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  • Writer's picturemommynjammies

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Really Need?

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Are you ready to start your cloth diapering journey but still wondering: how many cloth diapers do I need to not run out? In this comprehensive guide, we'll break down the factors to consider when determining the number of cloth diapers you'll need, including your baby's age, diapering style, and laundry routine.

how many cloth diapers do I need

We'll also provide expert tips on building a practical cloth diaper stash that balances convenience, affordability, and environmental consciousness.

So, get ready to navigate the world of cloth diapering with confidence and discover the perfect number of cloth diapers to keep your baby comfortable, happy, and dry!

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This blog post might contain affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will result in small commission (or referral fee) for the author, at absolutely no cost to you. I only recommend products that I personally use and/or genuinely love.

What we will cover:


Pros and Cons of Using Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers have gained popularity in recent years due to their environmental benefits, cost-effectiveness, and potential health advantages for babies. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of using cloth diapers.


1. Eco-Friendly:

One of the main advantages of cloth diapers is their positive impact on the environment. Unlike disposable diapers that end up in landfills and contribute to pollution, cloth diapers can be reused multiple times, reducing waste and carbon footprint.

2. Cost-Effective:

While the upfront cost of cloth diapers may seem significant, they can save you a substantial amount of money in the long run. With proper care, cloth diapers can be used for multiple children or resold, making them a cost-effective choice for budget-conscious parents. Our first daughter used the same cloth diaper stash until she was 2 years old.

3. Reduced Chemical Exposure:

Disposable diapers often contain chemicals, fragrances, and dyes that may irritate a baby's sensitive skin. Cloth diapers, on the other hand, are made from natural fibers, reducing the risk of irritation and potential exposure to harmful substances.


1. Increased Laundry:

Cloth diapers require regular washing, which means more laundry to do. This can be time-consuming and may add to your daily workload, especially in the early months when babies require frequent diaper changes.

2. Initial Investment:

Building a cloth diaper stash can be expensive upfront, especially if you opt for high-quality or organic options. However, it's important to consider the long-term savings and the potential resale value of cloth diapers.

3. Learning Curve:

Cloth diapering involves a learning curve, especially for first-time parents. Understanding how to properly fit, fasten, and care for cloth diapers may take some time and practice. However, with patience and the right resources, you can quickly become a cloth diapering pro.

So, before diving into the world of cloth diapers, it's important to weigh these pros and cons and decide if cloth diapering is the right choice for you and your baby.

Factors to Consider When Determining How Many Diapers I Needed

The number of cloth diapers you'll need depends on several factors, including your baby's age, diapering style, and laundry routine. Let's explore each of these factors in detail.

1. Baby's Age:

The number of diapers you'll need will vary depending on the age of your baby. Newborns typically require more frequent diaper changes compared to older infants. As a general guideline, newborns may need around 12-15 diapers per day, while older babies may require 8-12 diapers.

2. Diapering Style:

There are different diapering styles to choose from, such as all-in-one, pocket diapers, prefolds, and flats. Each style has its own pros and cons. All-in-one diapers are convenient but may take longer to dry, while prefolds and flats are more affordable but require additional covers. Consider your preference and lifestyle when selecting a diapering style.

We use ALVA Baby pocket diapers mainly, you can check out why HERE.

3. Laundry Routine:

Your laundry routine will also impact the number of diapers you'll need. If you plan to do laundry every day, you can get away with a smaller stash. However, if you prefer washing every 2-3 days, you'll need a larger stash to ensure you have enough clean diapers while others are being washed.

By considering these factors, you can estimate the number of cloth diapers needed to meet your baby's diapering needs effectively.

Related: Check our washing routing HERE


How to Calculate the Number of Cloth Diapers Needed Based on Age and Frequency of Changes

Calculating the number of cloth diapers needed involves taking into account your baby's age and how frequently you plan to change their diapers. Here's a simple formula to help you determine the ideal number of cloth diapers for your baby:

Number of Diapers = (Diaper Changes per Day) x (Number of Days between Washes)
Let's break it down further:

1. Diaper Changes per Day:

Determine how many diaper changes approximately your baby needs per day. Newborns usually require more frequent changes, while older babies may need fewer changes. As mentioned earlier, newborns may need around 12-15 diaper changes per day, while older babies may require 8-12 changes.

