It doesn’t matter if you’re debating whether or not to add diapers to your baby registry, staring down the expansive diaper aisle at your local big box store, or sending your panicked partner out for diapers the second you feel a contraction—making diaper decisions is not easy! There are so many baby diapering questions to answer, like How many diapers do I need? How do I know what size diaper to buy? Is there any difference between diaper brands? Gah! Before you buy too many diapers (or too little), let us help you zero in on the number of diapers you’ll truly need.

How many diapers does a newborn use a day?

If you’re breastfeeding your newborn, there’s a good chance your little one will poop after every nursing session. (Since newborns have teeny bellies, they may breastfeed every one to three hours, or between eight to 12 times a day.) At the same time, some breastfed newborns will only poop three to four times a day. (By the time your baby reaches 1 to 2 months old, their poop will thicken and occur once a day or less.) And we haven’t even mentioned pee yet! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) your little one may pee as often as every one to three hours—or as infrequently as four to six times a day. So…what does that diaper math shake out to? You should plan on up to 12 diapers a day during the first month, knowing that diaper math is not an exact science!

How many diapers does a baby use a day?

While every baby is different, research shows that the average American baby goes through six to 10 diapers a day. The kicker? The five-diaper-a-day number is an average over three years of diapering—and the diaper habits of a 2-month-old is different from, say, a 12-month-old. When it comes to the real diaper number crunch, the AAP notes that most U.S. parents will go through nearly 3,000 diapers during their baby’s first year! Here’s the general month-by-month breakdown of how many diapers your baby will need:

  • Babies 2 to 4 months old: Up to 10 diapers a day (or 300 a month)

  • Babies 5 to 8 months old: Up to 9 diapers a day (or 270 a month)

  • Babies 9 to 12 months old: Up to 7 diapers a day (or 210 a month)

How many cloth diapers does a baby use a day?

In general, babies go through 8 to 10 cloth diapers a day. It’s often recommended that you have between 20 and 24 cloth diapers in total—regardless of the style you choose. This allows you a little breathing room to wash your cloth diapers every other day. With cloth diapers, you’ll need to change poopy diapers as soon as possible and you’ll want to change wet diapers…

  • Newborns: Every 2 hours and before or after every night feed

  • Babies under 6 months: Every 2.5 hours and as needed at night

  • Babies 6 to 12 months: Every 3 hours during the day and as needed at night

How many baby wipes does a baby use a day?

While it all depends on your baby’s poop situation, you’ll generally need three to four wipes per dirty diaper change. BUT wet diapers are a totally different story. The AAP attests that you don’t need to use a baby wipe after every diaper change! (Mind-blowing, right?) The reason: Pee that hasn’t been sitting long is rarely irritating to Baby and today’s ultra-absorbent disposable diapers does a fantastic job of limiting the amount of urine your baby’s skin is ever exposed to. Their advice: Save wipes for cleaning up poopy diapers. Also, know that a moist tissue, a wet washcloth—or even a quick tub-rinse all do the same job as a baby wipe.

How are baby diapers sized?

Need breakdown of baby diaper sizes by age and weight? Here’s a handy diaper size and weight chart: 

Diaper size: Preemie
Weight: Less than 6 pounds
Age range: Premature

Diaper size: Newborn
Weight: Up to 10 pounds
Age range: First few weeks only

Diaper size: Size 1
Weight: 
8 to 14 pounds
Age range: Birth to 4 months

Diaper size: Size 2
Weight: 
12 to 18 pounds
Age range: 3 to 8 months

Diaper size: Size 3
Weight: 
16 to 28 pounds
Age range: 5 to 24 months

Diaper size: Size 4
Weight: 
22 to 37 pounds
Age range: 18 to 36 months

Diaper size: Size 5
Weight: 
Over 27 pounds
Age range: Older than 3 years

If your baby’s weight straddles two diaper sizes, it’s often best to size up. (Too-tight diapers can cause chafing and diaper rash.)

How do I know if my baby’s diaper fits?

