How Often to Change Reusable Cloth Nappies
I am often asked "how often to change a newborn nappy" or "how many hours between nappy changes"
This comes from an expectation that reusable nappies to be changed more frequently than disposables however there should be no difference between frequency of changing between disposable nappies and a reusable baby's nappy. To keep your baby comfortable and to avoid nappy rash you should change your baby at the same rate to avoid nappy rash.
How is nappy rash caused?
Nappy rash is caused by bacteria, not wetness, the longer a baby sits in a wet nappy the more risk of bacteria. However, because disposables are chemically capable of holding urine for longer, it can be easy to leave them on longer than is sensible, if nappy rash is to be avoided.
How reliable a cloth nappy is at holding urine depends on its overall absorbency: the less absorbent the nappy, the sooner you are likely to need to change it. Cloth nappies become more absorbent with use, which is why you should prewash new nappies a few times before using them.
At nappy changes it is important to use baby wipes to clean baby's skin thoroughly so they go back into the new clean nappy (reusable or disposable) with a clean dry bottom. I have met families who just put a clean nappy on without cleaning the skin for a wet nappy but this will lead to irritation over time.
Pooey Nappies Are Changed Pronto
A pooey dirty nappy should be changed straight away to avoid nappy rash. Pooey nappies regardless of cloth or disposable will rapidly irritate baby's delicate skin.
Why are newborns changed so frequently?
The younger the baby, the less able they are to handle the natural chemical reaction (ammonia) that urine causes on the skin, which is why younger babies should be changed more often than older ones. Also, until they go onto solids, their only food is liquid, and liquid in = liquid out!
The following guidelines should help guide you as to how often your baby might need changing:
- Change as soon as possible after a poo, regardless of the child's age
- Babies under one month - change every two hours during the day, and before/after every night feed (whichever you prefer)
- Babies under six months - change every 2½ hours during the day, and at night feed as needed (i.e. if they are still pooing at night)
- Babies and toddlers over six months - change approximately every 3 hours during the day
- Toddlers over 12 months will usually have approximately 4-5 nappy changes in a 24 hour period (subject to poos)
For a one off occasion at any age, you can add a booster to make a nappy last as long as you need (or at least until the next poo). However, this should not become the norm, as it will be less comfortable for your child.
No such thing as average
As we all know, there's no such thing as average when it comes to babies and children, so you should use common sense to know what suits your own situation. If nappy rash threatens, you will want to change nappies more often, at least until the redness clears. Equally, if your child can wee for Britain and the nappy cannot hold all the liquid, you may need to do nappy changing more frequently. Conversely, if you are planning to go out for half a day, shortly after a nappy change, you may want to change the nappy again just before you go out, so that you will not have to do so again while out (unless a poo intervenes!).
Night Time Nappies
Once your child is sleeping through the night, a highly absorbent cloth nappy will easily last 12 hours. Recommended absorbent nappies for night time are the Nox Hemp Night Time Nappy, Mother-ease Sandy, Bamboozle Stretch, Petit Lulu Maxi Nights, Bambeasyand Little Lamb Bamboo. Heavy wetters still need an additional booster for night time.
Links to suitable night time nappies below: