Finding Your Perfect Cloth Diaper Stash: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Your Stash

by Bailey Bouwman

If you're new to the world of cloth diapering, you might be wondering how many diapers you need to get started. As a seasoned cloth diaper user and blogger, I can tell you that it's a question that comes up time and time again. The truth is, the answer isn't one-size-fits-all. It depends on a variety of factors, including how often you plan to do laundry and how frequently you change your little one's diaper.

But here's a little secret: there's no need to stress over finding the perfect number of diapers before baby comes. You'll find your grove and routine as you start diapering.

I remember when I first started using cloth diapers, I had a huge stash of them. Over time, I learned that my sweet spot was around 24-30 diapers. But the truth is, people use cloth diapers with all sizes of stashes. So don't let this question hang you up - we're here to help you find the perfect fit for your family!

Factors to Consider When Determining How Many Cloth Diapers to Purchase

When we talk about the number of diapers you need, we are referring to one diaper change. If you choose to use cloth diaper covers, this means you'll need a new inserts/prefolds/fitted diapers for every diaper change, and then a cover for every 3 changes (and if you use wool, 1 cover a day, maybe 2).

The first factor to consider is your baby's age. Newborns tend to soil more diapers than older babies, so you'll need more diapers in the beginning. This is where quick and easy diaper changes come in handy. As your baby grows, they'll typically need fewer diaper changes per day. Here's a general guideline for the number of diapers you'll need based on your baby's age:

  • Newborn: 30 to 40 diapers
  • Baby: 20 to 30 diapers
  • Toddler: 15 to 20 diapers

You'll see all sorts of numbers on the internet on this topic, but it really can vary depending on individual user experience. The general idea is that newborns use more diapers per day, baby's use a moderate amount of diapers per day, and toddlers use less diapers per day. 

Finding Your Perfect Cloth Diaper Stash: A Comprehensive Guide to Navigating Your Stash

The next factor to consider is how often you plan on washing your diapers. We base these numbers off an average baby needing 6-8 diaper changes. Here's a general guideline for the number of diapers you'll need based on how often you plan on washing your diapers:

  • Washing every day: 6 to 8 diapers
  • Washing every few days: 24 to 30 diapers
  • Washing once a week: 50 to 60 diapers

Another factor to consider is whether you plan on cloth diapering full-time or part-time. You can cloth diaper part time with just one diaper. I think a lot of great part time stashes are about 8-10 diapers on hand. Here's a general guideline for the number of diapers you'll need based on whether you plan on cloth diapering full-time or part-time:

  • Part-time: 8 to 10 diapers
  • Full-time: 24 to 30 diapers

Your budget will also impact the number of diapers you'll need. Keep in mind that while cloth diapering can save you money in the long run, it does require an initial investment. If you're on a tight budget, you may need to consider using a smaller stash or opting for more affordable diapering options - this might mean using flats, covers, second hand, and piecing together a stash that you can afford.

Remember, finding the perfect number of cloth diapers for your family is a personal choice. Don't stress about finding the "perfect" number - instead, use these guidelines as a starting point and adjust as needed based on your personal preferences and baby's needs. One of the amazing things is that if you need more diapers, we can get them to you and you can start using them right away.

Determining How Many Cloth Diapers You'll Need

Now that we've discussed the factors that influence how many cloth diapers you'll need, let's dive into a formula. Saying formula gives me the yucks, because I really do think it can be as simple as ordering 10 diapers or picking up a starter kit, or gathering enough for 24 diaper changes. 

Please do not let this section give you the anxieties - it's here to help guide people who need a realistic perception of how many diaper changes to expect based on certain conditions. 

Our formula for determining the minimum cloth diaper stash size is: (Number of diaper changes per day) x (Days between washing + 1/2 additional day) = Recommended stash size

For example, if your baby goes through 8 diaper changes per day and you plan on washing every two days, the recommended stash size would be 20 diapers. I would probably add a buffer of 2-3 diapers to account for washing, life, and other scenarios. 

As your baby grows and goes through fewer diapers per day, you can adjust this formula accordingly. If you are currently using disposable diapers, count the number of diaper changes you do per day to get more accurate picture of what you need to acquire to cloth diaper full time (or just pick up a few to do that part time thing).

Remember, this is just a starting point - every family's needs are different, and you may find that you need more or fewer diapers in your stash. The key is to find what works best for you and your family.

How Many Cloth Diapers to Buy Based on Your Cloth Diapering System

In general, all-in-one (AIO) and pocket diapers equal one diaper per diaper change. However, cloth diaper covers can be reused multiple times, and different styles of diapers like hybrid or wool systems have different maths that can apply. This will make sense as you start cloth diapering and seeing how your child uses the diapers.

The general guideline in the industry is 3 changes per cover, but this may vary depending on the baby's needs and the cover's quality.

For example, Esembly Baby recommends having 24-28 inners because a fresh inner is required for each diaper change, and you will launder every 2-3 days.

Additionally, you may need to add in specialty products like night diapers, additional inserts or boosters to create the right diaper depending on your child's wetting preference.

Building Your Cloth Diaper Stash

it's time to start building your stash. Purchasing a full stash of cloth diapers can be a significant investment upfront, but it doesn't have to be. One of the benefits of cloth diapering is that you can build your stash slowly over time.

Start with a few diapers and gradually add to your collection as you get more comfortable with cloth diapering.

You can start with simple bundles or starter kits - or just pick out your favourite colours or brands from any cloth diaper shop or buy and sell page.

Remember, the formula we provided earlier is a minimum, a guideline, and not a rule and some parents prefer to have more diapers on hand.

One benefit of having a larger cloth diaper stash is the ability to go longer between washes. A larger stash also means you won't have to wash your diapers as frequently, which can be especially helpful in the early months when you're adjusting to life with a newborn.

When building your stash, it's essential to balance your budget with the number of diapers you'll need. You don't want to overspend on diapers and end up with more than you need, but you also don't want to have too few and end up doing laundry every day.

Consider purchasing used cloth diapers or participating in cloth diaper swaps to save money. Just be sure to inspect the diapers carefully before purchasing or swapping to ensure they're in good condition. You an use items from around your house, or reuse other products as free cloth diaper inserts. 

Remember, building your cloth diaper stash is a personal journey, and it's okay to take your time and do what works best for you and your family.

We hope that this guide has helped you feel more confident in building your perfect cloth diaper stash. Continue to learn more about cloth diapers by checking out our cloth diaper blog, or shop with us at Nest & Sprout where we carry cloth diapers, baby gear, and maternity clothes.

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