Assess Your Baby’s Health: Count the Number of Soiled Diapers

Moms can assess the health and wellness of their babies at any age just by being aware of their urine and bowel movements. Though one could argue that the increase in absorbency of disposable diapers makes it next to impossible to determine how many times a baby has wet his diaper, if you develop a habit of checking your baby’s bottom every hour or two, you should be able to accurately determine if your baby’s movements fall within the normal range for newborns, infants, or toddlers in their age group. Below are some general guidelines for the stages of growth.

Newborns
In the first few days of life a baby should have at least two to three wet diapers a day along with black to green colored bowel movements (referred to as meconium). By one week of age, your baby should have at least six to ten wet diapers a day.   This holds true for both nursing and bottle fed babies.

Newborns who are breastfed can have five to ten bowel movements a day or as few as three. Bottle fed babies typically have one to two fewer bowel movements a day than breast-fed babies.[i]

Older Infants
A healthy infant will have at least six wet diapers within a 24-hour period.  A breastfed infant should have roughly four wet stools a day while it is normal for a formula fed baby to have just one.

Toddlers
Once your baby transitions from infant to toddler, both the number of his urine and bowel movements will decrease as the introduction of solid foods start to reduce the intake of liquids. Toddlers should have about six wet diapers a day while the number of bowel movements will decline more dramatically. It is preferable for toddlers to have at least one bowel movement a day; however, it is normal for them to go two to three days without a movement. That said, Moms should always be on the look out for signs of constipation including pain and difficulty passing stools and small, dry, pellet-like stools.

These are just general guidelines for newborns, infants, and toddlers. Because not all babies are the same it is important that you become familiar with the habits of your own baby early on. If after some time you have concerns about the number of soiled diapers that your baby has each day, notice a sudden unexplained change, or signs of dehydration (dry lips, dry mouth, flushed skin, urine begins to darken in color, urine output decreases, or sunken fontanel) you should consult your baby’s pediatrician immediately.

[i] Fackler, Amy, MA.  Newborn Diaper Habits.  Retrieved on February 15, 2006 from http://www.meritcare.com


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