Q: HOW MANY DIAPERS DO I NEED?
This answer depends on a few things:
1) how old your baby is
2) whether you want to cloth-diaper full-time or part-time (ie. use disposables as well)
3) what kind of diaper system you are using (pockets, all in one, lay inserts on top of cover)
4) how often you want to wash
Generally though, to cloth diaper full-time from birth (at home, on errands, at night), you’ll want about 36 diaper changes.
That gives you enough to wash every other day, and have a handful for the baby to wear while you do laundry. Minimum would be 24 diaper changes. You’ll go through fewer diapers as baby gets older, but if you are planning to cloth-diaper a newborn eventually, do yourself a favor and get 24-36, as suggested above. Getting more diapers than that will allow you to go longer between washing, and will decrease the wear and tear on the diapers as well.
My daughter used about 30 diapers every 24 hours as a newborn, and goes through about 18-20 diapers every 24 hours as a five month old. We change every 2-3 hours, or when needed.
Q: HOW OFTEN SHOULD I CHANGE A DIAPER?
You should change a baby’s diaper every 2-3 hours at maximum (this goes for cloth or disposables), to prevent the baby from getting a rash from wetness. You can use more absorbent inserts for nighttime when your baby starts sleeping longer stretches (4 hours+).
Q: SHOULD I GET “SIZED” OR “ONE-SIZE” DIAPERS?
This often is a personal choice, but basically, sized diapers (diapers that come in small, medium, large, etc) can provide a better fit BUT require that you purchase a whole set of diapers multiple times (ie. 36 small diapers, 36 mediums, etc). This is a deterrent to those who are cloth-diapering to save money!
One-size diapers fit from birth (around 8 lbs) to potty-training, for most children, but may be too big on small newborns, or too snug on really big toddlers. They are meant to fit an average, and usually use snaps to adjust the rise of the diaper. They are cost-effective, as you only have to buy ONE stash of diapers (36 diapers in one-size).
There are also “newborn” sized diapers available from several brands, and some people choose to get those in addition to their diaper stash. Many skip these, because of the additional cost and short duration of use.
We bought 13 small sized diapers for the first month, and then switched to one-size diapers for the majority of our stash.
Q: HOW MANY DIAPERS DO *YOU* HAVE?
We have 76 diaper changes – this gives me enough diapers to go 3 days between washing if needed. Having a larger “stash” of diapers also means that my diapers will last longer, as they will be not worn and washed so frequently (as opposed to, say, 20 =only a day’s worth of diapers). This increases my chances of being able to use the SAME diapers on future children, which increases the return on my investment. This is also a good number to have if I end up having two children in diapers at the same time!