How many cloth nappies do I really need?

The great benefit of cloth nappies is being able to reuse them time and time again. However, working out how many you need in total can be confusing for new reusable nappy users. Here we explain the factors to calculate how many cloth nappies you really need.

Here's the short answer to this question:

Part time use: 6 - 12 nappies

Full-time use: 24+ nappies

The reality is that the answer is rarely that simple; there are a number of factors that will influence how many you truly need:

  • Whether you plan to use reusable nappies 24/7 or just part-time
  • How often you plan to wash the nappies
  • How you plan to dry the nappies
  • What climate you live in - this can impact drying time
  • How old your baby is - newborn babies typically get through more nappies than older babies and therefore require more nappies
  • Whether you will use cloth nappies at night
  • Whether your child goes to daycare
  • How much flexibility you want with your washing routine
  • How many you want

Let's delve into a little more detail:

Whether you plan to use reusable nappies 24/7 or just part-time

This is the main question that will influence how many you need, and this is what the above numbers are loosely based on. If you're wanting to use them 24/7, you will need a minimum of 24 nappies. This is based on a baby getting through 6 nappies a day, which gives you enough nappies for 4 days of use. Of course, bear in mind that a baby's toileting habits are rarely that predictable.

If you're planning to use them part-time, there are a few different ways to do this. For example, you could have your baby in cloth nappies for 1 or 2 days, followed by a day in disposables while they're being washed and dried. Alternatively, you could stick to cloth while at home and use disposables when you're on the go. You can start to see how the amount you need really does vary based on your routine and preferences. We recommend starting with 6-12 nappies for a part-time stash and seeing how you get on. You can always purchase more if and when you're ready to up your cloth nappy usage.

You can also start with a cloth nappy trial pack of 2. By using 1 or 2 per day, you are still saving hundreds of disposable nappies from going to landfill over the years.

How often you plan to wash

If you're a stay at home parent, you may be planning to wash daily or every second day. If you're able to afford the time to wash very frequently, you can get away with having fewer nappies. If washing is something you'd rather keep as infrequent as possible, you will need more nappies to ensure you don't run out.

How you plan to dry the nappies

We recommend line drying when you can to be as eco-friendly as possible, and to avoid damaging the water-resistant nappy covers. However, you can dry the nappy inserts in the tumble dryer on hot if you need to. The nappy covers are made of 2 layers of water-resistant PUL and therefore are relatively fast-drying on the line. The nappy inserts however are each made up of 6 layers of material and therefore can take a long time to dry naturally. You may want to factor drying time into your decision when looking at how many nappies you really need. A tip when using NappyLuxe nappies is to reuse the wipeable cover and simply swap out the inserts - this means you could get away with purchasing extra cloth inserts rather than more nappies.

What climate you live in

Following on from the previous point, if you live in a sunny climate, you have the benefit of your nappy inserts drying quickly in the sun. Whilst your nappy covers shouldn't dry directly in the sun, they will still dry quickly in warm weather in the shade. If, however, you live in a cold and wet climate, you will find your nappies taking considerably longer to dry - something you may want to factor into your decision of how many cloth nappies you need.

How old your baby is

Newborn babies need their nappy changed roughly every 2 hours during the day and sometimes just as often during the night. If you plan to use cloth nappies from when your baby is newborn, you may want to factor in having more nappies in your stash. Older babies may only need 6 nappy changes per day and so you may not need as many.

Learn more about how many nappies a day newborn babies need.

Whether you will use cloth nappies at night

If you're using cloth nappies at night as well as during the day, you will need to factor in buying extra absorbency for your nappies to see your baby through their 12+ hour sleep. Luckily with NappyLuxe, you don't need to purchase separate night nappies, just a few additional cloth inserts or trifolds

Whether your child goes to daycare

Most daycare centres have a policy of changing nappies every 2 hours on the dot. If this is more frequent than your usual changing routine at home, you'll find your baby getting through more nappies. This may influence your decision to purchase extra nappies. Read our 7 tips for using cloth nappies at daycare

How much flexibility you want

If you are a routine-driven person who plans to wash nappies every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings for example, you can easily calculate how many nappies you will need in total. However, you may be more free-spirited and prefer to go with the flow, washing whenever you find yourself with some free time. If this is the case, you will likely need more nappies in your stash to ensure you don't find yourself running out.

How many you want

Ultimately, the amount of cloth nappies you need totally depends on you and how many you'd like to use. There's no set rule, and you may also find your needs change as your baby grows, like when you go back to work. There is no harm in buying a part-time stash to get started and seeing where your cloth nappy journey takes you. Remember to read our ultimate cloth nappy guide to set you up for success on your nappy journey.

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Meet the Author

Natalie Lassen

Black and white photo of Natalie with her daughter cuddling

Natalie, Founder of NappyLuxe, is an eco-conscious mother and entrepreneur who discovered the benefits of cloth nappies for her family and the environment. With a mission to create the ultimate cloth nappy, she spent years researching and testing various designs before launching NappyLuxe - a range of high-quality, easy-to-use, and ultra-absorbent cloth nappies. Natalie is passionate about sharing her experience and expertise, helping parents make informed decisions and embark on their own sustainable parenting journey.

July 13, 2023 — Natalie Lassen
Tags: Learn