Ask the Expert: Diapers
Ask the Baby Gear Expert: Diapers
January 29, 2022

Ask the Baby Gear Expert: Diapers

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Ask the Baby Gear Expert: Diapers.
Ask the Baby Gear Expert: Diapers

Ever wish you had a baby gear expert by your side to answer all of your questions and help you build your baby registry every step of the way?

Welcome to Ask the Expert, a new series where I answer real questions from real Babylist users and parents just like you. Who am I? I’m Jen LaBracio, Babylist’s Gear Editor, a role that perfectly combines my love of (obsessive) research with my love of all things baby gear.

If there’s one sure thing I know about becoming a parent, it’s this: diapers are going to be a big part of your life for the next few years. Whether it’s shopping for them, changing them or figuring out how not to spend a small fortune buying them, you’re going to be thinking about diapers for the foreseeable future.

We took to Instagram to ask Babylist users—both parents-to-be and new parents alike—what questions you had around diapering. Here are the answers to all of your diaper need-to-knows.

What size diapers should I put on my registry?

Kicking things off with one of the most common questions we received around diapers: what size to add to your registry.

It’s confusing to try to figure out which size diapers to register for (most parents-to-be are trying to decide between newborn size versus size ones) and how many of each to get. So let’s start with a little diaper math.

In the first month of life, newborns average about eight to 10 diaper changes per day. And over the first three months (considered the newborn stage), babies typically go through about 700 diapers. (Don’t worry, these numbers go way down as baby gets older and has better bladder control!)

Most newborn size diapers fit babies up to about nine pounds, and the average newborn will gain up to about three pounds during their first month of life. So while it’s possible that your baby will be wearing newborn sizes for a while, it’s also just as likely that they’ll outgrow them within their first few weeks—or skip them altogether and jump right to size ones if they’re born on the larger side.

You’ll also want to take into account that most people tend to gift newborn size diapers at a shower. And don’t forget those hospital freebies! Most send you home with a lot of free newborn diapers, perfect for adding to your stockpile.

I recommend registering for a few large packs of newborn diapers (120-240 count) and then calling it a day. Otherwise register for diapers your little one can grow into, like size ones (which generally fit babies from about 8-14 pounds) or even size twos (12-18 pounds).

Need more info on diaper quantities and sizing? Check out How Many Diapers Do I Need for Baby’s First Year? for a full breakdown.

How do you know it’s time to go up a size on diapers?

This was another popular question we received and one I also remember dealing with as a new mom after my son was born.

First, it’s important to have a basic idea of what size diapers work for what size babies. Diaper sizes are based on your baby’s weight, not their age. Here’s a size chart from Pampers Swaddlers for quick reference:

  • Newborn: Less than 10 lbs
  • Size 1: 8-14 lbs
  • Size 2: 12-18 lbs
  • Size 3: 16-28 lbs
  • Size 4: 22-37 lbs
  • Size 5: >27 lbs
  • Size 6: >35 lbs

You’ll want to use your baby’s weight as your first clue as to what size diaper they should be wearing. When they start approaching the upper limit of the diaper’s weight range, it’s likely time to make the switch to the next size up. But there are a few other things to keep an eye out for that will let you know it’s time to go up a size.

  • Frequent leaks or blowouts. Lots of poopsplosions happening at your house? It’s time to size up those diapers to contain the mess. (Tip: if you’ve already tried sizing up and you’re still experiencing blowouts or leaks on the regular, it may be time to dry a different brand of diaper with a different fit that’s better suited for your little one’s body shape.)
  • Check the waist tabs. Disposable diapers have fastening tabs on either side of your baby’s waist to help the diaper stay in place. Having trouble getting those tabs to fasten? It’s probably time to move up to the next size. You’ll also want to make sure the diaper’s rise falls just below your little one’s belly button.
  • Look for red marks. If you’re noticing red marks around your baby’s thighs where the sides of the diaper and your little one’s skin meet, that’s an indication that the diaper is too small.

One more thing to keep in mind. When you’re shopping for overnight diapers (more on those below), most parents find it useful to size up when compared to daytime diapers. You’ll still want to make sure the diaper fits snugly around your little one’s waist and through the legs, but a size up from your baby’s daytime diaper size will give your overnight an extra boost in absorbency and ensure maximum dryness.

What’s the best way to reduce or prevent blowouts?

There are a few things you can do to help reduce or prevent blowouts. The most important is to find a diaper that fits your baby properly. This means they’re both wearing the correct size diaper (as explained above) and that the diaper fits properly around your baby’s waist and legs. You may have to play around with a few different brands and a few different sizes, but it shouldn’t take long for you to figure out what’s working and what’s not and to land on a brand that works for you.

If you’re still experiencing frequent diaper leaks (and keep in mind this mostly happens during the overnight hours), check out a diaper booster pad like Sposie. These soft pads slip right into your little one’s diaper and increase absorbency by eight fluid ounces. All you need to do is put the pad seam-side down into your baby’s diaper (you may need to experiment with location to see what works best for your baby) and you’re good to go.

Are overnight diapers necessary?

And speaking of overnight diapers… Are they necessary? No. But do most parents find them really useful for keeping their babies dry overnight and maximizing dryness—and longer stretches of sleep? Yup.

Overnight diapers are basically a souped-up version of their disposable counterparts. They’re designed to keep your baby dry for up to 12 hours and are extra absorbent, often with about 20 to 25 percent more capacity than regular diapers. They’re a bit bulkier than daytime diapers and do tend to cost a little more.

