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How Many Diapers Will My Newborn Use? A Guide to Planning for Diaper Needs

In some ways, newborns are simple. They eat, they sleep, and they poop. That’s about it. Sounds easy, right?

Ok, if you’re done laughing (or crying), we can move on. As mothers, we know many challenges come with that sweet baby, including: getting him to eat enough and at at the right times, getting her to sleep for several hours in a row and at night instead of during the day, figuring out which car seat is best, which crib, which stroller, and whether to breast or bottle feed? 

In short, meeting simple needs is in no way simple. One aspect of every newborn’s life is diapers. How many diapers should a healthy newborn make everyday? How much do diapers cost? How many diapers should I stock up on? Learn all this and more as we explore the topic of diapering babies.

Newborn Baby in Cloth Diaper

How Many Dirty Diapers Should A Newborn Make Everyday?

A primary concern for mothers of newborns is whether the baby is getting enough to eat. When a baby is bottle-fed, you can see how much they are drinking. It’s clearly labeled on the side of the bottle, and you can watch it disappear as baby sucks. But for breastfeeding mamas, it’s much harder to tell if your little one is getting enough. Sometimes you may wonder if they’re getting anything at all, especially during the first three to five days before your milk comes in. 

Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, a great way to judge if your baby is taking enough in is to measure what is coming out. In other words, count babies' dirty diapers. If your baby is eating enough, and has no digestive problems, she should make a certain number of diapers each day. Don’t be surprised if newborns soil or wet more often than you thought they would. The chart below shows how many messy diapers a healthy and well-fed newborn should make.


Day of Life

Number of Wet Diapers

Number of Soiled Diapers

Consistency of Poop

1

1

1-2

Black or dark green

2

2

1-2

Black or dark green

3-4

3-4

3-4

Brown, green or yellow

5-21

6

3-4

Yellow, soft and seedy

Source 

If your newborn is not making enough diapers, she may not be getting enough to eat, and could become dehydrated. If your baby is bottle fed, offer more at each feeding or offer a bottle more often. If your baby is breastfed, see a lactation consultant for ways to increase your breast milk production

How Many Diapers Will Older Babies Make in a Day?

As your baby gets older, he will gradually make fewer diapers. It’s best to change his diaper every time you notice it is wet or soiled. To help avoid diaper rash, check his diaper every 2-3 hours.

Baby’s Age in Months

Average Diapers Per Day

0-1 months

10 to 12

1-5 months

8 to 10

5-9 months

6 to 8

9-12 months

6 to 8

If you notice a big increase in your child’s number of wet diapers accompanied by constant thirst, this is possibly a sign of neonatal diabetes or type 1 diabetes. Neonatal diabetes occurs in children under 6 months old. It is rare, occurring in only 1 in 260,000 babies world wide. Type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the pancreas stops producing insulin, usually occurs after the age of 5, but can present earlier. If the increase in wet diapers comes with sudden weight loss and unusual behavior, contact your pediatrician and ask for a blood glucose test.

Older Baby in Diaper

How Many Diapers Will Babies and Toddlers Make in a Day?

As babies grow, their bladder capacity and control will increase and they will make fewer diapers every day. Though newborns make about 10 diapers a day, a one-year-old can make as few as 5. 

Diaper Size

Baby’s Weight

Approximate Age

Avg Diapers per Day

P

Up to 6 lbs

0-1 month

10-12

NB

Up to 10 lbs

0-1 month

10-12

1

8-14 lbs

1-4 months

6-9

2

12-18 lbs

3-8 months

6-9

3

16-28 lbs

5-24 months

5-7

4

22-37 lbs

12-36 months

5-7

5

27+ lbs

2-3 years

5-7

6

35+ lbs

3-4 years

4-8

7

41+ lbs

4 years and up

4-8

*Weights,sizes, and avg diapers per day based on Pampers. Approximate ages based on 50th percentile of average weight.

Children typically potty train anywhere between 18 months and 3 years old. When your baby is staying dry through naps, he may be ready to potty train. Check for other signs of potty training readiness

Stack of Diapers

How Much Do Diapers Cost?

Along with baby formula, buying diapers is one of the biggest expenses of having a baby, especially in the first year of life. Newborns make a lot of diapers. Fortunately, the smaller the diaper, the cheaper it is. This gives parents a break, since the diapers you’ll need the most of should cost the least per diaper. 

This chart compares the cost of diapering a baby during the first three years of life in each of 5 different brands of diapers. For average cost per diaper, the cost per diaper of the sizes you would use during that year have been averaged.

