This is one of those questions that I see floating around everywhere. It’s one of those things that most everybody asks. The standard answer is that you need enough so that you can wash every other day. It’s a good rule of thumb, but I think that a parent who is still pregnant (or who hasn’t had a baby in a while) and has no idea how many changes happen in a given day will still feel lost with this advice.
So if you don’t know much about the pooping and peeing habits of the newly born, then you probably don’t know that newborn babies, especially breastfed newborn babies, poop all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. It’s just part of their M.O. A good rule of thumb is that you will need to change your cloth diapered baby every 2 hours. With our babies we just learned to change them each time right before a feeding so that if they fell asleep I could just lay them down after nursing.We do this even at night in the early weeks, but once baby stops having bowel movements at night we start a new night time routine where we put a super absorbent diaper on with a heavy duty cover. Some people continue to change frequently at night, but we find that our babies are not bothered wearing a single diaper all night.
So back to how many diapers you will need. I truly think that a good rule of thumb for the first few weeks is 24 changes. I have also seen 18 as the minimum in other places, but I personally think that 24 will get you completely through the 2 days, and give you enough time to wash.
3 months and Beyond
We have had chunky babies, and by three months they have usually outgrown all of the newborn, xsmall, and small diapers. At this point you will need to decide if you are going to change urine at night because this will effect how many diapers you need.let me just get this out of the way. Babies should be changed as soon as possible after they have a bowel movement. We choose to allow our babies to go all night without a change once they are no longer having bowel movements at night. You will know when this stops being an issue….Trust me, you just will.
With no changes at night:
18 Daytime changes (whatever you decide to use) and 2 nighttime changes. Here are some examples of combinations of types of diapers you could use:
- 2 dozen prefolds, 5 covers, 2 night time covers (we have use Thirsties duos packed with 2 prefolds for night time, or wool covers). When using prefolds at night we always double up to get the absorbency we need.
- Alternatively you could get 1.5 dozen prefolds, 1-2 AIOs, and 1-2 fitted diapers (We have found the kissaluvs brand fitted diapers were even absorbent enough for our heavy wetters at night)
- 20 pocket diapers, and 2-4 doublers for extra stuffing at night.
- 20 AIO diapers and 2-4 doublers for extra stuffing at night.
With 1-3 changes at night:
To be able to go 48 hours between washings you will need 18 daytime changes and 2-6 changes for nighttime. The absorbency you need at night will depend on how often your baby needs to be changed to be comfortable or how often you wish to change them for your own peace of mind. Just add 2-6 diapers to the above list to calculate how many more diapers you will need.
In the beginning I had a bare minimum of diapers and covers. I built my stash from there. You can always buy more, and have some disposables on hand if you are concerned about upfront cost of cloth diapers. There are plenty of parents who choose to cloth diaper part time as well. My advice is to just pick something you think you will like and dive in. Cloth diapering is like anything else. It gets easier with practice.