One of the biggest questions for new mums and dads: when should my baby start wearing a bib? Any mummy or daddy will tell you that a bib is one of the baby’s must-haves that you should always have on hand. Your baby may be clean and spotless, but as soon as you turn your back for a second, they’ll be full of milk or leftover food in no time.

They’re one of those things you should add to your nursery from birth, as you’re going to need them much sooner than you think. Most new parents mistakenly think that bibs are only useful when the baby starts eating solids. However, they will come in handy from the first week of life, as babies regurgitate or drool regularly, especially while feeding. You’ll definitely appreciate having a bib handy once you’ve experienced your little one’s first milk gag. But is it safe to use a bib from day one to protect the baby’s clothes?

Getting all the stuff needed for a newborn can be overwhelming even for experienced parents. It seems the tiniest babies need the most things for whatever reason. So how many bibs do you actually need to own for those messy little eaters? The answer depends on your own family’s needs.

For most newborns, a handful of bibs should be plenty. Although it may seem a bit excessive to put a bib on kids who aren’t eating solid foods yet, those little ones can still make quite the mess. For starters, if you have a baby who drools a lot, it’s easier to change a bib than an entire outfit. Having a few extra bibs on hand just might prevent you from needing to change the baby’s entire outfit after every feeding. Anything that cuts back on laundry helps, right?

When are bibs safe for babies?

For newborns, it is never safe to leave a bib on unsupervised, even for a short time, whether they are awake or asleep. Babies are a choking hazard, especially if they are lying on their backs. This doesn’t mean you can’t put it on if your baby is sitting in a bouncer or resting on you. In general, it is never recommended to leave a bib on a baby unsupervised. Even babies who are not so young can be at risk of suffocation if they pull on the strings or try to take it off.

When choosing a bib for your baby, it is important to make sure you choose the right size. If it’s too big, it can easily slip out of place and cover the baby’s face. Also, if it’s one of those classic string bibs, it could get tangled around their hands, head or neck. The ideal size for little ones should cover up to the midpoint of your baby’s chest, but should not cover their face if they accidentally turn upwards.

How many bibs should I keep on hand?

Most mums and dads will tell you that there are never enough of them, just like handbags. However, if you really need a number, you should consider how many washers you usually put in a week. Remember that a bib should not be reused after feeding because it is quite unhygienic and therefore unsafe for your baby.

Again, the exact numbers vary from family to family. For newborns who only have some occasional drool or spit up, five bibs may be enough to last the week. For babies who really crank out the drool or spit up, though, you might go through five bibs a day. Basically, you’ll figure out how many bibs your newborn needs as your little one continues to grow and develop and drool.

Again, the exact numbers vary from family to family. For newborns who only have some occasional drool or spit up, five bibs may be enough to last the week. For babies who really crank out the drool or spit up, though, you might go through five bibs a day. Basically, you'll figure out how many bibs your newborn needs as your little one continues to grow and develop and drool.
CREDIT: APPLE PIE ORGANIC COTTON MUSLIN BIB / A MATTER OF STYLE

That said, there are ways to cut back on bib use. There are now waterproof, silicone bibs that can be rinsed off in the sink after every use, as noted in Epicurious. When it comes to bibs that are specifically used for mealtimes, these seem like a fan favorite among parents. It’s an easy way to keep your baby, baby clothes, and even floors a little cleaner while cutting down on the laundry load at the same time.

Whether you can get by with a small stack of bibs, or you have a baby who uses up a dozen or more in a day, the perfect amount of bibs will vary from family to family. Just remember that this phase doesn’t last forever, and soon enough your kid will make it through an entire meal without wearing most of the entree. Until then, though, bibs are your friend.

A tip: have a bib on hand for each feeding or planned feeding plus three more for emergencies. Since babies feed more often the younger they are, you will probably need an average of eight bibs a day for their first six months. Don’t worry, as they get older, you’ll need fewer. What if it’s too hot? Then leave him in just a nappy, and enjoy!

Are there alternatives to the bib?

If you don’t have any on hand, you can use baby wipes or even small muslin-type wipes, but always make sure they are made of soft material so that they don’t damage the baby’s skin or cause any allergies.

Since bibs are essential for babies, I recommend investing in good and varied bibs even before they are born. They don’t expire and can be reused over and over again, so investing in quality pieces will save you money in the long run. Just make sure you buy bibs that are the right size for each stage and that you have several types for when your little one grows up.

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