How Many Diapers?

Updated on January 15, 2008
A.F. asks from Albert Lea, MN
18 answers

I read a request asking about cloth diapering and was inspired by all of the responses! My question is, how many diapers would I need to purchase to get started? Also, my hubby is concerned about the up front cost. Have any of you noted a substantial savings with cloth diapering?
Thanks Rose C for bringing to question to mind!

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So What Happened?

Thank you EVERYONE for your advice! If I had my choice I would take you all out for coffee. As it is, you have all encouraged and inspired me further and I am going to buy a few diapers( I think a few of each kind) and give it a whirl! My hubby is all for it now, thanks to some very detailed posts I got:) Thank you again!

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answers from Green Bay on

For my newborn, we bought 3 dozen flat, prefold diapers. We did diaper laundry every three days, not because we were low but because the pail was full. You could probably get away with 2 to 2-1/2 dozen if you didn't mind doing laundry more often.

We also had concerns about the upfront costs. We spent $80 on 3 dozen cloth diapers and 4 Prorap covers. This size was small and it lasted for the first 15 pounds of the baby's life. This was about 5 months. We used Katies Kisses. If you were buying disposable diapers, you could spend $80 in just 2 months. So I think there is definitely a savings. Hope this helps!

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answers from Grand Rapids on

Hi There,

There is a substantial savings, especially if you plan to have more than one child. In addition to the savings, it's extremely beneficial to the environment! If you go to they often have individuals selling cloth diapers. Just search "cloth diapers" in Baby and Kids. Hope you chose this route. I've found it to be relatively easy. I do use the liners, it's about 12.00 for 100 and really makes poop clean up easy. Hope this helps!


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answers from Milwaukee on

We purchased 36, cloth diapers when our son was 4-5 months old. Until then we had been using a diaper service. We have had more than plenty. When ever the diaper pail is full, we do a load of diapers. We really don't want them around much longer than a couple of days anyway. We have 3 different plastic covers, which has been plenty. We typically use one a day.

I do believe it is a substantial savings in the long run. In addition to the cloth diapers, we have purchased 1 package of disposable diapers for each size--so we went through 60 newborn diapers, 48 size 2 etc. . . .

Note: All diapers are not created equal--be sure to get the diaper service quality prefolds. A little bit more, but worth it. We've been very happy with our choice.

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answers from Iowa City on

It depends on how old your child is, how often you want to do laundry, and what type of cloth diaper you will use!
A newborn typically needs a new diaper every other hour, so that is 12 diapers a day. Then you will also need covers; the most I have spent is $11 per cover but I only got three or two at each size. They just need to be rinsed if diaper is dirty and washed occassionally. This is if the insert (diaper) and cover are separate. They do make some that are all -in-one, but I do not know the costs.
Unfortunately, I have not kept track of how much money we have saved by using cloth diapers. I know it is nice not to have to buy 40 diapers every three days at $11/pack.
You can find slightly used cloth diapers (not as bad as it sounds; they have always been laundered) on ebay or craigslist. That would help with lower start up costs too. Laundry really does not add that much expense; you do it anyway. I rarely do a separate load just for diapers.

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answers from Sioux Falls on

My babies grow out of newborn size very quickly so I ended up with too many newborn sizes when I started. Besides that, you don't really know which will work best for you. I think has a section where you can buy used diapers or find mamas who make/sell new ones on its message board, plus there are other swap boards. I recommend getting a few of several kinds so you can get a feel for what works best for you and baby.

How many you need depends on how often you want to wash them and what kind you get. Newborns need LOTS of diaper changes but if you get extra liners/doublers (like a cloth maxi-pad you can add in to make it more absorbant with some diapers) you may only need to change those part of the time.

If you know what kind you want (pocket like Fuzzi Bunz, fitted ones with covers, traditional prefolds with covers, or the most expensive "All in ones") then that would help answer. The cost differs so much depending. Some types like FBs and AIOs come in different sizes so you wouldn't need to buy for long term. If you're going with prefolds, then it makes sense to buy more up front.

If you buy at least some used, it will cost way less than buying new. Some moms only want new though, which is understandable too. Even if you buy new, you can still resell them later and get BACK some of your cost for most of them. You don't get money back after you use disposables. :) So yes, the money saved is substantial no matter what route you go.

