How Many Diapers Does a Baby Use in a Year?

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
January 14, 2021

The first few years of a baby’s life see them go through a lot of diapers. As a parent, you probably think these years are nothing but 24-hour diaper changing marathons. Every infant is different, but they all create little surprises in their diapers that someone must deal with, and diaper changes may offer some clues to your baby’s health. So, how many diapers does a baby use in a year?

Diaper Math

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Keeping in mind that every baby is different, a baby should soil and wet their diaper around ten times each day on average. Some babies may mess up 12 diapers each day while others only need about eight diaper changes per day. The math is pretty simple after that; 10 diaper changes per day for 365 days equals 3,650 diapers. This is the reason your baby’s first year feels like non-stop diaper changes.

If your baby goes a little more frequently each day, you might be looking at changing more than 4,000 diapers during their first year. That said, we have some good news as well; babies tend to go less frequently once they reach four to six months of age. You may see a ten percent drop in diapers changes as they get older every four months. However, plan to change at least 3,000 diapers during their first year.

Most babies get ready for potty training between the ages of 18 to 24 months. However, some kids have trouble coming to terms with it and may not get fully trained until they reach three years of age. For now, let's assume your baby will get fully potty trained by their second birthday. That means by the time they see two candles on their cake you’ve changed around 6,000 diapers.

The good news is that most kids can change a wet diaper on their own before their second birthday which reduces the number you must change for them. If you can answer yes to most of the following questions, your child may be ready for potty training:

  • Can they tell you they need a diaper change?
  • Can the child keep their diaper clean for a couple of hours?
  • Can your child walk well?
  • Can they get their clothes out of the way to potty?

If the child can do most of these things, you can start potty training them. Don’t push them to use the toilet until after their second birthday. That said, if you can answer most of our questions and your child is only 18 months old, potty training them may save you from 1,000 or so diaper changes. Talk to your pediatrician and find out what they recommend if you have trouble potty training them early.

How Much Will I Spend on Diapers for the First Year?

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You may not want to know the answer to this question. If you need to change your baby’s diaper ten times each day for a year, the total is over a grand. That’s a pretty good reason to check for coupons online or in your local newspapers. If you have twins or triplets, diapering fees can get out of hand quickly.

Hopefully, between baby showers and friends you have a stockpile or diapers for your baby. Ask people to make diapers part of their baby shower gifts. We all love the cute bibs and outfits that show up at every baby shower, but it’s much cheaper to buy those things yourself. Build a checklist of things your baby will need and use it as a hint for your friends. 

Now that you see what diapers may run you each year, it may seem like a good idea to let a wet diaper linger every so often, but it’s not a good idea. See the section below on wet diapers to learn why you need to change diapers when they damp or poop in them. The next section outlines some ways that diaper changes and the stuff in the diaper can give you clues about your child’s health.

Diaper Changes and Your Baby’s Health

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It’s not uncommon for some babies to go a day or even three days without pooping. If they continue to eat and gain weight, there’s no reason to worry about these gaps. However, they should still wet their diaper several times each day. If your baby stops eating regularly or stops wetting their diaper, it’s time for a visit to their pediatrician.

Breastfed babies and formula fed babies have different types of poop. Breastfed babies tend to have yellow poop while formula-fed babies may have tan, yellow, or even green poop. Breastfed babies may poop several times each day while formula-fed babies may only go once per day. Talk to their doctor if you see other colors or anything else strange in their poop. Yes, you have to check it.

If you suddenly find that your baby needs fewer or more frequent diaper changes, pay closer attention to what’s in the diaper when you change it. For instance, if your baby averages 12 diaper changes each day and they suddenly only need seven, they may be dehydrated or constipated. A significant rise in the frequency of diaper changes may indicate problems with their diet.

You need to be equally concerned with what goes in and comes out of your child. Your baby’s poop can tell you if they have an infection or other problems that may not cause them to cry or change their eating habits. Mucus or blood in their diaper may indicate an infection or food intolerance problems. Take their temperature, so you have it ready and call their pediatrician for advice. 

Do I Need to Change Every Wet Diaper Right Away?

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Yes, and there’s no debating this fact. A poop-filled diaper or a wet diaper needs to get changed right away to prevent diaper rash. Diaper rash leads to a miserable baby that may fight you about diaper changes or cry all the time. Aside from your discomfort, diaper rash can lead to infection and other complications. The best way to prevent diaper rash is to keep their diaper clean and dry.

Don't get discouraged if your baby gets diaper rash even though you've been diligent in your diaper changing duties. Diaper rash might be the result of an allergy or changes in your baby's diet. It's not uncommon for a baby to get diaper rash when you change their diet or transition them to solid foods. Their poop schedule might change which means you have to pay closer attention during the change.

Taking a few extra steps beyond keeping their diaper clean and dry might help prevent diaper rash as well. If they have a significant movement or wet their diaper more often than usual, try to let them air out a bit without a diaper once they slow back down. Diapers trap moisture, and they don’t always do an excellent job of keeping it away from your baby’s bottom.

Always use hypoallergenic soaps and wipes. Stay away from anything that may be scented or have any deodorizing properties. Your baby’s new skin is very sensitive and even mild perfumes, and such may cause allergic reaction or irritations on their skin. Alcohol and other chemicals should be avoided as well. Don’t take any chances even if they have extra pungent poop.

If they do get diaper rash, and they probably will at some point, most over-the-counter treatments will work fine. If it doesn’t clear up in a few days, talk to your pharmacists or pediatrician to find out what to do next, or visit the baby’s doctor to make sure it’s diaper rash and not an allergic reaction to something in their food or the diaper brand you chose. 

Babies tend to nod off while they feed or shortly after they get fed, and they may wet their diaper. The same thing may happen at night while the baby is sleeping and you’re hoping they stay that way. No new parent wants to wake a newborn. 

This may be a problem for new parents to understand. The experts are torn on this topic with some voting for a change even if the baby is sleeping. The best policy is always to keep a clean, dry diaper on your baby. However, if they are sleeping and they don’t have sores or diaper rash on their bottom, it may be ok to skip the occasional diaper change while they sleep.

Some Final Notes

Plan on changing your baby’s diaper at least ten times each day for the first six months. It may change by one or two diapers a day after the first six months, but it's a good bet to assume you'll need to change at least ten diapers every day for the next 18 months. Most babies will go through 3,000 to 4,000 diapers the year of their lives. However, it could be worse; you could have twins or triplets.

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