Diapers for Toddlers: What to Know

Medically Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on February 04, 2017
2 min read

Your baby is growing by leaps and bounds. With each passing milestone, it’s time to think about her changing diaper needs. Does it still fit well? Is she ready for pull-ups? Keep these four things in mind as you move through the diaper stages.

Even though your baby is getting older, her body probably grows at a different rate than other kids her age. So the age range on a package of diapers may not be the best guide to a proper fit.

“You don’t need to move up to 2-year-old diapers if 18 months still fits fine,” says Ellen Schumann, MD, a pediatrician in Weston, WI.

Instead, check the weight range on the package. When your baby reaches the upper limits of the suggested weight, it’s time to think about moving up a size, Schumann says.

A bonus reason not to move your baby up a size too soon? Your budget. Keep in mind: The smaller the diaper, the more you get in a package.

Other signs she needs a bigger size: If poop leaks out of her diaper (the dreaded “blowout”) or if urine soaks through her clothing at night, Schumann says. A too-tight diaper may also leave red marks on her waist or thighs.

As toddlers near their second birthday, they may be getting ready to start potty training. This may be a good time to rethink her diapers. A few signs that she might be ready for a change: She may start to tell you when she’s about to go or tug on her diaper more often.

“When your child is capable of pulling up and down on his diaper, you are moving toward using pull-ups,” Schumann says. But if you’re still doing all the changing work, then your toddler is fine with regular diapers.

Again, don’t be too eager to move your child on to this next diaper phase. “Remember that cleaning a dirty pull-up is more challenging than changing a dirty diaper,” Schumann says. You’ll want to wait until your child can recognize the urge to go and cooperate with sitting on the potty before she moves to pull-ups.

As your baby grows, your method of changing her might be different, too.  The older she is, the more likely she will squirm when it’s time. “Just as with little babies, you can never leave toddlers alone on top of a changing table or high surface,” Schumann says.

Try changing her on the floor instead.  Be extra careful if your toddler wears cloth diapers with safety pins, too.

As toddlers grow, diaper rash happens less often, says Adnan Mir, MD, a pediatric dermatologist at Children’s Health in Dallas. But any child in a diaper can get it.

Be sure to keep your toddler clean and dry. If she does get a rash, use plenty of barrier ointment, like petroleum jelly or a zinc oxide cream, and change her often.

Show Sources


Ellen Schumann, MD, pediatrician, Ministry Health Care, Weston, WI.

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Cognitive and Verbal Skills Needed for Toilet Training.”

American Academy of Pediatrics: “Diaper Rash.”

Adnan Mir, MD, pediatric dermatologist, Children’s Health and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.

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