So how many cloth diapers do you need? 2 to 3 days’ worth of cloth diapers is the safest approach you can take.
But that’s not all! Before we dive into the answer, here’s a reference and estimated average number you’ll need from what we’ve experienced:
- Newborns typically use 8 to 12 cloth diapers a day!
- Infants aged 3 to 6 months old use 6 to 8 cloth diapers per day
- 6 to 12 months old use about 4 to 6 cloth diapers per day
- 18 months and older use about 2 to 4 cloth diapers per day
However, there’s so much that can change and vary within a day. That’s what you’ll find here. We’ll dive into several factors…
How Often Do You Change Cloth Diapers?
The first thing you need to take into account is the frequency of cloth diaper change. More frequent changes would mean MORE organic cloth diapers you need to buy.
But it honestly depends on your baby because there are some who wet themselves MORE FREQUENTLY than others. The same goes for babies who do the opposite.
You have to get to know their quirks so you can get a feel for how much they wet themselves in a day. That way, you can estimate more accurately how many cloth diapers you’ll need every day.
Although, there are two more other factors that you have to consider as well: the age of your baby, and how often you do your laundry.
It Depends on Your Baby’s Age
How often you’ll need to change diapers will also depend on your baby’s age.
It varies because newborns usually eat a lot more than when they grow into an infant or a toddler. The MORE they eat, the MORE they are likely to wet themselves.
This directly relates to the first factor which can easily change how many you’ll need for your baby.
But don’t worry because they will need fewer cloth diapers as they grow older. Plus, since the average baby grows fast, this will happen sooner that you can even realize.
A newborn (0-2 months) eats every – on average – 2 to 3 hours. They basically eat 8 to 12 times a day. This means that you’ll need about 12 cloth diapers per day.
For infants (3-12 months), they usually eat every 3 to 4 hours, 6 to 8 times a day. You’ll need about 8 cloth diapers per day.
And lastly, toddlers (18 months and up) eat every 4 hours. With 3 meals and 2-3 snacks a day, you’ll only need 6 cloth diapers per day. In some cases, this may even be a lot less at 2 to 4 only per day.
Just a reminder, these are just estimates.
It will still depend on our third factor: how much and often you’re going to feed your baby
How Often Do You Wash Cloth Diapers?
Given that they’re not disposable, you’ll need to wash cloth diapers at some time. It depends on your preference – you can wash them every day, or every 2 or 3 days. Although, the ideal approach is every other day.
In fact, it highly affects the number of cloth diapers you need. The longer you wait to do laundry, the more you’ll need cloth diaper changes.
If you choose to wash every day, you’ll need to have about 12 a day, that is if your baby is a newborn.
If he/she’s an infant, then you’ll need 8 diapers per day. If he/she’s a toddler, you’ll need 6 diapers a day.
Every Other Day
With every other day of doing laundry, you’ll have to prepare more because you’ll wash them in a batch.
- For newborn babies, you’ll need to provide 24 diapers.
- For infants, you’ll need 16 diapers.
- And for toddlers, a good number of diapers should be around 12 to 14.
Every Third Day
If you’re washing diapers every 2 days in between, you’ll need to provide diapers more than the ones recommended above.
- In that case, a good number of diapers if your baby is in the newborn stage should be 36!
- If he/she’s an infant, you’ll need about 24 diapers.
- And if he/she’s already a toddler, then 18 diapers are already enough.
When you’re using a washing machine, remember to keep extra diapers to cover for the hours of washing time.
You don’t know, your babies might wet themselves when they’re not wearing any diapers. It’s so random, so always be ready.
A Closer Look at How Often to Wash Them
The reason why parents prefer doing laundry every second or third day is that diapers will experience less wear and tear.
This allows your diapers to last longer in your cloth diaper stash. You can add the extra ones to your newborn stash collection or diaper bag.
- Let’s suppose you have a newborn and you went with every-second-day washing routine.
