’s a couple more diapers….


  3. Kristy Says:

    I am still trying to decide what I want to buy. Out little one is coming in April and the baby shower is in February. I am thinking that I will do the wash everyday when possible (this is my first, so just taking care of them and the dog). I just don’t want to have to end up stripping them.


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      As long as you have a good wash routine you should never have to strip cloth diapers Kristy. Try to keep everything as simple as possible. You can also go a good 3 or so days with out any problems at all. How often you wash in the beginning is more determined my how many diapers you have and how long they last before you run out and HAVE to wash! Congrats and good luck!


  4. sue Says:

    We have 42 flats 10 covers, 24 AIO bumgenius(12 freetime and 12 elemental) and 2 pocket diapers and I still wash them every two days. I am scared about going further in case of mold or something.


  5. Kirstin Says:

    I have a bunch of diapers, mostly because I was simultaneously diapering 2 until recently. Now I have WAY too many!


  6. Lana Says:

    I wash about 25 diapers at a time (every 2 days when he was little, every 3 days now). It is really important to us to avoid using the dryer if at all possible so in the winter that means 2 days on the line in our basement. So for us a minimum of 40 to not feel rushed to do diaper laundry or use the dryer!


  7. Michelle B Says:

    I had 18 prefolds, 3 snappi’s and 7 covers, we CD’d from the hospital, and it was fine. My DD is now one, I have 18 prefolds and 7 (flip and flip style covers) they work wonderfully. I have recently received 10 WAHM AI2’s and use them when we go out. (they are super cute) But the fact of the matter is, you can totally do it with 18. Yes, I wash every other day, but really, when you are using prefolds, it’s not rocket science, and it’s probably one of the cheapest ways to go. I don’t regret CDing this way at all.


  8. dancinglady Says:

    I did newborn with either 24 or 36 prefolds. My memory is kind of hazy. For the rest of my cloth diapering experience, I’ve had multiple boys in diapers at the same time. I wash mine daily to every 1.5 and survived with 16. 8 ready to go for each boy. I have a different stash than those now, and probably have the same number for one boy. I would rather have fewer, high quality diapers than tons of ones that may or may not work as well.


  9. Kelly Says:

    I’ve been Cding 9 years with my 4 youngest kiddos, but only two started at birth. By the time our youngest was born last year I had about 24 newborn dipes and another 24 that were newborn/infant dipes. I could go 3 days before I had to wash. It was wonderful. I love my flannel newborn fitteds and my Mutts, but the most simple is the UBIPF w/a doubler of single layer bamboo jersey washcloth folded in 1/2 layed right into a cover. Easy Peasy!


  10. Jenny Says:

    Our second child is 6 weeks old now and we are using 30 diapers in rotation. I don’t feel that is too many at all. I wash them on the third day. We have 12 pockets, 12 pre folds with 4 covers, and 6 aio. This is a great number for us and lets me keep a couple in the diaper bag at all times and also not wash as often.


  11. Michelle T Says:

    I’m pretty curious to know what brand it was that leaked every time….


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Michelle it has since been redesigned so I can’t speak to the current version. However, the old version of Grovia’s newborn aio leaked every single time on my daughter.


  12. Laura Says:

    I am diapering a newborn (three weeks old) and a 2.5yo who has no interest in the potty. For the newborn, we have 20 diapers. For the toddler, we have 12. It’s more than enough, because with two in diapers there is no way I can go longer than washing every other day. For both, the majority of their diapers are prefolds. I have two pockets for the toddler for night time, and 2 AIOs and one fitted that were gifts for the newbie.

    With my oldest, after trying absolutely everything and having mini stashes of every diaper on the market we finally settled on 12 pockets for daycare and 12 prefolds and 4 covers for home. That was when he was about 18 months old. And again, it was more than enough.

    Because I have a tendency to slip into obsession with diapers, I NEED to keeps stash small and basic and functional. That’s the only way I am ever going to save money with cloth.


  13. Linda Says:

    When I teach cloth 101 classes, I’m often asked about how many diapers that are needed. I usually recommend 18 at a minimum since it is just a little more than a one day supply and will allow you not to have to race to wash. One the other side, I joke that if you have more than about 36 diapers in your stash you are working on an addiction as that is as a three day supply since you’ll be washing about every 2-3 days you shouldn’t need more than that.


    • Jennifer Reinhardt Says:

      Linda, I totally agree 18 is probably as low as you should go. Also, what is this addiction you speak of? :)


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