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How Many Newborn Diapers Do I Need?

Diapers are a baby essential you know you need to stock up on—but exactly how many will you need, and in what sizes? Here’s the lowdown.
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Updated
July 13, 2022
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There’s nothing sweeter than those teeny-tiny newborn diapers. They look like they’re made for dolls. (Squeal!) But if you’ve been asking yourself, “Just how many newborn diapers do I need?”, know that there’s no definitive answer. It’s a bit of a gamble. If your little one is born weighing 9 pounds, you won’t need as many newborn diapers as parents who bring home a 6 pounder. Basically, you’ll want to do some educated guessing before you splurge on a mega pack of newbie nappies. Below, some guidance to help you figure out the math.

How Many Diapers Does a Newborn Use a Day?

Newborns don’t do much. They eat. They sleep. They poop. And, yes, that means they do go through a lot of diapers. Some of it depends on whether they’re breastfed or bottle-fed, but, on average, you can expect a newborn to go through six to nine diapers each day.

How Many Diapers Do I Need?

The best way to approach newborn diapers? Have a pack or two on hand—but don’t overdo it. Almost all newborn diapers fit babies up to 10 pounds. “Most babies grow out of this size within three weeks, and some babies born over 9 pounds never use them,” says Rachel Taylor, RN, SBCPE, a postpartum nurse and founder of Mama Did It, a blog for new moms. That means that the average 8-pound baby will go through about 240 newborn (or size 0) diapers before moving up to the next size.

The good news: Many stores like Target, Sam’s Club or Costco will allow you to exchange unopened boxes of diapers for a different size—so don’t stress too much about getting it exactly right.

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How long are babies in newborn diapers?

Most babies stop using newborn diapers once they’re over nine or 10 pounds. So if baby arrives on the scene weighing less than that—and they weren’t born prematurely—they’ll probably grow out of newborn diapers by week three (give or take).

So how will you know when to pass a half-finished box of tiny newborn diapers on to another parent? “It’s time to move up to the next size if baby’s urine is leaking out of the diaper, if the diaper is too tight on baby’s legs or tummy or if the latch doesn’t completely reach the front of the diaper,” Taylor explains.

Stocking up on newborn diapers

When there’s a baby on the way, being as prepared as possible is likely one of your biggest goals. So if you’re in the process of registering for baby items and you’re wondering, “how many diapers do I need?”, our advice is to go light on newborn-sized diapers and instead register for more size one, two and three options. While babies may need slightly fewer diaper changes each day once they hit the larger sizes, they tend to stay in these bigger fits for longer; some babies can wear a size-three diaper up to their first birthday.

Diaper size chart

Not sure what to expect when it comes to how many diapers you’ll need in the first year? We’ve included a diaper size chart for easy reference. (Note: While these are common weight ranges across several popular brands, you’ll want to confirm the specific sizing for your diaper of choice.)

How Many Cloth Diapers Do I Need?

Cloth diapers are an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable diapers. After an initial investment, you can choose to use cloth diapers without continuing to shell out money for disposable options—and maybe even reuse for subsequent children. But even though you won’t need nearly as many cloth diapers as you would disposable options (some estimates indicate that babies go through more than 2,000 disposable diapers in the first year!), you’ll still need to have quite a few on hand. “Newborns tend to wet every 1.5 to two hours because of their tiny bladders,” says April Duffy, founder of Cloth Diapers for Beginners, an online community. “So if you’ll be cloth diapering your newborn, you should expect to go through about 12 to 14 diapers per day.”

How many cloth diapers you purchase above this number depends on your laundry habits. If you want to wash your diapers every other day, Duffy says you’d want about 24 to 28 diapers in your rotation, with an extra two or three for good measure. If you plan on washing every three days, you’d want 36 to 42 cloth diapers in your stash, she adds.

Do cloth diapers come in newborn sizes?

Most cloth diaper brands come in two sizes: newborn and what’s called “one-size.” While the larger, one-size diapers are meant to fit babies of any size, you’ll still want some newborn options. “Most newborns won’t fit into a one-size cloth diaper even if they’re born at 8 pounds, since newborn legs are so tiny,” Duffy adds. “Usually, a baby won’t fit into a one-size cloth diaper until they are about 2 to 3 months old or about 10 pounds.”

How Much Do Diapers Cost?

One thing’s for sure: Diapers are pricey! That’s why you don’t want to go overboard at first. Of course, cost is dependent on brand and type of diaper. Buy a big-name brand, and you can expect to shell out more per unit. (Newborn-size Pampers, Huggies, Honest Brand and Seventh Generation diapers range from about $0.28 to $0.40 per unit. Coterie’s newborn diapers are a bit pricier at $0.49 per unit). Snap up a discount, generic or warehouse brand, and you’ll probably save quite a bit. (Amazon’s in-house brand is just about $0.20 per unit, and Target’s brand is a steal at about $0.12 per unit.)

Ways to Save on Diapers

Rest assured that there are ways to save money on diapers to ease the burden on your wallet— even in the early newborn days. Below, we’ve added some helpful tips for saving money on diapers.

  • Register for diapers. The best way to cut down on your diaper expenses in the first year? Add them to your registry! This is the best time to receive diapers as a gift, since you may have lots of friends and loved ones who are eager to help you get started.
  • Choose a generic brand. Choosing a store brand or warehouse alternative is a way to get the job done on the cheap, with unit prices around $0.20 or below.
  • Try cloth diapering. “Based on an average disposable diaper cost and a high average cloth diaper cost, a family can expect to save around $1,575 per child,” Duffy says. “Even better, those same diapers can usually be reused on your next child, so diapering will cost you nothing for that baby.”
  • Get a subscription. Don’t want to even think about buying diapers? Take this chore off your list by choosing a subscription service. Better yet, when you get diapers from brands like Honest or Coterie delivered straight to your door, you’ll generally spend less per unit.

About the experts:

April Duffy is the founder of the Cloth Diapers for Beginners online community.

Rachel Taylor, RN, SBCPE, is a postpartum nurse and the founder of Mama Did It, a blog for new moms.

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