How Often Should You Change Diapers?

How often you change baby’s diaper seems straightforward: you change it when the diaper is soiled!

We used to think it was that simple too, only recently learning that babies don’t necessarily need to have their diaper changed immediately after they go every time. The reason is fairly straight forward: because technological advances have made disposable diapers SO absorbent that your baby will hardly feel any discomfort – at least from going number one.

So how often should you change diapers? Let’s break it down below.

How Often Should You Change Disposable Diapers?

As a general rule, diapers should be checked every 1.5-2 hours. While you may choose to not change your baby’s diaper immediately upon being soiled, you also shouldn’t let baby sit in a soiled diaper for hours on end. Even though they’re super absorbent, disposable diapers can still 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 become too irritated or develop a rash.

You can help further prevent a rash 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, you really should 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 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.

Advice shared on this blog cannot substitute the guidance of a doctor or healthcare provider.