How Many Diapers Per Day Do You Actually Need! Planning for Your New Baby

Last Updated: January 30, 2024
Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

By Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

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Curious about how many diapers per day you’re going to need? A lot of expecting and new mamas wonder about this because it can really help build an effective diaper stockpile, AND help you work on your baby budget as new parents.

Let’s take an in-depth look at how many diapers you need per day, month, and beyond.

We’re going to cover preemie to size four, and what that looks like in terms of QUANTITY. This will help you know what you need to stock up on or register for so that you’re prepared as a new parent!

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How many diapers do I need?

The quick and not-so-helpful answer to this question is that it’s hard to say! And this is because there is a HUGE range of normal in how many times a day your baby needs to be changed, especially as they grow.

But I’m obviously not going to leave you hanging there. Because there certainly is some degree of standard when it comes to figuring out how many diapers you actually need.

If you wanted to get a fast answer of how many diapers to buy ahead of time, I would recommend stocking up on two giant boxes of diapers for diaper sizes 1-3. These “mega-boxes” usually have 150-200 diapers in them depending on the brand.

Having that in your stockpile should cover your diapering needs in each size, while also ensuring you don’t wind up with TOO many in a size that you don’t get to use them all.

Related Reading: Newborn Baby Check-ups (Months 0 – 4)

How many diapers per day do you need?

Okay so now let’s answer the question “How many diapers do I need in the first year“, with a little more detail so that you can adequately prepare.

First and foremost, if no one has told you yet – full-term newborns stay in the newborn diaper size for a ridiculously short amount of time! In fact, lots of families opt to skip over the newborn size altogether and start right with size one.

Personally, I liked to have a small pack of NB-sized diapers around for the first week or so before diving into my size 1s. Of course the big caveat here is if you do give birth early or baby is especially small.

How do diaper sizes work?

I want to make sure you understand how diaper sizing works. They are entirely based on weight NOT on age. So actually, it’s not even really helpful to match an age to a size in my opinion because there is SUCH a big degree of variation.

Another thing to note is that if your baby is between sizes, or you feel like two sizes work, it’s best to size UP. This will best prevent leakage and blowouts. And the best way to know when it IS time to size up is when leaks and blow-outs start to happen very regularly!

The other key sign is when the diaper tabs no longer fall within the “optimal ranges” which are usually indicated with little vertical lines on the front of the diaper where the tabs go.

How many times to change baby per day

Figuring out how many diapers you’ll need per day depends a lot on how often you should be changing baby’s diaper. Most experts agree that you should change baby’s diaper every 1-3 hours, and/or every time they have a bowel movement.

In the newborn days, this is going to end up being more frequent. This is because it takes a while for babies to consolidate their poops, and newborns can poop 2-5 times per day! Some breastfed babies literally poop at every feed (that’s up to 8-10 times per day!).

To summarize:

  • Newborn to 3 months: You’ll likely change baby’s diaper 8-10 times per day (or slightly more often depending on your unique baby)
  • 3-6 months: During this time frame the number of daytime changes will start to decrease to the 7-8 range. But again, maybe not, especially in exclusively breastfed babies
  • 6+ months: You will fall somewhere in the 5-6 daytime changes range

If your baby currently has a diaper rash, you should change baby more often, but if not, these guidelines are a pretty safe bet. Modern, disposable diapers can absorb a LOT of liquid and keep moisture off of baby’s bottom.

Also, applying a thin layer of Aquaphor at every change can create a barrier that keeps rashes away.

What about diaper changes at night?

As long as your baby doesn’t have a rash, it is okay NOT to change baby’s diaper at night unless they poop. In fact, changing baby’s diaper every time they wake can cause a ton of unnecessary stimulation!

You certainly can change them if you wish, but many pediatricians and other baby experts say it’s fine to leave it unless they poop ?

How do you know when it’s time to change a diaper?

So beyond watching the clock, how do you know when you should change baby’s diaper?

Some diapers come with that little color-changing strip, which is vital if you want to change your baby every time they pee. Sometimes you just can’t tell by touch or sight, but that blue strip is AMAZING for detecting even the slightest moisture. As a mama to a newborn that’s really watching diaper output, this information is so valuable to ensuring baby is actually peeing.

Otherwise, the silica inside of the diaper fluffs up as it absorbs urine, so you can feel a significant bulge in the material after baby pees. A gentle prod or even the process of picking up or holding your baby across the hips is usually enough to know if their diaper is full.

Baby Registry Guide

How many diapers per day: Dialing into the specifics

How many wet diapers for a newborn?

In the very beginning, you can expect your newborn to have as many wet diapers per day as they are days old. In other words, on day one – you can expect one wet diaper, day two – two wet diapers, and so on.

Once baby is one week old you should see 6-8 wet diapers per day, every day. Any wet diaper output lower than that is worth mentioning to your pediatrician to rule out feeding issues or dehydration.

Like I mentioned earlier, it can sometimes be challenging to tell if your baby has peed because modern diapers are so absorbent, and newborn babies pee a very small amount! Those wetness indicator lines are super helpful, but in some cases, the small amount of pee won’t even trigger those.

Some experts recommend putting a small piece of tissue in baby’s diaper because that will surely appear wet if they pee. If output is really a concern, some pediatricians and lactation consultants will even recommend weighing the diaper to see if there is any change in weight due to urine.

How many dirty diapers for a newborn?

Baby’s first poop is called meconium. This is the poop that they make while they are in your uterus. Most newborns pass their meconium in the first 24 hours. Sometimes it’s in one big event, and other times it’s over the course of a few dirty diapers.

It’s important that we see meconium passing in the first 24 hours because it indicated that baby’s bowels and digestive track are functioning well!