2. Number of Days between Washes:

Decide how often you plan to do laundry. If you prefer washing every day, the number of days between washes is 1. If you plan to wash every 2-3 days, adjust the number accordingly.

Once you have these numbers, multiply the diaper changes per day by the number of days between washes to calculate the total number of diapers needed. Remember to account for a few extra diapers as backups or in case of emergencies.

By using this formula, you can ensure you have an adequate supply of cloth diapers to keep your baby clean and comfortable throughout the day.

Here is a quick visual that has helped me as a rule of thumb on how many cloth diapers do I need.

how many cloth diapers do I need

Types of Cloth Diapers and Their Absorbency Levels

When building your cloth diaper stash, it's essential to consider the types of cloth diapers available and their absorbency levels. Here are some common types of cloth diapers:

1. All-in-One (AIO) Diapers:

AIO diapers are the most similar to disposable diapers in terms of convenience. They consist of a waterproof outer layer and an absorbent inner layer, all sewn together. AIO diapers are easy to use but may take longer to dry due to their design.

2. Pocket Diapers:

Pocket diapers have a waterproof outer layer and a pocket where you can insert absorbent inserts. This allows you to customize the absorbency level by adding more or fewer inserts as needed. Pocket diapers are versatile and dry relatively quickly.

3. Prefold and Flat Diapers:

Prefold and flat diapers are the traditional cloth diapering options. Prefolds consist of multiple layers of fabric with the most absorbent section in the middle. Flat diapers are a single layer of fabric that you fold to create layers. Both options require a separate waterproof cover and are more affordable compared to other types of diapers.

4. Fitted Diapers:

Fitted diapers are contoured diapers that require a separate waterproof cover. They are known for their excellent absorbency and snug fit, making them suitable for heavy wetters or overnight use.

Consider the absorbency levels of each type of diaper when determining how many you'll need. Newborns and heavy wetters may require more absorbent diapers, while older babies may need fewer layers of absorbency.

Related: Check out my Quick Guide on How to Cloth Diaper

How Many Cloth Diapers do I Need and what Additional Cloth Diapering Accessories to Consider

Apart from cloth diapers, there are several accessories that can enhance your cloth diapering experience. Here are a few you may want to consider.

1. Diaper Covers:

If you opt for prefolds, flats, or fitted diapers, you'll need waterproof covers to prevent leaks. These covers come in various sizes and materials, such as PUL (polyurethane laminate) or wool. Having a few extra covers on hand can be helpful, especially during laundry days.

2. Inserts and Boosters:

Inserts and boosters provide additional absorbency to your cloth diapers. They are particularly useful for heavy wetters or overnight use. Depending on your baby's needs, you may want to have a variety of inserts and boosters in your stash.

3. Diaper Liners:

Diaper liners are thin, disposable or reusable liners that can be placed inside the diaper to catch solid waste. They make cleanup easier and help prevent stains on the diaper. While not essential, they can be a convenient addition to your diapering routine.

4. Wet Bags:

Wet bags are waterproof bags designed to store soiled diapers when you're on the go. They come in various sizes and designs, making it easy to carry dirty diapers without any odor or leaks.

These accessories can enhance the functionality and convenience of your cloth diapering routine. Consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding which accessories to include in your cloth diaper stash.

Tips for Maintaining and Caring for Cloth Diapers for Beginners

Proper maintenance and care are crucial to prolonging the lifespan of your cloth diapers. Here are some tips to help you maintain and care for your cloth diapers:

1. Prepping New Diapers:

Before using new cloth diapers, it's essential to prep them to enhance their absorbency. This typically involves washing them several times to remove any manufacturing residues. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for prepping new diapers.