Do you have an idea what type you want? If your biggest concern is saving money then prefolds and covers would be the best bet. You could get 2 dozen prefolds and about 3 covers, plus the little plastic fasteners (I didn't use prefolds so I can't remember what these are called, but they don't use pins anymore), and that would get you by. You'd probably be doing laundry almost daily, but it's not a lot of trouble. Make sure you get washing instructions beforehand, since it is different from just doing laundry (like what detergent and how much and soaking).

Personally, I like the convenience of the other types and it's worth paying a little more. They're also more husband and babysitter friendly. I have a friend who tried prefolds and gave up because she said it was too much hassle (it's not a lot but with a newborn...) and later she said if she'd know about the other options she probably would have been able to stick with it. My favorite is Fuzzi Bunz, which are spendier but have a high resale value. It's more cost upfront though, and you might only want a couple for the newborn sizes anyway.

I know it's rather boggling when you first start learning about CDs. They're becoming more and more popular though and they are so much easier than they were a couple of generations ago. :)

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answers from Madison on

Here is a great resource that will give you info., suggestions of packages to start with and additional resources:

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answers from Great Falls on

Good for you! Cloth diapering can be a very satisfying venture.
The question of how many can be answered several ways. First of all- Do you want to go "all the way' and plan to cloth diaper day and night, at home and on the go? If so, consider using more than just the insert and cover (most economical) I would suggest getting a couple 'pocket diapers' with inserts as well as some covers and prefolds (the indian prefolds seem to wash better). Some websites offer packages that allow you to try several products. Check out
The number of covers you will need for a day with a 1 yr. old will vary between as few as two or as many as five or six! The covers can often be used between changes. Prefolds or the least expensive and a very good way to go! I also added microfleece liners to kid's diapers- poo peels right off of it and microfleece wicks away moisture.
hope this helps.

A couple of my favorites covers- bummies (not snaps), fuzzibunz with hemp insert. I wish I could remember where I got the sampler package- I didn't save the website. There is a montana diaper store based out of Bozeman that has great customer service and reasonable prices. good luck!

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answers from Milwaukee on

It is a substantial up front cost but I know that there are savings in the long run. Plus when you run out of diapers you just go down to the washer and dryer and wash up some more instead of having to shell out another 10+ dollars and run out to the store and all that. We bought 20 diapers for when she was younger and we would end up doing diapers every 2-3 days. We would use disposable diapers at night as we found she would leak through those through the night. When she grew out of those diapers we bought 16 diapers of a larger size and now we do diapers 2 times a week. We bought Kushies all in ones off of they are about 10 dollars a diaper. Like I wrote in the other request I really liked those diapers even though they took awhile to dry. Cloth diapering really isnt that much more work than normal diapering saves a lot of diapers going to the dump and can be used not only with this child but also with any other children you may end up having. Good luck.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I kept track :)
This total is not including shipping fees/laundry soap & accessories. And it should be noted this is the economical approach.

Total Start Up (including 3 weeks of Diaper Service)
-24 prefolds, -9 covers, various accessories
= 200.75

Total up through Larges= $639.70
Total I sold *so far just covers*= $90.00
Difference= $549.70 spent in all.

This is the cost of what I bought and have used the entire time that I have been cloth diapering (almost 2 years). There are tons of neat things out there, like pretty fancy diapers that I know a lot of mama's get addicted to buying. I tried some of them out, it ended up being not "my thing", so I sold them online (minus a few bucks of what I paid for them.)
I used a diaper service for (I thought 3 months, but it looks like) 3 weeks. This was to help me get the feel/routine of Cloth Diapering. It cost me a total of $46.50 and I got to use prefolds, got 1 free small cover, 2 free snappi's and 1 free diaper bin which I was allowed to keep.

So here are my purchases:
9 Covers- size small Bummis Super Whisper Wrap- $50 (ebay)
(You really do not need this many covers! you can re-use your covers until they get poo on them/ or they smell funny. I was able to use 1 or 2 covers per day.)
12 Reglar Prefolds Diapers- 21.50
6 Premium Prefolds (they have some extra layers for more absorbtion)- 12.25
6 dyed Thirsties prefolds- (fancy unneccesary ones) 27.00
1 snappi- 2.50
A WAHM Wet Bag for the diaper bag- 15.00
A Large Bummis Wetbag for camping trips- 15.00
Burt's Bees Diap Rash Ointment- $6.00 (still have it almost 2 years later)
some discs to put in my Diaper Bin to make it smell nice- 5.00
(i never bought them again)
Purex free and clear Laundry Soap
Tea Tree Oil (add a drop into my laundry as an extra antibacterial)
Borax for my hard well water
more clothespins!

