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How many nappies will I need?

To start cloth nappying, you will only need one cloth nappy. That sounds trite, but it is true that starting with one or two nappies and building your stash gradually as you work out what you like and what works for you and your baby can be the best way to go.

Every cloth nappy you use will have an impact on your baby’s environmental footprint. And each cloth nappy will save you money – using just one cloth nappy a day will save you almost $150 in one year, and over $350 if your child toilet trains at 2.5 years. And using cloth full time can save you $1,000’s.

If you want to cloth nappy exclusively, here’s a quick summary of how many nappies you will need at each stage taking into account how often you want to do a load of nappies.

Baby's age Average number of
changes a day
Washing Frequency/
Number of nappies needed
 
Every day Every 2nd day Every 3rd day
Birth to 3 mths 10-12 20-24 30-36 40-48
3 to 6 mths 8-10 16-20 24-30 32-40
6 mths + 6-8 12-16 18-24 24-32

This table is a guide only – some babies require changing more or less frequently than the average. The washing frequency assumes that you will have one day's worth of clean nappies on hand while the remainder of your stash is being washed.

Some people wash nappies with their other washing (usually running the nappies through a quick rinse on their own first), so they wash the used nappies they have on hand and may get away with having less nappies.

As you can see by the table, if you have the recommended stash of 24 nappies and only use cloth, you can expect to be washing every day at the newborn stage, but by 6 months you should only be washing 2 or maybe 3 times a week. 

If you want to use your nappies for a subsequent child, keep in mind that nappies on high rotation being washed 4 times a week will wear out faster than nappies washed less frequently. In this case it can pay to have more nappies in your stash to increase their longevity.

Also take into account your drying capabilities. If you live in a climate where drying nappies during winter or the wet season will take longer, consider having some extra nappies to cover those times or take a look at the faster drying options.
 If you are using fitted nappies which require a cover, we recommend having 4-6 covers in the appropriate size on hand. You don’t need to wash them after every wear (unless they get pooey), as you can air covers between changes and reuse them several times.

Once you’re using cloth nappies, you’ll probably find it easier to use cloth wipes as well. You just drop them in the nappy bucket with your nappies – no need to make a separate trip to the rubbish bin like with disposable wipes. You’ll also find that one cloth wipe will do the job of several disposable wipes – they’re much more efficient! Work out how many you’ll need on a ratio of one to two cloth wipes per nappy change and you should be set. See this blog post on using cloth wipes for a convenient way to store your cloth wipes.

If you want to use reusable liners to keep your baby dry or protect your nappies from stains, you can either have one for each nappy, or (since they dry so quickly) choose to have less, or just use them when you’re anticipating a poo.

If you’re having trouble working out what you need, feel free to send us an email and we’ll do what we can to help.