How Many Nappies Will I Need to Buy?by Jasmine Gurney
After a baby is born, skin-to-skin contact initiates a special process babies go through shortly after birth which ends in them taking their first feed. As your baby begins feeding, all that milk will have to go somewhere. The 24 hours after birth will really let you master your nappy changing skills as you’ll be going through quite a few!
Babies are admittedly very expensive and will need you to financially support them, feed them, house them and spoil them until they eventually decide to flee the nest. We won’t lie to you, they’re not the cheapest. We’re here to shed some light on what babies really cost - sorry!
Babies, on average wee every one to three hours and poo several times a day. Stocking up on nappies, whether they are single-use disposable or reusable, is a good idea before the birth. Unfortunately, knowing the baby’s exact size and weight before birth is impossible, so a little guesswork will be involved when buying the baby’s first nappies.
Store-bought brands like Pampers, Huggies and supermarket own-brands Mamia, Lupilu, Baby Ocado and Little Angels usually come in sizes 0,1,2,3 etc. Newborns can be anything from size 0 to size 2, depending on their weight at birth. It may be a good plan to get a few sizes and keep the receipt for when you know exactly which size will be best and return any that may be too small. If they’re size 0, you can always keep the larger sizes for when your baby grows.
It will be good practice as you begin changing nappies to keep a note of your baby’s urine and bowel movements as your midwife will want to ensure your baby is thriving and there are no issues with digestion. To catch all the wees, your little bundle of joy will be going through between 6 and 8 wet nappies a day and will need to be changed every 3 hours. If you’re opting for formula feedings, expect this to go up to around 10 nappy changes per day as your little one will be taking in much more fluid than a breast-fed baby.
Your newborn will usually have their first bowel movement around a day or two after birth. The first poo is called meconium and its arrival is a really good side that your baby’s digestion is working normally. These first bowel movements will have a black tar-like consistency. The meconium is made up of mucus, amniotic fluid and everything your baby ingested while he was in your womb.
Babies that are fed formula will poo a few times a day. This, however, can vary from every other day to several times a day. This, compared to breast-fed babies who can poo between once every 4 days to after every feed means that you definitely need to stock up on nappies or have a lot of reusables on hand to cycle through each day. Like breastfed babies’ poo, bottle-fed babies’ poo varies in colour from pale yellow to yellowish-brown. The consistency will resemble more like that of an adult’s if formula-fed and will be bulkier, pastier and stronger-smelling as formula milk cannot be digested as fully as breast milk, which also means bottle-fed babies are particularly prone to constipation.
After their first feed, your first milk which is thick and yellow (colostrum), will protect your baby from infection and has the added benefit of acting as a laxative, encouraging the baby’s first poo (meconium) out of your baby’s system. Once your milk comes in fully, about three days after you give birth, your baby’s poos will start to change and become lighter day by day from greenish-brown to a bright or mustard yellow shade. Expect to see more loose-textured poos, to begin with, at least the size of a £2 coin and be slightly sweet-smelling. It can sometimes look quite seedy, like wholegrain mustard - but this is completely normal and is not to be confused with diarrhoea.
The typical cost of a multipack of nappies is around £6 for 72 nappies, but you can buy these in bulk for a lot cheaper on sites like Amazon and can even be claimed for free through Your Baby Club. Expect to use around 50-80 nappies a week whilst your baby is newborn. This will reduce to around 40-50 per week once they are 2 months old and eventually be down to 20-30 once they reach 12 months old. You will notice as your baby needs larger nappies, the price of the packs will go up, but as they go through less, it should work out roughly £6-15 a week, depending on their size.
[Read more: Reusable Nappies, Explained]
As your baby grows and you start to feed them mushy baby foods like blended carrots and swede mixed with chicken and other proteins, their poos will start to become more solid and will start pooing a lot less often as their digestive system matures.
If your baby seems to be going through fewer nappies than considered ‘normal’, be sure to contact your midwife or visit a paediatrician as your baby may be dehydrated. If you’re unsure how to change a nappy or want to know more about reusable nappies, talk to your midwife during your pregnancy or after the birth and they will certainly give you as much information as they can.