Do You Really Need Newborn Diapers? (Plus Options & Exchanging)

As you are stockpiling diapers for your expecting baby, you may notice that newborn diapers and size 1 diapers are not all that different. With size 1 diapers fitting babies as small as eight pounds, do you really need newborn diapers?

The number of newborn diapers your baby will need depends largely on their birth weight. The average baby weighs 5.5-10 pounds at birth, so a smaller baby may need to use newborn diapers for months, while larger ones may be able to skip them entirely. Many parents will newborn diapers because they have a notch at the waist for the umbilical cord.

Keep reading to learn more about when to use newborn diapers, when to start with size 1, and what to do with extra newborn diapers.

Are newborn diapers necessary?

How long your baby wears newborn diapers depends on their birth weight and growth rate. The average birth weight for babies in the US is about 7.5 pounds, but healthy weights range anywhere from 5.5 to 10 pounds. Additionally, around 8.3 percent of newborn babies are born underweight (less than 5.5 pounds).

Newborn diapers fit babies up to ten pounds, while size 1 diapers typically fit babies eight to fourteen pounds. Of babies born at 40 weeks, about 20 percent of them are eight pounds or heavier. This means many babies may be able to bypass newborn diapers entirely.

If your baby is under eight pounds or close to eight pounds, you will likely want to start with newborn diapers. It’s important to remember that most babies lose about half of a pound in the first five days of life, which they will likely gain back by the second week.

So, if your baby weighs eight pounds when they are born, it may be a good idea to stick with newborn diapers until they begin gaining weight.

Most diaper brands have a two-pound overlap between their newborn and size 1 diaper. This gives parents some time to transition to size 1.

Some parents may stick with newborn diapers until their little one truly outgrows them at around ten pounds, while others may jump to size 1 when their little one is eight pounds.

Factors to consider when your baby fits Newborn and Size 1 diapers

Newborn DiapersSize 1 Diapers
Have an umbilical notch to easily prevent irritation of the umbilical stumpMay provide a better fit for larger or longer newborns
May provide a better fit for newborns that are close to eight poundsWill fit babies for longer, reducing the number of leftover diapers
Are typically used for newborn babies at the hospitalAre easier to find in bulk, which can save money

How long will you use newborn diapers?

Since newborns can vary so much in size, the need for newborn diapers can be vastly different.

With the weight range for size 1 diapers starting at only eight pounds, many babies can begin wearing them immediately or in the first few weeks of life. Babies born on the lower end of the weight distribution, however, may stay in newborn sizes for months.

If you are trying to predict the number of newborn diapers your baby will need, you will start with their birth weight. In the first five days, most babies lose about 8 ounces (or half of a pound). They typically reach their birth weight around two weeks of age and continue to grow about 6 ounces (or 0.375 pounds) a week until they are six months.

After the first five days, a newborn will use about nine diapers a day.

How to find the number of diapers you will need

You can use the following equation to figure up the number of newborn diapers you can expect your baby to use based on their birth weight (or you can check out the table below!).

To find the number of diapers your baby will need before they fit into size 1 diapers:

  1. Subtract your baby’s birth weight from 8 (or the lower end of your chosen size 1 diaper)
  2. Divide that by 0.375 (the amount of weight your baby will gain each week – 8 oz or 0.375 pounds)
  3. Subtract 2 (this will account for the time it takes your baby to regain their birth weight)
  4. Multiply by 9 (the number of diapers you can expect to use each day)

To find the number of diapers you baby will need before they outgrow newborn diapers:

  1. Subtract your baby’s birth weight from 10 (or the higher end of your chosen newborn diaper)
  2. Divide that by 0.375 (the amount of weight your baby will gain each week – 8 oz or 0.375 pounds)
  3. Subtract 2 (this will account for the time it takes your baby to regain their birth weight)
  4. Multiply by 9 (the number of diapers you can expect to use each day)

Finding these numbers will help you determine how many of each size you will need, and the difference between the two will tell you what size diaper packs you will want to buy.

For example, a baby with a birth weight of 5.5 pounds will use 567 diapers (9 weeks) before they fit into size 1 diapers and 882 before they outgrow the newborn size – so there is an overlap of 315 diapers (or a little more than a month) where they will be able to wear both.

On the other hand, a baby born at 8.5 pounds is already able to wear size 1 diapers, and will likely only wear 378 newborn diapers at all (about two months total).

Number of newborn diapers a baby will need based on birth weight

Birth WeightNumber of newborn diapers before baby fits into size 1 diapers (8 lbs)Number of newborn diapers before baby outgrows them (10 lbs)Overlap between newborn and size 1 (8-10 lbs)
5.5 lbs567882315
6 lbs441819378
6.5 lbs378693315
7 lbs315630315
7.5 lbs189567378
8 lbs126441315
8.5 lbs0378378
9 lbs0315315
9.5 lbs0189189
10 lbs06363

Can you use size 1 baby diapers instead?

