Nappy Changing – How Often to Change Your Newborn

  • By: Gian
  • Date: June 9, 2022
  • Time to read: 6 min.

How often and when to change your newborn baby’s nappies

Those early days with your newborn can be a hazy of constant feeds and endless nappy changing. It’s very normal for parents to stress about how often to change baby’s nappy, in order to keep them comfortable and avoid nappy rash.

Can you change a nappy too often? How many wet and dirty nappies is the “right” amount? Cloth nappies, or disposable nappies? Do I need a change table or will a changing mat suffice? And are cotton wool balls really better than baby wipes?

Don’t worry, we’ll take a look at all of these questions in this blog post.

How do I change my baby’s nappies?

How do I change my baby’s nappies?

Place your baby on his back on your changing mat- don’t forget to talk to him and smile and never leave baby unattended at a changing table.

Gently open up your baby’s nappy, wipe baby down and then remove the wet diaper.

In the case of dirty nappies you can use the front of the nappy to brush most of the baby poo off baby’s nappy area and on to the nappy before you use wipes.

Place a clean nappy underneath baby and fasten securely to avoid leaks. Please note- changing a boy’s nappy is a little different to changing baby girls- always ensure to ensure that your baby boys penis is pointing down in to the nappy before you secure those sticky tabs or poppers!

Some parents like to use a nappy cream at each nappy change, though to advise against this in the first few weeks, unless your newborn baby actually has a nappy rash that needs treating.

If using a cream, apply only a thin layer of barrier cream before you put on the fresh nappy. Dress baby and lay them somewhere secure while you dispose of the nappy.

Chuck the nappy in the nappy bin or plastic bag and you are done. If using cloth nappies, you can simply pop either a wet or dirty nappy straight in to your nappy bucket- when your child starts on solid foods you will need to remove any solids before the nappy does in to the wash pile.

Always wash your hands before and after nappy changing.

How Often Should My Baby Poo?

This does vary quite a bit, but on average, you can expect that, after the first week, babies poo around twice a day in the first 6 weeks of life.

You can expect greenish black meconium in the first day or two, followed by yellow or mustard colour poo by day 5-6. Breastfed babies can tend to poo a lot more than that, sometimes at every feed, while formula fed baby poo is often less frequent, a darker brown and less soft.

Frequent nappy changes, around 10 times a day, are considered normal in the first 6 weeks for all babies.

How Often Should a Nappy Be Wet?

By around day 5-6, your baby should be having 5 heavy wet nappies per day- this can be especially hard to gauge if you are using cloth nappies, but if you pour 45mls in to either a disposable or cloth nappy, you can get an idea of how heavy your newborn baby’s nappy should feel at each nappy change.

By about 6 weeks, most babies settle in to a routine and you should have a good idea of how many wet and dirty nappies is normal for your little one.

How Often Should You change a Newborn’s Nappy?

You can expect to see the guideline amount of wet and dirty nappies as per guidance above- if you are concerned that your baby is not weeing or pooing enough you should always speak to your health visitor for guidance.

It’s important that you are changing nappies very regularly, immediately if your baby has had a bowel movement and as soon as possible after a wet nappy.

This may mean you need to change your baby’s nappy around ten times per day for the first few months. As baby grows this number does settle down, typically after about 6 weeks.

This is because your newborn has very delicate skin, especially in the early weeks. This sensitive skin is easily damaged if you newborn’s dirty nappy is not promptly removed and replaced with a clean nappy- many parents are shocked by just how fast diaper rash can strike.

Do You Need to Change Newborn Nappy at Night?

Do You Need to Change Newborn Nappy at Night?

Most newborns wake frequently in the night, and the expert advice is to put a new nappy on baby after every feed.

Changing a nappy (and potentially distrubing a baby) isn’t a great thought when you’ve just brought your new baby home and are exhausted, but this ensures that baby’s bottom is kept clean, dry and irritation free. It does take only a minute to change a nappy.

Should You Wake a Baby to Change Nappy?

In the case of a dirty nappy, absolutely change a nappy as soon as possible. If left unchanged, a dirty nappy will cause a diaper rash and potentially even break baby’s skin- this can set in surprisingly quickly.

It’s recommended to change baby’s nappy very regularly, particularly in the early days, If you change a nappy before your baby takes a nap, its unlikely to do much harm to let them sleep for a few hours.

If your baby is sleeping through the night, ask your health visitor for advice. It’s extra important to ensure that they have on a clean nappy right before they drift off. Many pediatricians advise that if your baby sleeps through the night, it’s okay not to change in the night, particularly after about six weeks.

You might want to apply a thin layer of a barrier cream just to protect your baby’s skin.

Are Cloth Nappies Better Than Disposable Nappies?

The best nappy is the one that suits your family! After all, you are the person who will be left to change your baby’s nappy!

Some research suggests that cloth nappies are kinder to babies skin. Other parents choose cloth nappies for the benefits to the environment, or to save money.

Some parents don’t like the idea of the extra work involved to wash and change cloth nappies, however, modern nappies are a great more simple than the traditional terry towel versions you parents may have used. If you’re wondering ‘ Are cloth nappies hygienic? ‘ you can read our blog post to find out!

In reality, changing a nappy is much the same whether you are using cloth or disposable. It’s really a matter of personal choice.

What You Need for Nappy Changing

In general, a clean nappy, wipes and changing mat or towel are all you really need, but this list includes some other helpful suggestions that can be good to have on hand.

  • A clean nappy for each change- around 25 cloth nappies in total or disposable nappies
  • Baby wipes or cotton wool balls
  • Changing mat or towel. A changing table can be handy but not necessary.
  • A changing bag for when you are out and about
  • A nappy cream or barrier cream such as zinc oxide
  • Storage for clean and soiled nappies
  • Hand washing facilities!

Cotton Wool or Baby Wipes?

Cotton Wool or Baby Wipes?

Your health vistor will happy to advise you on this, but the simple advice is to use warm water and cotton wool or cloth wipes, particularly in the first few days when your baby’s skin is so sensitive and nappy changes are so frequent.

For the first few days, your baby will pass thick and sticky poo called meconium- and using warm water and cloth wipes will help you thoroughly but gently wash the poo away without being harsh on baby’s bottom.

If you’d prefer to use disposable wipes, be sure to stock your changing station with alcohol free baby wipes to gently clean your baby’s bottom. You may also want to read a little more about the ingredients in baby wipes in order to make an informed choice.

Newborn Nappy Changing- In Summary

Your head might well be spinning when it comes to keeping your baby’s bottom clean and dry, but in actual fact it’s very simple- changing a nappy at least every 2-3 hours, and immediately after a bowel movement, should help.

You will very quickly get to know your baby and identify when they need a clean nappy how to change nappies. Changing a nappy becomes second nature very quickly!

Never be afraid to ask you midwife or health visitor if you need a little advice on nappy changing or about baby’s development in general.

This article was written by: Gian MIller – Full-Time Writer, Baby Whisperer & Dad of 3.

Gian spends a lot of his time writing. A self-proclaimed baby whisperer, Gian has been through it all with his own children and is passionate about sharing his hard-won wisdom with other parents. When he’s not writing or changing diapers, you can find him playing the guitar or watching baseball (or preferably both at the same time).