I liked the sound of these BumGenius diapers, which work as convenience of disposables so I bought one to try 16.95
It is awesome so I decide to save up and buy some more.

Next my daughter moved onto medium sizes I bought:
4 Medium Imse Vimse Covers (fancy unnecessary graphics)- 55.00
2 Medium Bummis Super Whisper Wrap Covers- 17.00
I sold my 9 small BSSW: + 45.00/ my 1 cover from the Diaper Service + 5.00
so i *actually* spent- 22.00 on 6 new covers.
6 Thirstie prefolds regular 10.00
6 Thirstie prefolds premium 13.00
(i felt the absorption on this brand surpassed the original ones i had)

Then I bought
12 Bumgenuis Diapers- $195.00
3 Extra Inserts- $ 12.00 (this is to increase absorption for nighttime.

On to Larges:
Sold my 4 Imse Vimse medium covers for = $40.00
Kept my Medium BSSW (because they still fit)
Bought 5 cute covers from a WAHM -60.00
bought 4 cute AIOs from WAHM - 60.00
total spent on larges- 80.00
Even though I am in Larges I can still use my original prefolds and my original BumGenius.

Now I am moving onto cloth trainers. yay!
I won't lie, I did use some disposable when it came time for traveling. It is easier than carrying around a sack of dirty diapers with us.
I also cut up some fleece (which I had) and used it as liners to keep her bum dry during nighttime in prefold diapers. There are some products out there specifically for this.

Sorry this is long but I hope it helps!

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answers from La Crosse on

There is a great website,, that goes through all the details of cloth diapering. I use cloth on my daughter and don't consider myself and expert by any means, but in getting started it's best to talk to others who use them. Then you can get to feel and see what it takes. If you're just looking for numbers then you'll need enough diapers for at least two days without doing wash. For me that's around 7-8 diapers per day. It's always nice to have extras though so I invested in 2 dozen. I use prefolds which are the cheaper way to go. If you are interested further let me know!

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answers from Waterloo on

Buy few used ones before you spend a whole bunch of money on a big lot of them. Then you can see what works best for you as well. Try saw that someone else mentioned ebay but you can't purchase used diapers on there anymore. I have also purchased new ones on ebay that were brand new from a WAHM for less expensive than others that I have found used. They are really nice, but a little more bulky than some of the more "expensive brands". I probably spent less than $100 to get started...I started with 6 all-in-ones, a dozen prefolds, cheap covers & snappis...added another 8 all-in-ones and then just recently purchased a large lot of happy heinys, fuzzi bunz, kissaluvs and covers for another $200 and I am set through potty training. You can end up spending a ton for these new but are able to re-sell them afterwards. Just figure out the cost of how much each trip to the store would cost for disposables added up even just for the first year and your husband won't mind spending the $ upfront!!

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answers from San Francisco on

When we were doing cloth diapers, we had about 30, which meant we did a wash load of diapers every 2-4 days. We used pre-folds or fitted diapers with a soaker liner, pins, and nylon or plastic pants(these can be used more than one time between washings as long as they are allowed to air dry between uses, so you really only need 4-6 pairs per size). These are probably your cheapest options. As far as the savings over disposable, figure on paying 200-300 dollars for a decent set of cloth and any necessary accessories. Then estimate the cost of laundering them. Then, imagine paying 13-20 dollars 24-30 times a year(if you buy the 90-110 packs) for 2-3 years. If you spend $20 on diapers every 1.5-2.5 weeks for three years, the cost will be almost $2000. When my son was fourteen months old, I went back to work, which meant daycare, and for us, unfortunately, disposables. I'm glad we did cloth for as long as we did, though

This of course, is just my own experience. I haven't read any of the other responses, but I'm sure you're getting tons of great advice! I love mamasource!

Good luck with whatever diaper option you choose:)

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answers from Appleton on

We've used cloth diapers during day times for 2 1/2 years. It's mostly quite easy. I have to suggest vinegar for smells - it works wonders. Also flushable liners make poopy diapers so easy to deal with. When they're newborns you go through a TON of diapers so I always felt like I was running low. I'd say 3 dozen isn't too many. When they're older, about 18 should do it. We use some that are made from terrycloth. If you nurse you don't have to use liners or clean off the poop or even rinse the diapers as long as the baby isn't eating anything other than breast milk. And the terry cloth stops that BF poop in it's tracks. All the disposable-using moms I knew complained about the diaper blowouts. We never had any poop on the clothes. It occasionally escaped the diaper and went onto the diaper cover but so what. Have about 3-4 covers and it's no problem to wash the one that "takes the hit."

