How many diapers do I need?

by Amanda Hearn · 28 comments

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I see this question a lot. The answer is that it depends on how often you wash your diapers.

Here are some basic guidelines for bare minimum stashes, and would likely need washed every other day (a little more if you’re lucky!).  These are a great start if you’re working with a budget.

Newborn Phase
3 dozen diapers

This could be:
3 dozen prefolds, 4-6 covers and a couple of snappis (least expensive option)
3 dozen fitteds and 4-6 covers (I personally *love* fitteds for the newborn stage)
3 dozen all-in-ones or pockets (I wouldn’t recommend this as their legs are often so skinny and you may get leaks)
or any combination of the above

3 months and up
2 dozen

This could be:
2 dozen prefolds & 3-4 covers (least expensive option)
2 dozen fitteds & 3-4 covers
2 dozen AIOs or pockets (I do recommend these for this stage.  They absorb a lot and work well now.  I personally love my AIOs and they are daddy friendly.)
or any combination of the above

Once your baby gets older, you may find that a few more would be handy, or that you can go a little longer between washes.

My personal preference on stash size.

Newborn Phase
4 dozen newborn diapers
I would do 3.5 dozen fitteds, 6 AIOs(for on the go or for husband), 4 Thristies size 1 Duo covers & a few wool soakers.

Depending on what was cute, I might bump it up to 5 dozen.  There are some adorable fitteds and they’re so easy to use in this phase.

3 mos and up
3-4 dozen diapers
I would do 2 dozen AIOs (because I love them), 1 dozen One-Size pockets for nights and naps and then some fun fitteds, 3-4 Thirsties size 2 Duo covers and some interlock wool.

Again, I might bump up a few more diapers.  Sometimes you run into one you want to try or that is just too cute to pass up.  Who doesn’t like to splurge a little on cute stuff from time to time?

Special note for those with more than one in diapers at the same time.
When I had two girls in diapers, the above guides aren’t quite right because I found that I did laundry A LOT more.  With one in diapers, I do laundry every 4, sometimes 5 days.  With two in diapers, I did laundry about every other day.  If I did it on the 3rd day it was pushing it on being too full, and sometimes it was.

With two in diapers you could easily do 1/3-1/2 less diapers per child.

What is your stash or dream stash?  Do you feel like you have enough?  Too much?

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer May 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

That seems like a lot. We have twins and our newborn diapers were the BumGenius XS Bamboo. (sadly discontinued. We loved them!) We had 36 of those, plus 6 Thirsties Covers. For TWO BABIES. When they outgrew those at about 3 months, we went to the BumGenius 3.0 One Size. We have 42 of those. Six are designated our "Night" diapers which we have a different color and double-stuff those with the thicker inserts and a hemp doubler. The remaining 36 are in rotation. Eight in the diaper bag, the rest in the drawer. And I feel like we could actually get by with fewer of them. It does allow a little buffer for laundry, though, so we'll keep it the way that we have it, but we could totally have gotten by with 36 diapers for the 3 months and up.
I think 3-4 dozen diapers for one kid is too much and is in contrast some of the main benefits of cloth diapering: save money and reduce waste. I guess I am not the typical cloth diaper addict, I bought my diapers and intend to keep them as long as I can. I don't feel much need to add more.

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Jen W May 20, 2010 at 3:25 pm

That seems like a lot. We have twins and our newborn diapers were the BumGenius XS Bamboo. (sadly discontinued. We loved them!) We had 36 of those, plus 6 Thirsties Covers. For TWO BABIES. When they outgrew those at about 3 months, we went to the BumGenius 3.0 One Size. We have 42 of those. Six are designated our “Night” diapers which we have a different color and double-stuff those with the thicker inserts and a hemp doubler. The remaining 36 are in rotation. Eight in the diaper bag, the rest in the drawer. And I feel like we could actually get by with fewer of them. It does allow a little buffer for laundry, though, so we'll keep it the way that we have it, but we could totally have gotten by with 36 diapers for the 3 months and up.
I think 3-4 dozen diapers for one kid is too much and is in contrast some of the main benefits of cloth diapering: save money and reduce waste. I guess I am not the typical cloth diaper addict, I bought my diapers and intend to keep them as long as I can. I don't feel much need to add more.

