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Here is the poop: Babies go through a lot of wet and soiled diapers during those first few weeks.
To prepare for this phenomenon, most parents build a stockpile of diapers before baby arrives. This can be an overwhelming task for both seasoned and first-time parents, and there are many factors to consider when stocking up, such as baby’s weight, diaper fit, and finances.
It’s easy to get carried away while shopping for baby in pure pregnant bliss. But understanding what baby will actually need, versus purchasing a room-full of newborn diapers at the first sight of a sale, is essential.
You may be wondering: Should you add diapers to your registry, or purchase them yourself? How quickly do babies outgrow the smallest diaper size? What if you decide one style is better than another and experience stockpiler’s remorse? How many newborn diapers do you actually need? Should you stock up on larger diapers as well?
To discover the answers and more, read on.
Hopefully, you’ve already made the decisive disposable or cloth diaper choice. If you haven’t, you’ll need to plan for this. You simply cannot stockpile what you haven’t yet decided you’ll use.
Parents who chose to use disposable diapers quickly understand how a baby can go through about 3,000 disposables in their first year alone. Experienced parents may already have loyalty to one brand, but for first-time parents, the many options are eye-opening.
People will often give the gift of newborn diapers at baby showers, though most newborns gain about 3 pounds during the first month and babies born with a higher birth weight tend to skip this diaper size altogether.
Remember: You can register for different sizes, but make sure you have enough storage space to accommodate them. If your free space is limited, don’t stock up on more than two sizes at once, or ask for gift cards instead.
To stock up on disposable diapers, you can use the following chart as a guide. Keep in mind that all babies are different, and these numbers are just an estimate to help you prepare.
|DIAPER SIZE||WEIGHT||AGE RANGE||DAILY USE||HOW MANY|
|Preemie||< 6 lbs.||premature||As needed||As needed|
|Newborn||Up to 10 lbs.||first few weeks only||8–12 diapers per day||2–3 packs or|
1–2 boxes (based on 140 per box)
|Size 1||8–14 lbs.||birth–4 months||8–10 diapers per day||13 packs (about 40/pack) or 3–4 boxes (based on 164 per box)|
|Size 2||12–18 lbs.||3–8 months||8–9 diapers per day||About 15 packs (about 37/pack) or 4 boxes (based on 142 per box)|
|Size 3||16–28 lbs.||5–24 months||6–7 per day||27 packs (about 36/pack) or 7 boxes (based on 136 per box)|
|Size 4||22–37 lbs.||18–36 months||5–7 per day||17 packs (about 23/pack)|
|Size 5||> 27 lbs.||Older than 3 years||As needed||As needed|
|Size 6||> 35 lbs||Older than 4 years||As needed||As needed|
You can always start small. Try stockpiling no larger than size 1, just in case you don’t like the first brand you try.
Once you get a feel for fit, cost, brand, and size, go ahead and purchase more — up to an entire year’s worth or more of diapers. Keep in mind your own baby’s weight and rate of gain when planning. Never pay full price for diapers unless it’s an emergency (more on saving on diapers below).
Keep in mind that different brands may work better or worse for different babies, so be open to trying a few different diapers before you decide on the right ones for you. Sometimes a diaper that costs a little more is a better fit and works better, making it worth the extra money.
Frequency of changes
You should change your baby’s diaper every time they urinate or have a bowel movement, or at least every 2 to 3 hours.
About 8 percent of parents report changing diapers less frequently to make their supply last longer, according to a 2013 survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, making those last few diapers last just a little longer can ultimately lead to diaper rashes and yeast infections.
If your baby’s weight overlaps two different diaper sizes, it’s generally best to go with the larger size diaper.
You’ll know it’s time for a larger size when you see baby’s skin is irritated, red, or marked due to the elastic leg openings digging into baby’s legs or waist and/or it becomes difficult to close the diaper over the stomach.
Ideally, two fingers should fit between the diaper waistband and baby’s stomach and one finger between baby’s leg and the diaper’s leg elastic. The top of the diaper’s waistband should be at least two inches below baby’s belly button. Diapers that sit too low on baby’s back will be more prone to “blowouts.”