Best of luck!

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answers from Saginaw on

I have 5 adult children (40 and older) so we didn't have disposable diapers then. I think 4 dozen would do the trick very nicely AND, talk about re-cycling...they make tremendous cleaning rags, and great on windows. If you have a washer/dryer in your home, you won't need to worry about running low.

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answers from Waterloo on

Hi Anne-Marie! We have been cloth diapering our son since he was about 2mo old. We bought 24 bum genius diapers from and have absolutely loved them. With 24 diapers we spent 400. If you figure one pack of diapers a week which cost about 20 dollars a week, your diapers are completely paid off in 20 wks and free for the next kids!!!

We also found a recipe for basic laundry detergent that is really cheap and a lot better than any other detergent for the diapers since all of the additives in reg. detergent can make your diapers less absorbent. Use about 3tbsp of Washing soda found on the laundry isle (it is a laundry additive for getting whites whiter). Then add 3 squirts of simple green which is a household cleaner that is non-toxic and biodegradable. We wash diapers about every third day now, but at the begining it was every other day.

There is also a great site called and they have "test drive packages that can help you decide what type of diaper is right for you and your baby. At first the thought of using diapers that had be "tested" by someone elses baby kinda grossed me out. But I thought about it and if you had a diaper service that washed the diapers for you, you would be using diapers that were whatever the service gave back to you, not necessarily the same diapers you gave them. We did the test drive package and bought our first 12 bumgenius from It was so helpful to actually try the diapers out and see what worked best for Noah.

As for the savings, we paid $400. The average child in the US is not potty trained until 3yrs old. multiply the 20/wk for disposables and you get $3120. Then you have to figure in the laundry that we do extra which is about $3 per box of washing soda and $4 for the simple green. We have gone through (in 1.5 yrs) about 10 boxes of washing soda and 3 bottles of simple green- $38 so double that if your child stays in diapers as long a s the average US kid. Keep in mind that the diapers that I bought are a one size diaper that fits your baby from 8-35lbs, so I do not have to buy the next size up. We also still use disposable wipes, but you would use those anyways. And we use one disposable a night. Never had the money to try a whole bunch of different solutions for night time, but this is also a wash because you would be doing that anyways also. I also bought to dry bags for the dirty diapers which I think were about $10 each, for a grand total of $496 compared to $3120. Not to mention, if you are going to have any other kids you won't have the diapering cost for the next one!

BTW these diapers do not need pins or rubber pants. They are basically just like using disposables so they are easier for babysitters and relatives who watch your bab from time to time.

If you have any other questions, just let me know. I love to tell people about our success with cloth- if you couldn't tell lol. Good luck!

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answers from Great Falls on

I have 16 "fuzzi bunz" and end up doing a load of laundry every day or day and a half. I do sort of wish I had about 4 more, but we're getting by just fine w/what we have. I use them day & night and rarely do they leak. Plus, no rashes so far, in the 3 months we've been using them. I think they cost about $12-15 each, but I got mine second hand, for $6. Check out ebay, they have tons of them available for less than full price.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I was going to use cloth but didnt get the commitment from my husband every time he changed diapers, so we ended up switching. Therefore I have 40 cloth diapers purchased through jardine diapers on the internet with one velcoro closing cover (dont rmemeber what they are called) for the diaper. If you are interested in these, let me know. They were 40$ new and am willing to sell them for 20.



answers from Kalamazoo on

I second the opinion that people said about buying used! Try It's a great website! Cloth diapering is great fun. I mainly used Indian or Chinese prefolds that I purchased from a friend. My favorite covers were motherease air flow... even though the website says they work only with their diapers... not true since we used a prefold snappi'd shut and a motherease on top. Another brand is Bummis whisper pants. They are definately bullet proof. Most likely you will be able to most of your money back after you are done especially if you take good care of them. I sold most of mine on diaperswappers.

Don't buy gerber diapers at the store unless you are going to be using them as stuffers for the fuzzi bunz or pockets. They don't work nearly as well as the premium diapers you get online.


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