Newborn diaper habits

You may be surprised at the number of diapers your newborn goes through every day. Normally, newborns who are breast-fed have 5 to 10 bowel movements a day but may have as few as 1 or 2. Bottle-fed babies typically have 1 or 2 fewer bowel movements a day than breast-fed babies. Your newborn's bowel movements usually will change from black to green in the first few days, and then to yellow or yellowish brown by the end of the first week. Breast-fed babies generally have more yellowish bowel movements than bottle-fed babies.

The number of diapers a newborn wets is sometimes difficult to determine because disposable diapers are so effective at wicking moisture. In general, however, during the first week your newborn normally has at least 2 or 3 wet diapers a day. After that, your baby will have at least 6 to 8 wet diapers a day.

By monitoring your baby's diaper habits, you can get a sense of whether he or she is getting enough breast milk or formula. If your baby is not getting enough milk, he or she may act fussy and hungry, fail to produce tears when crying, and have a dry mouth with little or no saliva. Call your health professional if your baby does not regularly produce wet or dirty diapers and shows other signs of dehydration, such as strong-smelling urine that is a dark yellow color.

Last Updated: March 19, 2009

Author: Debby Golonka, MPH

Medical Review: Michael J. Sexton, MD - Pediatrics & Kimberly Dow, MD, FRCPC - Neonatology

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