Another indicator that a larger size is needed is leaking diapers. If the diaper can’t contain the moisture between changes your little one might be ready for the next size up.
Parents who chose the cloth diapering method should have at least 20 newborn diapers on hand. It may sound excessive and expensive (albeit, a one-and-done expense), but we promise it’s a reasonable number to stockpile.
One of the bonus features of cloth diapers is that many styles that fit newborns will also be adjustable to fit your baby as they grow — even up through the potty training years.
You should wash no more than 12 to 18 cloth diapers at a time. Some families have as many as 24, or as few as 14 cloth diapers in each size, depending on the amount of laundering they are prepared and willing to do.
There are also parents who ultimately use cloth diapers yet choose to use disposable diapers for the first month, due to the heightened number of diaper changes during that time, or for on-the-go or babysitter backup.
It’s mind-boggling to see the numbers, realizing you’ll probably buy more than 100 ginormous disposable diaper packs. A one-week supply of diapers can cost around $20, and 3,000 first-year diapers at an average of $.35 per diaper (or $.25 cents per diaper if you buy in bulk) adds up.
Based on diaper costs and daily changes, the average family spends around $1,000 in the first year on disposable diapers and supplies. Alternatively, the total cost for a stock of cloth diapers could run around $500 to $800, although there are more expensive styles and investments in laundering and other supplies.
Lest we forget, you’ll also be purchasing the diaper wipes, diaper creams, and all the other diapering accoutrements you deem essential no matter which type of diapers you use.
Exactly how many wipes will you need per diaper change? That depends. A single change may take as few as 1 or as many as 10 wipes.
If we average it out to five wipes per change (generously speaking) and consider 3,000 diapers changed in the first year, you’re looking at about 15,000 total wipes. If there are 100 wipes in a package, you’ll purchase about 150 packs of wipes before your baby is potty trained. If one package is about $3, that’s $450 total, so buying in bulk may be a great way to cut costs.
If you have the space to stockpile wipes, go for it. Otherwise, you should always have at least two to three extra packs of wipes on hand. You will always find uses for wipes, even long after your diapering days. Nowadays, you may even want to consider a bigger stockpile of wipes in case of natural disasters and emergencies.
Alternatively, you can opt for reusable wipes, which can be used with water or a cleansing spray designed for diaper changing, and may cut down on costs.
Fortunately there are ways to save some money when you’re buying diapers. Sometimes you’ll even be able to combine a few of the below suggestions.
Keep in mind that buying larger package sizes generally means lower costs per diaper, but buying smaller packs may allow you to use more coupons. If your little one is solidly within a size range, purchasing the largest package you can splurge on can be a wise investment.
- Coupons. In addition to newspaper and postal advertisements, pay attention to online website ads, emails from parenting websites, social media ads, and websites like coupons.com and freebies2deals.com.
- Cash back apps. These rebates are often used in addition to coupons.
- Sales. Buy extra in advance when there is a good sale on diapers at the local convenience or grocery store. The best deals on diapers and wipes are often found at drugstores, like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, with programs giving additional discounts when certain items are purchased.
- Subscribe and save. Retailers like Amazon have subscribe-and-save options, deliver diapers on a regular schedule, and offer free trials.
- Clubs and rewards programs. Check out retailers like Sam’s Club or Costco for shopping in bulk or receiving cash back on other in-store products and look at the individual programs offered by each brand, like Pampers Rewards and Honest Bundles.
- Diaper banks. The National Diaper Bank Network, a nonprofit organization, has diaper banks across the United States and provides diapers to families who can’t afford them. To find a diaper bank near you, visit the website. If there isn’t a diaper bank near you, local religious and social service organizations often help families in need.
All babies are different. When deciding which type of diaper and how many to purchase, ask other parents in your life which brands they prefer and why.
Whether you use disposable or cloth diapers, no matter diaper size or brand, having a smart stockpile on hand can save you money and stress and help you feel more at ease and prepared for your baby’s arrival.