How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

Vanessa Tomchik

July 12, 2024

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

Deciding how many cloth diapers you need depends on several factors, including your baby’s age, how often you plan to do laundry, and the type of diapers you choose.

Key Takeaway

How many cloth diapers do you need?  You will need between 24-36 cloth diapers to start.

Table of Contents

  • How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need By Age?
  • How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need YouTube Video
  • Laundry Frequency, how many do I need?
  • Recommendations based on age and washing frequency
  • Caring for your cloth diaper stash
  • Conclusion

Finding out How Many Cloth Diapers You Need By Age

How many cloth diapers do newborns need?

For Newborns (0-3 months):Newborns typically need 10-12 diaper changes per day.If you plan to wash diapers every other day, you'll need about 24-36 diapers.

How many cloth diapers do infants need?

For Infants (3-12 months):
Infants require around 8-10 changes per day.Washing every other day means you'll need about 20-24 diapers.

How many cloth diapers do toddlers need?

For Toddlers (12-24 months):
Toddlers need about 6-8 diaper changes daily.You'll need around 16-20 diapers if washing every other day.

Free Downloadable Guide: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make The Switch? - Cloth Diapers - Lighthouse Kids
Free Downloadable Guide: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make The Switch? - Cloth Diapers - Lighthouse Kids
Free Downloadable Guide: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make The Switch?

Free Downloadable Guide: How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make The Switch?


This downloadable guide is FREE, simply add it to cart and check out!  Please note, no actual product will be mailed to you in any form.  This product is digital in nature and will be mailed to you as a .JPEG for easy reading on phone or computer system.

Please note, this guide is for Lighthouse Kids Co. customers and is copy protected.  It may not be reproduced without explicit written permission.

View Details

What is the right way to tell how many diapers your family needs?

Deciding to use cloth diapers is a big step toward a more sustainable lifestyle for your family. But one of the most common questions parents have is, "How many cloth diapers do I need?"

The answer depends on several factors, including your baby’s age, how often you plan to do laundry, and the type of cloth diapers you choose.

In this article, we'll explore these factors in detail to help you determine the right number of cloth diapers for your needs.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? Watch the Video

Watch LKC's founder Vanessa talk about how to determine how many diapers you need to make the switch from disposables!

How Many Cloth Diapers You Need By Type and Laundry Frequency

Cloth Diapering Types For One Child for 2-3 Years

Different cloth diaper types can affect the number of diapers you need. 

All-in-Ones (AIOs): These are as easy to use as disposables since the absorbent layer is sewn into the waterproof cover.Pockets: These have a waterproof outer layer and a pocket where absorbent inserts are placed.
You will need 24-36 AIO Cloth Diapers.

Prefolds and Covers: Prefolds are rectangular diapers that need to be folded and placed inside a waterproof cover.  
You will need 24-36 prefolds, and 9 wipeable covers.

Preflats: Similar to prefolds but shaped to mold to baby's body and more versatile in folding options.
You will need 24-36 preflats, and 9 wipeable covers.

Covers/AI2/Hybrids: These can be used with either cloth or disposable inserts, offering more flexibility.  You can also use any insert, including a preflat, prefold, fitteds, or any type of absorbent material you have on hand.
You will need 24-36 preflats or inserts and 9 wipeable covers.

How Often You Plan to Do Diaper Laundry?

The frequency of your laundry routine plays a significant role in determining how many cloth diapers you’ll need.

If you plan to wash diapers every day, you’ll need fewer diapers than if you plan to wash every two or three days.

Most parents find that washing every two to three days strikes a good balance between convenience and practicality.

Daily washing: You’ll need enough diapers for 1-1.5 days.  Usually this looks like 10-12 diapers depending on baby's age.

Washing every other day: You’ll need enough diapers for 2-3 days.  12-24 cloth diapers depending on baby's age.

Washing every three days: You’ll need enough diapers for 3-4 days. 24-36 cloth diapers is recommended.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Need? Recommendations Based on the Info Above

Based on the factors above, here are some general recommendations for how many cloth diapers you might need at different stages and with different laundry routines.

For newborns, it’s best to have a higher number of cloth diapers because they require more frequent changes. If you plan to wash diapers every other day, here’s what you might need:  Daily washing: 15-18 diapers.  Washing every other day: 20-24 diapers.  Washing every three days: 25-30 diapers.  

As your baby grows, the number of diapers needed will decrease slightly. For infants aged 3-12 months, consider the following:  Daily washing: 12-15 diapers.  Washing every other day: 16-20 diapers.  Washing every three days: 24-30 diapers.

Toddlers need fewer diaper changes, so you can reduce the number of diapers you have on hand. For toddlers aged 12 months and older:  Daily washing: 8-10 diapers.  Washing every other day: 12-15 diapers.  Washing every three days: 18-24 diapers.

Tips for Using AIO Cloth Diapers

Are AIO Diapers a Good Idea

Have a Full Stash: Have plenty of AIO diapers to avoid doing laundry all the time. A typical cloth diaper stash for one child consists of 24-36 diapers if you plan to use them full-time.

pre-wash aio cloth diapers

Pre-Wash: Before using your AIO cloth diapers for the first time, be sure to pre-wash them at least 5 times. This is called "prepping" your diaper, which makes it more absorbent and removes any residues from manufacturing.

proper diaper care

Proper Care: Follow Lighthouse Kids Company's easy washing instructions for washing and drying your AIO diapers. Using the right detergent and avoiding fabric softeners can keep your diapers in good condition.

good diaper fit for aio

Check Fit: Make sure the diapers fit your baby well. A good fit will help prevent leaks and keep your baby comfortable. Adjust the rise snaps and waist snaps as needed to get the best fit.

aio cloth diaper absorbency

Boost Absorbency: If you find that your AIO diapers are not absorbent enough, you can add an extra insert.

