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How often should I change my baby’s nappy?

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Real mum's tip


If you've got a super kicky baby who never wants to lie still and let you put on a new nappy, keep an emergency pack of pull-ups in the smallest size for times when you need to leave the house in a hurry.

Julia Legge, mother to Theo and Freya

New parents are often surprised at the number of nappies a baby can get through! Here’s a guide to when to change your baby in the first few months.

Newborn nappy changes

Your new baby will wee just a few times in the first couple of days; then, as you start producing more milk and she feeds regularly, it will be every one to three hours – around 10-12 times each day. In the same way that you both – hopefully! – become settled into a feeding routine, you will soon see how often she wees.

The number of times a baby has a poo can vary quite a bit. For the first weeks, breastfed babies will do so more often than bottlefed ones, possibly after every feed.

The usual times for changing are in the morning, after every feed and before putting her down for the night, but if she’s feeding very often, you may not need to change her each time. It’s worth changing her after a night feed even if it disturbs her (although practice will make you good at doing it quietly); if not she may wake up – and wake you up! – again because she is uncomfortable. 

Nappy changing after the first month

As your baby grows and takes more at each feed, she’ll produce more wee. Being wet doesn’t seem to make babies uncomfortable, so if you don’t check you may not realise she needs changing. You can feel for wetness with a clean finger, but a disposable nappy may not feel wet unless it’s soaking. A more useful check is the ‘heavy nappy’ test – pour four tablespoons of water into a disposable nappy and pick it up to feel its weight. You can also get disposable nappies with a wetness indicator.

The number of times a baby poos will change after the first month or so, and your baby will go less often; some breastfed babies only go once a week, whereas now bottlefed ones may poo more often.

Babies usually show signs of discomfort when they have a dirty nappy. It’s also the combination of poo and wee that can cause nappy rash, so it’s essential to change them promptly.

Nappy changing problems

If there’s a distraction while you’re changing your baby – such as the phone or doorbell – always take your baby with you; don’t leave her on her own.

If your baby’s a wriggler on the change mat, try not to react and certainly don’t laugh at their antics – then they’ll never stop! Stay calm and carry on as fast as you can.

Mobiles over the changing mat, or singing to your baby, can distract them if they want to grab at everything within reach – your hair, the old nappy or their genitals. It’s perfectly normal for them to try to explore the bits of their body they can’t usually get at, so don’t tell them off; perhaps give them a small multi-sensory toy such as a chime ball to keep them busy.