How Often to Change Diapers: Knowing How Frequently Is Enough!

When trying to figure out your diaper change routine, most online diaper calculators tell you that babies will need, on average, around 12 diaper changes a day.

If you were to run a simple calculation, you’d immediately realize that this equates to a diaper change every two hours.

To my uninitiated self, this seemed outwardly excessive when it hit me at first – I actually thought it was some wicked ploy to get parents-to-be to stock up on thousands of diapers, only to end up not using them.

Boy, was I wrong and naive! Once my son made his way earth-side (and after leaving a hearty serving of meconium on my arm), I was changing him at every feed. I was even going through three diapers in an hour at some points of the day.

That’s parenting for you – a whole lot of poo and pee, lovingly wrapped with all the smiles and cuddles.

baby getting their diaper changed on a pad

As a newbie treading into the unfamiliar territory of parenting, it helps to have some insight on how often you should be changing your newborn’s diapers.

In this article, we’ll be going through everything you need to know about that. We’ll look into what the experts say, both for cloth diapers and disposable diapers.

How Often Should I Change My Baby’s Disposable Diapers During the Day?

According to the American Pregnancy Association, babies urinate around 20 times a day.

Changing your little one’s diaper with every little pee is not a must. As the Association rightly notes, it does get expensive when you’re changing diapers 20 times per day – not to mention how many back and forth trips that is to the changing table!

As a general rule of thumb to follow, during daytime, wet diapers should be changed every 2 to 3 hours. It is not necessary to wake your baby up if they’re napping, though.

With all that being said, there are a number of exceptions to this:

Bowel Movements

When dealing with dirty diapers soiled with bowel movements, you should change your baby’s diaper as soon as possible.

The acid content in poo can irritate your child’s delicate skin. In girls, it can also lead to a bladder infection.

Diaper Rash

If your baby is suffering from a diaper rash, it’s very important that their diaper is changed even more regularly.

Moisture Sensitivity

All babies have delicate skin, but for some, it’s extremely sensitive. Sensitive skin can easily be irritated or break out in an allergic reaction.

If moisture is the culprit behind your little one’s irritated skin, it’s imperative that the diaper is changed as soon as it becomes wet.

How Often Do Diapers Need to Be Changed During the Night?

The American Pregnancy Association notes that it is not necessary to wake a sleeping baby just for the sake of changing the diaper. Instead, it can be changed as soon as they wake up.

There are some determinants to this:

Super Absorbent Diapers

Super-absorbent diapers can be left on for longer. Some of these can hold up to 10 pees!

For that reason, opt for the most absorbent baby diapers you can possibly find, especially if your baby is sleeping through the night.

No one enjoys waking a sleeping baby!

Bowel Movement

Tell-tale signs of a smelly diaper? It’s normal to feel defeated after all the effort taken to put your little one to sleep all clean and sweet smelling.

A soiled diaper should be changed, even if your little one’s sleeping.

Leakages

Some babies naturally pee more during the night. This can lead to leakages, and leakages are very uncomfortable for your baby.

The added moisture can lead to rashes, and can also leave your baby feeling pretty cold.

Change your baby’s diaper and clothes as soon as you realize there’s been a leak.

How Often Should Cloth Diapers Be Changed During the Day?

Cloth diapers need to be changed more often than disposable diapers.

Cloth diapers are less absorbent, so there’s more moisture that’s close to your baby’s skin. That’s definitely not something you’ll want to happen, since a moist environment can lead to rashes.

As a general rule of thumb to follow, cloth diapers should be checked once every 1.5 to 2 hours, and changed if wet or soiled. If you realize that the cloth diaper your baby’s wearing is wet after only 30 minutes, it should still be changed.

In short, cloth diapers should be changed as soon as they’re wet.

Always keep in mind that newborns and infants shouldn’t be left in the same cloth diaper for more than two hours at a time.

With that being said, this time window increases as your little one grows. It’s normal for older babies and toddlers to go four hours before wetting their diaper.

Cloth diapers are better at masking the smell of poo, so it can be trickier to find out if your little one has had a bowel movement. To know for sure, you’ll need to do some manual inspection. Take a peek through the leg or back to see if there’s a little surprise in store for you!

Babies With Moisture Sensitivity

If your little one is very sensitive to moisture, consider going without a water-proof cover when you’re around the house.

This way, you can realize immediately when your baby needs changing.

How Often Should Cloth Diapers Be Changed During the Night?

A wet or soiled cloth diaper should be changed immediately, regardless if it’s daytime or nighttime.

In the first few months, check your little one’s diaper for wetness or soiling with each and every feed. As your baby grows, you’ll get into a better rhythm as to when nighttime bowel movements happen the most.

Before you start hyperventilating at the sheer numbers of diaper changes you’ll have to do, know that all of this will only last for the first few months of your baby’s life.

As your child grows and gets closer to the potty training age, you’ll find that you’ll need to change their diapers less and less frequently.

The Takeaway

To recap, both disposables and cloth diapers should be changed every couple of hours in the newborn baby days.

Poopy diapers should be changed right away, no questions asked, and regardless of whether your baby is sleeping or awake at the time the change needs to be done.

Babies that are extra sensitive to moisture should get their diapers changed more frequently, too. The same applies if your little one is experiencing a diaper rash.

Happy diapering!

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