How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? With 10 Must-Know Mistakes!

    How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? All You Need To Know!

    It seems like it must be easy to figure out how many cloth diapers do I need. But it’s easy to buy too many or too few cloth diapers.

    The magic number is different for every mom and baby because it depends on several things.

    You don’t have to waste your hard-earned cash on diapers you won’t use. So we’ve devised a way to help you figure out how many you’ll need for your little one.

    How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

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    The standard answer is 24 diapers, and here’s why.

    Cloth diapers need to be cleaned or delivered by a diaper delivery service. The average person washes their diapers every other day, and newborns often use eight to ten diapers daily.

    Baby’s Age Washing Daily Washing Every Two-days Washing Every Three-Days
    Newborn 0-3 months 12-15 20-24 24-36
    Infant 3-6 months 9-12 18-20 24-30
    Infant 6-12 months 9-12 14-18 20-22
    Toddlers 12-24 months 6-8 12-16 18-20
    Potty training 8-9 10-14 14-18

    If you have extra cloth diapers, you can put some clean ones in the diaper bag. It also gives you some space to breathe if your baby sometimes uses more diapers than the average baby does daily.

    You need eight covers and twenty-four soakers for a two-piece cloth diaper system. Most of the time, you can use a cover two or three times before you need to change it.

    As your baby gets older, they will pee and poop less, so you will have to change their diapers less often.

    How many cloth diapers you need will be based on how often you do laundry. To avoid mildew, you should wait no longer than three days.

    About 8–10 diapers are used daily by newborns, 6–8 by babies aged 3–6 months, 4–6 by babies aged 6–12 months, and 3–5 by toddlers and older children.

    Newborns 0-3 Months

    Newborns have their unique type of excrement and normally have two bowel movements daily.

    Don’t be concerned by the color; your baby’s excrement will be black and sticky for the first few days, then yellow and seedy over the next week.

    They will have many more wet diapers; they should have at least six wet diapers daily after six days.

    If you plan on cleaning cloth diapers every two days, you should have at least 20-24 on hand. Because air drying is ideal, you must have a sufficient supply of dry diapers while those that have recently been cleaned dry.

    Infant 3-6 Months

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    Babies will have bowel movements around once a day for three months. Formula-fed babies’ bowel motions will be slightly firmer but not hard.

    They will also have fewer wet diapers, about 6 to 8. At this point, the No. Of cloth diapers you require per day may be reduced to 9-12. Your infant may become dehydrated if they do not have enough wet diapers.

    If you washed every day, you could reduce it to every other day. Moreover, keeping backups dry and hidden in other places, such as your car, is usually a good idea.

    Infant 6-12 Months

    Between 6-12 months, your baby will have between 8 and 10 wet or dirty diapers daily. When you start giving them solid food, their poop will change and become more solid.

    As you add new foods, they may also change color and smell worse.

    Some babies have trouble going to the bathroom once they start eating solids. 

    If your baby is in pain when they poop, you see blood in their poop, or their poop is very firm, they are probably constipated.

    Toddler 12-24 Months

    Once your baby turns one, they may start pooping less often. Sometimes they can go 1-3 days without going.

    There’s no reason to worry if they don’t look like they’re having trouble going to the bathroom. If the texture is firm but a little soft, that’s what you want! The good news is that fewer diapers are needed at this age.

    When your baby is two years old, they may start to tell you when they are wet or dirty. This makes it easier to change their diapers. At this age, the average number of diapers per day is between 4 and 6.

    Potty Training

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    Most children start to use the toilet between the ages of 2 1/2 and 3. When your child tells you they are wet or dirty, show interest in using the toilet, and can dress and undress themselves, you will know they are ready.

    If a child isn’t ready to be potty trained, forcing them to do so will only cause frustration and delays! 

    When there are big changes in the family, like a new sibling, moving, starting a new child care center, a divorce, etc., potty training should be put off.

    How many diapers you use daily will depend on how you teach your child to use the toilet. Some parents let their kids go without diapers. If that’s the case, you’ll only need diapers when you leave the house.

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    If your child wears diapers all the time, you will need about 10 to 14 cloth diapers for a toddler learning to use the toilet.

    What Kinds of Cloth Diapers Do You Use?

    The number of diapers required is also decided by the cloth diaper used. All-in-one diapers (also known as AIO diapers), cloth diaper covers, prefolds, and hybrid cloth diapers are all options.

    Diapers with covers, for example, require the outsides to be washed less frequently, whereas an all-in-one diaper must be washed after each usage.

    All-in-Ones (AIO)

    All-in-one cloth diapers are just what they sound like: they are one-piece cloth diapers with a waterproof outside and an absorbent inside.

    Cloth diapers are the same as disposable ones, except you don’t throw them away.

    If you plan to wash the diapers every other day, you will need at least 20–24 all-in-ones in your stash of newborn diapers.

