How many cloth diapers do I need?
The number of diapers you need depends on the age of your baby and how often you want to wash your diapers.
Newborns eat at least every two hours during those first couple weeks and poop just as often. Your will generally need to change your newborn’s diaper 12-16 times a day during the first few weeks. If you wish to wash diapers every day, you will need at least 12-18 cloth diapers. However, you may want to consider drying time and keep a few more on hand. Remember, cloth diapers are like any other item of clothing. The more often you use and wash it, the more quickly it wears out.
It is more economical and environmentally friendly to wash full loads rather than small loads, so you may want to wash every other day or every 2-3 days instead. Decide how long you want to go between washes. You will want at least 12 diapers for each day, plus several to use while your clean diapers are drying.
Older babies need fewer diaper changes through out the day. From two to six months of age, you can generally plan for 8-10 diaper changes per day. This age tends to be a heavy wetting phase and will often require a night time solution. From ages six months to 12 months, you may only need 6-8 diaper changes as your baby’s elimination patterns become more predictable. After one year of age you might only go through 4-6 diapers each day, plus a night time diaper. That number will decrease as your child nears potty learning.
Overall, if you plan to wash diaper laundry every 2 days the following number of cloth diapers should be adequate.
Infant up to 6 months: 24-30
Infant 6-12 months: 18-24
Toddler 12 months+: 12-18
Potty Learning: 6-10
If you are using prefolds, flats, or fitteds, you will need a water proof cover. Once your baby starts solids and develops firm poop, you will only need one cover per every 4-6 cloth diapers. Since newborns poop an average of 12 times a day, and that breastmilk or formula poo tends to be explosive, it if safer to have a cover for every two diapers during the newborn phase.
What types of cloth diapers should I use?
This is very personal. There are plenty of types and brands to chose from. What works for one baby won’t always work for another. Some parents want the most economical cloth diaper option. Many parents prefer to use prefolds and covers during the newborn phase because they are the cheapest option when a young baby needs so many changes each day. Others prefer the convenience of a pocket diaper or AIO. Fitted diapers with covers are great for that explosive newborn poo. You may also prefer a one size option that grows with your baby. One size options generally do not fit well until your baby reaches 10-12 pounds, but you can still try one size cloth diapers on newborns.
It may take some trial and error with different brands to get the right fit for your baby. Luckily cloth diapers have an excellent resale value and you can recoup most of your money on diapers that didn’t work with your baby. Also keep in mind your baby’s shape is always changing and that a diaper brand may not work this month, but become your favorite the following month.
How many cloth wipes do I need?
You will want at least one wipe for each diaper. In the early months you will want more since changes can be a bit messy until your baby starts solids. I suggest at least 2-3 dozen so you don’t run out. You can use your cloth wipes for more than just wiping tushies! Also, cloth wipes don’t have to be expensive or fancy. Brand name cloth wipes are cute and cuddly, but some cheap baby wash clothes will do just fine.
What other accessories do I need?
You will want a place to store your used diapers until you wash them. Most cloth households use a diaper pail/trash bin with a reusable pail liner or a wet bag. You can go without a pail and use a hanging wet bag. Some wet bags remain open and let the diapers breathe, while others can be zipped closed and contain odor. Wet bags come in different sizes and are a convenient way to tote diapers when away from home.
Some people skip both and use a designated laundry basket or bin.
What do I use to moisten my cloth wipes?
You may choose to buy or make a wipe solution. Wipe solutions are generally cloth diaper friendly since wipes are meant to be washed with your diapers. Wipe solutions come in concentrated liquid form or as small soap pieces meant to be dissolved in water. There are several recipes for making your own wipe solution. Most of them are a simple mix of water, soap or baby wash, and a small bit of oil. Some parents choose to use plain water.
You can use an old disposable wipe box or wipe warmer and pour your solution over your wipes. The moist wipes will keep for several days. Or you can moisten wipes as you need them with a squirt or spray bottle.
Do I need a diaper sprayer?
Diaper sprayers can be nice but not necessary. They are a Luxury. When babies are exclusively breastfed or formula fed, their poop is completely water soluble. Newborn diapers do not need to be rinsed or sprayed off before going into the washer. Once your baby starts solids, poop might take on a sticky, peanut butter texture and be more work to remove from the diaper. A diaper sprayer can be useful during this transition. Generally, once your baby is eating plenty of solids and develops firm, ploppable poops, you can simply shake them into the toilet. Some babies take a long time to reach the ploppable poop stage though, so if you are sick of scraping off sticky poop and swishing in the toilet, a sprayer can be handy.
What type of detergent do I use to wash cloth diapers?
Detergent preferences vary. You want to use a detergent FREE of all perfumes, dyes, brighteners, bleach, enzymes, oils, or other fabric enhancers. These can cause residual build up. Brighteners to make fabric look artificially whiter and brighter and perfumes used to cover up odor do not equal clean, and will work against you. Bleach and enzymes can break down your fabrics and elastic. Oils, dyes and perfumes can build up and cause repelling and ammonia in your diapers. Please read the washing instructions from your diaper’s manufacturer. Some washing instructions from manufacturers differ and if you don’t follow them, it might void your warranty. You may need to try several cloth diaper friendly detergents before you find your favorite.
How do I wash my cloth diapers?
Once your have a routine down, washing is easy!
Most issues that pop up in washing routines are a result of either too much detergent, or not enough detergent. Your washing routine might also depend on whether your have hard or soft water. Hard water is more problematic. A softening agent like washing soda may help with hard water, but it might void your warranty on some brands of diapers.
Refer to our Cloth Diaper Care and Washing page for more information.
Can I use diaper rash cream?
It is best to only use cloth diaper friendly creams unless you use a liner. You can purchase cloth liners or biodegradable liners. They are easy to make with cheap fleece or flannel. Don’t wash non-friendly creams with your cloth diapers though, or the leftover cream may leave residue and cause repelling. Don’t use creams with cod oil on your cloth diapers. Creams free of any fish oils and mineral oils can be used. Please note that continuous daily use of even cloth safe creams can eventually cause repelling.
For more information make sure to visit the Cloth Diaper Reviews, Information, & Troubleshooting page.
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