Cloth diapering is wonderful, but getting started can be downright confusing. Once you have decided which system to use, you will still have to figure out what exactly you need. Here is a quick guide to get you started: 

How many diapers do I need?

If you are starting from birth, you will need about 24 diapers to start. This will get you through approximately 2-3 days between washes. If you are starting later on, you will need less as baby pees less frequently as they get older. 

Let's break it down into the different styles of diapers to determine what exactly you need:

Diapers with a separate cover 

With these diapers, you can reuse the cover (and just change the absorbent part of the diaper). 
  • Prefolds - 24 prefolds and 6-8 covers
  • Flats - 24 flats and 6-8 covers
  • Fitted Diapers - 24 fitted diapers and 6-8 covers

Diaper Systems

When used as pocket diapers, the entire diaper needs to be changed each time, meaning you will need 24 full diapers for your collection. However many types of pocket diapers (e.g. AppleCheeks and Funky Fluff) can also be used as an all-in-two. This will decrease the number of shells (another word for covers) you will need. The reason I recommend more covers for these systems than pure all-in-twos is that the fabric that makes up the pocket gets damp, making them a little harder to reuse. Note: some pocket diaper inserts are made of microfiber - these need to go into a pocket as they can't go up against baby's skin. 
  • Pocket Diapers - 24 diapers and inserts
  • Pocket Diapers used as all-in-twos - 12-15 covers and 24 inserts
  • All-in-twos - 24 inserts and 6-8 covers


The entire diaper is in one piece, so not surprisingly, the whole shebang needs to be changed every diaper change. 
  • All-in-ones - 24 diapers


None of the accessories are absolutely necessary to succeed at cloth diapering, but they sure do make life easier. Here are a few that I think are particularly helpful for starting out with cloth: 

Diaper pail liner

All your diaper pail needs to be is a place to hold dirty diapers. You can easily use a garbage can (the step cans are super easy to use) or any other container that can be washed out. I love diaper pail liners though, as they eliminate the step of having to wash out your diaper pail each laundry day. Just dump the liner's contents into the machine and throw it in as well. Your pail stays nice and clean. 

Wet bags

Leaving the house is the universal signal for babies to poop their diapers. At home you have your handy diaper pail, but what do you do out and about? A wetbag is basically a mini-diaper pail that travels around with you. It's a water resistant bag that can hold multiple dirty diapers (and hold any smells in) until you get home. How many you need and what size depends on how often (and for how long) you usually go out, but 1-2 medium size is a good average. 

That is it for getting started. There are lots of items you may want to add later on (e.g. doublers if you need extra absorbency, disposable liners, etc) but this is a good starting point! 

And remember, if you are ever having trouble figuring out what you need, give me a shout!