Should I Change My Baby’s Wet Diaper Immediately? [Is It Damp or Wet?]

You know the importance of changing your baby’s diaper in a timely fashion to avoid them sitting in a wet diaper and getting diaper rash. But does that mean you need to change them every time they pee?

If your baby has peed but his diaper is only a little damp, you can leave the diaper on for a little while longer. Once the diaper actually feels wet, or the diaper indicator strip has changed colors, then it’s time for a diaper change.

Read on to find out how much a typical baby pees throughout the day as well as what can happen if a baby sits in a wet diaper too long.

Do you change the diaper every time baby pees?

Let’s face it. Diapers are expensive and we want to get the most bang for our buck out of them that we can. That being said, we most certainly don’t want to do this at our child’s expense. 

There’s a difference between a sopping wet diaper and one that is only a little damp. If your baby’s diaper feels mostly dry you can leave it on for a little while longer. After a few more times of your baby urinating, her diaper will start feeling more wet. (Of course, any time your child has a dirty diaper they should be changed immediately.)

The main thing is that your baby is comfortable and happy. If she is showing any signs of discomfort by fussing and crying then by all means go ahead and change her. However, most babies won’t notice or be bothered by a slightly damp diaper.

Also, how prone your child is to diaper rashes may be a factor in how quickly you change his diaper. When babies are left in a wet diaper for prolonged periods of time, the pH of their skin can be altered from the urine which allows bacteria and fungi to grow more easily. Take into account the absorbent nature of the diaper and you have a perfect recipe for a diaper rash. 

Another factor that will affect how often you change your baby’s diaper is how old she is. Newborn babies need to be changed more often than older infants due to the frequent amount of times they pee throughout the day. A newborn’s sensitive skin is more prone to diaper rashes as well. A typical newborn has around 6-8 wet diapers per day and older babies have around 4-6 wet diapers per day.

How often do babies pee

How often a baby pees widely varies from baby to baby.

Some babies pee once every one to three hours and some babies may pee only four to six times per day. Generally, older babies will pee less often, but more at a time. 

Newborns typically have a minimum of 6-8 wet diapers per day and usually urinate around twenty times per day. Due to the small size of a newborn, it may take several separate urinations to actually make his or her diaper feel wet. A good rule of thumb for newborns is to do a diaper change every 2-3 hours.

Older babies will have a minimum of 6-8 wet diapers per day. Most babies will have many more wet diapers than this.

Toddlers, on the other hand, usually urinate around 4-8 times per day. Since toddlers’ bladders are much larger than a newborn’s bladder, one single urination is probably quite enough to make their diaper wet and need a diaper change. 

How much do babies pee

The amount of urine output your baby has per day is dependent on his or her age as well as how much he or she drinks.

Although they pee less at a time, in their first year, babies will pee about twice as much as they will as toddlers.

AgePee per HourPee per Day
Newborn - 1 year2 mL48 mL
Toddler1 mL24 mL
Older Children1 mL24 mL

Disposable diapers are designed to hold well over these amounts of urine. One daycare study found a size 5 Pampers could hold up to 40 ounces, or 1182 ml, of water!

How often should I change the baby’s diaper?

The number of wet diapers that are normal for a baby will depend on their age. Newborn babies usually have the most diaper changes per day.

Here is what to expect with a newborn:

  • Day 1: Newborn babies pass urine for the first time 12-24 hours after birth. An exclusively breastfed baby may not have many wet diapers.
  • Day 2: Breastfed babies usually have around 2 wet diapers per day.
  • Days 3-5: Breastfed babies have around 3-5 wet diapers per day.
  • Day 6 and on: Babies should have at least 6-8 wet diapers per day although some babies may have many more. 

You can expect older babies to typically have around 4-6 wet diapers per day which averages out to a diaper change every three hours or so. Toddlers will have around the same amount of 4-6 wet diapers per day as well and will also require a diaper change around every three hours. Of course, if your baby drinks a lot you may have a few more diaper changes than this. 

How long can I leave my baby in a wet diaper?

In an ideal world, we would keep our baby’s diaper changed every two to three hours. However, in the real world diapers are expensive and sometimes we are in busy situations where it’s impossible to change a diaper that often. 

A good rule of thumb is to change your baby’s diaper every time it feels wet. In certain situations like overnight while your child is sleeping or during long road trips, this may not be feasible.

Don’t worry about waking your child up during the night to change his diaper. If your baby is a newborn and getting up in the middle of the night to feed, always change his diaper at that time. Otherwise, let him sleep and change his diaper first thing in the morning. 

If you’re on a road trip and your child is doing really well in the car, it’s okay to try and drive as long as you can. Each stop you make on a road trip can really add time to your journey so it’s probably worth it to go as far as you can while your baby is happy. Older children are less likely to suffer from diaper rash than younger babies but chances are your younger baby will need to stop for feeds anyway.

What happens if I leave my baby in a wet diaper too long

Leaving a baby in a wet diaper too long can cause the pH of your child’s skin to change due to the acidity of the urine. This change in pH can cause bacteria and fungi to grow which can lead to diaper rashes and skin irritations.

Another issue to look out for if a baby is left in a wet diaper for long periods of time is diaper leaks. 

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