There are five general tricks to use when deciding if it’s time to change the baby’s diaper:
1. Watch the clockThe general rule for changing any diaper (disposable or cloth) is that diapers should be changed about every two hours. Changing diapers every two hours will help to prevent diaper rash, but going over two hours under certain circumstances is just fine. For example, if your child is sleeping longer at night or taking big naps, then change the diaper when your child wakes up. Some young babies do get uncomfortable in the middle of the night and like to have a diaper change if they’ve woken up. If your older baby is drinking a lot of liquid in a short period of time, you may need to change diapers more frequently depending on the absorbency of the diapers you use. Conversely, older children who are learning to “hold it” longer may not be wet after two hours, and it’s OK to go for longer periods of time before changing their diapers.
2. Feel for wetnessIf you are unsure if you need to change your child’s diaper, you can “feel” for wetness in many styles of diapers. With back-stuffing pocket diapers you can reach in and feel the microfiber insert within the back of the diaper. If the insert feels very wet, the diaper should be changed. Since babies soil the front or center of the diaper first, feeling a wet diaper across the back is a clear indication of a soggy diaper in need of a change.
3. Squish testAnother easy way to tell if a diaper is wet is to do a “squish” test. This is especially useful with older toddlers who are heavily soiling diapers throughout the day. Simply give the center or back of the diaper a little squish and see if it feels heavy. A dry diaper will spring back and hold its shape, but a heavily soiled diaper will feel squishy and weighed down.
4. Always change poopy diapers ASAPWhenever your child has a poop, this is an immediate call to action. Poop is very irritating to baby’s skin, and poopy diapers should be changed as soon as possible (just make sure the little one is done pooping or you might get a surprise on the changing table!). Since newborn babies may poop after every meal, they will require more cloth diapers than an older baby.
5. Listen to the babySome babies are very sensitive to wet diapers and will become fussy immediately after soiling their diaper. With newborn babies you may not always hear (or smell) a poop when it happens, so be sure to check diapers frequently. If your baby is especially finicky about wet diapers, opt for a cloth diaper style with a “stay dry” feature (for example FuzziBunz pocket diapers) which will wick moisture away from baby and keep them feeling dry.
The great thing about cloth diapers is that you’re not throwing money away at every change, so babies are more likely to get changed when they need it. A good rule to follow is “When in doubt, change it out”. A fresh diaper never hurts.