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Using Cloth Diapers ~ What do I need?

If you are new to cloth diapering, we would always recommend trying out a few different things before investing in any one system. You might run out and buy 3 dozen prefolds just to find out that your husband hates the folding involved and you are stuck changing all of the diapers! We've put together a few Starter Packages that will give you one of each of the most popular diapers for you to “test the waters” and discover what will work best for your family. Keep in mind that usually the best systems involve using a little bit of everything. After all, each type of cloth diaper, diaper cover and cloth diapering combination can serve a very different purpose. What's best for overnight use, may not be the trimmest for day use. And what's you use for day use may not be the most convenient for trips out of the home.

How many cloth diapers do we need?

We are frequently asked "How many cloth diapers do we need?". We've created a helpful chart with recommendations based on years of cloth diapering experience as both parents and business owners. These numbers seem best for the majority of parents we've worked with over the years. Do note that we do NOT recommend leaving your diapers for longer than 3 days between washing. Every 2 days is optimal for best cleaning results.

Number of Cloth Diapers
This will work best for...
6-10
Using cloth diapers part-time.
10-12
Washing every day.
12-18
Washing every other day.
18-24
Approximately 2 days between washing. 24 diapers is recommended as a bare minimum for the average parent and to improve the longevity of your diapers, reducing wear and tear.
24-36
Washing 2 times a week (every 2-3 days between washing).
36-48+
Enough cloth diapers to pass on to siblings (may not always be possible - read about Extending the Life of Your Investment here.)

 

Here is a quick checklist of what you will need to get you started cloth diapering full-time, and washing 2 times a week. You may need to upsize after a few months, depending on the style of cloth diapers you choose, but this is what is required to put your baby in cloth diapers today. This is the bare minimum you will require for an enjoyable cloth diapering experience!

  • 24-36 Cloth Diapers (newborn), 18-24 for a baby that is over 8 mtns (any style/combination)
  • 3-6 Diaper Covers (PUL, wool or fleece) (not required if you are using pocket or AIO diapers)
  • 24-36 Cloth Wipes
  • 2-3 Doublers for naps and use at night
  • 2-3 Snappi Fasteners or sets of Pins (only required for flats, prefolds or contours)
  • 1 Diaper Pail (a Rubbermaid pail will work just fine!) or 1 Large Wet Bag, for storing dirty diapers
  • 1 Container of Lanolin (if using wool)
     

Optional purchases (recommended but not required!):

  • 24-36 Inserts, 24 for an older baby (required if you are using pocket diapers)
  • 1 Large Wet Bag to use as a diaper pail liner
  • 1 Small Wet Bag for outings
  • 1 Mini Shower (highly recommended for a non-breastfeeding baby!)
  • 1 bottle of wipe spray or solution (we like Druide’s Protective Oil)
  • 1 Bottle of Eucalan (for washing wool)
  • 1 bottle of Tea Tree Oil
     

What do we recommend?

It’s nice to have a variety of diapers and covers on hand to meet various needs. This is what we would recommend a beginner get started with…

For Daily Use:

  • 24-36 Prefolds or Fitted Cloth Diapers
  • 6 PUL Covers
  • 3 Doublers for use when you need/want increased absorbency
  • 3-6 JamTots Hemp Inserts to use as doublers, spare diapers, inside of pocket diapers etc.
  • 3 Snappis (optional)
     

For Outings:

  • 3-6 Pocket Diapers, allows for longer times between changes as baby’s skin stays dry
  • 3-6 Pocket Diaper Inserts
  • 3-6 Fitted Diapers for a trimmer fit under clothes when dressing up (to be used with PUL covers)
  • 1 Small Wet Bag
     

For Nighttime:

  • 2 Wool Covers (wool is virtually leak-proof, is warm in the winter and stays cool in the summer and does not need to be washed often, unless soiled)
  • 2-4 Hemp Prefolds, Fitteds or Doublers for increased absorbency to last all night though
  • 2-4 Fleece Liners to keep baby feeling dry all night long
     

A few things to consider when planning what to purchase:

  • You will go through more diapers with a newborn than with an older baby or child.
  • The average newborn will need to be changed every two hours. You should expect to change at least 10-12 diapers a day.
  • If you plan to run laundry daily, you can get away with fewer diapers, although it never hurts to have a few extra on hand. For washing every other day, you should have at least 24 diapers.
  • If you exclusively breast-feed, solids are water soluble and no rinsing or soaking of your diapers is necessary.
  • When your baby starts solids, we highly recommend getting a Mini Shower. This is an amazing invention and will be the best $50 you spend while cloth diapering!
  • A cloth diaper “stash” is not complete without at least 4-6 prefolds. These are so multi-functional you will find many, many uses for them outside of diapering. They are always handy to have on hand.
  • One-size diapers generally do not fit well on infants or toddlers. While we think it’s a wonderful concept, we have not found a one-size diaper that will actually serve this purpose. They should fit quite well during the time in-between these two stages but you should really expect to use something a little different for the newborn stage and the toddler stage.
  • If you are trying to save money, or on a very tight budget, you can get by with 3 dozen regular size prefolds and 4 covers in each size for the entire time your child will be in diapers. This is the most economical route, as well as being dependable and reliable!
  • If you want convenience, and ease of use and you don’t mind spending a little more (or at least what you would have spent of disposables!) go for 2-3 dozen Pocket Diapers with Inserts or All-In-One diapers and be done with it!

Want to learn more about using cloth diapers?

Continue on with our Cloth Diapering Tutorial using the following links:

  1. Beginner's Most Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Why Parents are Choosing Cloth Diapers
  3. Which Witch is Which? (aka What’s What in Cloth)
  4. How to Choose a Cloth Diapering System
  5. Washing & Caring for Cloth Diapers (trust us, it's easy!)
  6. Getting Started with Cloth Diapers ~ What do I need?
  7. Cloth Diapering Tips & Tricks