After that, there is typically 3-4 days of transitional stools that are a kind of mix of meconium and more typical newborn poop. We expect to see at least one dirty diaper per day in the first week (though more than that is normal too!)

Beyond the first week of life, baby’s poop output can really vary depending on if they are breastfed or formula fed, but also just on their unique system! Poops happening 5+ times per day are not unusual, but neither are poops every 1-3 days. It really just depends!

What about how many newborn diapers do you need?

For newborns you can expect to use 8-10 diapers a day for the first 30 days, bringing us to roughly 240 DIAPERS during baby’s first month!

To be clear, that’s not to say that you’ll use 240 of the newborn diaper size. Remember, diaper sizes are based on baby’s weight. This is why I recommend only getting a small amount of the newborn size, but stocking up more in sizes 1 and 2.

How many diapers does a baby use by size

I wish I could show you a “how many diapers does a baby use by age” chart because a lot of parents would love that info. But it’s really just not possible!

This is because age and weight don’t correspond perfectly for all babies (or even for a majority of babies) The range of normal is just too great. Think about it, babies are born anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs – that’s a huge range!

What we CAN do is look at how many diapers a baby needs by WEIGHT. That’s an easier comparison to make, and it is totally how your diaper manufacturer produces and markets their product.

Per Huggies, here’s how size compares to weight according to their diaper size chart.

Diaper size to weight

Diaper SizeBaby Weight
PremieUp to 6 lbs
NewbornUp to 10 lbs
Size 18 – 14 lbs
Size 212 – 18 lbs
Size 316 – 28 lbs
Size 422 – 37 lbs

Luckily, babies certainly do follow averages some of the time. Once your little one is on the scale, which will happen at every wellness check, you’ll have a better idea of how soon you’ll need to start stocking up on that next size up.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m looking at it through the lens of median averages and in the same manner that your doctor will read out on baby’s weight.

This is called the percentile, which compares your baby at any given time to the averages of other babies at the same age.

Here’s what age to weight looks like at the median (middle), according to the CDC:

Weight to age median number

AgeBaby BoysBaby Girls
Birth (0 months)7.8 lbs. (3.5 kg)7.5 lbs. (3.4 kg)
2 weeks (0.5 months)8.8 lbs. (4.0 kg)8.4 lbs. (3.8 kg)
6 weeks (1.5 months)10.8 lbs. (4.9 kg)9.9 lbs. (4.5 kg)
10 weeks (2.5 months)12.6 lbs. (5.7 kg)11.5 lbs. (5.2 kg)
14 weeks (3.5 months)14.1 lbs. (6.4 kg)13 lbs. (5.9 kg)
18 weeks (4.5 months)15.4 lbs. (7.0 kg)14.1 lbs. (6.4 kg)
22 weeks (5.5 months)16.8 lbs. (7.6 kg)15.4 lbs. (7.0 kg)
26 weeks (6.5 months)18 lbs. (8.2 kg)16.5 lbs. (7.5 kg)
30 weeks (7.5 months)19 lbs. (8.6 kg)17.4 lbs. (7.9 kg)
34 weeks (8.5 months)20.1 lbs. (9.1 kg)18.3 lbs. (8.3 kg)
38 weeks (9.5 months)20.9 lbs. (9.5 kg)19.2 lbs. (8.7 kg)
42 weeks (10.5 months)21.6 lbs. (9.8 kg)19.8 lbs. (9.0 kg)
46 weeks (11.5 months)22.5 lbs. (10.2 kg)20.7 lbs. (9.4 kg)
50 weeks (12.5 months)23.1 lbs. (10.5 kg)21.4 lbs. (9.7 kg)

So how can I put this knowledge to use?

Well, most resources agree that babies use an average of 2500 diapers in their first year of life. And if you look at the median age to weight ranges listed above, we can kind of start to figure out how long babies are typically in each size.

According to BabyList:

  • Babies are in Size 1 diapers for 2-3 months
  • Babies are in Size 2 diapers for 3 months
  • Babies are in Size 3 diapers for 6+ months

Keeping that info in mind, they recommend registering for

  • 4 boxes of Size 1 diapers
  • 5 boxes of Size 2 diapers
  • 8 boxes of Size 3 diapers

Note: This goes against my earlier recommendation of just registering for 2 boxes in each size. My personal opinion is to err on the side of caution and estimate lower to reduce waste, and also just in case you wind up disliking the brand you chose!

Stocking up on diapers

So what’s a mama to do? How can we ever survive the diaper-buying process? Well, there’s great news here! You have plenty of options when it comes to accessing discounts and services to get diapers at a DISCOUNT. Woop woop.

One of my personal favorites is plain old Amazon! If you have Prime you’re set for a nice discount on almost every diaper you can find.

I also always recommend that mamas register for some diapers (I know I’ve mentioned this a few times here already). And if you don’t want to commit to a certain brand, you can always register for a diaper fund which is becoming more and more common!

I’ve also been hearing about a trend that’s known as daddy diaper parties (which certainly could just be called a diaper party, no need for it to have to be “daddy” themed). The idea is that partners celebrate baby’s upcoming birth in their own way, and guests all bring diapers!

Sounds kind of awesome if you ask me?

Diaper questions answered!

Well mama, hopefully, you’re feeling a little more sure of just how many diapers you’re going to need in baby’s first year of life. It’s not something we can answer with absolute certainty but this overview should really help.

If you are currently pregnant and working through how many diapers you need, I’m guessing you’re in registry mode! Be sure to check out these other articles that might help:

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Liesel Teen, RN-BSN

Liesel Teen

BSN, RN, Practicing Labor and Delivery Nurse

As a labor and delivery nurse, I’ve spent countless hours with women who felt anxious — even fearful — about giving birth. I want you to know it doesn’t have to be that way for you!

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