how many newborn cloth diapers should you buy

How many newborn cloth diapers do I need?

When dealing with a newborn, there are already a lot of things to worry about. In addition to feedings, nap time, and sleeping through the night, there is the dirty business of – diapers. In recent years, many parents have moved away from disposable diapers and toward the washable cloth option. 

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need? You want to have around 25-45 cloth diapers on-hand for your newborn. The average newborn goes through 10-15 diapers each day, so doubling the amount ensures you’ve got enough to work with while others are being washed. 

There are quite a few things to consider when purchasing cloth diapers, and I’ve put the information together here and laid it out here. 

Using cloth diapers - how to decide how many diapers you need for a newborn

How many cloth diapers do newborns go through?

The average baby goes through roughly a dozen diapers a day during the newborn phase. That’s over four thousand diapers each year. You really don’t need that many actual cloth diapers despite what you may think. If you’re washing them often enough, you can save money on a few extra diapers. And keep a lot of dirty diapers from the landfills.

How often do you change newborn diapers?

Many babies tend to need a cloth diaper change about every two or so hours. If you’re consistently doing laundry every day, you can get away with only having about 20 cloth diapers on hand. This will give you enough to tide you over while you wash cloth diapers. The more laundry you do, the more often you will end up changing it, but it provides a constant clean diaper for your newborn. This means you may need to change your laundry habits!

Which brand should I use?

Newborns use their diapers a lot and eat so often that it seems there’s always something in their diapers to change. Depending on the brand you get, you might notice your need to change their diaper being more or less. So, trying out different brands at first might be the way to go if you haven’t had any interaction with them before.

Do they last more than a year?

Generally, newborns will need new diapers every year. However, some people get through two children with the same supply of cloth diapers. Let it be said though that the second child is getting a softer, worn in diaper that in comparison to when it was first bought isn’t doing its job as well as before. 

You still save money buying new cloth diapers each year versus buying new disposables throughout the year. Newborns go through thousands of diapers and having cloth ones will save your house from the smell of piled-up dirty diapers. And you can feel good about saving the landfills from the plastics in them.

Thankfully, older babies need fewer diaper changes than newborns. So how many diapers a day you will need will depend on your baby’s age. The closer you get to starting to potty train, the less you will need!

How many cloth diapers do I need for twins?

Having two children can be wonderful, and having twins give you two bundles of joy. If you’re considering using cloth diapers, you might wonder, do I need that many more diapers if I have two babies at the same time? If each newborn needs roughly 35 diapers, you ideally would want at least 70 total cloth diapers. 

That being said, you can go about it two ways:

  • Washing the cloth diapers frequently and buying fewer diapers as you can change and clean the ones you have at a fast-enough rate. 
  • Buying more diapers as now you have more diapers to change throughout the day and find that you simply can’t keep up with the demand of a newborn baby. 

If you go with a one size fits all style of diaper, you can share the diaper load between both babies without having to buy any new sizes for either one. It helps to have wipes on hand, cloth wipes are always an option, and you’ll want about 30 wipes available to you per day. 

Why do I need cloth diapers?

Many parents start cloth diapering for the environmental impact, the reduced cost compared to a disposable diaper, and their gentleness on your baby’s skin.

Cloth diapers are eco-friendly and save money in comparison to disposable brand diapers. This is a great way to save money if you have multiple children. Cloth diapers are a great organic and non-wasteful way to diaper your newborn child. The carbon footprint of a new child can already be quite significant, so doing what you can to reduce the carbon footprint from diapers is a great way to start.

Disposable diapers are filled with chemicals from the factories they were made in. But, the way they are designed means they are also super absorbent and rarely leak when used correctly.

Cloth diapers can also lead to less diaper rash for your newborn from the soft natural fiber material. Cloth diapers can come pre-folded, making it easy for new moms. The elastic on them is restricted enough to stop any leakage better than the competitors’ disposable diapers. 

how many newborn cloth diapers should you buy

When to replace cloth diapers

The elastic in a cloth diaper and its overall absorbency can wear out with time. A good recommended time to buy new diapers for your child would be once every year. That’s still only a total of around 20 or so diapers for the entire year. (Though having more on-hand relieves stress!) Plus, since using a cloth diaper will mean you wash everyday, the quality of the brand you go with will determine how long they last.

At nighttime, the baby is sleeping and not eating as much, so you won’t need to change your diaper as frequently. Some parents even report that they can go the entire night, or 12 hours or so, without changing their babies’ diapers. Getting a good overnight diaper will increase your chances of this!

When you originally buy your new cloth diaper, you may have to wash and dry it a good five or so times before using it at all. Make sure to let it dry between each wash fully. Pre-washing new cloth diapers can increase the absorbency of the diapers for your newborn. You can also get an absorbent insert for some types.

Cloth diaper covers 

Newborns using diaper covers need anywhere from 6 to 8 cloth diaper covers. Diaper covers are needed to keep the waste from the child from touching their clothes. Along with buying the cloth diapers you also want to make sure to buy some diaper covers.

You need fewer diaper covers than diapers because they are simply the barrier between the diaper and the pants. They can be hand washed in the sink if unsoiled, and quickly air-dried. It’s always good to have a few extra if your budget allows it. 

Cloth diaper covers like the cloth diapers themselves are good for newborns and can be combined with the diapers for the most protection and cushion for your baby. Cloth diaper covers are softer than traditional covers and won’t irritate your babies’ skin. They are designed for multiple and long-lasting uses.

Can I have too many cloth diapers?

Of course, like anything else, yes, you can buy too many cloth diapers. Consider how often you’ll be doing laundry before buying a whole bunch of cloth diapers. Many new parents seem to be doing laundry constantly! If you are going to be washing and changing out the diapers throughout the day and week, you may not need as many as you think. 

If you have too many cloth diapers in excess, you can always save them for any future children that you might be having. But too many sitting on the shelf is a waste of money and therefore defeats one of the advantages of purchasing cloth diapers in the first place, which is to save money. 

If you accidentally bought too many new cloth diapers and are unable to use them or return them, you can always consider donating them to a shelter or thrift store near you.

Conclusion

Making sure you have enough diapers can be a daunting question when you go to buy newborn diapers for the first time. To make sure you have enough, you’ll want 25-35 cloth diapers on hand during the newborn stage (and 70 if you have twins). Since they need to be washed daily, you will need to be super on top of laundry! If you can’t wash everyday, you may need more cloth diapers than the number above.

Cloth diapers have many benefits, but most commonly are chosen for their reduced environmental impact, lower cost, and more gentle design than disposable diapers. In today’s market, there are many cloth diaper styles, including hybrid cloth diapers. But, we hope this has helped you determine how many cloth diapers you will actually need for your newborn (even though you likely still have many more questions, like what about an all-in-one diaper? Are one-size cloth diapers worth it? Etc.).

To help with the cost even more – Ask for these at your baby shower! This way you will only need to buy a few extras (hopefully).

Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a digital content creator and mom of three. She is also an engineer and bit of a plant nerd too. She has been featured by publications such as Real Simple, Mother Earth News, Homes & Gardens, and Family Handyman.