Cloth Diaper Starter Kit: How many cloth diapers do I need?
You have decided that you want to use cloth diapers, but how many diapers do you really need? It is estimated that babies can go through about 3,000 diapers in their first year alone—how does that translate to building your cloth diaper stash?
The answer varies based on a few factors. How old is your baby? How often will you wash your diaper laundry? Are you using cloth diapers full time or part time? Do you want to use newborn sized diapers or will you wait until you babies fits into one size cloth diapers?
(I'm going to use a lot of "lingo" in this blog. If there's a term you're not familiar with, refer to this blog.)
Your Baby's Age
One of the biggest factors in determining how many diapers you'll want to have in your stash is your baby's age. Newborn babies soil a lot of diapers. I remember those first few weeks, it felt like as soon as we got a clean diaper on our baby, she had pooped again!
Babies under 3 months can expect to go through 9 or more diapers a day. If your little one is using 12 diapers a day in the first few weeks of their life, and you want to do wash every 2 days, you will want to have at least 30 diapers in your stash. This will allow you a few extra clean ones while your wash is running its cycle. But if you want to stretch your washes out more, to every 3 days or so, you're going to need more diapers. For a newborn washing every 4 days, 40 is a good starting place.
As your baby gets older, you'll notice they go through less and less diapers each day. If you've been using disposables, you'll be able to gauge how many 'sposies your little one uses a day and do the math for how many cloth diapers you will want to have. As with a newborn baby, we recommend determining your desired stash size by how often you'll want to do laundry. If you're using 5 diapers a day, and you want to wash every two days. We recommend a stash around 15 diapers. This will give you a little wiggle room with washing, but enough diapers to get through 2.5 days comfortably.
Our formula for determining minimum stash size:
(# of dirty diapers per day) x (days between washing+1/2 additional day) = recommended stash size
So for my 1 year old, this formula looks like: 5 Changes x 3.5 Days = 17.5 Diapers
This stash size allows me to wash every 3 days with a few clean diapers for while the wash is running, or if I get a little behind.
We'll cover newborn sized stashes vs one size stashes in a later blog.
How often do you want to do laundry
Deciding how often to do laundry is a personal choice. There are a lot of factors that can contribute, like your work schedule, in home laundry situation, financial costs… etc. We love to tell you that there's no "right" way to do things, but when it comes to days between washes, there is a such thing as waiting too long.
Generally, families wash cloth diapers every 2-3 days. Some families have success stretching 4 days between washing. We at Kinder Cloth do not recommend stretching washes more than four days apart on a regular basis. As mentioned in the first section of this blog, longer periods of time between washes requires a larger stash.
It's important to store you dirty diapers properly between washes. We recommend using a wet bag or wet bag and diaper pail combination. (A good kitchen trash can makes a great cloth diaper pail.) We'll cover more on this in a later blog
Will you use cloth diapers full or part time
A lot of families use cloth diapers part time by supplementing with disposables at night, at day care or whatever works best for their family situation.
The same formula for determining minimum stash size above will work for deciding how may cloth diapers you need for a part time cloth diapered baby. Determine how many diapers you'll need a day by first deciding how many disposables you want to replace each day. This is obviously more complicated if you're trying to determine stash size for a part time cloth diapered newborn, but if your child is older you can use the following method to determine how many diapers you may want to have in your stash to start with.
(# of changes you want to replace with cloth diapers per day) x (days between washing+1/2 additional day) = recommended stash size
For example, if baby uses 8 diapers a day and you want to use cloth diapers only when baby is awake, simply deduct the number of sleeping diapers from the 8 diaper a day total. Using the above formula, # of changes you want to replace would be equal to 8 minus (# of sleeping diapers.)
When you choose to cloth diaper part time, you can grow you stash as you get more comfortable. Some families choose to start slow and grow their stashes.
Start you stash with Kinder Cloth Pocket diapers.