cothesline of cloth diapers air drying

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? The Only Equation You’ll Need

If you’ve read my post on all things cloth diapers, you know that cloth diapers are an amazing option for your baby. There are no harmful chemicals to irritate your baby’s bottom and they are much better for the environment by reducing the amount of waste that ends up in landfills.

Another benefit of cloth diapers is that they end up costing less than disposable diapers. But, the initial investment can lead to sticker shock.

So the ever-important question is “how many cloth diapers do I need?”. In this guide, we’ll cover the factors you need to consider. You’ll also find a handy equation for how many cloth diapers you need for your little one!

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Factors To Consider When Calculating How Many Cloth Diapers You Need

Unfortunately, knowing the exact number of cloth diapers you will need is not a straight answer. The amount you need will depend on many factors and will vary from family to family. Here are some factors you should consider when calculating how many cloth diapers you need in your stash.

Age of Your Baby

The first factor in determining how many cloth diapers you need will be the age of your baby. Newborns will need more diaper changes than a toddler. Newborns can need a diaper change as much as every 1-2 hours and go through 10-15 diapers each day. As your baby grows older to about 6-12 months, you might need to change their diaper 6-10 times a day. Finally, toddlers (12-24 months) may only need a new diaper 4-7 times a day.

Cloth diapers do come in newborn size to account for the frequency of changes needed during this stage. Then, your baby can “graduate” to the one-size cloth diapers.

It’s important to note that these numbers are just guidelines. Every baby is different and each day will be different. Some days, your little one may need more diaper changes, while other days, they may need fewer.

Type of Cloth Diaper

The number of cloth diapers you ultimately need in your stash will also depend on the type you use. Cloth diapers come in a variety of styles, such as covers, all-in-one, and pocket diapers.

basket full of cloth diapers ready to be used

Cloth diaper covers are usually made of lightweight and water-resistant TPU fabric and a laminated interior. There’s no fabric sewn into the shell, so you can add your own absorbencies, like prefolds or bamboo inserts. At diaper changes, the inserts can be tossed in the laundry and the shell can be wiped clean and used again with a clean set of inserts. The way cloth diaper covers work, you will need fewer covers, but more inserts.

On the other hand, all-in-one and pocket cloth diapers have absorbency built-in. You don’t need to add extra inserts (unless your baby is a heavy wetter or you need extra coverage overnight). These styles are also more convenient since they don’t require any extra steps at diaper changes. However, you will need more cloth diapers in your stash since the entire diaper needs to be washed after each use.

Using cloth diapers exclusively or in combination with disposable diapers

When deciding on using cloth diapers, the decision does not have to be an all-or-nothing decision. In fact, there are many reasons why you may want to use both cloth and disposable diapers. This blog post will show you why and how! For example, you could use cloth diapers during the day and disposable diapers at night or when you are traveling.

If you use both cloth and disposable diapers, you will need fewer cloth diapers in your stash than if you used cloth diapers exclusively.

Cloth Diapering at Daycare

Another factor in determining how many cloth diapers you need is if your baby will be using cloth diapers at daycare. Some parents opt for using disposable diapers at daycare and cloth diapers at home.

However, many daycares now accept and support cloth diapering! Definitely read this blog post to help convince your daycare center and tips to make it seamless for your teachers! If you plan on using cloth diapers at daycare, you’ll need to have enough cloth diapers for your baby’s entire day at daycare plus the ones you’ll need at home.

How to Use Cloth Diapers at Daycare Featured Image

How Often You Do Laundry

The last thing you need to consider in how large to make your cloth diaper stash is how often you do laundry. If you plan on doing laundry once a week, then you’ll need more cloth diapers in your stash than if you do laundry every other day.

The number of cloth diapers in your stash should be equal to the number of days between wash days.

So How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Really Need?

Ultimately, how large a cloth diaper stash you get depends on many factors. And this will vary by family. By considering these factors and doing some math, you can figure out exactly how many cloth diapers you need.

Here is a general equation you can use to determine how many cloth diapers you need!


How Many Cloth Diapers I Need

(Average number of daily diaper changes) x
(days between wash days + 1 extra day for emergencies)


Example 1

A toddler using disposables at daycare. He needs 4 cloth diaper changes on a weekend day and only 2 cloth diaper changes on a weekday. Wash day is every 7 days.

Average number of daily diaper changes = 18 diaper changes a week / 7 days a week = ~2.5 diaper changes a day

2.5 x (7+1) = 20 cloth diapers needed at a minimum

Example 2

A newborn needing about 10 diaper changes a day. Wash day is every 2 days.10 x (3+1) = 40 cloth diapers needed at a minimum

baby wearing a pale pink cloth diaper

Calculate How Many Cloth Diapers You Need!

When calculating how many cloth diapers you need for your baby, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  • The age of your baby
  • The type of cloth diaper you’re using
  • How often you do laundry
  • Cloth diapering at daycare
  • Cloth diapering exclusively or in combination with disposables

By taking into account these factors, you can be sure that your baby will be comfortable and dry.

Do you have any other burning questions about cloth diapers? Be sure to check out these answers to some frequently asked questions about cloth diapers!

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