- In that scenario, you’ll need to own 20-30 diapers. But this depends on what type of diaper you’re going to get.
- If you choose to go with one size, then you’ll need 30-40 diapers in your stash. It’s because they will have to last long until toddlerhood.
- However, if you choose a smaller stash size, of course, you won’t need that many diapers anymore.
- Since you’re gonna replace them every several months (ideally 6-9 months), you’ll only need about 15 diapers in your stash.
Even though the average baby will require fewer diapers as they grow older, it’s still important to keep extras in your collection in case of any emergency.
This isn’t a necessity, but some parents like to invest in a cloth diaper pail. What it does is it stores a dirty diaper before it is placed in the washing machine. It keeps diapers from spreading unpleasant odors into your home.
You don’t want to disturb your family with a bad odor, right? You basically just keep them in the can until your washing day comes.
Another technique you can do to ensure that your baby’s cloth diapers won’t be contaminated is to bleach the cloth diapers once a month. Don’t worry, this is safe for your baby’s skin, BUT you need to know how to do it right!
What If I Wash Every 4 Days?
We don’t recommend it.
It’s still up to you how you’re going to handle your timetable. Some parents are busy and can only do laundry every 4 days. In that case, they will need to buy more cloth diapers.
Although, aside from costing you more, that’s not really recommended because cloth diapers can result in mildew stains if left unwashed for several days.
It’ll be harder for you to clean them, so it’s best if you can maintain doing laundry at the best recommended time.
How Many Cloth Diaper Covers and Inserts Do I Need?
Diaper covers are made up of waterproof layers.
They keep your baby’s clothes from getting wet. Covers are reusable so you don’t need that many. You can swap a diaper into the same cover for 2 to 3 changes. Wipe it off if it’s necessary to keep clean diapers.
Diaper inserts (or soakers) are made up of microfiber, although sometimes, they can be cotton, hemp, or bamboo. They are the main absorbent attached to the diaper cover. Inserts are also reusable.
Since you’re going with the reusable cloth diapering system, there’s a formula you can use in determining how many covers and inserts per diaper change you need.
You can use the magic number of 3:1 ratio of inserts to cover. Every time you change diapers, you’ll need to change inserts too.
If it’s nighttime, it’s best if you can double the inserts to make sure that no leaking will occur.
The number of covers and inserts you’ll need comes down to what type of cloth diaper you are using.
Cloth Diaper Styles
There are different cloth diaper styles you can choose for your baby. This can ultimately affect your cloth diapering journey so you need to choose wisely.
1. Prefold Cloth Diapers
Prefold cloth diapers have been used for many years. Until now, some moms still use them. There’s just too much familiarity and trust they don’t switch to other types.
With prefold diapers, you’ll need good covers because they don’t come with one, unlike others.
Assuming you’re doing the ideal washing routine, about an average of 8 covers is what you’ll need for prefolds.
For inserts, consider providing 24 because you’ll need to change about 24 times for newborn babies.
2. Hybrid Cloth Diapers
Designed as a system, Hybrid makes it possible for parents to do a cloth diaper change easily. How?
With the Hybrid system, you don’t need to buy a set of diaper covers because they come with one already, along with 2 diaper inserts options.
A major advantage of Hybrid is you can use its included diaper inserts however you want–as disposable or not.
When you’re outside with the whole family and you don’t have time to change diapers, Hybrid is convenient to use because you can swap and throw the used insert right away.
You can buy 100 inserts for just $10 so it won’t really be a waste.
3. All-in-One Cloth Diapers
All-in-One (AIO) cloth diapers are the same as the Hybrid system. Covers and inserts are already sewn together into the diaper. You don’t need to buy separate waterproof and absorbent items for your little one.
Some AIO diapers offer room for additional inserts. This kind of feature makes it more convenient for nighttime use and for babies who are heavy wetters.