    They are the thickest type of cloth diapers for babies because they are all one piece. They also take the longest to dry.

    All-in-Twos (AI2 or Hybrid)

    All-in-two diapers are like all-in-one, but the inner material is not attached.

    There are two kinds, one where the inside can be washed and one where it has to be thrown away.

    Even with the washable option, drying time is shorter because the two parts are not joined together. Keep in mind that AI2s need to be put together.

    You should have between 20 and 24 washable inserts for a newborn and 4 to 6 cloth diapers.


    A padded insert that can be taken out and put into a pocket is one of the three parts of a pocket diaper. The material inside the pocket diaper absorbs a little bit of waste, but the padded insert absorbs most of it.

    After each use, both parts of this diaper need to be washed. Many mothers use these cloth diapers on their babies; they are comfortable and seldom leak.

    One benefit is that the insert usually doesn’t get dirty when the baby poops because it has a layer that soaks up the mess.

    Again, your stash of cloth diapers and inserts for a newborn should have 20–24 diapers and inserts. 

    Flat/Prefolds with Covers

    Prefolds are rectangle-shaped fabrics sewn together in the middle to make an absorbent section. Since there are many ways to fold them, you will need to try them out to see what works excellent for you and your baby.

    You might need to buy different fasteners. You will also need to buy covers that keep water out. Prefolds are cheap, and you only need one cover for every three diapers. For babies who are just born, you will need 20–24 prefolds and 4–6 covers.

    Fitted with Covers

    Fitted diapers with covers are like prefolds, but the absorbent part is already in the shape of a fitted diaper with fasteners.

    If you use these cloth diapers for a baby, you can use the same cover three or four times before washing it.

    Fitted diapers also tend to leak less and soak up a lot. This system makes changing a cloth diaper easy because the shape and snaps are already made.

    Create a Diaper Stash

    Even though you could have only a dozen or so cloth diapers and wash them daily, it is best to have more.

    They won’t last as long if you use and wash them every day, just like if you wore the same pair of pants every day.

    Because of this, you should have at least 24 cloth diapers in your stash. When you have a bigger rotation, you will reduce the wear, especially since newborns go through much more than toddlers.

    When you buy a lot of cloth diapers from the same company, you can often get a discount. You will save money if you buy several at once instead of waiting to replace worn ones. Most cloth diapers are also adjustable in size to be used from birth to toddlerhood.

    How many cloth diapers do you need? Most people agree that you need at least 24 and between 4 and 6 covers for the styles that need them. With pocket diapers, you’ll need as many diapers as you would with inserts.

    How Often Should You Wash Cloth Diapers?

    Most people wash their cloth diapers daily or every other day. Mildew will start to grow after three days. First, run the diapers through a rinse cycle with cold water.

    Then, wash them in hot water with a detergent that is safe for use with cloth diapers. If your washer lets you add a second rinse cycle at the end, do it.

    If not, rinse them again in warm or hot water. After you rinse them, smell them. If they still smell like poop or urine, rinse them again. If you can, you should let cloth diapers dry in the sun.

    Since air drying takes longer, it’s a good idea to have extra diapers in your stash. Even if you can’t hang your clothes outside to dry, you can get a rack or clothesline to use inside.

    Always Have a Backup

    You never know what could go wrong and keep you from doing your daily load of diapers, so it’s a good idea to have a backup plan.

    Things like losing power, getting sick, or forgetting can also happen. Having an extra stack of clean diapers is always a good idea. Nobody likes to go to the supermarket or the laundromat at the last minute with a newborn in tow.

    Having a day’s worth of clean diapers in case of an emergency will keep you from having to worry more. The good news is that as your baby ages, they will need fewer diapers daily. This makes having extra diapers more useful. One set is in the drawer, one set is in the washer, and one set is drying.

    What If My Baby Wets More/Less?

    Even though there is some predictability regarding how often your baby will need a new diaper each day, every child is a little different. Some kids are heavy wetters, some are frequent wetters, etc., so you may need to change your cloth diaper stockpile a little bit as you learn your baby’s habits and what you like.

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    So, you can quickly figure out how many diapers you should have for your baby by looking at

    • How often will you wash your cloth diapers?
    • How many diapers are usually used for babies of each age (newborn, infant, baby, and toddler)? and 
    • How much money do you have?

    We’ve already talked briefly about how many diapers are usually used.

    We’ll look closely at how your budget and washing schedule work together (time and money are always at odds, right?) But first, let’s talk about how diapers for babies are different.

    What About Newborn Diapers?

    child, sitting, potty, how many cloth diapers do i need
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    There are three reasons why newborn diapers are different:

    • They grow out of them quickly, just like newborns.
    • Because most newborns are too small for one-size or even-sized cloth diapers, you’ll need newborn diapers to cloth diaper your infant from the start.
    •  You need many of them because newborn babies have wet and dirty diapers almost constantly, 24 hours a day.

