A question that pops up so, so frequently is regarding how many diapers you need to cloth diaper. There are guidelines for this (and I’ll share them a bit later), but I’ve come to find out that this is a flexible number.
Stash size can be a very personal thing.
There are those out there who want to #buyallthecloth. It’s almost like a collecting hobby as much as it is a diapering solution. In addition to the excitement of helping the environment and (in theory) saving money, these cloth diaper users also fall in love with the quality and, oftentimes, cuteness of the diapers.
And most of us have bought a certain diaper for exactly that reason. A cute design is everything.
Then there are those among us who choose to use cloth to simplify their lives as much as possible. These parents sometimes choose the cheapest option or sometimes the style that they think will give them the most wear over several children (even if the initial cost may be more). They also scour the buy/trade/sell groups and don’t mind a little cosmetic issue here and there if it’s a good deal.
This parent has a minimal stash size, in general. Their prideful point of contention is that they know exactly the (small) number of dipes that they need to get by. They’ve got it down to a science.
Personally, I fall between these two (as, I’m sure, many of us do). Because we are part-time cloth diaperers, our numbers are different than most. However, when I go full-time (when the girls are home with us for summer vacation and other breaks rather than at the sitter), I’ve got a large stash that I’ve built up over time. Like, I could (but don’t) go at least 4-5 days before washing…with two in cloth. Eek.
However, I like to compare it to our wardrobes. We all have our favorite clothes, whether for functionally or color or fit (or all three reasons), that we tend to wear over and over. We grab them first and wash them frequently just so that we can wear them again faster. We might as well create a capsule wardrobe just out of those favorites.
I do the same with cloth diapers. The solid colors are my favorites, and I’ll coordinate them to the girls’ outfits when I’m picking out their clothes in the morning. Certain colors just offer more versatility sometimes to fit those outfits better than others. (Although I get excited when a pattern works into the mix, too!)
I might as well have a cloth diaper capsule. I even have a second bin of my lesser favorites…and a third bin of old hand-me-downs that I know I should just sell, but I keep on hand just in case. Why do I keep them? Because my son was in them…? I purged his baby clothes, why don’t I purge his old diapers? Weird how we have psychological attachments like that.
Much like our wardrobes, our cloth diaper stashes say a lot about who we are – and our reasons for cloth diapering. Whether it’s small and perfectly chosen, huge and every color of the rainbow, or a hodgepodge of styles and colors, there is no one way to make a stash.
That said, there are some guidelines to help if you’re just starting your stash and don’t know where to start or are thinking you may want to pare back and aren’t sure how far to take it.
Put simply, Thirsties suggests 20-24 diapers for the newborn stage, 14-18 diapers for 6-12 months, 12-16 diapers for 12-24 months, and 4-8 diapers during potty learning. Every child is different, so this is just a starting point.
Create your stash for whatever needs (or wants) you may have; there’s no one right or wrong answer, just like with parenting itself. Don’t feel guilty for using pre-loved dipes vs. new or if you have five of your favorite print; if you overbought because you can’t get to the laundry as often as you’d like or you challenge yourself to make the fewest diapers work as possible. It’s all about the journey and what helps you reach the finish line easiest, not what works for everyone else.
What does your stash look like? A mix of styles and brands or multiples of your favorite? A perfect rainbow or a hot mess? Expansive or minimalist? We’d love to hear!