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. 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. 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?