    Because of these different facts, many new parents argue whether cloth diapers for babies are worth it. Some people use disposable diapers at this stage because they are cheaper, while others choose to use newborn diapers immediately.

    It’s difficult to decide, but knowing how long they will last can help.

    How Often Should a Newborn Be Changed?

    During the first few months, babies eat and make messes in their diapers in a short, steady cycle. This means that they need to have their diapers changed often.

    As a general rule, which most people who use cloth diapers agree on, newborns usually need a new cloth diaper every 2 hours, but sometimes they need one more or less often. You’ll have to change your baby about 12 times a day.

    How Many Newborn Diapers Will You Need?

    Ok, so we know that newborn diapers only last about 4.3 months and that you’ll have to change them about 12 times a day, But How many newborn diapers do you need?

    It is best to have 12–14 diapers daily because things happen, like when the baby poops right after being changed or has an upset stomach and poops a few extra times, etc.

    It’s best always to have at least one or two extras so you don’t have to rush to the washer when you or your baby are sick.

    After the newborn stage, How many cloth diapers do I need?

    Whether or not it’s worth it to buy diapers for a newborn depends on your budget and whether or not you want to start from the beginning. But at least you know how many you’ll need and how long they’ll last.

    If you want to use cloth diapers until your baby learns to use the toilet, you’ll need to buy diapers that fit babies who are heavier.

    Even though there are still great diapers that come in different sizes, like AppleCheeks, many cloth diapers now only come in one size that fits babies from about 10 to 30 pounds. How long your baby can wear in-size or one-size diapers will depend on how fast they grow. Babies grow at very different rates, and their growth curves become very different as time goes on. How fast your child learns to use the potty will also be a factor.

    Even if you choose sized diapers, you’ll have time to save up before you need to buy the next size up. Hopefully, the baby will also be using fewer diapers by then, so the number of diapers you need will also decrease as time goes on.

    As your baby gets older and uses fewer diapers daily, you can either use fewer diapers or wash them less often.

    What Other Factors Influence Diaper Requirements?

    You may need to change your stash of cloth diapers as you go to fit your baby’s needs and your tastes. Here are some common things that will affect how many diapers you use along the way:

    • Your baby pees and poops a lot: You will need to buy about a half dozen more diapers and some extra inserts to prevent leaks. 
    • Your baby doesn’t poop a lot: Some babies go several times a day, while others only go once a week. If you have a baby that doesn’t poop a lot, you may be able to use fewer diapers, especially if you use fewer diaper covers.
    • Your toddler wets about 4-5 five times a day: First, it sounds like your child is getting close to being able to use the potty, so congrats! You’ll probably need fewer diapers during this stage, which is good because you’ll look at bigger sizes. If you’re thinking about switching to cloth diapers now, you might want to read this post where we help you weigh the pros and cons of switching and give you some tips and tricks for switching a toddler to a cloth diaper.

    10 Common Mistakes People Make When Using Cloth Diapers

    1. Not changing the baby’s diaper frequently enough

    If you don’t change a cloth diaper as soon as the baby wets it, it will leak and cause diaper rash. Would adults like to sit for a few hours in their wet underwear? Leaving a baby for hours in a wet diaper is neglectful and abusive. Stop what you’re doing, even shopping or traveling, and change the wet diaper. When parents first start using disposable diapers, diaper companies tell them that a diaper can stay on for 4–12 hours.

    2. Not buying enough cloth diapers

    If you don’t have 36 diapers, you won’t be able to change the baby after each wet. You need at least 20 clean diapers to use while the rest are being washed. If you get less than 36 diapers, they will wear out before the baby learns to use the toilet independently because they will be washed more often.

    3. Using laundry products that hurt the fabric of diapers or the baby’s skin

    Many detergents now have enzymes, bleach, scents, optical whiteners, colors, fabric softeners, and other chemicals that hurt the diapers, stay in the fabric, and cause diaper rash. Instead, only use natural things: Half a cup of washing soda and half a cup of borax per load is easy and cheap.

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    Don’t use softener on your clothes. It can leave a residue on the cloth fabric, which makes the diapers water-resistant in the long run. Fabric softeners also cause diaper rash because they smell nice and have other chemicals. In the final rinse, 1/2 cup of white vinegar is a natural pH adjuster and softener for the clothes.

    Don’t bleach your diapers because it eats away the fabric and makes a rash.

    4 Buying diapers where the absorbent part is made of synthetic fabrics

    Synthetics are bad in both the short and long term. Next to the baby’s skin, only natural fibers should be used.

