How Many Reusable Nappies Do I Need?
Well done on making the decision to explore modern cloth nappies (MCN's).
When my youngest used cloth nappies I loved the variety of styles and patterns. I managed my wash routine fine even though I also had five year old twins. If it had been too hard I would not have stuck with it.
I bought all different types of modern reusable nappies, from a few different brands. When he potty trained at 18 months old I sold my whole stash making back at least 50% of my money. If he'd been my eldest, I could have used them for more babies and still sold them on at the end of the nappy years.
You'll need about 6 to 30 reusable nappies for your baby. The number depends on the age of your baby and the type of nappies you choose.
The amount of cloth nappies you need can depend on a few factors. Newborns use more nappies than older babies and you may find you have less opportunities to get washing done in the early days. The types of nappies you use will also affect how often you change your baby.
You can use cloth diapers part time with disposable nappies or even disposable liners if you're poo squeamish. This saves some diapers on landfill and gives you flexibility in a busy schedule.
"Dry and comfortable pocket nappy The new pocket nappies are soft and comfortable. Previously Charlie Banana was our favourite nappy brand but I think these might even beat them. Let's see how they wear after a few washes. Very pleased so far!" Trustpilot Sept. '23
How does the age of my baby affect the amount of nappies I need?
Newborns need to be changed every two hours no matter which type of nappy you use because of their delicate skin. Toddlers will *hopefully* sleep through the night and will need a super absorbent night time nappy to last 12hrs.
This affects how many nappies you might need - from as little as 6 cloth diapers for toddlers if you wash daily and as many as 35 nappies if you have a newborn washing every three days.
Does the type of nappy influence how many I need?
MCN's come in many shapes and forms.
All in One nappies are all attached, nappy liners, absorbent area and waterproof layer meaning they are tricky to boost.
That means they'll need changing more often and they take longer to dry meaning you will need more in the cycle of wearing, storing, washing, drying. You will need more of these than other styles and may need a larger nappy bucket. They tend to be sized so baby will outgrow them and you'd need to buy the next size up.
All in Two washable nappies are similar and will dry slightly quicker as they can have the boosters separated out.
Pocket nappies can be boosted and all boosters and cloth nappy inserts separate out so can be tumble dried if speed is needed.
The shells dry relatively quickly as they have no absorbent parts. These are a good option for day times / nursery days as they can be stored assembled ready for use and go on like a disposable. They tend to be birth to potty nappies most so will grow with baby.
Fitted nappies have no PUL (polyurethene laminate - the waterproof part) so can be tumble dried. The reusable wraps that cover them can be used for multiple nappy changes as long as they are not soaking wet or soiled.
They can be wiped over and used again, we recommend one nappy wrap to three or four fitted nappies. You will need less of these than other styles, making them really economical. As with pockets they will grow with baby. These are great for overnight.
Prefolds (terry squares) and leak proof wraps are the quickest to wash / dry and cheapest way to cloth nappy babies.
For newborns muslins can be used with a waterproof wrap as they are changed so often. They can then be repurposed when baby starts out weeing them.
How many wraps do I need?
You'll need one wrap to every three or four fitted nappies or prefolds, if you are using two part nappies (a separate nappy of absorbent fabric and a waterproof cover)
How many inserts / booster do I need?
Inserts and boosters are the absorbent pads that are sewn in or added to the waterproof shell of nappies to soak up urine. They are mainly made of cotton, bamboo, hemp or microfibre. The more your baby drinks and wees, the more absorbency you will need.
You won't need any boosters for newborn babies. Pockets and all in one nappy systems will be fine with just the inserts they come with - one for a pocket. As baby grows and drinks more, you can add more absorbency to pockets, fitteds and to your prefolds / muslins. AIO and AI2 nappies start to leak if you have a heavy wetter and are tricky to boost.
You'll need two boosters per nappy for weaning babies. For toddlers that start to hold their bladder and release all at once you might find you need to fold a quick drinker in the wetzone but a cheeky reusable wipe will work well for this, just fold towards the front for boys and mid nappy for girls on top of the two boosters.
How does washing frequency affect the number of nappies I need?
You will need less nappies if your washing machine is on every day and more if you wash less frequently. You will need enough nappies to keep a rotation of clean spares waiting to be used, those that are used and waiting to be washed, those that are drying after washing. Have a read of our guide for washing nappies.
How to manage your nappy stash
Once you have a collection of nappies ready to use you will need to decide on how you are going to store used nappies waiting to be washed and your wash routine.
We recommend dry pailing dirty nappies either in a mesh bag, a nappy pail or a wet bag - aim to remove as much soiling as possible before storing. Don't wait more than three days between washing and drying nappies or ammonia will build up and damage the fibres in your nappies.
You can follow our wash recommendations here.
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If you would like more help, please drop the team a line or use the website chat function. We all use the products ourselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long. Nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences.
About the Author: Kirstin on our customer services team loves spending her days helping customers with their reusable period product needs and advising cloth nappy using families. Kirstin lives with her three teenagers and loves walking and sea swimming year round in our beautiful bay.