How Many Newborn Diapers Do I Need? A Tushy Talk

By Christina Simpson | Baby

Aug 09
How Many Newborn Diapers Do I Need

Preparing for your baby’s arrival can make you feel both anxious and excited. There are all sorts of things that you need to make sure you have in your home before the baby arrives: clothes, baby gear, nursery furniture, feeding-related needs, the whole nine yards. One of the most important things that you need to have at the ready even before your baby’s arrival is a stash of diapers.

Diapering is expensive. Parents can expect to spend anywhere between $468 to $1,152 in diapers in the first year alone and, if you’re not careful, you might even waste money on diapers that you won’t end up using at all. Luckily, all it takes is a bit of research and some simple calculations to avoid wasting your hard-earned cash. At some point, you may have already asked yourself “how many newborn diapers do I need?” Well, the answer to your question can be found here.


Things to Consider

Disposable Diapers and Cloth Diapers

Before you head off to the store or go to your trusted online baby shopping site to purchase your stash of diapers, consider these things first:

1. What type of diaper to use?

The kind of diaper you plan on using is a major deciding factor on how many newborn diapers you need. There are two main types of diapers that parents can choose from: disposable and cloth. Depending on your lifestyle, your budget, and your personal preference, each type may present itself more practical than the other.

Disposable diapers

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Expensive
    If you choose to go with disposables, you’ll have to remember that these will become a recurring item on your “to buy” list and that the cost of these will add up over time.
  • Contains chemicals
    Chemicals in disposables help them become more absorbent and less stinky
  • Could run out at the most inopportune times
    Going to the store with a butt-naked baby praying that he doesn’t go number 1 or 2 before you could check out with a bag of diapers because you forgot to top up your stash is the last thing you want to do when you’re a new mom who has so much on your hands
  • Harmful to the environment
    About 3.4 million tons of landfill waste per year can be attributed to disposable diapers alone.

Cloth diapers

  • PROS
  • CONS
  • Messy
    Cloth diapers aren’t as absorbent as disposables, so accidents and leaks are prone to happen if you’re not careful
  • Requires too much work
    If you’re not a fan of doing the laundry (don’t worry, I’m not either), you might find that cloth diapers are a lot of work. Aside from very specific care instructions regarding washing, deodorizing, and drying, you’ll also have to make sure to take immediate action on soiled ones to keep odor and stains from setting.

2. Feeding plans for baby

breastfeeding vs bottle feeding

How you plan to feed your little one will also affect the frequency of her bowel movements thus also affecting the number of diapers you will need. Newborn babies who are bottle fed need to poop more frequently to avoid constipation while breastfed babies can get away with moving their bowels less frequently.

3. Baby’s growth and weight gain

baby growth and development

It’s important to note that newborn babies grow very quickly. An average newborn baby will gain about an ounce per month during his first few months (weight loss is expected during the first few days, and normal weight will return afterward) until he doubles his weight around his sixth month.

Most diaper brands will have an ideal weight alongside the size on their packaging. The ideal weight on most newborn size diapers ranges from four to ten pounds. Knowing this information, you can calculate and approximate how many newborn diapers you’ll need before your little one moves up a size.

Calculating the amount of diapers you need

Calculating the amount of diapers you need

Now let’s move on to the calculation part:

For example, if a baby is born at 7lbs and gains the average 1lb per month, he will have reached 10lbs by his 3rd or 4th month which means that he will have outgrown the newborn diaper size by then.

Now, take the average newborn baby’s daily diaper consumption which is 10 to 12 pieces and multiply that by the number of days until you reach the month that he would’ve outgrown the newborn size (in this case 90 to 120 days) to get the number of newborn diapers that you will need until your baby moves up a size.

Sample computation:

Number of days to reach maximum ideal weight for NB size diapers: 120 days

12 diapers per day x 120 days = 1,440 diapers

Let’s say you’ve decided to use Pampers Swaddlers. The regular price for a pack of 128 diapers is $33.19 which means that each piece of diaper comes up to about $0.26 so:

1,440 diapers x $0.26 = $374.4

You will be spending approximately $374.4 on diapers during your baby’s first four months.