    Cotton has been used for a long time because it is soft and absorbent. Microfiber “hooks” even the most sensitive skin. Because of this, it is best used for dusting and not for changing diapers. Fleece is warm, which is called “polar” fleece. Imagine how you would feel in fleece underwear on a hot summer day before you put it on your baby. Synthetic fabrics get dirty and lose their ability to absorb liquids over time. This is why you hear people talk about “stripping” their diapers.

    5 Using “pocket” diapers

    Instead of stuffing extra inserts into pockets to make them more absorbent, just change the baby as soon as he wets. With pocket diapers, you will have to take the insert out of a dirty diaper before you can wash it. Stuffing pockets takes extra time.

    6. Not washing diapers daily

    You won’t have sufficient dry diapers on hand to change baby as soon as he wets. When diapers have been in the diaper pail for more than a day, they get dirty and take longer to clean. Ammonia builds up, so when your baby poops in a clean diaper, it will smell funny, and your baby may get diaper rash.

    7 Not cleaning off poopy diapers

    Yes, even runny poop from a breastfed baby MUST be cleaned off before it goes in the diaper pail. Use diaper liners or soak or spray the diapers to clean them. If you put dirty diapers in the washing machine and let them sit for more than a day, don’t expect them to come out clean. Great-grandma would think that was a terrible way to be lazy. Your washer is not a septic tank, and you don’t want dirty diapers to get into your regular laundry. Use a diaper pail instead of your washing machine to hold dirty diapers until laundry day.

    8 Washing diapers with cold water or too little water

    For cleanliness and safety, diapers must be washed in hot water and dried in a hot dryer (or dried in the sun, which sterilizes with UV rays). Make sure the diapers are clean and rinsed well by using a lot of water. Cold water can be used for the pre-rinse and final rinse, but the main wash must be HOT! Parents tell us that the cheap all-in-one diapers made in China lose their waterproofing after just a few washes in hot water.

    Ensure that the instructions for all-in-ones say “hot water wash/hot dryer.” Even if your detergent works in cold water, you still need to wash diapers in hot water.

    9 Putting natural oils in the diaper pail

    Using expensive tea tree oil, grapefruit seed extract, or aromatherapy oils for this purpose is a waste of the earth’s natural resources, your money, and even bad for diapers. Most people say that aromatherapy oils can cause bad reactions if they are used in the wrong way. If there is oil on diapers, they won’t soak up water as they should. You don’t put enough oil in the diaper pail for it to be very antibacterial. Don’t throw these good oils away in the diaper pail. Instead, wash your diapers every day.

    10 Expecting cloth diapers to look like disposables 

    Because the chemical crystals inside disposables get bigger when they get wet, they are very thin and narrow. Cloth diapers don’t change shape when they get wet, so they are made to absorb liquid exactly where it is needed.

    The baby will not feel any pain from this. If a baby’s hips are “out” from birth, doctors advise double-diapering so that the thickness between the legs puts the baby in the “froggy” position, which helps the hips back into place. You will make her uncomfortable when you put your baby in tight diapers, sleepers, or baby carriers with the legs straight down.

    Final words

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    Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

    At first, figuring out how many cloth diapers you need might seem hard, but it’s not. Sit down and take a look at your situation. Think about how old your baby is, how often you do laundry, and what kind of diapers you plan to use.

    Use our formula: If you change a baby’s diaper daily, you’ll need one extra day’s worth of diapers. Add a few extra diapers in case of an emergency, and think about times when you might need an extra set, like for daycare.

    This should give you a good number of cloth diapers to work with and keep you from buying more than you need.


    How many cloth diapers should I buy?

    The minimum amount of clothes you should buy is 20–24, but most people buy 30–36. If you can wash every day, you might be able to stay closer to the lower number.

    How many newborn cloth diapers do I require?

    Newborns use most diapers, so if you start cloth diapering with a newborn, you need the most diapers. Based on how often you plan to wash them, you should have between 20 and 36.

    How many cloth diaper covers do I need?

    Using a system with covers and inserts, you will need one cover for every 3–4 inserts. If you buy 36 inserts, you should try to make between 9 and 12 covers.

    How many pocket diapers do I need?

    Depending on how frequently you plan to wash them, you will need between 20 and 36 pocket diapers. The same number of inserts will also be needed. You might want to buy extra inserts so your baby’s diaper is even more comfortable at night.

    How many prefolds do I need?

    Depending on how frequently you plan to wash them, you’ll need anything from 20 to 36 prefolds. You will require fewer covers, one for every 3-4 prefolds.

    How often should you change cloth diapers?

    Because cloth diapers are less absorbent, they must be changed every one to two hours. They will pee less frequently as they grow older; you can check on them every two to three hours. When a bowel movement is detected, it should be replaced as quickly as possible.

    How many diapers does a newborn use?

    A newborn can use anywhere from 10 to 12 diapers a day. Because cloth diapers are more absorbent, it’s best to plan for 15 a day just to be safe.


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