How many burp cloths do I need for a new baby?

As a new parent, you likely have a lot of questions about what baby items you’ll need and how many to get. One item that often gets overlooked is burp cloths. While they may seem simple, having enough absorbent burp cloths on hand is essential for catching all of those messy spills and spit ups in the early months. So how many burp cloths should you stock up on when preparing for baby’s arrival?

Quick Answer

The quick answer is that most baby experts recommend having at least 12-24 burp cloths on hand. However, the exact number you’ll need can vary based on your baby’s eating habits, how often you do laundry, and your personal preferences. A good rule of thumb is to start with 12-18 burp cloths and adjust as needed once baby arrives.

Why Are Burp Cloths Important?

Burp cloths serve a few key purposes:

  • Absorbing spit up after feedings – All babies spit up frequently, especially in the early months as their digestive systems mature. Burp cloths catch the mess before it stains clothing or furniture.
  • Protecting your clothes during burping – Burping helps babies avoid gas and reflux pain, but often results in spitting up milk. Using a cloth prevents your own clothes from getting soiled while patting baby’s back.
  • Wiping up messes during feedings – Whether it’s dribbles of milk escaping baby’s mouth or spilled formula, burp cloths wipe away feeding mess.
  • Cooling down baby’s skin – Wetting a burp cloth with water can gently clean and soothe baby’s skin during hot weather.

Having an ample stash of burp cloths on hand helps keep baby comfortable and minimize laundry and cleaning. Most parents find them absolutely essential during the first few months.

How Many Burp Cloths Are Recommended?

Most baby experts recommend having at least 12-24 burp cloths before baby arrives. Here are more details on the recommended quantities:

  • 12 burp cloths – This is the bare minimum number recommended. With laundry every 2-3 days, 12 cloths should be enough for daily use.
  • 18-24 burp cloths – This is the ideal number for most families. It provides extra coverage between laundry cycles and replaces cloths as they wear out.
  • 36+ burp cloths – Parents with frequent spitters or who dislike doing laundry may want this many. It provides maximum coverage.

In the newborn period, you’ll likely go through 6-12 burp cloths per day as babies are still learning to feed efficiently. Having at least 18 allows you to laundry less frequently. Many parents also like to have extras on hand as backup and to replace stained/worn cloths over time.

Factors That Determine How Many You Need

While 12-24 is the standard recommendation, every baby and family is different. Here are some factors that can determine how many burp cloths you may need:

  • Your baby’s spit up frequency – Frequent spitters will require more burp cloth changes throughout the day. Babies with reflux may also need extra cloths.
  • How often you do laundry – If you wash baby items every 2-3 days, you can get by with fewer cloths. Waiting 4-5 days between loads means needing more in your rotation.
  • Your laundry routine – Families who run smaller or less frequent loads will want more cloths to avoid running out.
  • Cloth vs. disposable diapering – Cloth diapering families wash diapers more often and can easily toss in burp cloths. Disposable users may wait longer between laundry cycles.
  • Your mess tolerance – Some parents don’t mind a few small spit ups. For others, having ample burp cloths to catch every drop is essential.
  • Travel habits – Families on the go frequently will want extra cloths when leaving the house or in diaper bags.

Considering these factors can help you determine if you fall on the lower or higher end of the recommended quantity. You’ll also learn baby’s habits after a few weeks and can tweak your cloth stash as needed.

Stocking Up on Burp Cloths

When buying your burp cloths, here are some tips:

  • Choose absorbent, soft fabrics like cotton, fleece or flannel.
  • Opt for multiple layers or thicker materials to handle messes.
  • Get a selection of sizes, from extra large to burp cloth bibs.
  • Stick to light colors that hide stains.
  • Buy different shapes like squares, rectangles and contoured cloths.
  • Purchase some thick, plush minky burp cloths for extra absorbency.
  • Supplement with cloth diaper prefolds or flannel receiving blankets.

Having a variety of styles ensures you have the right cloth for any situation. Many parents also appreciate having cloths in different patterns or colors to help tell whose is whose between multiple caregivers or children.

Reusing vs. Disposable Burp Cloths

Reusable cotton burp cloths are the most cost effective and environmentally friendly option. However, some parents do opt for disposables such as:

  • Paper napkins
  • Hand towels
  • Muslin squares
  • Disposable diaper changing pads

These can be handy when traveling or on-the-go. But for regular use at home, reusable cotton cloths are best. They provide superior absorption over the long run and stand up to repeat laundering. With proper stain removal, you can reuse cotton cloths for multiple children too!

Laundering Burp Cloths

To keep your stash of burp cloths fresh, follow these laundry tips:

  • Rinse or soak cloths promptly after use to avoid stains setting.
  • Wash heavily stained cloths separately or spot treat.
  • Use an oxygenated detergent to help remove spit up stains.
  • Add stain remover or enzymatic cleaner to problem areas.
  • Use bleach alternative or oxygen booster on whites as needed.
  • Skip the fabric softener which decreases absorbency.
  • Tumble dry on low or hang dry.

With proper washing techniques, you can keep your burp cloths looking (and smelling!) fresh. This saves you money by extending their usable life.

Creative Burp Cloth Uses

Once baby outgrows the frequent spit up stage, you can find creative uses for all those extra burp cloths:

  • Dusting and cleaning around the home
  • Polishing mirrors and windows
  • Wiping up messes and spills
  • Protecting surfaces from paint/stains during projects
  • Swaddling or soothing a fussy baby
  • Cleaning up toys and play areas
  • Bathing or grooming pets
  • Packing material for fragile items
  • Rags for auto maintenance/cleaning

The absorbency and durability of burp cloths makes them useful long after your baby has grown. Get creative with ways to extend their usefulness and reduce waste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need so many burp cloths?

You need ample burp cloths in the newborn period because babies spit up frequently. Having enough cloths to swap in as they get soiled allows you to keep baby’s clothing and surroundings mess-free. The frequency of laundry also determines how many you need on hand at a time.

What if I don’t have enough burp cloths?

If you find yourself running low on burp cloths, you have a few options. Use cloth diapers, blanket pieces, or clean rag towels in a pinch. You can also pick up a multi-pack of affordable burp cloths at any retailer with a baby section. Buying extras or doing laundry more often can help prevent shortages.

What are the best burp cloth materials?

The most absorbent and effective burp cloth materials are cotton, fleece and flannel. Look for multiple layers or thicker fabrics that can handle repeated washings. Stay away from slick fabrics like satin that won’t absorb messes. The best cloths are soft, gently textured and able to withstand frequent laundering.

Should I use cloth or paper burp cloths?

Reusable cotton or fleece burp cloths are the best choice for regular use. However, disposable paper towels or napkins can be handy while traveling or on the go. For routine everyday use at home, cloth burp cloths are more economical and environmentally friendly.

When can I stop using burp cloths?

You’ll need burp cloths the most during the first 6-12 months when babies are learning to feed efficiently and are still developing digestive systems. As they grow and gain better control of the mouth and swallowing, spit ups should start decreasing. But you may still find burp cloths helpful through toddlerhood for wiping faces and hands after meals.

The Bottom Line

Having an ample supply of absorbent burp cloths is essential during the newborn phase. Most baby experts recommend stocking up on at least 12-24 cloths before baby arrives. But factors like your laundry frequency, baby’s mess habits and personal preferences play a role too. Start with at least 12-18 burp cloths and adjust your stash as needed once you see how often your baby spits up. With the right quantity of soft, absorbent burp cloths on hand, you’ll be equipped to handle all of those little messes that come with feeding a newborn!

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