With an all-in-one cloth diapering system, you have lesser clothes to wash since covers and inserts all come together. We highly recommend this type of cloth diapering system.
4. Pocket Cloth Diapers
A pocket cloth diaper is a good choice as well if you’re looking for convenience. They come with covers and there are inside pockets where you place the inserts.
The opening of the pocket varies with different products.
You need to figure out which part of the diaper your baby wets the most. Once you’ve figured it out, you can purchase pocket diapers.
You can stuff 2 inserts into the pocket. It can increase absorbency; it’s convenient for nighttime use as well.
Since pocket diapers don’t usually come with inserts, you’ll need to buy separate ones. About 24 inserts are ENOUGH for a newborn baby.
5. Fitted Cloth Diapers
Fitted cloth diapers fit babies’ curves more accurately than others, just as you can guess from its name.
They’re perfect for absorbency–you don’t need to buy many inserts with this diaper. Although, you can still get additional ones for better absorption, especially at night.
Compared to diapers that don’t naturally come with inserts, you’ll only need HALF of the suggested number of inserts–12 is enough.
If you want one that comes with a default cover, you can get a Hybrid fitted cloth diaper.
Yes, they exist.
6. One-Size Cloth Diapers
One-size cloth diaper isn’t really a style. It’s more of a general type that applies to all that’s mentioned above.
There are one-sizes available in different styles such as prefold, fitted, pocket, and many more.
As obvious as it is, one-size is basically a diaper you can use UNTIL your baby starts potty learning.
For its covers and inserts, you might need to buy separate ones. We say “might” because it will depend on the style you choose.
One example is one-size fitted cloth diapers. With fitted, you won’t need too many inserts because they already have absorbent layers. It’s up to you if you want to add more to prolong its absorbency limit.
Apply the default formula so you’ll have more accuracy in calculating the number of accessories you’ll need.
Do You Save Money Using Cloth Diapers?
It depends on the style of diaper you choose. Some are pricey due to their quality and some are affordable, although they can be high maintenance.
Remember that some diapers come with accessories so you don’t have to buy them separately. That saves you money too. This is since costs also depend on how many diapers you buy.
It also depends on how often you’re going to do your laundry. Rule of thumb: You need more if you spend more waiting days between washes.
If you really want to save…
- Start potty training early so that your child won’t need to wear diapers for a longer time.
- A cloth diaper stash collection also saves you money long-term, epecially if you go with one-size. You won’t need to replace many grown-out cloth diapers with this approach.
Overall, you’ll be able to save a lot, depending on how many diapers you use. Though you won’t really notice this in your first year of using cloth diapers.
Why? Because cloth diapers are reusable. Unlike disposables ones, you don’t need to buy new diapers once you run out. Instead, just do the laundry. It won’t matter how many diapers you end up using since they’re washable.
How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Need for Part-Time?
Again, how many cloth diapers you need will depend on the style you choose.
For part-time cloth diapering, a one-size AIO is a great choice because it saves you budget and time.
30-40 diapers are good enough for your child. You’ll have to wash diapers every second day. It’ll last long until toddlerhood.
One-size AIO can take a while to dry. Hanging it in a clothesline helps it dry faster, especially when the weather is nice.
There could be many reasons as to why you’re not able to commit to full-time cloth diapering, so knowing what you can do to make up for the lack of maintenance is very important.
Conclusion: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Really Need?
To answer your main question, well, it varies. It ultimately depends on your availability, your baby’s age, how much you’re willing to spend money on a diaper, and your perception of convenience.
But if you want to be safe and have the best preparation for your child, you can use the reference we gave at the start of this article.
Worst-case scenario, to find what works best for your baby, buy 4 to 5 days worth of diapers to account for emergencies and cases you need extra.
This means about 40 to 50 for newborns! For infants 3 to 6 months old, this means around 28 to 32!
May 16, 2022 – added 1 new article link
July 23, 2021 – updated article links