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The Eco-Friendly Family - Amanda May 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I should have noted that with more than one in diapers that number has some buffer per child. When both of my girls were in diapers, I did laundry a little more often and did not need as many diapers. Now that it takes 4 daysish to get a full load of diaper laundry, I find that I need the 'full' stash.

I'll be sure to add a note to that effect :)

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Amanda Hearn May 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I should have noted that with more than one in diapers that number has some buffer per child. When both of my girls were in diapers, I did laundry a little more often and did not need as many diapers. Now that it takes 4 daysish to get a full load of diaper laundry, I find that I need the 'full' stash.

I'll be sure to add a note to that effect :)

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4stemmes May 20, 2010 at 6:07 pm

We definitely don't have enough because I have to do laundry AT LEAST every other day to keep enough clean. But, we went with a more pricey option (Gro-Baby) because they say they will fit from "birth to potty" and it will be cheaper in the long run. But, I'm hoping to increase our stash very soon!

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The Wife May 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

You're right, Amanda! With 2 in diapers I feel like I'm washing diapers all the time!

Even with washing all the time it's nice to have a buffer. I know I'll have enough if I can't get to laundry right away, which is every other day ideally.

We have about 2 doz nb dipes (aios/fitteds) and 3 doz prefolds (not used much; they're back up and inserts for the pockets) and 2 doz for our toddler. We're starting to change over to all one size dipes as the baby is getting too big for the newborn size.

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Jacqie May 20, 2010 at 7:20 pm

You're right, Amanda! With 2 in diapers I feel like I'm washing diapers all the time!

Even with washing all the time it's nice to have a buffer. I know I'll have enough if I can't get to laundry right away, which is every other day ideally.

We have about 2 doz nb dipes (aios/fitteds) and 3 doz prefolds (not used much; they're back up and inserts for the pockets) and 2 doz for our toddler. We're starting to change over to all one size dipes as the baby is getting too big for the newborn size.

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The Eco-Friendly Family - Amanda May 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I love cloth diapering, but with two in diapers it was a lot of laundry, lol. It wasn't so bad, but they just never got put away. I was mostly grabbing diapers from the basket.

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Amanda Hearn May 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I love cloth diapering, but with two in diapers it was a lot of laundry, lol. It wasn't so bad, but they just never got put away. I was mostly grabbing diapers from the basket.

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Jennifer May 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Another note, we actually do less laundry now with cloth diapers than we did the 2 weeks the boys were in disposables. We do wash diapers every day, we could probably go every other day but the diaper pail we have won't hold two days' worth. When in disposables though, they leaked ALL. THE. TIME. Nearly every diaper change was also an outfit change, a swaddle blanket, sheets, mattress protector, etc. We tried three different brands of diapers and all of them leaked constantly. All my friends who have babies in disposables carry a couple changes of clothes with them in case of blow-outs, which seem to happen with every poo. I have two babies and I don't usually carry extra outfits, our cloth diapers do their jobs and contain the mess.

The cloth diaper laundry is pretty easy, honestly, my husband and I both prefer it to our laundry. It is just one load. The diapers are always stuffed and into the drawer, whereas it is more likely than not we will be pulling our own clothes out of a basket.

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Jen W May 25, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Another note, we actually do less laundry now with cloth diapers than we did the 2 weeks the boys were in disposables. We do wash diapers every day, we could probably go every other day but the diaper pail we have won't hold two days' worth. When in disposables though, they leaked ALL. THE. TIME. Nearly every diaper change was also an outfit change, a swaddle blanket, sheets, mattress protector, etc. We tried three different brands of diapers and all of them leaked constantly. All my friends who have babies in disposables carry a couple changes of clothes with them in case of blow-outs, which seem to happen with every poo. I have two babies and I don't usually carry extra outfits, our cloth diapers do their jobs and contain the mess.

The cloth diaper laundry is pretty easy, honestly, my husband and I both prefer it to our laundry. It is just one load. The diapers are always stuffed and into the drawer, whereas it is more likely than not we will be pulling our own clothes out of a basket.

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deanna October 6, 2010 at 5:19 am

with fitteds. how often do you need a new cover? every few changes?

