How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? (A Detailed Breakdown)
Posted on January 11 2019
Our Cloth 101 classes are filled with lots of questions about choosing cloth diapers, using cloth diapers and washing cloth diapers. One of the most common questions is ‘How many cloth diapers do I need?’ The answer, quite honestly, is it depends on the style you choose and the lifestyle you lead.
Considering your caregivers, your time commitment and your style preference, how many cloth diapers you need may change from time to time. The good news is, knowing when to add to your stash isn’t too hard and your baby will need less cloth diapers per day the older they grow.
In this article, we’re going to breakdown how many cloth diapers you need, when to add to your cloth diaper collection and how to find that magic number that’s right for your family and your lifestyle.
Prefolds and Covers
When we say ‘how many cloth diapers do you need’ we are referring to the number of cloth diaper changes that you will need to have available. Depending on the system you choose, the elements that go into one cloth diaper change may look different. In general, every cloth diaper change will need something that is waterproof to hold in leaks and some sort of absorbency to catch liquids and solids.
When using prefolds and covers, the number of ‘changes’ refers to the number of prefolds in your collection. Because covers can be reused for two to three changes, you will need a different number of covers than you do prefolds.
In general, you will need 24-26 prefolds and about 8-10 covers for a newborn, assuming that you will be washing cloth diapers every day. If you plan to use Snappis to secure your prefolds, you’ll need to add that to your list as well. However, they actually come in a pack of three which is more than sufficient.
#protip Snappis do need to be replaced every six months or so, so keep that in mind as well.
All In Ones
All In Ones (AIOs) are one of the most popular cloth diaper styles that we sell at the boutique and for a very good reason. They are a one step diaper that requires no parts or pieces or stuffing or folding. The entire diaper goes on and the entire diaper comes off for each change, meaning your total number of diapers needed is very simple.
In general, you will need about 24-26 AIOs for your newborn collection. Because your waterproof layer (the cute printed or solid TPU outer layer you see) is connected to your absorbency (the soft inner layer), there is nothing else to add to your change. One diaper per change and you’re done. (Why isn’t all of parenting this easy?)
All In Twos and Hybrids
All In Twos and Hybrids will work a lot like covers and prefolds, the difference being that you may not be using prefolds, but a different kind of snap in or lay in insert. If you are using a hybrid system with a waterproof backed soaker pad like the GroVia Hybrid Shell and Soaker Pad, you will be able to get a few more changes out of your cover than if you are using a lay in method like the Thirsties Cover and All In Two Inserts.
When using All In Twos or Hybrids, you will need to start with about 12 covers and 24 soaker pads or all in two inserts. This will give you the 24-26 changes that you are aiming for when building your newborn stash. This is also a very easy system to add to. Many expecting families like to stop in and grab an extra cover or another set of soaker pads every once and a while to spread out the initial cost of cloth diapering.
When using fitted diapers, you will need the same amount of fitteds that you do All In Ones, or one fitted for every change. Because fitteds work with wool covers to keep baby dry, you will also need between two and three wool covers to use with your 24-26 fitteds diapers. Wool covers may take one to two days to fully dry and therefore, you will need to be able to rotate your wool covers like you do your regular covers as they are being washed (although you won’t need nearly as many).
When properly lanolized, wool covers can last you several days between washes, so they will not necessarily need to be swapped out every second or third change like a regular TPU cover. Wool is also naturally absorbent and wicking, which means it works with any style of cloth diaper and will help keep your young ones dryer longer.
Adding to Your Stash
Assuming that you plan to wash your diapers every other day, here are some good estimates as to how many cloth diapers you need:
- The Newborn Phase - This is the phase that you will do the most adding to your stash. Some parents prefer to wait until baby is born to purchase their cloth diapers, and some like to be fully prepared before baby’s arrival. More often than not, in this phase you will find yourself adding to what you thought was a complete system, simply because of lifestyle elements you didn’t anticipate. Maybe you prefer to leave an entire day’s worth of clean diapers in your diaper bag or maybe you’d like to go more days between washing than you originally planned. Either way, expect to add to your stash quite a bit before and directly after baby’s arrival. During this phase, expect to need about 24-26 diapers per wash cycle.
- The Infant Phase - The infant phase is normally when caregivers are get into the rhythm of their cloth diapering journey, learn quickly what works for them and what doesn’t. You might find that one partner prefers a different style than the other partner or that you have a few diaper styles that you find yourself really loving. This period of time is normally when your collection is completed, you know what you love and what works for you. (You might even find yourself recruiting friends to the cloth diaper world. Or if you’re like me, random people in line at the supermarket because I just love talking about cloth diapers that much.) During this phase, expect to need about 16-18 diapers per wash cycle.
All of the estimates you see above are assuming that you are washing cloth diapers every other day. Meaning, you will use all of these diapers and then need to wash. If your lifestyle doesn’t permit washing every other day and you would rather move your wash cycle to every three days, you will have to add a few more diapers to your collection.
I could never get my actual life together enough to routinely wash every two days, although I should have. In all my years of cloth diapering, I would safely say that every three days was my norm and our collection was quite a bit bigger for several reasons.
- I liked to keep my truck packed with extra clean diapers for when I inevitably forgot my whole life before leaving the house.
- We have six people in our house and it wasn’t always feasible for me to get to the washer every other day, considering how many other loads of laundry were trying to happen at the same time.
- Cloth diapers are ridiculously cute and the new prints are always must haves!
You can shop all the cloth diaper styles and accessories mentioned above in our carefully curated collection of cloth diapers. For more cloth diapering tips and tricks, LIKE us on Facebook, FOLLOW us on Instagram at @ArcticBabyBottoms or join our community on Facebook at the Arctic Baby Bottoms Fan Group!