How Many Reusable Nappies Do I Need?
10 January 2023
Deciding on whether to use disposable nappies, modern cloth nappies or a mixture of both can be an area that has many hurdles - new parents can find it confusing and are put off by the amount of research needed and the initial financial outlay.
Cloth nappies are an environmentally sound choice and are more reliable than disposable nappies - no nappy leaks and no poonamis in cloth! Reusable nappies have a clear health advantage to your child.
Reducing the chemicals that are around your baby is vital and cloth is more comfortable too.
Reusable diapers will definitely save you money, they can be used from your first born through subsequent children and have great resale value once you are finished with them.
Many of us used washable nappies with our babies (some now off at University!)
Here is a comprehensive guide to reusable nappies covering what you might need and how many.
The most popular type of washable diaper consists of a waterproof shell that is lined in stay dry fleece with a ruched pocket at the back for stuffing with absorbent inserts, definitely worth making up the bulk of your stash with these.
Pros - Easy to source, can adapt absorbency, compact, easy to use, often one size fits most
Cons - Limited stuffing capability, not great overnight
Fitted and wraps
Sometimes known as two parters, an absorbent shaped nappy that goes underneath a waterproof cover. Perfect for overnight, long journeys or heavy wetters so worth having 3 or 4 for nights in your stash.
As fitted nappies have no PUL waterproof layer it can be tumble dried you need less nappies, and as the wrap can be wiped over and reused for multiple nappy changes you need less wraps. Wraps tend to be designed to fit from birth to potty keeping outlay down. This makes two parters a really cost effective type of nappy.
Pros - bombproof, you can adjust absorbency, great overnight, wraps and nappy can be used separately, wraps double up as swim nappies, easy to dry
Cons - you need to strap two parts to baby, can be bulky if you opt for cotton, but bamboo stays slim, fiddly at first to reassemble, needs an added stay dry layer
Prefolds / Flats
These are the 'old school' terry squares or muslin squares your granny would have used, folded to fit round a baby with a nappy pin or nappy nippa to hold in place. You can buy them 'prefolded' into shapes to fit onto your baby and they then need a waterproof nappy cover like our wraps.
Pros - super cheap, easy to wash and dry, takes up least amount of space
Cons - boring but can be jazzed up with pretty wraps, takes perseverance to get a good fit, bulky, can be complicated, longest time to put on
All in ones / twos
These have everything attached just like a disposable for you to put straight onto your baby. Good for Grandparents to use or for nursery days.
Pros - super easy to fit, tend to be compact, a good beginners nappy, fast drying nappy
Cons - they can't be boosted, many babies outwee them leading to leaks, longer to dry as all attached, normally sized so will be outgrown
"Superb customer service and excellent products. Needed nappies and wipes in a hurry to take out to Canada for my daughter. Order was sorted and sent on the day I ordered and arrived in good time to pack for the journey. Nappies, nappy wraps and wipes excellent.
Daughter very pleased and I have already ordered further items to take on my next visit. Thank you Cheeky Wipes. I will be ordering more items as my grandson grows." Grandma Sarah Nov '22 trustpilot
You will need between ten and twenty reusable nappies, depending on the age of your child and how long you leave between nappy washes.
There is no need to buy these all at once or to bulk buy one type of nappy. Newborn nappies tend to be changed every feed, day and night so it can be a lot of nappy changes.
My third baby was in cloth full time BUT it took me a good six months to grow his stash. When babies grow a bit and start to go longer between feeds, nappy change frequencies extend to between three and four hours.
At this point you might only need ten to fifteen nappies depending how often you wash - ten if you wash daily to allow time for drying, and fifteen to twenty nappies if you are washing every few days. You can have a read of our wash and care guidelines here.
You should change reusable nappies every two to four hours but always as soon as your baby poos. For newborns change at feedtimes, lots of babies poop while they are feeding. Some babies have soiled nappies at every nappy change and some once a week is normal in the early days, especially if they are breastfed.
Older babies go longer between changes but as toddlerdom approaches they gain some mastery over their bladder and can hold then release all at once, sometimes flooding the nappy - learning to fold boosters for extra absorbency in the wet zone can help with this.
For nights opt for nappies that are absorbent all over with a separate cover as these hold more fluid and last up to 12 hours if needed.
"These nappies and wraps are amazing. We tried a couple of other reusables before buying the kit and there was no comparison. The nappies absorb so much yet my baby is still dry to the touch. Easy to use once you get in the routine.
We also have the cheeky wipes. Massive poos and I only need one wipe. I can also top to tail him with them.
No nappy rash, no rubbish. Just brilliant. Couldn't recommend anything else. Had a chat with customer services, they are amazing. So pleasant to deal with. Love the product " Zara, June '22 trustpilot
To change a reusable nappy:
- Place a clean nappy low underneath baby - think builders bum
- Pinch and lift the bulk of the nappy up between babies legs
- Pull the wing up toward the armpit of the other side, and popper up hip snaps then waist snaps or attach the velcro waist tab to the front panel.
- Check the leg cuffs are snug in the knicker line
- Push your fingers into the rise of a one size fits most nappy and push the bulk of fabric upwards to tighten leg rounds
You can follow our step buy step fit guide here.
It can be fiddly at first to get a good fit. Make sure your baby is within the weight confines of the nappy as you will get leaks if it is too big or too small. Having the nappy too tight around your baby's bottom or legs can also leave red marks.
Most come with poppers (snaps) or velcro, and one size fits most they will have rise settings - 3 rows of poppers to shrink or grow the nappy. You will only need to adjust these when baby grows.
What can impact nappy fit?
Rise - sets the height of one size fits most reusable nappies and nappy covers and helps determine the leg round size
Hip snaps - secures the nappy around the hip, stops wing droop and tightens the leg round
Leg round - needs to be snug to prevent leaks
Waist - doesn't need to be super tight, leave space (two fingers) for babies beautiful belly!
Liners - make sure fleece liners are contained and not poking out, disposable liners can reduce the rate liquid newborn poop is absorbed, make sure liners are inside the double gusset - these channels are poo catchers.
To make your reusable nappies last longer, wash them between each use following manufacturers guidance, they can be used for many children and still hold their value on preloved selling pages and social media groups.
For older babies, to be able to go longer between changes you can boost, especially overnight- avoid all ones or pockets and opt for fitted nappies or prefolds with PUL wraps, fleece or wool.
Accessories to make cloth nappies easier include:
- nappy pails, liners or mesh bags for storing dirty nappies
- wetbags for using when out and about
- struckets to rinse and soak your dirty nappies
- reusable baby wipes and reusable wipes kits (great for hands and faces too)
- reusable nappy safe barrier cream or ointment
Nappy pods can hold a full day trips worth of nappies, washable wipes, changing mat, clothes and snacks. Shop all of our accessories here.
If you found this blog helpful you may like to read our blogs -
The beginners guide to reusable nappies
The beginners guide to reusable cloth wipes
Our guide to going toilet paper free
As always, if you're unsure of what you need to make the switch, please do drop the team a line or use the online chat function. The team all use the products themselves and just LOVE to chat pee poo and periods, all day long, nothing is TMI and we all love to overshare based on our own experiences...
About the Author: Kirstin Scriven is part of the Customer Experience team at Cheeky Wipes, which since 2008 has been selling the original reusable wipes kit. She is mum to 3 and loves the forest, the sea and the hills!
Along with the rest of our crack team, she spends most days talking about poo, pee and periods and loves a chance to overshare. The business was recognised with a Queens Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development in 2021, celebrating their hard work over the last 13 years.