Caring for Your Cloth Diapers

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Follow Simple Washing Instructions

Always follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions for your cloth diapers. For Lighthouse Kids Company Diapers, we recommend a pre-rinse cycle to remove solids, a hot wash cycle at 60C/145F with cloth diaper-safe detergent, and an extra rinse cycle to remove any detergent residue.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need To Make The Switch

Use The Right Detergent

Use a detergent that is free of additives, fragrances, and fabric softeners, as these can build up on the diapers and affect their absorbency.  We recommend regular Tide for a mainstream option, or Rockin' Green as a more sustainable alternative.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Avoid Fabric Softeners and Dryer Sheets

Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can leave a residue on cloth diapers that reduces their absorbency.  Instead, use wool dryer balls to help soften the diapers and reduce drying time.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Line Dry When Possible

Line drying your cloth diapers can help extend their lifespan and save energy. The sun’s UV rays can also help naturally bleach out stains and disinfect the diapers. If you use a dryer, use a low heat setting to avoid damaging the elastics and waterproof layers.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Strip Diapers Only as Needed

Over time, cloth diapers can develop build-up from detergents, oils, and minerals in the water. This can cause them to become less absorbent or develop odors. Stripping your cloth diapers periodically can help remove this build-up. If you have a good washing routine, there should be no need to strip your diapers.

Special Cloth Diapering Situations

Some families might have special situations that require adjustments to the number of cloth diapers they need. Here are a few examples:

Part-Time Cloth Diapering
If you plan to use cloth diapers part-time and disposables the rest of the time, you can reduce the number of cloth diapers you need. For example, if you use cloth diapers only during the day and disposables at night, you might need half the number of diapers recommended for full-time use.

Overnight Diapering
Overnight diapering can be more challenging because you need diapers that are highly absorbent and can last for longer stretches without leaking. You might need special overnight cloth diapers or additional inserts to boost absorbency. Having 4-6 dedicated overnight diapers can be helpful.

Cloth Diapering Multiple Children
If you’re cloth diapering more than one child, you’ll need to increase the total number of diapers accordingly. However, if your children are of different ages and sizes, you might need different types and sizes of diapers. Consider having separate stashes for each child or using adjustable one-size diapers that can fit both children.

Building Your Cloth Diaper Stash

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Start Small and Build Gradually

Tip #1

It’s a good idea to start with a small stash and gradually build it up as you become more comfortable with cloth diapering. This allows you to try different types and brands of diapers to see what works best for your baby and your routine.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Mix and Match

Tip #2

Consider having a mix of different types of cloth diapers in your stash. This gives you flexibility and allows you to use different diapers for different situations. For example, you might use AIOs for daycare or outings, prefolds and covers for home, and pocket diapers for overnight.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Buy Secondhand

Tip #3

Buying secondhand cloth diapers can be a great way to save money and reduce waste. Many parents sell their gently used cloth diapers once their children outgrow them. Look for secondhand options in online marketplaces, local parenting groups, or cloth diapering communities.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Take Advantage of Sales and Discounts

Tip #4

Many cloth diaper retailers offer sales and discounts throughout the year. Keep an eye out for promotions and take advantage of these opportunities to build your stash at a lower cost. Signing up for newsletters or following retailers on social media can help you stay informed about upcoming sales.

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need

Register for Cloth Diapers

Tip #5

If you’re expecting a baby, consider adding cloth diapers to your baby registry. This allows friends and family to contribute to your stash and can help reduce the upfront cost. Some cloth diaper retailers offer registry services that make it easy to add cloth diapers to your list.

Conclusion, how many diapers do you need to start your diaper stash?

Deciding how many cloth diapers you need depends on your baby’s age, laundry frequency, and diaper type.  

By considering these factors and following the advice in this article, you can create a cloth diaper stash that suits your family’s needs.  Cloth diapering is a journey, so feel free to adjust your stash and routine over time.

Start small, mix and match different diaper types, and take advantage of sales and secondhand options to keep it manageable and affordable.  Proper laundry and diaper care will ensure your cloth diapers last and stay effective. With the right approach, cloth diapering can be convenient, cost-effective, and eco-friendly. 

And as always Lighthouse Kids is here for you 24/7, join our Facebok Group for more tips and tricks!  Happy diapering!

Meet The LKC Founder

“Vanessa has helped thousands of parents cloth diaper since 2012. She was a cloth diaper leader educator through the RDIA, and owned South Florida's first cloth diaper and natural parenting store. In 2017, Vanessa started Lighthouse Kids Co. through feedback from parents in her weekly cloth diaper 101 classes who wanted an easy to use stay-dry cloth diaper with natural fibers. Since then, LKC has sold millions of quality cloth diapers in the US and abroad. Vanessa believes in cloth diaper advocacy and education and that every parent can cloth diaper sustainably.”

“Cloth diapering can have a lasting impact on our babies.  They watch everything we do.  It's not just about what we use on their bums, but we are also teaching them about slow, circular fashion, good sustainability practices and how to care for our planet”

 - Vanessa Tomchik

Have Any Cloth Diapering Questions?

You can reach us 24/7 through our cloth diapering support group on Facebook!  Get help on fit, styles, washing, community updates and more! 

Follow us on social media