How Often Should You Change a Baby's Diaper?

New to parenthood? We can help. Here's how often you should change your baby's diaper.

Here's the final word on how often you should change a baby's diaper

If you’re a new parent, figuring out how often to change your baby’s diaper can be a challenge. The best diapers will help to keep your little one dry and rash free, staying in place for hours at a time. However, it’s always best to change your baby’s diaper as often as needed, as keeping a wet or messy diaper next to your baby’s skin for too long can lead to diaper rash.

Changing your child’s diaper has quite a bit to do with how old they are and how frequently they are urinating. Here’s a guide to how often you should change a baby’s diaper.

Newborn Diaper Changes

Newborns urinate approximately 20 times per day, which means that you should be changing your newborn's diaper every two to three hours at best. You don’t need to wake a sleeping newborn to change his or her diaper, but if the newborn is awake, doing a diaper change as soon as you realize it’s wet is ideal.

It’s especially important to be aware of when your newborn is defecating and to change their diaper as soon as possible afterwards. The reason for this is that bowel movements can irritate a baby’s skin. In the case of baby girls, if not cleaned up right away, the child is even susceptible to bladder infections.

Additionally, parents will want to change out a dirty diaper as soon as possible for the sake of doing less cleaning in the future. Dirty diapers are more likely to leak if left on for long periods of time, potentially dirtying your baby’s sheets, blankets, and clothes.

Cloth Diapers

If you’re using cloth diapers instead of disposables, you need to be changing them even more frequently than disposable diapers. Data has shown that newborns go through approximately 20 to 24 cloth diapers per day. On average, cloth diapers should be changed every 90 minutes.

Nighttime Diaper Changes

While changing a diaper during the day is fairly simple, you might be wondering how often you should be changing your little one’s diaper throughout the night. After all, sleep is important for both you and your baby, especially when you’ve just brought home a newborn and want to make use of every minute of shut-eye that’s possible.

Fortunately, in most cases you can let your little one sleep with a wet or dirty diaper. The best diapers will absorb your child’s urine, helping to make the diaper more comfortable for him or her while sleeping. Unless your child’s diaper is extremely wet or containing a large and messy poop, you can let them sleep.

The fact of the matter is, if a baby’s diaper is so wet or dirty that it’s time to change it, your child is likely already awake because of it. If your baby is sleeping peacefully, you can wait until your child wakes up on his or her own, or when you decide to wake him or her up for a feeding.

If you decide that your child’s diaper is too messy and that you need to make a diaper change while your child is still sleeping, you can apply some small techniques to help get the old diaper off and the new diaper on without completely disrupting your baby’s sleep.

When changing your baby’s diaper in the middle of the night, enter the room quietly and keep the lights off. Remember, just how light and stimulation make it hard for adults to get back to sleep, the same is true for babies. If it’s too difficult to change your little one’s diaper in the complete dark, installing some dimmer lights could be useful. Using a wipe warmer to keep your baby wipes warm can also be smart, as cold wipes might wake your baby up even more because of their chilly feel.

Do your best to change your baby’s diaper as calmly as possible. You may want to avoid looking into your little one’s eyes, as that could excite him or her. Instead, change the diaper in a matter-of-fact way, being gentle and quiet. Once you’ve changed your baby’s diaper, put him or her immediately back to bed.

Baby Diaper Changes

Once your child is out of the newborn stage, chances are that you’ll have developed a routine for changing his or her diapers. The older your baby gets, the less often you’ll have to do diaper changes, and by the time your little one is snacking on actual foods, you’ll likely be able to expect when your baby’s next diaper change will need to be.

Similar to newborns, you never want to leave a wet or messy diaper on your child for too long, as this can lead to rashes, infections, and irritations. The golden rule for changing diapers is a simple one: if it’s dirty, change it.

Resources— Romper, Nightlight by Nanit