How Many Bibs Do You Need (Plus Which Ones Work Best)


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Most parents already know that they will get a lot of use out of bibs but they might wonder how many they need to get the job done. While the answer will depend on several factors, I thought that I would give you some advice that has worked for me and my family.

The number of bibs you need will depend on your baby, your feeding routine, and your laundry schedule, but a good starting estimate is 10-20 drool bibs and 1-5 feeding bibs. Since drool bibs can do double duty for younger babies, consider starting with several drool bibs and a couple of feeding bibs.

When my first child was born, I had no idea how much mess a baby could produce. He was a drool machine, he always took more milk than he actually needed, and then he got older and was absolutely convinced he could feed himself, even if more of the food made it in this hair than his mouth. Although no bib could protect his curls from the smeared yogurt, a handful of very dependable bibs did help to make the rest of the cleanup easier.

How many bibs do you need for a baby?

One of the great unsung heroes in any parent’s arsenal (aka the diaper bag) is the humble bib. Although it can be as cheap and simple as an old bandana or something that practically doubles as a t-shirt with a food catcher, it is responsible for keeping your little one’s cutest outfits from getting drooled on, covered in milk or formula, and coated in food at every feeding. But how many of these workhorses do you need?

As with so many other things about babies, there is no right answer for how many bibs you will need. As an average starting point, you should consider having 10-20 drool bibs and 1-5 feeding bibs. Keep in mind that your newborn will not need feeding bibs, so you should purchase the drool bibs first. I recommend trying out a couple of types of both types of  bibs before making a final decision.

There are several variables that will affect the number of bibs you need. If you notice that several of these are true for you and your situation, consider upping the number of bibs you keep on hand:

  • Feedings – How often you baby drinks from his bottle or breastfeeds can drastically increase the number of bibs you use throughout the day if you need to use a new bib for each feeding, either because he is messy or because he dribbles out milk after every feeding.
  • Drool – Even before they start teething, some babies seem like they drool non-stop. Once their first teeth start coming in, it can get even worse. If your baby is a heavy drooler, it is definitely easier to replace a wet bib than an entire outfit.
  • Laundry – How often you wash your bibs will definitely influence the number you need to have available. For example, if you know you only need three bibs a day and you wash them every third day, you should be fine with nine bibs. Personally, I always assume that I will be a day behind.

How much are baby bibs?

The cost of baby bibs is as wide and varied as the styles available. You can get multipacks with 10 fabric bibs for around $15-20. If you want a one that will also catch food at feeding time, a single bib (whether fabric or silicone) is going to start around $8. There are even some smock-style bibs that include sleeves and are meant to keep your baby’s entire upper body clean that are closer to $14. 

How much you spend on bibs is almost entirely up to the type of bib that is right for you and your baby, but this is a solid starting point. Made of 2-ply terrycloth, they are absorbent enough for a messy meal or a sloppy drool. You can get them in plain white or a variety of bright colors.

What’s the difference between a drool bib and a feeding bib

When many of us needed bibs of our own, there was only one type, so you may be surprised by the variety of bibs that are available now. All of the bibs you have to choose from will fall into one of two basic categories: drool or feeding.

Drool bibs are made of absorbent fabric, usually terry cloth, flannel, or muslin, and are designed to soak up the drool or milk dribble. They are also typically on the small side as they are only designed to cover your baby’s neck and chest.

Feeding bibs, on the other hand, are more varied but tend to be made of a non-absorbent material such as a coated polyester or silicone and often have a pocket or other opening to catch food particles and other messes. Feeding bibs are also much larger than drool bibs and cover the entire torso, some smock-style bibs are even larger and cover the upper arms as well.

These bibs are different because they each excel in a different area – drool absorption or food collection. With that in mind, it’s best to have an assortment of both to get started and then expand from there.

When do babies start wearing bibs?

When your baby needs to start wearing a bib is really more about your baby than his specific age. Some babies are heavy droolers or prone to dribbling out milk from the birth, while others do not need a drool bib until they start teething. 

Also, these needs will change over time as babies start teething, eating solids, and other milestones. You might find that your baby will drool less often as they get older but make up for it with extra food messes!

Do newborn babies need bibs?

Newborn babies do not necessarily need to wear bibs, but if your little one is an especially heavy drooler or messy eater from the beginning, most drool bibs will fit him without much fuss.

