I have read answers to the question of how many cloth diapers to buy on many cloth diapering websites. Some companies recommend between 6-36 cloth diapers. Everyone views the number of diapers in the cloth diaper stash differently. I myself have usually tried to have between 12-18 cloth diapers at one time. With my last newborn I made a bunch of diapers and had 24 newborn diapers to work with.
In my experience, I do not want to wash my diapers everyday, but I do want to wash them no more than every third day. While washing my diapers I like to have about three diapers left so that I can make it through the whole wash and dry process. Five diapers, instead of three, is ideal because littler babies tend to need changing more frequently.
The age of the baby really determines how many diapers one needs. A newborn needs more, or one needs to wash them more. I started with eight homemade diapers and two covers. I made it through most of the day in cloth, switched to paper diapers at night. These eight diapers got washed everyday until my tiny baby fit into my bigger stash of one sized diapers. I owned 18 of these. This was a good number because they fit in my basket and I got away with about two days worth of diapers. Sometimes I had to wash the diapers every day and half, but as baby got older I made it two days plus the diapers I needed to change baby while washing the rest of the diapers.
Sometimes I would love to go a week without washing the diapers, but I don't really have the space to store that many diapers. Even when I had two babies in cloth diapers I used around 18 cloth diapers and washed them more.
As one can see, the amount of cloth around is based on many factors. If cloth diapering is something one just wants to try out, just get six AIO (all in one) diapers or six fitted diapers with two covers. Some people want a cloth diaper stash for the diaper bag and home. Try to get 18- 24 AIO diapers, or 18-24 fitted diapers and 4-6 covers. 12 AIO or 12 fitted diapers with 4 covers is the minimum to try full time cloth diapering in my opinion.
Consider what makes life easier for you. Think about having 10-12 diapers for each day and pick your number based on that. Also, one load of cloth diaper laundry is 24 diapers, fitted or AIO.