Becoming a new parent can be confusing enough; the last thing you should worry about is deciphering a diaper size chart to figure out which ones to stock up on. Babies go through thousands of diaper changes before potty training, so there’s no doubt you’ll be a diaper expert by the time you’re through.
Until then, the parenting experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute break it down for you here. Our fiber scientists evaluate diapers in the Textiles Lab using a variety of absorbency tests, including how quickly each one can absorb fluid, how much liquid leaks off when the diaper’s held at an angle, and how dry the surface stays when a weight is applied. We also send them home with parent testers to get in-depth, real-life feedback.
How do diaper sizes work?
First things first: Diapers are sized by weight and not by age. Most babies will start in the Newborn size (which also has a cut-out in the front for the umbilical cord) then ultimately spend the majority of their diapering days in size 4, the most popular size on the market. Beyond that, there’s no way to accurately predict ahead of time what size diapers your baby will be in at each age because babies grow at different rates. Still, it’s safe to say babies will at least cycle through sizes 1, 2, and 3 during the first year.
Most disposable diaper brands are available in sizes Newborn through 6. On either end of the spectrum, Huggies and Pampers both offer a Preemie size for babies under six pounds, while Pampers even offers size 7 for toddlers over 41 pounds.
Babies grow so quickly during the first year so they’ll spend less overall time in the smaller-sized diapers, yet you’ll use up more diapers when they’re younger. Newborn babies can go through 12 diapers a day (that’s 360 diapers in the first month!), but that drops down to 5-8 diapers per day by the end of the first year. Keep in mind: The smaller the diaper size, the more diapers you get in each box. Diaper packages may cost the same when you buy them, but you’re paying slightly more per diaperas you size up.