The short answer?
15-20 nappies are a good starting point and will be enough for the majority of people if using nappies full-time during the day. For night time nappies, 3-5 are usually sufficient.
The long answer?
Like everything in life, it depends! Different things work for different people, and nowhere is that more true than child rearing
A few things to consider…
Drying the nappies
For those of you on a tight schedule, it is usually possible to tumble dry your nappies, or at least the inserts (always check the care label first!). In some cases this can shorten the life of your nappies, or affect how they look. So, I guess it’s about weighing up what is more important to you (i.e. fast drying vs longevity/aesthetics). However, hang drying is preferable most of the time, and also is better for the environment and for your energy bills. So sometimes in this instance, it’s better to have a slightly larger stash, to allow for these drying times
How often you want to wash
Some people are happy to wash nappies every other day. Others (like myself) can’t really be bothered with that frequency! If you want to space out wash days, then a bigger stash is helpful, so you’re not running out in between. Just to note, it’s usually recommended to not leave nappies longer than 3 days before washing…
Materials in the nappies
Some people love a super absorbent nappy, or insert, as having that trust that there won’t be leaks is refreshing, and not having to change every 2 hours is appealing. But it’s worth noting that with more absorbency comes more layers, and thicker materials. Which, you guessed it, means longer drying times! So a few more nappies than usual to keep you going while they dry is helpful. Some people may prefer nappies with quicker drying materials, e.g. microfibre. “But I thought microfibre was bad!” I hear you say! Yes, it’s bad at some things, but there’s no doubt about it it’s quick drying, and for some people this works.
How organised you are
If you are of the super organised type, which I like to think I am…most of the time! You like to have a few nappies made up and ready to go in the changing bag, or in a nursery/childminder bag etc. This can be especially helpful for working parents, who prefer to get everything ready for the week and just lift it and go. Again, a slightly larger stash can mean nappies can sit “not in use” but ready to go, and it doesn’t affect you too much.
What if I only want to cloth part time?
Fantastic! As a very wise friend said to me once, “something doesn’t have to be full time, for it still to be good”. And this is very true of cloth nappies. Even if you only use one a day, that’s 365 nappies a year that you are saving from landfill. Still pretty damn good. So maybe, you’re only wanting one cloth nappy, or maybe 5. But if you’re planning to cloth half the time and disposables the other half then probably around 10 is a good number, and see how you get on.
Whether you have a heavy wetter
A heavy wetter, simply put, is a baby who pees a lot. I was blessed with one of these, he loved his milk, and with this came a lot of pee! I found that inserts that were lasting other baby’s up until 6 months of age, weren’t cutting an hour in my 3 month old. So I had to buy some extra inserts/boosters so that I could actually have a cloth nappy last more than an hour!
Any good starter kit will contain around 15 nappies and this should be plenty to keep you going until you decide what you want from your cloth journey. If you decide you do need more, do make use of council incentive schemes (if you haven’t already). Or look into pre-loved options, if your concerned about the cost of buying new. As with everything baby related, it really is just finding out what works best for you and your family