 

Year of Life

Total Diapers Per Year

Diaper Brand

Avg Cost per Diaper

Total Cost per Each Year

1

3540

Huggies

$0.28

$999

2-3

2555

Huggies

$0.43

$1,105

1

3540

Pampers 

$0.24

$855

2-3

2555

Pampers

$0.37

$955

1

3540

Luvs

$0.15

$540

2-3

2555

Luvs

$0.26

$665

1

3540

Up & Up

$0.14

$500

2-3

2555

Up & Up

$0.20

$510

1

3540

Parent’s Choice

$0.10

$350

2-3

2555

Parent’s Choice

$0.15

$395

 

It’s clear that buying store brand diapers can save money! Up & Up is Target’s store brand, and Parent’s Choice is Walmart’s. I personally found it necessary to buy more expensive diapers when my kids were newborns. Pampers Swaddlers were my favorite, and everything else seemed to leak. Once my little one got older, however, and especially once I had multiple kids to pay for, I switched to store brand diapers without any trouble.

Using this chart, we can calculate how much it would cost to diaper a child in each brand for three years. (See below). Diapers may cost less than this if you buy in large quantities, such as buying a big box from a bulk store. Using coupons may also reduce diapers costs.

Brand

Huggies

Pampers 

Luvs

Up & Up

Parent’s Choice

Cost for 3 years

$3210

$2765

$1870

$1520

$1140

Stocking Up

Many parents want to feel prepared for their baby by stocking up on diapers. This can be a way to spread out costs by purchasing diapers before the baby is born. Be careful, however, when buying the smallest sizes. Most babies only wear size newborn diapers for a month, and then move on to size 1. This chart shows the total diapers a baby may wear in one size. Note that there is overlap in the size and age ranges, especially in sizes 3 and 4. 

Diaper Size

Baby’s Weight

Approximate Age

Avg Diapers per Day

Total Diapers Needed in Size

P

Up to 6 lbs

0-1 month

10-12

170-360

NB

Up to 10 lbs

0-1 month

10-12

170-360

1

8-14 lbs

1-4 months

6-9

1,080

2

12-18 lbs

3-8 months

6-9

1,620

3

16-28 lbs

5-24 months

5-7

3,990

4

22-37 lbs

12-36 months

5-7

5,040

5

27+ lbs

2-3 years

5-7

2,520

6

35+ lbs

3-4 years

4-8

2,880

7

41+ lbs

4 years and up

4-8

As needed

 

The best way to stock up on diapers is to buy them when they are on sale or when you have a coupon for them. You can save by using a diaper subscription service (available on Amazon). You can also ask for diapers as baby shower gifts, especially if you have most of the other things you need for a baby, which may be the case if you have older children. If stocking up, it’s wise to stick to sizes that have a wide range, like 3 and 4, that most babies will wear for a long time. It’s also important to remember that you may not like a certain brand. Try a small package first before going for the box of 280.

If you buy too many in one size, you can return unopened packages with a receipt. It’s worth noting here that Target will let you exchange unopened diapers for a new size without a receipt but check with your local retailer for more information. If you lose the receipt or if you stock up so far in advance that the window for returns is closed, you may not be able to return unused diapers. But never fear, it’s not a total loss. You can sell any unopened diaper packages if you can’t return them. I once sold several packages of size 3 diapers to a woman on Craigslist. I didn’t get anywhere near what I paid for them, but it was far better than getting nothing and wasting the diapers. Also, consider donating them to a homeless shelter or women’s shelter if there is one available in your area.  

Pampers Diaper Packages

When Should My Baby Move Up a Diaper Size?

Because smaller diapers are cheaper, you want to keep your baby in a lower size for as long as possible. Typically, you should move your baby up when the diaper she is wearing is fitting too snugly, or when she starts wetting out of the diaper. Some babies will wet through a diaper at night, but not during the day. Consider sizing up at night but staying in the smaller size during the day. 

The Final Word

Newborns use a lot of diapers, going through 10 to 12 everyday. Depending on his size at birth, however, your baby may not wear size NB for long, as they typically fit babies up to 10 pounds. For some babies, this could mean he’ll be in size NB for 2 weeks tops. He will probably be in size 1 diapers for longer, and will use three times as many in that size, and over 4 times as many in size 2. When stocking up on diapers for a newborn, consider buying some in size NB, but not more than 200. If you want to prepare beyond that number, we suggest buying in size 1, 2, or 3. He’ll get there sooner than you think!   

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