Wet Diapers and Newborn Urine Output

The Common Questions About Baby Pee

Woman changing baby diaper
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Many new moms have questions about their baby's urination pattern. You may be wondering how many wet diapers your baby should have each day, what color the baby's urine should be, and what you should be checking for at each diaper change. Here you find information and guidelines for what's normal and what's not.

Wet Diapers During the First Week of Life

Breastfeeding moms are often more concerned about wet diapers than moms who bottle feed. It's easier to tell that the baby is getting enough to eat when you're giving a bottle. But, when you're breastfeeding, it can be a little more difficult. Especially in the first few days while your supply of breast milk is increasing. Counting wet diapers is a great way to help you feel more confident that your baby is getting what he needs. Here's how many wet diapers to expect during the first week for babies who breastfeed and those who take a bottle.

Breastfeeding: The number of wet (urine) diapers a breastfed baby has each day changes during the first week of life. During the first few days, your newborn may not receive much breast milk so she won't have many wet diapers. Then, as the days go on and your supply of breast milk increases, your baby will produce more urine and have more wet diapers.

  • Day 1: A newborn baby will pass urine for the first time within 12 to 24 hours of birth. During the early hours and days of life, an exclusively breastfed baby may not have many wet diapers.
  • Days 2: You should look for at least two wet diapers a day until your breasts begin to fill with milk by the third or fourth day postpartum. As your milk supply increases, so will the wet diapers.
  • Day 3 to 5: Your baby should have at least three to five wet diapers.
  • From Day 6 On: Your baby should be having at least six to eight wet diapers every 24 hours but may have more. Some babies have a wet diaper at every feeding.

Bottle feeding: Even if you bottle feed, your baby may not take much formula (or breast milk in a bottle) during the first day or two after birth. The amount of urine that your newborn makes is directly related to the amount of fluid she takes in. If your baby is a great eater and takes two ounces of formula every three hours right from the beginning, you will see more wet diapers. But, if your newborn is sleepy or not taking in too much fluid during the first day or so, she'll have less wet diapers.

  • Day 1: Your baby should have his first wet diaper by the time he is 12 to 24 hours old.
  • Day 2: You should look for at least two wet diapers a day.
  • Day 3 and 5: The baby should have at least three to five wet diapers.
  • From Day 6 On: You should expect at least six to eight wet diapers a day.

Urination After the First Week

Whether you're bottle feeding or breastfeeding, your newborn should be settling into a feeding pattern and eating well by the second week of life. You should see at least six to eight wet diapers each day, but your child could have up to ten or more.

A baby's little bladder holds about one tablespoon (15 ml) of urine, so he or she may empty it very often. Some newborns will pee up to 20 times in 24 hours, and that's OK. If your baby is sleeping, you don't have to wake him up to change a diaper. A change before or after each feeding, approximately every two to three hours, is fine.

When a Newborn Is Not Urinating

Your child should have at least two wet diapers during the first few days when you're only making colostrum. But, by the time your baby is six days old, she should have at least six wet diapers a day. If your child is not making enough urine or has no urine at all, call the doctor immediately.

How to Check a Diaper for Wetness 

Since newborns only make a small amount of urine and disposable diapers are very absorbent, it can be hard to tell if the diapers are wet and your baby is peeing enough. So, here are a few things you can do to make sure your child is wetting the diaper.

  1. Pour one ounce (two tablespoons, 30ml) of water into a clean, dry diaper. It will give you a better idea of how a wet diaper looks and feels.
  2. Place one tissue into your baby's diaper to absorb the urine and make it easier to see.
  3. After you change your baby, take the diaper apart to check the under layers or gel material for moisture. It's OK to touch and smell the diaper to check for urine.
  4. Try cloth diapers. You may find it easier to see and feel the wetness in a cloth diaper than in a disposable diaper.
  5. Try disposable diapers with a wetness indicator. There is typically a line or design that changes color when urine is present.

The Color of Newborn Urine

Your baby's urine should be colorless or light yellow. However, if you're breastfeeding, you may notice some slight color changes once in a while. Certain foods, food dyes, herbs, and vitamin supplements that you add to your everyday diet could change the color of your breast milk as well as add a tint of green, pink, or orange to your newborn's urine.

Concentrated Urine

Concentrated urine is very dark yellow. It may also have a strong smell. After your milk comes in, a diaper with concentrated urine now and then is okay. However, if your baby has many diapers with very dark yellow urine, call the doctor.

Brick Dust Urine

Very concentrated urine during the first few days of life can contain urate crystals (uric acid crystals). These urate crystals can cause a pink, red, or orange-colored, powdery stain in your baby's diaper called brick dust. It might be scary, but brick dust is normal for many newborns. Concentrated urine and brick dust should go away by the fifth or sixth day when you're making more breast milk.

When to Call Your Baby's Doctor

When your baby is getting enough fluids, she will have at least six to eight wet diapers a day. But, if your baby is not getting enough, she can become dehydrated. Dehydration in newborns and young infants is dangerous. So, notify the doctor if: 

  • You see brick dust stains in your newborn’s diaper after the fourth day of life.
  • The baby is only a making a small amount of very dark yellow, concentrated, smelly urine after day four.
  • The baby has fewer than six wet diapers each day after day five.
  • Your baby is not feeding well.
  • The soft spot on top of the baby's head is sinking down into her head.
  • The baby's mouth and lips are dry.
  • The baby is unusually sleepy and difficult to wake.

The doctor will check your child’s health and talk to you about how much and how often your baby is eating.

Blood in the Diaper

Both boys and girls can have a little blood in their diaper, but for different reasons. Here are two reasons you may notice blood that isn't serious.  

Pseudomenstruation: Baby girls may have blood-tinged vaginal discharge during the first few days of life. It's called pseudomenstruation, or false menstruation. It is from the hormones in your baby's body, and it's not harmful.

Circumcision: Baby boys may have a small amount of blood in their diapers after a circumcision. The bleeding from a circumcision usually lasts for a few hours, but you may notice small spots of blood in the diaper for up to a day. After the circumcision, your baby should have a wet diaper within 12 hours.

Blood in Newborn Urine

While a little blood in your baby's diaper from circumcision or pseudomenstruation is OK, blood in your baby's urine is not. If you see any blood in your little one's urine or your child is crying and showing signs of painful urination, contact your baby's doctor right away.

Urinary Tract Infection

If bacteria gets into the baby's urinary tract, it can cause an infection. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can change the amount, color, or smell of your baby's urine. It can be difficult to notice a UTI in babies, but the symptoms to watch for include:

  • frequent urination
  • pain when peeing
  • smelly urine
  • blood in the urine
  • a fever

If you see the signs of a UTI, you should call your baby's doctor for treatment.

To help prevent a UTI be sure your baby is getting enough breastmilk or formula, change your baby's diaper often especially after bowel movements, wash your hands before and after changing your baby, and always clean your baby's diaper area from front to back.

A Word From Verywell

Babies are all different. Some breastfeed, and others take a bottle. Some are alert and eat well from the first feeding, and others are sleepy for a few hours or days. These are some of the reasons there's a wide range of normal when it comes to newborn urination. But, by understanding the guidelines and monitoring your baby's wet diapers, it can help you feel more confident that your baby is making enough urine and getting enough fluids. Of course, if you have any questions about the amount, color, or frequency of your baby's urination, you should call the doctor. The staff at your doctor's office is there to help.

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