How Many Diapers Does It Take?

Every time I go to the pediatrician with a nursing baby, I get asked the most baffling question. It’s a question I’ve never quite been able to answer in 5.5 years of parenting.

“How many wet diapers does she have a day?”

I don’t know. I don’t keep a chart next to me where I mark off how many diapers I used. It seems to me it varies day by day. I don’t cloth diaper (and I don’t want to hear about how I should) so I don’t have a pile of diapers to count while I’m washing them every other day (and thank goodness for that).

The thing is, I’m not sure how you even define what a “wet” diaper is. It seems to me that babies have a constant tiny trickle of pee. A diaper (disposable or otherwise) is never completely free of urine. What degree of wet equals the doctor’s definition of wet? We use Pampers and they get squishy/fluffy when they are wet. If I remember correctly, Huggies get hard when wet (I hate Huggies and off-brand diapers including Luvs have always backfired when we tried them.). Here are my categories of Pampers:

*Fresh and dry. The diaper feels crisp and crunchy. Extremely rare and generally only lasts 10 minutes.

*Slightly wet. You can tell some sort of pee has probably happened, but the diaper is a tiny bit squishy in a couple spots but not all over. Parts of the diaper are still crispy. The diaper does not need to be changed at this level of wetness. If you changed the diaper every time it got this wet, you would use 25 billion diapers a day.

*Moderately wet. The diaper is thoroughly squishy throughout, but far from “full”. You’d probably change the diaper at this point if you noticed it, were leaving the house or putting the baby down for a nap/bed, but it’s not a diaper emergency.

*Very wet. The diaper is very squishy and swollen. It sags and is visible from outside the pants. It might even be slightly damp on the outside. Even my husband can tell that it’s time to change a diaper when it reaches this level of wet.

*Poopy. Self-explanatory. You always change a poopy diaper right away no matter what.

So when the doctor asks how often your kid has a wet diaper, does the doctor mean slightly wet, moderately wet or VERY wet? My babies poop so often that I’m usually changing the baby before it gets to the “very wet” level. Sometimes the diaper might not be wet when I change a poopy, but I can’t tell for sure. Does that count as a wet diaper?

So when the doctor asked last time how many wet diapers I changed, I just answered I changed 5ish poopy diapers a day that were probably also wet, plus a couple more wet diapers.

When they don’t seem satisfied with my wet diaper knowledge, I’m left wondering if they’ve ever actually lived with a baby.

There’s an exact number of wet diapers a day? Really? I think not. (Although as I’ve heard from some newbies on my personal facebook page, there’s an app for that!)

I understand they are asking to check on my kid’s hydration, but it’s just not a scientific question unless they give me some better definitions here.



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2 Responses to How Many Diapers Does It Take?

  1. Our current pediatrician doesn’t ask. He might ask if the baby looked dehydrated or wasn’t gaining weight or something. He did say to keep a chart for the first week of the baby’s life, but after that it was all about if the baby looked healthy and was growing.

    Our previous pedi was a GP, and she’d ask.

    I suspect it’s a difference between being able to tell if a baby is healthy through examination because you’ve examined so many babies and going by numbers.

    • I think it’s a standard question at the practice we go to. Our pediatrician has been in practice for many years, but she and her nurse ALWAYS ask. They asked the same question at our previous pediatrician to whom we went for two years before we switched.

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