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LifeRemarkable October 6, 2010 at 5:19 am

with fitteds. how often do you need a new cover? every few changes?

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Cyndi April 13, 2011 at 12:37 am

We use prefolds and fitteds and we rotate between 3 covers, letting them air dry between, the cover needs to get washed in about 3 outta 4 poops because she is exclusivly BF and has very wet poops that get on the leg gussets. All the covers get washed (but hung dry) when I do laundry.

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hayley m February 21, 2012 at 8:27 pm

For newborn phase i use 3 dozen prefolds with 3 covers handwashing the covers in between and air dring then 4 OS covers and 3 dozen prefolds then i was able to get some pocket diapers we use for sitterse and when we go out!

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Ashley Smith April 16, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Have you tried Lil Joeys for newborns? They are an AIO that’s supposedly non-leaking for that size. I was going to just register for those and some bumgenius elementals, but if I need prefolds for the newborn stage, then I guess I’ll get them.

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Hillary June 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

First of all, i love love love your blog! It has been super helpful since I’m a cloth diapering beginner.
I have 26 one size pocket diapers with double the amount of inserts. I couldn’t use them on my newborn because, as you said, these type of diapers often leak with smaller babies who have skinnier legs so he was in Luvs for a little while. However, I absolutely LOVE my pocket diapers now that he’s a little bigger. They never leak. I wish I had had some newborn sized cloth diapers but it wasn’t really in our buget to buy a new stash every time we needed bigger sizes.
Anyhoo, since I do laundry every day anyway (I have a weird thing about letting dirty clothes just sit around for days. Don’t even like thinking about it!) a smaller stash works for me. Plus, we use Fancy Pants, which are an AMAZING value at $10 to $12 per diaper, and always include 2
inserts. Susan, who owns the company, will give special discounts to those purchasing 12 or more diapers at once. I highly recommend Fancy Pants diapers to anyone wanting one size pocket diapers. A couple of the designs can be found on amazon, but they are a better price at fancypantsdiapers.com, plus there are dozens of super cute designs to choose from.

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Sara May 16, 2013 at 12:02 am

We have 2 in diapers and have 28 diapers total. We use sposies at night tho… So that helps. I was every 2-3 days. I think a perfect stash for 2 would be maybe 32-34 diapers :) but 28 works good too :)

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Nicole wicks August 25, 2013 at 12:27 am

Thanks for the info!

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Mary December 18, 2013 at 8:52 am

I am going to keep this in mind for our next baby. I didn’t start cloth diapering my son until he was 6 months old, and I want to cloth diaper the next baby as soon as possible!

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Marie February 12, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for the info! For those of you who are new to cloth diapering like I am (baby #1 due at the end of April), there is the option of avoiding newborn cloth diapers all together and using a cloth diaper rental like we are. It is a local company, and they will give you a combination of different diapers (basically anything you’re interested in trying out! We are going with AIOs, prefolds/covers, and maybe some fitteds to start with). Whenever your baby outgrows the newborn diapers, whatever money is leftover from the rental can be applied to buying new (or used) dipes from their store online, or getting cash back if you’ve decided you hate cloth diapers (doubtful!!!). Here’s the website for those interested:
http://shop.earthycrunchymama.com/products/newborn-cloth-diaper-rental

And no, I’m not affiliated with the store in any way, I just think it’s a great company with a great option for those just starting out in the cloth diapering world. :) I’m a midwife by trade.

Thanks again for the info- I plan on using this site a lot! :D

Marie

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tramen April 25, 2014 at 2:47 am

good list to know!

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Gladys Aguilar December 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm

I didnt buy nearly enough but hopefully the sposies I got at my baby shower will help while I buy more

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Katie M December 4, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Thanks for the information! This is a great guideline for me since I’ll start cloth diapering our little one next year. Time to stock up.

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Jessi H December 5, 2014 at 10:20 am

This is great. I’m trying to read up from several sites on how big various bloggers feel my stash should be, and choose something in the middle. I really appreciate the thorough post, thanks!

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Natalia December 7, 2014 at 9:57 am

Thanks for a great breakdown. Very helpful with determining what kind of stash we will need for our first time cloth diapering.

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