How Long Do Babies Wear Diapers?

Keeping Baby Clean and Dry

The cost of diapers is one of the biggest sticker shocks new parents experience, so it's understandable that you'd like to get your money's worth out of each one. Wrestling your baby into a too-small diaper because you bought them in bulk, though? That's unpleasant for everyone. Not all babies move through the diaper stage at the same pace. When it comes to determining whether your baby is ready for a new size—or ready to leave diapers behind forever—you're the expert.

The Daily Diaper

Mother changing baby diaper

How to Know When It Is Time to Go Up a Size in Diapers

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Babies need their diapers changed less frequently as they get older. A newborn may need 10 diaper changes or more per day, while a toddler may go through just five or so diapers. As long as your child has several wet diapers and about one bowel movement per day, and he seems to have a good appetite and steadily put on weight, don't worry too much about tracking the numbers.

You'll come to anticipate your baby's diaper needs as his eating and sleeping routines solidify. It's typical for a baby to need a diaper change when he wakes up from sleep and 30 to 60 minutes after eating. Disposable diapers feel full and squishy when they're wet, so you can usually check baby's diaper through his clothes. Cloth diapers aren't as easy to assess, especially when they're covered by thick diaper covers. Make a habit to check his diaper every two hours.

Diaper Sizing

Disposable diaper sizes are determined by a baby's weight. Most babies grow out of small sizes fairly quickly but can wear larger sizes for many months. Size 1 diapers may fit a baby who weighs anywhere from 8 to 14 pounds, and your infant may outgrow those by her third month. By contrast, she may fit comfortably into size 3 diapers for nine months or a year.

You'll know it's time to go up a size when her current diapers fit tightly with little room to adjust the tabs. You may also see red marks around her waist and thighs from a diaper that fits too tightly.

Some cloth diapers come in different sizes based on weight too. Others are one-size-fits-all and just need to be folded differently as your baby grows.

So Long, Diapers

Mother changing baby diaper

How Long Are Babies in Newborn Diapers?

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If you're like many parents, you long for the days when your child can handle his own toilet needs and you can stop buying expensive diapers. It's impossible to predict exactly when that will happen, because potty training is only successful when your child is physically and emotionally ready to leave diapers behind.

Some kids are ready to start at as young as 18 months old, while others aren't ready until they're 3 or 4. Once he shows interest in using the toilet and he's able to push his pants and diaper down on his own, he's probably ready to start the process. You can provide a small potty, read books about using the toilet, help him pick out underwear and give him reminders about using the potty after meals.

Kids who are fully potty-trained by day may still need to wear diapers at night until they're 5 or so. You'll know your child is ready to be completely diaper-free when he wakes up with a dry diaper most mornings.