Cloth Nappies 101 Series: Part IV :How many Cloth Nappies does one need?

We  are up  to speed  on  cloth nappies, you  are keen to use  them but you realise...... "how many should I  get?"  "How many does  one need?"

Do you want to  start from birth and  how often you intend to do stress free nappy laundry.  Those are the essential questions that will guide you.
Mini stash of nappies
For example: A newborn  will easily go through 12 nappies a day.  If you are able to wash your nappies  at the  end of each day without panicking about running out then the  fomular we  recommend is 12 nappy per whole  day + 6 extra nappies

12 nappies is ideal for a newborn over 24 hours. If we count from day break and changing every 2 hours, by evening you have used 6 nappies and you wash those and hang them out to dry before you sleep, you still have 12 clean nappies to use the next 24hrs.

By the next evening when you wash however many of those 12 that  has been used, you will have at least 6 clean dry ones to use, even if the ones washed the previous night are not completely dry.

Therefore, to use cloth nappies fulltime  for a newborn - 3 month old:
  • Washing everyday - 12  + 6 nappies= 18 minimum
  • Washing every 2nd day - 24 +6 = 30 minimum
  • Washing every 3rd day - 36 +6 = 42minimum.
This  helps  to have  a few  clean dry nappies  while the washed ones are drying.

For a two part  system. washing daily may translate as  18 nappies = 18 prefolds or inserts  and  4 - 9 covers.  The reason you have more inserts than covers is because your can reuse the covers if it is only pee. when your baby poos then you add the covers to your dirty pile. Therefore you only need 1 cover to every 2 or  4 inserts.

Cover and insert - each insert equates to a nappy change - covers can be re-used more than once before washing.  
If you are using an AIO or  pocket system , then you will need  18 individual nappies  if washing every day.

As your baby grows they will use less per day and then you will find out that your initial stash may cover a longer period between laundry if you buy a One-Size system.

If you are  starting cloth nappy from birth,   you may have to buy a smaller  size of prefolds infant size, so as not to have too much bulk on a newborn,   this you can use  till baby is about 9kg.   when baby out grows this size for  wraping round his/her bum, you do not need to stop using it,  it still functions as a simple pad folded nappy.  this  will be  covered in detail in a separate post.

If  you are  starting  at about the 6 month mark,  assuming you change nappies every 3 - 4 hours  during day time period and perhaps once  at  night, then  this would  translate to:
  • Washing daily -  8 + 4 nappies - 12 nappies
  • Washing every 2nd day - 16 + 4 = 20 minimum
  • Washing every 3rd day - 24 + 4 = 28 minimum.
For accessories for full time cloth nappy use  what you need is:

  • 2 no wetbags / nappy bags -  one for use when the other is in the wash.
  • 10  or  so cloth wipes - you can extend the use of these by rinsing and hanging out to dry if only used  to wipe  pee,  then  you wash at the end of the day  with your cloth nappies  so if your baby only poos once in 2 days,  you can reuse the  the same wipe for a  whole day.
  • Nappy liners if required: A pack of 100  flushable liners will last  while  before you need to re-stock especially if  you  reuse  them if they have only been urinated on.  depending on your washing machine, you may be able to wash  these  without it turning into a ball of fluff, however you can also keep  the wet liners  seperately and  hand wash them with a little soap, hang them out to dry and reuse them about  3 or  so times before you need to discard them.  If they have been poo'd on,  they will need to be flushed with the poo down the toilet.
  • If considering the re-usable nappy liners, then  you should idealy have the same number of  liners as your nappies, however a pack of 10 or  so is  good for starters.
  • Nappy fasterners if required:  You need no more than 3 of the Snappi fasterners even if you are cloth diapering full time,  if you are using cloth nappies  only  some of the time, 1 fastener is more than sufficient. Just make sure do not misplace them, alternatively having a spare one  will be  a  good idea
  • Extra pieces of inserts for boosting absorbency. This  comes in handy when you need longer periods between changes,  nap  or night times or as baby's wetting becomes heavier. 

If you have never used  cloth diapers  before and are unsure  about which styles to get here are a  few suggestion: 
  • Do not buy a complete stash of only one style until you have  tried  the various styles and  are  happy with a particular one.  Then you can go ahead and get a larger quantity of that style.  For  example:  get  at least  1 of each  style and you will  find out which works best for you in terms of convenience, budget and fit on baby.
  • Factor in rainy season especially if you live in the  south of Nigeria,  as they will take longer  to  dry so a few extra pieces or nappy styles that dry quicker may be a good idea. 
  • Factor in your  child care,  If you want  to use cloth and your baby attends  nursery or  you have  your parents helping out, it would be beneficial to have  enough pieces that you can prep completely at  the  start of  each  day. Flats and prefolds that are wrapped around baby  may not be the  best solution. A seperate post on using cloth nappies  for  creche or  day care  will be  done to cover  this. 
AIOs  and pockets may be more suitable for child care providers due to convience.
  • Take into consideration that you will need better absorption as your baby grows.  Therefore if you only used 1 insert at 6 weeks, by 6 months  your baby will probably start out-peeing their nappies.  If using disposables  these are  sized  with increases absorbency for  each increased weight range, therefore make allowance  for  boosting your cloth nappies as your child grows. .  So  where 1  insert may have  been ok previously, 2 will be  required  now.  We shall be discussing  boosting techniques in a separate post.   
If you however not using cloth nappies  full time, you can simply get a  few to last you  a  full day, and  then wash and alternate  with disposables as you wish.  some people use  cloth nappies during the day and use disposables at night time. Some other used disposables for nursery only and used cloth nappies  when they are  at  home in the evenings, overnight and weekends,  some use cloth nappies at home and use  disposables only for  outings and days out,   others use cloth as a back-up nappy option, so there is a cloth nappy scenerio for  almost everyone.

If you have any comments or  questions please  get in touch.  Do not  forget  to  subscribe to our mailing  list below so you get  regular updates and  blog posts  alerts. 

Thanks for reading.

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