Diaper leaking affects baby’s sleep. Whether the diaper is too tight, too small, or baby is sensitive to being wet, this all affects sleep.
My firstborn was a girl and that all went really smoothly. No leaking diapers, no interrupted sleep, all pretty seamless.
Like the rest of the women in my family, she was efficient.
I have since then had 4 boys and they were a tad trickier. Each time I forgot one of the golden rules of putting diapers on a boy, and with each one they’ve experienced interrupted sleep due to diaper issues.
Luckily the fixes are easy, but I’m sure you can agree that being awoken in the night from a fussy baby or toddler who isn’t even hungry – but just has a leaky diaper – is the height of frustration. Both for them and for you.
Here’s hoping this helps you in surviving the newborn postpartum period and beyond.
1. Quality when it counts.
All diapers were not created equal. Not even close. Now, not everyone can afford to – or chooses to – buy the highest quality diapers all the time, and that’s fine.
Why? Because you’re talking about hours and hours of protection that diaper needs to give without leaking.
While lower quality diapers might do the trick during the day when you can change frequently, you don’t need bodily fluids of any type leaking out the legs at night.
It will wake your child up, make them feel very cold, and even possibly give them a cold if they sleep in wet pajamas for hours.
This is especially important if your baby or toddler doesn’t need to wake in the night to feed, therefore you don’t really want them to wake at all.
2. Anatomical positioning.
Perhaps this was obvious to everyone but me, but I simply could not figure out with my firstborn son why his diaper kept leaking. 45 minutes of great sleep then BAM, diaper leak, awake baby.
Some kind soul who felt sorry for me asked if I was sure to position his anatomy downward in the diaper so that when he urinated it was actually absorbed and the light bulb went off.
If you put on the diaper and push his parts upwards, then when he pees during the night the urine will go upwards and thus leak.
Position the little man’s little man down then put on the diaper and problem solved!
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3. Double up or size up.
If you cloth diaper then consider adding extra inserts at night to prevent leaking. If you wear disposable diapers, use a high quality diaper at night and consider going up a size.
Since the goal is for them to sleep as long as they can at night and not wake up just for a diaper change, giving a larger diaper at night will help stop this.
Now don’t go up so large it can’t fit snugly around the leg, but usually one size up will still fit well enough not to leak if it’s a good diaper i in the first place.
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4. Change at dream feed.
Currently my 2.5 month old is able to go the majority of the night without a diaper change.
If the diaper isn’t dirty I don’t change at every single night feed because changing (especially during the winter) is a great way to fully wake them up which is not the goal here.
I am sure to change the diaper at the 10:30 or 11:00 pm feed and it’ll usually last until he wakes up for the morning at 7:30 am or 8:00.
Now, this is because he doesn’t feed often between those two times, but still. What you want to avoid is a 5:30 am baby or toddler with a leaking diaper who then refuses to go back to sleep.
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5. Less liquids before bed.
In the same way you’d not want to give too much liquid to a child you are training to go without a diaper at night, for toddlers it’s a good idea to cut back on liquids after dinner.
If you put your toddler to bed with a bottle or sippy cup (which there is nothing wrong with, of course) it will likely result in them waking up with a leaky diaper unless you’ve gone up one size in a good quality diaper.
Here’s a handy dandy list of 28 things to try so baby will stop fighting sleep and sleep longer and later.
FAQs about Diapers
You can buy bigger diapers, change before baby’s bed, change before your bed, use booster pads, or (if baby’s old enough) eliminate nighttime feedings for less wetness.
Great idea! Diaper booster pads will help absorb some of the initial wetness and then let the diaper grab the rest. This should prevent leaking if there’s a lot of pee going on.
You’ll want to buy the highest quality of diaper you can for your budget. You can use the less expensive diapers during the day, but save the good ones for night.
If baby is up and walking around with a wet diaper, sure, change it! If baby is asleep and diaper is not leaking, leave it until the next wake up.
If baby is sleeping peacefully and not in discomfort, do not wake to change diaper. Wait until baby has woken up and then change. If baby has a diaper rash, you may want to gently change the diaper when you notice it’s dirty. Alternatively, you can change baby’s diaper before you go to sleep.