How Many Cloth Diapers Do You Really Need?

As an admitted cloth diaper addict, you’d think that my answer would be “you need ALL THE CLOTH DIAPERS!!!1!”  Really, though, while it’s nice to have a lot of fluff to play with (and it can be a great pick me up during a rough day), it’s not really necessary.

How many cloth diapers do I need for a newborn?

Conventional wisdom is you need 24 diapers.  I found that when I started using cloth diapers with my son, I would have done just fine with a dozen pocket diapers.  Not, of course, that there aren’t benefits to having more.

Reasons to start with a small stash:

1.) It’s less of a financial hardship for the initial start-up.  The initial start up is actually one of the reasons that a lot of people who want to use cloth diapers don’t.  (And if you’re in Canada, Cloth for a Cause exists just to help parents in need get past that hurdle.)

2.) You don’t know what you’re going to like.  Sure, I love Fuzzi Bunz diapers.  My friend K doesn’t.  Sure, I love Flip diapers, but my friend J prefers Swaddlebees Capri.  Not all people are going to like the same diaper, so having a few types of cloth diapers here and there (or getting a sampler pack from a place like Nicki’s Diapers with an awesome return policy) is great to figure out what you like better before you sink all your cash into one type of cloth diaper stash.

Reasons to start with a large stash:

1.) Reduced laundry.  While I still wash my cloth diapers every other day (really, around every 36 hours), that’s because I have two in cloth.  I love having my large stash of cloth diapers because I can let those clean diapers languish in the laundry room for a while.  I don’t have to rush to get them put away and dealt with as quickly as possible.

2.) Reduced wear and tear.  While, yes, you can get by with 12-18 diapers (even for a newborn), the more diapers you have, the less your diapers get used, so the longer they last.  In fact, GroVia recommends a large enough stash for 38-50 changes.  The reality is that most people consider a stash that can handle 50 changes for one child to be quite large, though.  It’s considered on the outside edge of a reasonable cloth diaper stash.  (If you have more than 50 and only one child, though, you might be a cloth diaper addict.)

In the end, though, the stash that you start with is a personal decision.  Only you know what’s most reasonable for your budget and for your lifestyle.

About Suzi

Suzi is an American ex-pat living in British Columbia. She's a cloth diaper addict, wife, mom of three, and President of the Prince George chapter of Cloth for a Cause.


  1. Vee Sluys says:

    I only have 11 diapers right now so I only cd part-time (on 2 days off 2 days). I was doing it fulltime with that few but it got too stressful and I was washing only 3 or 4 diapers at a time! I really need to start adding to my stash!

  2. This is interesting! I was hoping there was a way to get a sampler pack:)

  3. Gina Hodges says:

    I am starting a stash now, my LO uses many more than the average number of diapers a day so I think I will need a large stash but I was thinking less than 50 so this makes me feel better about having about 30 diapers and thinking I could really use more!

  4. I like to have about 30 for an older baby since it gives me flex with the laundry and I hang dry so it gives time for the diapers to dry. For a newborn I made do with about the same amount but I had to wash them every night or every day and a half. My babies pooped a lot, lol.

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