To paraphrase the idiom, what goes in must come out! In the first year of your baby’s life, he or she will make huge developmental leaps, but for a while, it will feel like all your baby does is eat, sleep, and go through lots of messy diapers.
How many, you say? Let’s dive right in.
For the first few days, babies may go through fewer diapers than you’d think. Doctors and nurses look for about one wet and dirty diaper per day of life, so one properly wet diaper by 12 to 24 hours old, two diapers on day 2, and 3-5 wet and dirty diapers on the corresponding days.
After this, though, 6-10 diaper changes will be part of your daily routine in the early months! Fewer than six heavily wet diapers could be a sign that the baby isn’t eating enough, so try to see diaper changes as a positive sign that your baby is growing!
Eight or so diapers per day, multiplied by 85 days, plus the diapers from the first 5 newborn days, comes to roughly 700 diapers for the first 3 months.
Baby’s First Year
As babies grow, they space out feedings more, going from 8-12 feedings per day to maybe 6-8. Of course, many babies nurse for comfort, so expect to spend a lot of time feeding throughout the first year.
Diapers work much the same way. Your baby will gradually move down from roughly eight diapers per day to possibly as low as five. If your baby tends to eat larger amounts and space out soiling a diaper, you might have fewer diaper changes. A baby who likes to nurse lightly throughout the day, or is especially sensitive to feeling wet or dirty, may go through more diapers.
Overall, you can probably expect to go through something like 1,600-2,000 diapers over the rest of your baby’s first year, bringing the grand total to roughly 2,300-2,700 or more!
What About Cloth Diapers?
Both for cost and environmental reasons, some parents prefer to use washable cloth diapers for their babies. You’ll want to have a few days’ worth on hand so you don’t run out if you didn’t have time to run laundry one day.
Plan on having about 24 cloth diapers in newborn size, and at least 14, but probably more like 20 diapers in a larger baby size as well.
Should I Stockpile Diapers?
Some parents like to get ahead of the curve and buy boxes in advance to get them through the year. This approach has its pros and cons. Diapers add up in your budget, so it makes sense to look for sales when you can and buy in bulk, which typically lowers the per-diaper price.
On the other hand, you don’t always know how fast your baby will grow out of each size, which can lead to waste. If a brand you thought you’d like turns out to leak, or your baby is allergic to a brand you stockpiled, that could also force you to start over.
Starting out with at least one large box of newborn diapers and one large box of the next size up will ensure you’ve got a decent stash to start you off when you’re home from the hospital or birthing center, without risking too much waste if the brand doesn’t work out for whatever reason. Once you get a sense of which brands work well and how fast your baby is growing, you may be better at predicting how many diapers you’ll need and can take advantage of sales to keep diaper costs down.
As they say, poop happens. Getting a sense of how many diaper changes you’re in for can make it easier to deal when the blowout hits the fan.