How often you change baby’s diaper seems straightforward: when the diaper is soiled, you change it!
At least, I thought it was that simple. Only recently did I learn babies don’t always need to have their diaper changed immediately after they go. Why? Because disposable diapers are SO absorbent that baby hardly feels any discomfort from going number one.
So how often should you change diapers? We’ll break it down below.
How Often Should You Change Disposable Diapers?
As a general rule, diapers should be checked every 1.5-2 hours. You shouldn’t let baby sit in a soiled diaper for hours on end. Even though they’re super absorbent, disposable diapers can cause diaper rash and even urinary tract infections.
During the Day
If baby has peed, change the diaper promptly unless baby is napping, in which case you can probably wait until she wakes up (see the During the Night section below).
If baby has peed a LOT, change the diaper promptly. You should be able to tell if baby has peed a lot using the “pinch” test: if the diaper is much bigger and squishier than when you first put it on, it’s time to change it.
One tip from a mom at What to Expect: if baby gets used to wearing wet diapers, you might have a harder time potty training!
If baby has pooped, change the diaper promptly. Feces are more irritating than urine, which means a poopy diaper can cause diaper rash to develop more quickly.
During the Night
How often should you change your newborn’s diaper at night? Give yourself a little wiggle room, mama. According to Nanit, if your newborn is sleeping and they’ve only lightly soiled their diaper (ie: peed a little), you can probably let them sleep. Sleep is tough to come by with a little one, and if the diaper is only lightly soiled, their bottom shouldn’t develop a rash.
You can help further prevent a rash from developing by applying diaper cream as part of baby’s nightly routine. Mayo Clinic suggests staples such as petroleum jelly and zinc oxide.
If however the diaper is heavily soiled or baby has pooped, change the diaper. Sleep isn’t worth your little one developing diaper rash (even if it might feel that way at 2am).
How Often Should You Change Cloth Diapers?
If you’re cloth diapering, you won’t want to wait long before changing that diaper. Cloth diapers are not as absorbent as their disposable counterparts, meaning baby will feel discomfort faster and be more likely to develop a mean diaper rash if that diaper stays on too long.
A good rule of thumb for newborns is to change cloth diapers every two hours. For older babies, you may be able to wait as long as four hours since they have fewer urine and bowel movements than newborns.
Babies need clean diapers so they don’t develop diaper rash. If families don’t have access to enough clean diapers, other health problems can occur, too. They include:
- Urinary tract infections
- Social, emotional, and behavioral problems in children whose parents manifest high levels of stress or depression caused by diaper need.
Diaper need is a serious problem in the world. In the United States alone, one in three families experience diaper need. Diapers can’t be purchased through SNAP or WIC credits, and most daycares require parents to provide their child’s own daily supply of diapers. Parents must take the day off work if they can’t provide diapers to daycare, resulting in less pay and greater stress.
Aware of the need for clean diapers for all babies, Pluie is donating diapers for every changing table sold. Learn more about how you can do your part to eliminate diaper need by visiting the National Diaper Bank Network.