how many cloth diapers do I need to make the switch from disposables

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make the Switch?

Posted by Vanessa Tomchik on

This is by far the biggest question we get asked! Remember, you're in charge, so you make the rules!  But if you need some guidance, this video will show you exactly HOW to calculate the number to get you started on your cloth diapering journey!

Ask yourself these questions to determine how many cloth diapers you will need to make the switch from disposable diapers. 


How old is your baby?

Your stash will look very different from your neighbor's depending on how old baby is when you start.
  • For a newborn, full time cloth diapering, washing every other day, you need about 24 to 36 Pocket Cloth Diapers or All-In-One cloth diapers.  If you are using a cover and insert/prefold system like the Switch/AI2 you will need 8 covers and 24 inserts (please remember to account for the fact that each cover comes with an insert!) you will still need 24 diaper changes total.
  • For an older baby, 6-12 months, you will still need about 24 to 36 cloth diapers (either pockets, AIO's, AI2 Switch or prefolds) will get you through the day with plenty of time to wash diapers every other day.
  • Toddlers need the fewest diapers, but they need more absorbency.  They will need around 10 diaper changes (either pockets, AIO's, AI2 Switch or prefolds).

If you would like to see a more detailed breakdown or exact numbers of how many you need and how many disposable diapers you can save from the landfills, make sure you download this completely FREE guide below.

How many cloth diapers do I need to switch FREE downloadable guide

How often do you want to laundry? 

If you want to wash every day, we realistically recommend 12-18 cloth diapers if you are starting from birth.  I started out with 5 cloth diapers in my stash, and I was washing all the time!  If you want to have a longer time period in between washes, the key is to have more diapers. Washing your diapers every day can wear them out prematurely, so having a larger stash will keep your diapers looking newer longer. This is important if you’re planning to use your diapers for multiple babies. If you want to wash every 2-3 days, I would suggest 24-36 diapers. I discovered I need to have a few days of diapers to get my washer full enough to get them clean.

How Many Cloth Diapers do You Need To Make The Switch

Can I Replace 1 Disposable Diaper with 1 Cloth Diaper?

So if you use 5 disposables in one day, you need 5 cloth diapers to get started if you would like to wash your diapers every night.  If you would like to wash your diapers every other night, then you need to double that number.  So if you are using 5 disposable diapers per day, and you would like to do laundry every other night, then you would need 10 cloth diapers.

Too few diapers=more wear and tear

Another thing to keep in mind is that, if your stash has too few diapers in it, your diapers may not last as expected.  Remember, even though diapers are meant to last through multiple kids, if you have an extremely small stash and you keep laundering them every day, they may not last as expected.  Any item of clothing that is laundered every day will inevitably show signs of wear and tear down the road.  This is another reason to invest in quality cloth diapers.

We've previously (2 years ago), wrote a blog and had a similar video on how many cloth diapers you would need to start.  If you are curious and want to dive deeper watch the how to switch from disposables to cloth diapers below.

Other considerations

Although it's tempting to think that you need everything ready for baby from day one, it's actually not 100% necessary.  Building a cloth diaper stash can be a slow process especially if you're trying to spread out the cost over time.  

The other thing to consider, is that as baby grows, their bodies change.  And what once fit fantastically may not so as their bodies transition.  It is fairly common to hear from mom groups that what once fit their babies so well at the newborn stage is no longer fitting at all as a toddler.  Keep this in mind when trying different styles, sometimes it is advantageous to build a stash as you go.

How many cloth diapers do you need to switch

Different types of diapers for different occasions

Another consideration is that different types of diapers work well for different occasions.  For example; I have always been a fan of All-In-One cloth diapers for the ease and convenience, however, when going out for an entire day I would have to bring 15+ diapers in my diaper bag, and that is ALOT of diapers to have with you when you're out and about.  So for outings, I made sure to use AI2's/Switch, so all I had to bring was 3 covers and some inserts.  This took the bulk out of my diaper bag and still allowed me to have all my diaper changes taken care of.

There is no wrong way to cloth diaper.  Remember that this is your journey and you can do whatever suits you and your family best.    

Always remember, you are a great parent and I believe in you and know that you are doing the best for your baby.❤️

If at any time you need additional help, you may reach out to you on any of these channels, or community is here for you 24hrs day, 7 days a week!

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