How often should I change my baby?

how often do I change cloth diapers

Today, we answer on our blog THE WORLD’S MOST DIFFICULT QUESTION. Well, if you’re new to cloth diapering, this (and laundry how-to’s) is likely the biggest question troubling you today.

How often do I change cloth diapers?

How often should I change my baby?

This question is, bar none, the most poopular (sorry, couldn’t resist) question we field on the Customer Delight desk: how often should I change my little one’s Lil Helper Cloth Diaper?

The next three questions combined only just match the number of times we’re asked this VERY important question.

And for new-to-cloth parents, this can be a scary question. A lot of parents are concerned about the amount of absorbency a diaper can have—regardless of whether the diaper is disposable or cloth.

But let us re-frame the question a bit:

Instead of asking how often I should change my baby’s cloth diaper, what if you asked, what’s next my baby’s skin when they are sitting in a dirty diaper?

That answer, my friends, is pee. Or poop. Or both.

Mostly pee. A lot of pee.

You don’t have a little one so much as you have a water fountain.

How is it possible for one small baby to pee so much? And the poop-splosion? Where’s my hazmat suit when I need it?

So let’s look at another question: 12-Hour Diapers? F’reals?

Some disposable diaper companies claim their dipes can last for 12 hours and chances are they’re technically right.

But for us, we just have to ask ANOTHER question:

Would you really want your baby to be in the same diaper for 12 hours?

Horrified, yet?

how often do I change cloth diapersWe can tell you we’ve seen the letters (and fielded one phone call just this week) about it.

Sure, maybe we could try to make a 12-hour cloth diaper, but why would we want to? More importantly, would your little one want us to?

If we were to make a diaper that magically needs only 2 changes per day, would you — in theory — be OK with putting a clean diaper on your babe only twice a day unless they have pooped? Or is the pooping part irrelevant and you just keep them sitting in their own mess for 12 hours? Because hey, it’s a 12-hour diaper, right?

What the experts say about changing diapers

A diaper should be changed when the baby has peed or pooped. If you know your little one has “gone” and you are able to do a change, go ahead and do it right away.

Let’s put that into perspective: If you had pee or poop on your bottom, you’d clean up and change. You could go twelve hours (shudder) but would you just because you’re not “leaking”? Of course not! Ok, well how about two hours if your cloth diapers didn’t leak? One? Four? What’s your magic number of hours you’d sit in your own waste before you’d clean up? We’re pretty sure you’d change right away, if you could.

Having said this, once your babies turn to toddlers and are doing something very cool like stacking towers and discovering places to hide your keys, they’re going to be too busy to want to be changed… good luck with that. We at Lil Helper humbly suggest you wear roller skates but we still advise you change your moving’ and groovin’ kiddo the moment you catch-up.

As babies get older, they wet less often you can go a lil longer between changes. Pee doesn’t usually bother a baby’s skin; but poop, which can be acidic and hosts some double-plus-yucky bacteria, will irritate anyone’s skin.

Did we say “usually?” Yes. Pee doesn’t usually bother a baby’s skin, unless that urine sits in a wet and warm place for several hours and the ammonia builds — and between that the the poop, you’ve got a baby with diaper rash and burns. Luckily, with a frequent change routine (and maybe a Lil Helper’s Charcoal Diaper) this problem is very well taken care of. But like any other cloth diaper, if you leave a wet and dirty diaper on too long, the ammonia and bacteria (hey, what’s that smell???) will build.

For the record our charcoal inserts hold a cool 200 ml of moisture. Just sayin’. For those not into metric, that’s nearly a cup.

The older the baby is, with a more varied diet than EBF or formula, the greater the opportunity for ammonia and bacteria build-up in their diapers.

So could we make a 12-hour (or even a 4-hour) diaper?

Probably. But why would we? The more often a wet diaper is changed, the less risk of rashes or irritation. And frankly, it’s just good hygiene.

Your diapers do a lot more than hold pee and poop: they hold your child. The beauty of having cloth shouldn’t be how much moisture it will hold but how comfortable your baby is wearing some good clean dry cloth.

Our job as cloth diaper manufacturers is to make a cloth diaper that is easy to use, doesn’t leak, is made of high quality materials — and in the event that things go wrong, we stand up and make it right. I am proud to say, Lil Helper does an excellent job in all those respects.



We already leave our little ones wet overnight (well, for those of you with sleepers) because we all know the cardinal rule of sleeping babies: DO NOT WAKE THE SLEEPING BABY! Either bulk up the inserts or use a one of Lil Helper’s Overnight Inserts (which are—and these are technical terms—humongous and awesome).

Obviously change if you have to, overnight (I personally can do this in the dark now).


During the day, do your wee one a favour and keep an eagle eye on the need for change. And since generally speaking, we don’t want the bulk of three inserts or an overnight insert, the best way to avoid over filling that diaper is to change your kidlet early and often.

Depending on your child’s age and feeding, sometimes that’s going to be three minutes after you just changed your baby (that’s always when you’re late for a family function) or a couple of hours, tops.

Look at it this way, how often do YOU go to the bathroom and along with that, how often do you clean yourself thereafter? Chances are you “clean up” every time. Use that as the most basic rule for how often to change (and thus “clean up”). Chances are it’s not every 12 hours.

In fact, that may be a good exercise for those new to cloth diapering: keep a journal for a few days and see just how often you pee and poop. 


If you wish to start your cloth diapering journey with Lil Helper Cloth Diapers, we have just the right deal for you.

New to cloth (and Lil Helpers) and want to give us a try?

For Canadian customers: TRIAL PACK, eh?

US and International customers: TRIAL PACK


Fun Factoids

I know what you’re thinking: what about the diapers astronauts wear? Good question. Here’s a bit about what the astronauts do:

The Maximum Absorbency Garment:

And what’s in them that makes them so special, why that would be sodium polyacrylate of course:


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