How Many Diapers Do I Need for the First Year?

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When preparing to have a baby, it’s normal for parents to coo over colorful romper suits and spend hours shopping for the perfect crib. However, as anybody who’s had a child will understand, even the best-laid plans go out the window when you’re faced with a feeding, vomiting, pooping machine. Trust us, in those first few months, the biggest question on your mind will be: how many diapers do babies use a day?

We’ll give you a hint. It’s more than you think.

In this article, we take a closer look at newborn diapers. How many diapers are you likely to need? How many diapers should you buy in advance of the birth? How many diapers should you expect to use in your baby’s first year? These questions are every bit as important as finding the perfect fancy Moses basket. So let’s dive in and learn together.

How Many Newborn Diapers Do I Need?

The newborn stage starts at birth and ends at three months (though not all babies grow as quickly as others).

If you get to three months and your little one is too small for larger infant diapers, don’t worry. Some babies will grow out of newborn diapers sooner and others will require them for longer.

The average newborn baby goes through 8 to 10 diapers every day. This adds up to (approximately) 700 diapers in the first three months or ‘newborn stage’. It sounds like a lot because it is. At this stage of development, your baby’s bladder is extremely small and he’ll need to pee every 2 to 3 hours.

The good news is, after six months, the bladder starts to grow and it’s normal to drop to an average of 5 to 6 diapers per day.

How Many Diapers Does a Baby Use In One Year? 

If you want to be extra prepared, it’s useful to know how many diapers a typical baby goes through in its first year.

The average is about 2,2000 diapers.

Sure, cribs and mobiles are important but our advice for expectant parents is to start stockpiling diapers.

If it’s appropriate, put them on your registry. Ask friends and family to swap teddies and toys for packs of preparatory diapers. You’ll be glad you did.

Preparing for Babies with Diapers: Advice On Stockpiling Before Your Newborn Arrives

Here are some easy ways to start stockpiling diapers before your baby’s arrival and avoid wasting money on products you won’t use:

1 – Don’t Stock Up on Newborn Diapers 

Yes, newborn babies go through a horrifying amount of diapers. But most don’t fit in newborn sizes for very long. It’s important to stockpile the right diaper baby size otherwise you’ll waste money on items you don’t need.

Generally speaking, babies fit into newborn diapers until they’re about 9lbs. But they can increase in weight by 3lbs during the first month alone. So you won’t need as many newborn-sized diapers as you think. A maximum of 240 newborn diapers (or the equivalent of two large packs) is about right.

Our advice is to focus on the larger sizes when asking family and friends for help with stockpiling. Newborn-sized diapers are the most commonly gifted but the most likely to be wasted. They don’t fit for long and maternity wards send new parents home with armfuls of these things. Ask generous relatives for larger sizes because your newborn might grow into bigger diapers within weeks.

Remember, diaper sizes are not based on the age of a child. They’re based on weight.

Here are some guidelines:

  • Premature: Up to 5 lbs
  • Newborn: Up to 9 lbs
  • Size 1: 8 – 14 lbs
  • Size 2: 12 – 18 lbs
  • Size 3: 16 – 28 lbs
  • Size 4: 22-37 lbs

2 – Plan for a Whole Year of Diaper Changes

It’s not as exciting as browsing for cute nursery decorations but planning for the first year of diaper changes will make a huge difference to how prepared you feel. Go light on newborn diapers and make the bulk of your stockpile diapers in sizes 1 and 2 (to fit baby up to a maximum weight of 18lbs).

If you’ve got the money and storage space, add some size 3 diapers and your stockpile will cover you until your child’s first birthday. Here’s a rough guide to how many diapers per size you’re likely to need in the first year:

Newborn Size: 1 to 2 packs (based on a 128 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for one month or less (8 changes per day)

Size 1: 4 to 5 packs (based on a 168 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for 3 months (6-9 changes per day)

Size 2: 5 packs (based on a 148 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for 3 months (6-9 changes per day)

Size 3: 8 packs (based on a 136 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size until potty training (5-7 changes per day)

3 – Prepare for a Boy to Size Up Faster 

Typically, male babies grow faster than females so it’s normal for a baby boy to size up and need bigger diapers sooner than a girl. This isn’t a rule. Babies come in many shapes and sizes regardless of gender. However, it’s a good idea to play it safe with a boy child and stockpile plenty of larger sizes.

According to pediatricians, the average boy grows into Size 1 diapers at a month old. The average girl sizes up after about six weeks. Similarly, the average baby boy needs Size 2 diapers at 3 to 4 months and the average baby girl at 4 to 5 months.