From the 5th to the 9th month, babies are expected to use about 8 diapers per day which means that you will need another 960 pieces of diaper, this time you’ll be needing size 1 diapers. Most size 1 diapers are made for babies weighing anywhere between 8 to 14 pounds. If you’re still using Pampers Swaddlers, you can opt for the Economy Pack Plus for Size 1 which costs $37.99 for a pack of 216 which brings the cost of each piece to only $0.18.

960 diapers x $0.18 = $172.8

You can expect to spend another $172.8 on diapers for your baby’s 5th to 9th month.

From the 9th month until the 1st year, you can expect your baby to keep using about 8 diapers per day, unless you decide to start potty training early. This means you’ll be going through another 720 pieces of diaper before your little one’s first year is over. If you decide to stick with Pampers Swaddlers, you’ll want to switch to Size 2 since these can cater to bigger babies (ideal weight: 12 to 18 lbs.)

The Economy Plus Pack for this specific kind of diaper costs $42.86 for a pack of 186 which means that each piece comes up to $0.23. You can refer to the following computation to see how much you’ll need for diapers from your baby’s 9th month to his first year:

720 diapers x $0.23 = $165.6 more on diapers until your baby turns 1

Should you choose to use cloth diapers, a different computation would be needed. If the average baby uses about 10 to 12 diapers per day, you’ll need to have at least twice that amount at the ready because you’ll need time to wash and dry the soiled pieces before you can use them again. The number will also depend on the cloth diaper style (basic prefold, fitted) you will be using. You can follow this simple computation by NaturallyThriftyMom on Youtube to get an estimate of how much you’ll need for both styles.

The thing about cloth diapers is that they are more of an upfront investment. You’ll spend a rather large sum of money for them at once but that’s it. BumGenius, one of the most popular cloth diaper brands, can be purchased at $19.95 a piece. This price includes both the cover and the insert. Since, as mentioned above, newborn babies go through 10 to 12 diapers in a day, that will be your basic stash.

10 diapers x $19.95 = $199.50

12 diapers x $19.95 = $239.40

Unless you plan on washing each diaper after every use, you can’t just settle with 12. You’ll want to have at least twice that amount so you have extras and won’t run out of clean ones.

20 diapers x $19.95 = $399.00

24 diapers x $19.95 = $478.80

Now, if you don’t think you can do laundry every day, you’ll probably want to get about thrice as much as the basic number of cloth diapers needed so you can get away with washing soiled diapers every other day instead.

30 diapers x $19.95 = $598.50

30 diapers x $19.95 = $598.50


If you’re going for disposables, you can expect to use about a total of 3120 pieces of diapers on your baby’s first year.

  • Newborn to 4 months = 1.440 diapers
  • 5 months to 9 months = 960 diapers
  • 9 months to 1 year = 720 diapers

You can expect to spend around $712.8 (using Pampers Swaddlers) on disposable diapers during your baby’s first year alone. That amount does not include other diapering needs such as wipes, sanitizers, changing mats, changing mat covers, nappy creams, a diaper pail for home use and diaper disposal sacks for outdoor use. If you decide to switch to different brands or different kinds of diapers at some point, this price might change, too.

In case you decide to go green and use cloth diapers instead, the number you need will depend on how frequently you plan on doing the diaper laundry.

  • Basic stash = 10 to 12 diapers (good for 1 whole day)
  • Every day laundry schedule = 20 to 24 diapers
  • Every other day laundry schedule = 30 to 36 diapers

You can expect to spend anywhere between $199.50 to $718.20 on cloth diapers from your baby’s birth to the day he stops using diapers altogether. This amount, however, does not include the cost for other cloth diapering needs like extra inserts (needed for doubling up when baby is bigger and needs extra absorbency on his diaper, laundry essentials, nappy creams, changing mats and covers, a diaper pail for home use, and a wet bag for outdoor use.

Are you planning on completing your baby’s diaper stash? How many diapers have you bought so far? If you have any more questions regarding diapering for newborns or if you have tips, tricks, and experiences to share regarding newborn babies’ diapers, share it in the comments. We would love to hear from you! 


About the Author

I’m Christina Simpson and I am a mother of 2 little princesses and a dear little boy. I like to write stuff on PassionMommy, a blog about parenting and motherhood that aims to help other moms in distress (that is, when I’m not at a tea party with my girls or looting treasures with my little pirate boy).