Unsure if your little one’s diaper fits properly? Check their belly button. A properly fitting diaper should sit just under the navel. When Baby’s diaper is fastened, you should be able to slide two fingers around the diaper’s waistband and your little one’s tummy. The diaper should look straight and proportioned on your baby. Finally, it's a good idea to check the diaper’s leg elastic, making sure that there are no gaps. (Run your finger under the cuff to ensure its laying properly.)

Should I stock up on diapers?

Yes and no. Yes, it’s good to be prepared and have a stash of diapers on hand as soon as your baby makes their arrival. But you don’t want to over buy for a few reasons: You might wind up with 300 diapers that you—or your baby—don't love. (Leaks! Rash! Wrong size!) Or you could have a diaper stash in the wrong size. (Maybe you stocked up on Newborn size diapers, but your 10 pounds barely fits into them.) The best way to stock up:

  • Consider your baby’s weight: Diapers are sized by weight, with newborn diapers being for babies who weigh up to 9 pounds or less. (Preemie diapers are for little ones under 6 pounds.) If your baby is close to the average birth weight in America, which is approximately 7.5 pounds, you can—in theory—stock up on a month’s worth of newborn diapers, which is up to 300 diapers. BUT a couple weeks’ worth might be a smarter move since newborns often gain up to three pounds during their first month. (Huggies, Pampers, and All Good Newborn diapers are sold in packs of up to 128,140, and 100 respectively.)

  • Focus more on Size 1 diapers: It’s a very real possibility that your baby will outgrow those Newborn diapers in just a few weeks—or simply dive right into Size 1 diapers, skipping the Newborn diaper phase entirely. Since Size 1 diapers are for babies 8 to 14 pounds, it’s a wise move to put more of these on your baby registry than Newborn diapers. In general, Size 1 diapers are for babies up to 4 months old. (Huggies, Pampers, and All Good Size 1 diapers are sold in packs of up to 198, 164, and 198 respectively.)

  • Try various brands. After several diaper changes—and maybe some messy diaper leaks—some parents begin to gravitate toward a particular diaper brand. For example, a diaper brand that works like a charm for one baby, might be a tad too big for yours. Because figuring out which diaper is best for your baby can take some trial and error, think about testing a few different brands out before you buy too many.

  • Use your storage! If you have the space to store diapers, it’s helpful to know that for the majority of your bub’s diapering days, they’ll be in Size 3 and Size 4 diapers. Oftentimes, Size 3 diapers can take you from 5 to 25 months (16 to 28 pounds). Meanwhile Size 4 diapers accommodate kiddo’s who are between 18 and 36 months, weighing 22 to 37 pounds.

How often should I change my baby’s diaper?

Dr. Harvey Karp recommends that you change your baby’s diaper roughly every two to three hours—and whenever you notice your little one has pooped. This is important because pee and poo irritate Baby’s sensitive diaper areas and cause diaper rash. Baby poop is especially acidic—especially in the first weeks. And when urine sits too long in a baby’s diaper, it turns into ammonia, which is very irritating.

How often should I change my baby’s overnight diaper?

If your baby is sound asleep, there’s no real need to wake them to change their diaper—unless, of course, their diaper is leaking and making a big, ol mess. If you are offering Baby a dream feed, know that there’s no need to automatically change your baby’s diaper beforehand. But if your baby’s diaper is dirty, change it before feeding.

To help keep Baby dry and diaper rash-free overnight, follow these tips:

  • Use the most absorbent diaper you can find for overnights. Many diaper companies sell overnight diapers made from extra-absorbent materials and leak guards, specifically designed to keep your baby dry for longer stretches of time.

  • Make sure your baby’s diapers (and bodysuits) aren’t too tight, which can cause chafing and rashes.

  • Apply a thick layer of zinc oxide-containing barrier cream to your baby’s rash-prone areas to help prevent diaper rash. Petroleum jelly works well, too. (You don’t have to wash diaper cream off between diaper changes unless it’s gotten poopy. Just layer cream on as needed.)

  • If you’re using cloth diapers, adding doublers or extra inserts to increase absorbency.

More on diapering and baby care:

View more posts tagged, baby care

Have questions about a Happiest Baby product? Our consultants would be happy to help! Connect with us at customercare@happiestbaby.com.

Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.