It’s worth noting boys tend to need more diaper changes than girls and are more prone to peeing during diaper changes. Watch out for that. A neat trick to prevent diapers from being soiled before you’ve finished a change is to gently wrap the baby in a soft cloth until you’re at the point of no return. That way, any unexpected liquids get absorbed by the cloth and not that brand new not-even-fastened-yet diaper.

4 – Know That Bags of Diapers Are Smaller Than Boxes

Always read product descriptions carefully to get the most out of your money. Not all diaper products contain the same amounts. Typically, diapers sold in bags contain fewer diapers than those sold in boxes or large packs.

Because you don’t need as many as you think, it can be helpful to order newborn diapers in bags. With other sizes though, we recommend you stick with packs and/or boxes as the cost per diaper will be lower.

Here’s an example of how this works:

One bag of Size 3 Huggies Little Snugglers (x 26) costs $.34 per diaper

One box of Size 3 Huggies Little Snugglers (x 124) costs $.29 per diaper

It’s worth looking into online subscription services if you’re keen to save money on diapers. Amazon is the most well-known retailer to offer a price cut when diapers are purchased on a subscribe-and-save plan.

How Many Diapers Do I Need If I’m Using Cloth Diapers?

Reusable cloth diapers are much better for the environment and your wallet. They’re not the right choice for everybody so we cast no judgments on parents who don’t go the eco-friendly route. Parenting a newborn is hard enough without adding extra laundry.

However, if you are interested in reusable diapers, you still need to think about how many diapers in the first year are necessary. Be realistic. If you’ll struggle to wash the dirty diapers every day, we recommend a minimum of 24. If you’re willing to wash them every day, you can probably get away with as few as 14 cloth diapers. But then, you’re messing up your eco-credentials a little by running your appliances so frequently. Somewhere in the middle is about right so make the decision based on your family’s routines.

You don’t have to stick to one type of diaper or the other, of course. Some parents use cloth diapers during the newborn stage and then switch to disposables once the number of daily changes has decreased.

Frequently Asked Questions About Diaper Stockpiling

Q – Is it really necessary to build a diaper stockpile? 

A – There’s no obligation to be this prepared. There might be other items you’d prefer to focus on instead. Our advice is to spend at least a little bit of time and money building a diaper stockpile before the baby arrives. Here are some of the reasons we think it’s worth the effort:

  • You’ll have more money before the baby arrives. It’s smart to stock up on essentials before your financial circumstances change.
  • If you’re pre-purchasing diapers before the baby arrives, you can take advantage of deals and discounts. Start stockpiling early enough and you can wait for seasonal offers to come around.
  • You may not be able to shop for supplies quite as easily once the baby arrives. Stockpiling covers you for all eventualities. Maybe you have a difficult birth and can’t face leaving the house for a month. If you’re prepared, you’ll have plenty of diapers to hand already.
  • You can ask friends, relatives, and colleagues to contribute to your stockpile with pre-birth registries and baby showers. This is a prime gifting period and most people would prefer expectant parents to get what they truly need.

Q – How many diapers do you need if you’re stockpiling enough for a year?

A – Newborn Size: 1 to 2 packs (based on a 128 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for one month or less (8 changes per day)

Size 1: 4 to 5 packs (based on a 168 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for 3 months (6-9 changes per day)

Size 2: 5 packs (based on a 148 pack size) 

  • Most infants fit this diaper size for 3 months (6-9 changes per day)

Size 3: 8 packs (based on a 136 pack size)

  • Most infants fit this diaper size until potty training (5-7 changes per day)

Q – How much money should reasonably you expect to spend on diapers? 

A – It’s difficult to estimate the average cost of a years’ worth of diapers because of all the varying factors we’ve discussed. It depends on how many diapers your baby goes through, where you source your diapers from and whether you mix and match different brands. Lots of different factors influence cost so the following figure is advisory only:

The average diaper costs between $0.20 and $0.30. Assuming a baby uses 2,500 to 3,000 diapers in their first year, expect to spend between $500 and $900. This doesn’t include the added cost of other supplies such as wipes and anti-rash lotions.

Conclusion

Stockpiling smarts aside, it’s important you feel comfortable and happy with your newborn’s diapering routine. Preparing for a child can be extremely daunting so don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Look to the mothers in your life for advice and reassurance. Join a moms’ group and ask them how many diapers their newborn goes through in a single day. There are so many fantastic sources of information out there. Be bold. Be curious. Be ready.

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