How many cloth nappies do I need?

One of the most common questions among parents considering using cloth nappies is “how many will we need?” The cost of an individual cloth nappy when compared to a disposable is high, so this is an understandable concern – parents are worried about the level of investment they need to make initially, particularly if they have no direct experience of cloth nappies. 

The answer unfortunately is not straightforward. It really depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How many children you have in nappies.
  • What age your baby is (and how many changes they generally require per day).
  • Whether you plan on using cloth nappies full or part-time. 
  • What type of nappy system you plan to use. If you plan to use all-in-ones rather than fitted nappies and wraps for example, you will likely need more nappies as all-in-ones take longer to dry, while wraps can be re-used for multiple nappy changes  before washing (as long as baby hasn’t gotten them dirty).
  • How often you plan to wash your nappies. Every 2-3 days is the norm. If you wash every 2 days you could get by on less nappies.

To give our personal experience, we began with a loan from the cloth nappy library. This enabled us to try out different styles and realise that using cloth nappies was actually a lot easier than we thought and definitely do-able for our family circumstances. We then decided to use cloth nappies for daytime only. Our baby was beyond the initial newborn heavy nappy use at this stage, and generally needed 4 nappy changes per day. We bought 12 pocket nappies initially and washed the nappies every 3 days. The pockets pretty much dried overnight and with some extra inserts we found we could use cloth fully for daytime use with this set-up. This is a pretty lean amount though, and days where extra nappy changes were required meant we would have to dip into disposables. We soon added a few more to our collection to more comfortably be able to use cloth every day. So, we would recommend probably 12-16 cloth nappies for day-time use.

Once we got into the swing of things with daytime use, night-time was the next obvious step. We decided to use fitted nappies and wraps for nightime. Fitted nappies can take a long time to dry so we found we needed about 6 in rotation to ensure we were able to use cloth nappies each night. 

So to sum up, there really is no one answer as to the magic number of cloth nappies any family will need unfortunately. Ultimately though, all you really need is one single cloth nappy to start making the switch. Every single time you use that one nappy, rather than a disposable you are making a positive impact by sending one less disposable to landfill.

“Every journey begins with a single step”

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