How many Diapers and accessories do you need to use cloth diapers

Cloth Diaper Users Guide


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What are the different kinds of diapers?

To use cloth diapers you will need something absorbent and something waterproof. The most economical and flexible solution is two separate pieces each with their own function. While the shapes can be the same, it is the fabric material that determines whether the item is a diaper, cover etc.

Try several styles of diapers if you can. Many people will have a strong preference for a certain type, but it is a very individual decision.

baby in cloth diapers basket


The absorbent part of a cloth diaper system is generally called the diaper and the two most common styles are prefold and fitted diapers. Diapers are generally made of cotton but other absorbent materials such as hemp, bamboo and synthetic microfiber are also used.

Prefold diapers have been around for many years and they are still the most economical and adjustable system. They are rectangles of absorbent fabric that are folded and sometimes fastened to fit the baby. These come in different sizes and levels of absorbency. Infant size is most commonly used up to 15 lbs. and premium size is used after that. Standard is the same size as premium but with fewer layers.

Fitted diapers are shaped to fit the baby and usually have snaps or hook & loop fasteners. These do not require folding and are generally considered easy to use. They are very good at containing messes, especially with newborn babies. They come in sizes from newborn to toddler.

Diaper Covers

The waterproof outer piece is called the cover, wrap or soaker and can be made of polyester, nylon or wool. Avoid vinyl covers ("rubber pants") as they do not last long and are not as breathable as other materials. The cover protects clothing, furniture, car seats and strollers. You can skip the cover around the house as desired. This is excellent for airing out the skin. Covers have fasteners like snaps or hook & loop and come in sizes from newborn to toddler.

baby in wool cover

All in One Diaper

This style of diaper has the absorbent piece attached to the waterproof material. No separate cover is needed. Very easy to use, but are more expensive and can take longer to dry.

Pocket Diaper

This style is like a two-layer cover and the absorbent diaper is added to a pocket opening. Once the pieces are assembled, it is used like an all in one diaper.

Other styles include contour diapers (a blend of prefold and fitted), flats (traditional single layer squares), and hybrid pocket/aio.

How Many Diapers?

Newborn babies need 12 or more diapers per day, older babies may go through 6-9 per day. I recommend a minimum of 24 diapers, washing every other day. For part time use, 12 diapers can be enough. If you are using a separate cover and diaper set up, 4-6 covers is usually enough as they will be reused for several diaper changes.

Some of everything

  • 12 prefold diapers
  • 2 Snappi fasteners
  • 6 fitted diapers
  • 4-6 diaper covers or wraps
  • 6 All in one or pocket diapers with inserts

Money Saver

  • 24 prefold diapers
  • 4-6 covers or wraps
  • 2 Snappi fasteners

Simple Setup

  • 12 pocket diapers with inserts
  • 12 prefolds
  • 4-6 covers
  • 2 Snappi fasteners

Super Easy

  • 12 all in one diapers
  • 12 pocket diapers with inserts

Old School

  • 36 flat diapers
  • 4 pull on covers (nylon or wool; avoid PEVA and PVC)
  • 2 pairs pins

The Natural

  • 24 organic or hemp fitted diapers
  • 4 wool covers

    * Heard about using wool, a natural fiber, for moisture resistance outside an absorbent diaper? For a full treatment of the subject, Why Wool's Cool

Other Accessories Needed

  • 12-30 cloth wipes
  • 6-12 diaper doublers to add absorbency for naps and nights
  • 1 large pail liner
  • 1 small waterproof bag for when you're out