2. Storing Dirty Diapers:

Store dirty diapers in a dry pail or wet bag until laundry day. Avoid sealing the diapers tightly, as this can lead to the growth of odor-causing bacteria. If your baby is exclusively breastfed, you can skip rinsing the diapers as the waste is water-soluble.

3. Washing Routine:

Establish a washing routine that works for you. Start with a cold rinse or pre-wash cycle, followed by a hot wash cycle with a cloth diaper-friendly detergent. Avoid using fabric softeners, bleach, or harsh additives as they can affect the absorbency and lifespan of the diapers.

Related: Check out my washing routing HERE

4. Drying Methods:

Cloth diapers can be air-dried or machine-dried, depending on your preference and the diaper's specific instructions. Direct sunlight can help remove stains and naturally sanitize the diapers.

5. Diaper Creams:

Use cloth diaper-friendly diaper creams to prevent any residue from affecting the absorbency of the diapers. Look for creams labeled "cloth diaper safe" or opt for natural alternatives like coconut oil or shea butter.

By following these tips, you can ensure your cloth diapers stay clean, fresh, and in excellent condition for extended use.

Budget-Friendly Options for Purchasing Cloth Diapers

Building a cloth diaper stash doesn't have to break the bank. Here are some budget-friendly options for purchasing cloth diapers.

1. Secondhand Diapers:

Consider buying preloved cloth diapers from reputable sources, such as cloth diapering communities or online marketplaces. Many parents sell their gently used diapers at a fraction of the original price, allowing you to save money while still getting quality diapers.

2. Diaper Rental Services:

Some cloth diaper retailers offer rental services, allowing you to try out different types and brands of cloth diapers before making a purchase. This can be a cost-effective way to determine which diapers work best for you and your baby.

3. Cloth Diaper Packages:

Many cloth diaper brands offer package deals or starter sets that include multiple diapers at a discounted price. These packages often provide a variety of diaper styles, allowing you to test different options without committing to a single type.

4. DIY Cloth Diapers:

If you're crafty, you can explore making your own cloth diapers. There are plenty of tutorials and patterns available online, and you can customize the diapers to suit your preferences and needs.

Remember, while it's tempting to focus solely on price, it's important to prioritize quality and functionality when purchasing cloth diapers. Look for reputable brands known for their durability and performance to ensure your investment lasts.

Where to Buy Cloth Diapers and Recommended Brands

There are numerous places where you can buy cloth diapers, both online and in physical stores. Here are a few options to consider:

1. Online Retailers:

Websites like Amazon, Etsy, and cloth diaper specialty stores offer a wide range of cloth diapers and accessories. Read reviews and check the seller's reputation before making a purchase.

2. Local Retailers:

Some baby stores or eco-friendly boutiques carry cloth diapers. Visit your local stores to see the options in person and get expert advice from the staff.

3. Cloth Diaper Brands:

Many cloth diaper brands have their own online stores where you can purchase directly from them. Some popular and highly recommended cloth diaper brands include BumGenius, GroVia, Thirsties, Alva Baby, and Blueberry.

When selecting a brand, consider factors such as the type of diapers they offer, their reputation for quality, and their commitment to sustainability and ethical manufacturing practices.

Conclusion: Finding the Right Number of Cloth Diapers for Your Needs

Determining the right number of cloth diapers for your needs may seem overwhelming at first, but with careful consideration of factors such as your baby's age, diapering style, and laundry routine, you can build a practical and efficient cloth diaper stash.

Remember to calculate the number of diapers needed based on your baby's diaper changes per day and the frequency of your laundry routine. Consider the different types of cloth diapers available, their absorbency levels, and the additional accessories that can enhance your cloth diapering experience.

Lastly, explore budget-friendly options for purchasing cloth diapers and choose reputable brands that meet your requirements.

By following this ultimate guide, you'll be well-equipped to embark on a successful cloth diapering journey, keeping your baby comfortable, happy, and dry while making a positive impact on the environment and your wallet. Happy cloth diapering!


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