If your baby is over eight pounds, you may be able to skip newborn-sized diapers and start with size 1. Some parents prefer starting with size 1 diapers because it eliminates the guesswork involved with purchasing and transitioning away from newborn diapers.

Here are some things to keep in mind when skipping newborn diapers:

  • The umbilical notch is an added feature on newborn diapers which helps prevent the diaper from interfering with a baby’s healing umbilical stump. This can be replicated by folding size 1 diapers or manually cutting a notch at the front of the diaper.
  • Weight loss of up to half a pound is expected in the first week of a baby’s life because babies are born with extra fluid. If your baby is born right at eight pounds, size 1 diapers may not be the fit once they lose this weight.
  • Leaks and blowouts may be more common when using size 1 diapers if the diaper does not fit snuggly around the legs and torso.

How many newborn diapers should you buy?

Depending on the size of your baby, you may go through several boxes of newborn sizes or you may skip them entirely.

Purchasing only one or two packs of newborn diapers may help you avoid an oversupply of newborn diapers.

Many parents prefer to request size 1 diapers if friends and family are gifting them for showers, and start with fewer newborn diapers. Don’t forget that you’ll get some at the hospital as well!

How many diapers does a newborn use in a week?

Your baby may only use a few diapers on the day they are born, but by the fifth day, they will be going through an average of eight to ten diapers a day.

In their first week, your baby will probably go through between 42 and 55 diapers.

AgeTotal Number of Diapers
1 day2-3
2 days4-6
3 days5-7
4 days7-9
5+ days8-10

Your baby will continue to use an average of eight to ten diapers a day until they are about three months old. This comes out to about sixty-three diapers a week.

Should you add newborn diapers to your registry?

Registering for diapers can be tricky when you can’t predict your baby’s size.

Though most babies start in newborn diapers, they may grow out of them quickly. For this reason, most second-time parents recommend skipping newborn-sized diapers when creating your baby registry.

Instead of registering for newborn diapers, consider registering for larger sizes (size 1, size 2, size 3, etc.) that your baby will wear for longer.

Are you looking for an alternative to getting a bunch of diapers at once or are you planning on cloth diapering? Ask your friends and family to contribute to a diaper fund instead of gifting them directly.

How many newborn diapers will the hospital give you?

You can expect your hospital to provide you with newborn diapers.

Though the amount may vary from hospital to hospital (and even nurse to nurse), in most cases, you will be given one pack of newborn diapers.

Pampers Swaddlers are commonly used by hospitals. A pack of their newborn diapers includes thirty-one diapers. This should last your newborn until they are four or five days old.

Most hospitals also have size 1 diapers available as needed for bigger babies.

Exchanging newborn diapers for another size

Whether you received tons of newborn diapers at your baby shower or just overestimated your need for the newborn diapers, it’s common to find yourself with an oversupply of newborn diapers. Luckily, many stores have generous return policies for diapers.

Having a gift receipt or proof of purchase will make returns and exchanges easy; however, many stores allow exchanges without a receipt within 90 days of purchase.

To take advantage of this convenience, your diapers must be:

  1. Unopened – due to hygienic reasons, opened diapers are rarely accepted.
  2. Exchanged at the correct store – Since stores use different barcodes on their products, it is important to remember where your diapers were originally purchased. Check my article on how to find out which store your diapers came from.

What to do with leftover newborn diapers

If you have leftover newborn diapers – especially ones that can’t be exchanged or returned – consider donating them.

Here are some ideas for what to do with your unneeded newborn diapers:

    • Donate them to a local diaper drive –  Diaper drives are events that collect diapers to give to families in need. Oftentimes, diaper drives accept leftover diapers. If you are not aware of any diaper drives going on in your community, consider hosting one.
    • Give them to your local women’s resource center – Many women’s resource centers accept leftover diapers. These are passed on to women and children in need.
    • Store diapers for future children – If you plan on having more children, you can store extra diapers until your next baby is born. When storing diapers, always keep them in a cool, dry place. Though is no expiration date on diapers, manufacturers recommend using them within two years of purchase.
    • Pass them along to another family – Chances are you have someone in your life, whether it be family, friend, or acquaintance, who is expecting a little one. Many people are happy to accept extra diapers.
    • Offer them to a local daycare facility – Some daycares may be able to accept leftover diapers. Even if they do not care for newborns, they may be able to pass them on to families with new babies, or they may use them for play.

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