For breastfeeders, I created a whole resource that talks about using a bib while breastfeeding that might be helpful!

At what age do babies stop using bibs?

Babies tend to grow out of drool bibs at around six months, or when they start eating solid foods and need a feeding bib instead. If you need some extra help with the drool from a teething baby, some bibs are shaped like bandanas to add a little style to an outfit while protecting it (some of those even have chewy bits at the end to help soothe sore gums!).

Your toddler will probably let you know himself when he is done wearing a bib, often as early as eighteen months. Some children may be happy to wear a bib for longer, and there is really no disadvantage to letting them wear one until they have stopped making a mess at mealtimes.  

Do babies wear bibs all of the time?

Whether your baby only wears his bib during feedings or if he has one on throughout the day is dependent on your specific situation, but never let your baby sleep while wearing a bib.

This may be inconvenient with a smaller child who falls asleep immediately after feeding, but leaving the bib around his neck is a major hazard because it could strangle him or could come loose and suffocate him. Either make a habit of removing the bib as the feeding time is coming to an end, or risk waking him by removing the bib once he has fallen asleep.

What kind of bibs should you buy?

Now that you know the difference between drool bibs and feeding bibs, there are several key elements of each that will help you narrow down which bib is right for you.

What to look for in drool bibs?

Many drool bibs look the same on the surface, but there are actually a number of elements to consider when choosing the right one for your baby.

  • Material – Many drool bibs are made of some variety of cotton to ensure they are absorbent, but you may want to consider an organic muslin or a hypoallergenic bamboo option if your baby has especially sensitive skin.
  • Closure – While your newborn is unlikely to be able to pull off a hook and loop closure, you may want to plan on having bibs with snaps on hand for a slightly older child.
  • Style – If your baby will only be wearing his bib around mealtime, a traditional shape will probably make the most sense. If he will be wearing it a good bit of the day, you may prefer to consider the more outfit friendly bandana style.
  • Cute Factor – Let’s face it, baby bibs are known for having little dinosaurs or kittens and sweet messages about how grandma feeds them the good stuff. If the bib is what is going to be seen in the majority of the pictures you know you will not be able to resist taking, it might as well show a little bit of personality.

Popular drool bibs to consider

Neat Solutions Drool Bibs: Basic is not a bad thing, especially when you need a large collection of something that’s sole purpose is to get dirty. These come in a pack of plain white or with a variety of colors.

Burt’s Bees Lap-Shoulder Drool Cloths: These bibs are 100% organic so they are good for sensitive skin. They have a unique pull-over design instead of snapping on and off which means your baby will never yank it off in the middle of a meal. They are also much larger than standard drool bibs, which means they can be used as feeding bibs if necessary.

Nuby Teething Bibs: Shaped like a bandana rather than a traditional bib, this option also features a silicone teether at the hanging end of the triangle to soothe your baby’s gums.

What to look for in feeding bibs?

Feeding bibs tend to have more variation than drool bibs, and your baby will likely be forming his own opinions on them as well, so you might be better off trying out a couple of styles before making a commitment to a single brand.

  • Cleaning – Feeding bibs are typically made of either a coated polyester or silicone. The polyester bibs may require washing and drying time between uses, while the silicone bib will be easy to wipe out and reuse immediately. You can even throw some of these into the dishwasher!
  • Coverage – Although feeding bibs tend to be large, some cover more than others. If your child is large for his age or an especially messy eater, you may want to look for a bib with a wider torso cover, or even a smock style option.

Popular feeding bibs to consider

Bumkins SuperBib: With a crumb catcher and a solid hook and loop closure, this is a great bib to have around and especially good for travel. It does not wipe off as easily as a silicone option, but it makes up for it by being machine washable. It also comes in a huge variety of colors and designs.

Ava + Oliver Silicone Bib: These bibs have a large pocket for catching food droppings and a solid closure to keep it from being pulled off before mealtime is over. The silicone is BPA free and resistant up to 450℉ so it can even be run through the dishwasher when wiping it off isn’t getting the job done. 

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Josh

I'm the dad in charge of Natural Baby life. With 10 years of parenting experience across three children, I am constantly learning how to raise children more naturally. I'm passionate about doing whatever it takes to raise a happy and healthy baby! Find out more about me here.

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