Whether or not you need overnight diapers usually comes down to your baby. Some babies do fine throughout the night with regular diapers. But for most babies, there comes a time when daytime diapers are no longer cutting it and you’ll notice your baby waking up soaked on the regular. (I find that time usually to be around six months old or so, when solids start to increase in addition to either breastmilk or formula.) That’s a good sign that it’s time to give overnights a try.

For more information on overnight diapers, including our favorite brand picks, check out our Best Overnight Diapers guide.

What are your favorite diaper brands?

This is a tough one! And I don’t think it has an exact answer, really. That’s because the diaper brand that works for you and your baby may be a complete bust for another family. Things like fit, cost and environmental impact are just a few factors that might sway your decision when you’re trying to figure out diapering.

Instead of trying to choose the best diaper brands, it’s probably more helpful to think through what factors you’ll want to consider when choosing one brand over another. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Cost
  • Fit
  • Softness
  • Absorbency
  • Fragrance
  • Environmental impact

Remember, you’re going to be going through a lot of diapers over the next few years, so you have plenty of time to test out different brands to figure out what works for you. You also may want to check out Babylist’s Diaper Box. This exclusive bundle contains size one diapers and wipes from three popular eco-friendly brands (Honest, Diaper, and Coterie) so you can take each for a test run before stocking up.

For more diaper info, head over to our Best Disposable Diapers guide to find out which brands Babylist experts and families choose the most.

Do I need diaper cream every time I change my baby?

Nope, you don’t. But lots of parents find that applying some sort of diaper cream or balm at every diaper change helps to prevent diaper rash from even starting in the first place, so it may be something to consider depending on your baby’s skin.

A few other tips to keep in mind about diaper cream and diaper rash:

  • Change your baby’s diaper often to avoid long contact between your little one’s skin and a wet diaper; prolonged contact with moisture is what causes most diaper rashes
  • Blow on your baby’s bottom or pat the area completely dry before putting on a new diaper
  • Treat diaper rashes with cream at the first sign of any irritation
  • If your baby does get an uncomfortable rash, try going diaper-free for a bit. It’s messy, but it can really help!

Our Best Diaper Rash Creams guide has more information on what causes diaper rash, how you can prevent and treat it and which diaper rash creams are best.

Cloth diapering…how?!

Ah, the world of cloth diapers. Intriguing to some, terrifying for others and a whole lot of curious parents-to-be who land somewhere in between. We got a lot of questions around cloth diapering like the one above, as well as questions on the different types of cloth diapers, how to choose between them, how to properly clean cloth diapers, etc.. Someone even asked us about decoding all of the lingo around cloth diapering! (AIO=all-in-one diaper! Boingo=a clip that closes prefold diapers! This list goes on.)

I won’t lie: the world of cloth diapers is pretty daunting. It’s something I considered when I had my first baby but was quickly overwhelmed by while trying to digest the mountains of other information that comes along with being a new parent so, like lots of others, I abandoned the idea pretty quickly.

But! I think if you have the right resources in place, and spend a little time reading about cloth diapering and talking to other parents before diving in, you can successfully navigate cloth diapering without feeling confused or overwhelmed.

Babylist has a ton of resources that help demystify cloth diapering and answer all of your questions in an informative, easy-to-digest way. Here’s where to start:

Which diaper has the least environmental footprint?

I wish there was an easy answer to this one, but unfortunately the reality of diapers and their impact on our environment is a pretty complicated subject.

Let’s start with disposables. If you’re planning on using disposable diapers, know that most babies will go through about 5,000 to 6,000 diapers before they’re potty trained. All of these diapers have to end up somewhere—and that somewhere is landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there were about 3.3 million tons of disposable diapers in landfills in 2018. Yikes.

What about cloth diapers? While they may seem like the more environmentally friendly choice, there’s a debate over the impact of things like steep energy usage and high water costs with cloth diapering. Some environmentalists also point to the fact that growing and harvesting cotton (along with washing and caring for cloth diapers) carries with it some huge demands on water, and that cotton in general has a fairly high carbon footprint.

So where does that leave you? If cloth diapering is something you think you’re interested in, do your own research and see where you land. If you’re planning on using disposable diapers, read up on the best eco-friendly options. While all eco-friendly diapers are not created equal, there are some compostable options (such as Dyper, for example) that offer a composting service at an added cost, and many eco-conscious diaper companies that are taking steps toward sustainability, improving their production processes and designing diapers with less of a carbon footprint than old-school disposables.

But most of all—find a solution that works for you, your family and your budget. Make the best decision with the information you have and don’t let the guilt creep in.

What’s the deal with the hybrid diapers?

A hybrid diaper is a diaper that can be used two different ways, as a true cloth diaper with a reusable cloth insert or as a disposable with an insert that can be thrown away.

There are a few popular cloth diaper brands that feature hybrid options. Grovia Hybrids feature a reusable cover and work with either reusable or disposable diaper inserts. Charlie Banana hybrids are similar; the reusable cloth inserts get tucked inside the diaper pocket-style, and the disposable inserts are used more like a lining. Even the popular disposable diaper brand Pampers is getting into the hybrid game these days. Their Pure Protection Hybrid Diapers system combines reusable cloth diaper covers with disposable inserts.

So why would you choose a hybrid diaper option? Less waste. The Pampers hybrids use 25% less disposable materials when compared to the brand’s traditional disposable diapers, for example, which means 25% less waste in landfills. They also use less water to clean than traditional cloth diapers. And a bonus: they’re pretty darn cute.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and the Babylist Health Advisory Board.