Previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network
In the Old Days
Many years ago, when I was a raising my children (who are now grown), I used cloth diapers. Cloth diapers in the '60s, '70s and even in the '80s were nothing like diapers available today.
The common practice in those early years was to use a petroleum jelly product to prevent diaper rash in newborns, but even after frequent diaper changes, the petroleum jelly didn't last, and it didn't always work to prevent infant diaper rash.
I was grateful for days when I could use disposable diapers, but even then, more than twenty years ago, disposable diapers were not nearly as absorbent as they are today. I checked bottoms constantly. And I frequently had to change my newborns' clothing, because infant diapers had a habit of leaking.
Both cloth and disposable diapers are more absorbent and last longer than diapers of yesteryear. Unless baby defecates, he or she can probably go for several hours without needing a diaper change. Still, new parents wonder how often they need to change their newborns, so they find themselves checking baby often throughout the day.
How many times do you need to change your infant? According to Dr. David Geller at babycenter.com, "A newborn can have as many as eight to ten bowel movements a day..." So does that mean you need to change your newborn eight to ten times a day? Absolutely.
As new parents who are getting to know your newborn's habits, you should always err on the side of caution. In other words, until you know what your newborn needs, change your baby's diaper frequently. The longer you spend time with your infant, the more you will become accustomed to your baby's habits. Some infants require only a couple of diaper changes a day. Others, for a variety of reasons, require diaper changes more frequently.
One of my newborns often soaked the bedding and clothing, while my other newborns rarely awoke with wet clothes.
First Thing In The Morning
Baby will usually awaken hungry, so depending upon how long he or she has been sleeping, you may have to change your baby's diaper immediately. If your infant isn't soaked, but is only mildly hungry, use this time to teach your baby the art of patience. While you change baby's diaper, play and talk with your newborn to distract baby from feeling pangs of hunger, or wait to change your newborn's diaper until after you have fed your baby.
After Every Meal
Some babies are very vocal about their bowel movements and will strain so much to move their bowels, you will know instantly when they will need their next diaper change. Usually within 20-45 minutes after a meal, baby is ready for a diaper change. Each baby is different, however, so pay close attention to your newborn's signals.
Before Bed Time and Throughout the Night
Before bed time and after an evening bath, put a fresh diaper on your infant. Until you become accustomed to your baby's rhythms, whenever your baby awakens during the night for a feeding, change your newborn's diaper either before or after each feeding.
Repeat the Cycle
Eventually, you will get into a rhythm and understand your newborn's cycles. You'll know how long baby can go before needing a diaper change, and you'll know how many diapers you will need each week.
Feed your newborn, love your newborn, and keep your newborn healthy and happy. Clean bottoms make for happier babies.
Sources: Personal experience and BabyCenter.com