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Nighttime Diaper Changing Guide – How Often and When to Change

When you’re taking care of a baby, sleep becomes the most precious commodity. If you’re lucky, you will have a baby who sleeps well and you get the sleep you deserve and need.

However, for most parents, this is a fairytale. Once you finally get them to sleep, the last thing that you want to do is wake them to change a diaper.

So this is why many parents find changing diapers at night such a daunting task. Here’s a quick how-to guide, so get your best special forces training at the ready and a good pair of socks!

And yes I said socks, the vast majority of homes now have wood flooring throughout and this can pose a bit of problem with bare feet.

My best piece of advice before we even get to the changing of diapers at night is to wear socks. They make you quieter and stealthier, enabling you to leave your baby’s room with minimal disruption!

Should You Change Your Baby’s Diaper At Night?

Choosing not to do a diaper change at night does mean you and your baby could potentially get an uninterrupted night’s sleep. But there are a few factors to consider before making your decision and it may well vary from one night to the next.

The age of your baby is one factor that you will need to consider. Newborn babies tend to wake more through the night and so you could make a diaper change part of the routine.

As they get older, babies tend to wake less frequently through the nights, meaning that this opportunity is lost. 

Another thing to consider is whether or not their diaper is just wet or if they have a dirty diaper. If it is the latter, then I’m afraid it must be changed and there is no other choice to be made.

If it’s just wet, you have to make the choice to wake your baby and potentially disturbing both your baby and your sleep. The other choice is to leave them in the wet diaper.

However, you run the risk of their delicate skin being in contact with urine for a few hours, causing diaper rash.

This is why you need to carefully consider both the pros and cons before making your final decision. Most parents tend to not wake their babies specifically to change diapers.

baby sleeping

How Often Should You Change Your Baby’s Diaper At Night?

This is an easy one to answer. You’ll need to change your baby’s diaper at night when it’s either soaked with urine or they have pooped.

As to how often you’ll need to change the diaper, this depends on the type of diaper you’re using. It’s best to use a super-absorbent overnight diaper as they don’t need to be changed often unless they’re soaked with urine or soiled. 

Using these super-absorbent diapers can ensure that both your baby and you get a full night’s sleep. The only downside of these types of diapers is that they can be expensive, which makes them unpractical for daytime use.

The best thing that you can do is to ensure that your baby has a clean diaper just before they go to sleep for the night.

Nighttime Diaper Changes – The Stealthy Approach

Here are a few steps and tips for you to make sure you can change your baby’s diaper without disrupting their sleep.

Have a set routine

Establishing a regular nighttime routine will ensure you and your baby get plenty of rest. It’ll also help to comfort your baby as they tend to thrive with a consistent routine.

When you’re changing your baby at night, you need to have a different routine from your daytime diaper change. This will help your baby understand nighttime it is the time for sleep, not for playing.

Try to avoid eye contact and any playfulness to help them to go back to sleep quicker.

diaper change

Clean diaper before bedtime

Make changing to a clean diaper before bedtime a routine. This will ensure that your baby’s diaper remains dryer for longer, which, in turn, will give both you and baby a better chance of a good night’s sleep.

Use super-absorbent diapers at night

Using these super-absorbent diapers at night will reduce the need for a nighttime diaper change. These diapers can be expensive so it is best to only use them at night time.

Using a diaper rash cream

If you do have concerns about your baby developing diaper rash due to being in a wet diaper through the night, you can apply a diaper rash cream or barrier cream when you put on the clean diaper before bed.

This will create a barrier between your baby’s skin and the wet diaper, protecting them from developing a rash.

Low lighting

Keep the lights down low while you’re changing diapers at night. If you do put on a bright light, there is a strong possibility that this will wake the baby and prevent them from getting back to sleep.

You could use a nightlight with a low wattage bulb or even by installing dimmer switches.

Keep the noise to a minimum

Making lots of noise and talking to your baby will ensure that they are wide awake and then they will not go back to sleep easily. So keep sound to a minimum and do not engage with your baby.

Aim to change diapers only when your baby wakes for a feed

If your baby is still waking regularly for a feed, you can make a diaper change part of the routine. You can change them just before you feed them or halfway through feeding, this will ensure that your baby will go straight back to sleep after their feed.

Poopy diapers

While it is acceptable to leave a slightly wet diaper on through the night, it’s not ok to leave a poopy one. These diapers need to be changed immediately as leaving them for any length of time can lead to possible infection.

Even when changing a poopy diaper at night, try to stick to the same routine. No interaction; lights down low; and that means your baby can go back to sleep easily.

Should You Wake Your Sleeping Baby For A Diaper Change?

All parents, especially new ones, ask if not wanting to change their baby’s diaper at 3 am makes them a bad parent. The quick and simple answer is no. It doesn’t, but wondering whether nighttime diaper changes are necessary also isn’t a stupid question.

We have gone through the ways to get it done with as little fuss as possible above.

For me, I would use the same rules above for whether or not to wake a sleeping child for a diaper change and that would be if they are wet and they are not soaked through then let them sleep.

If they are poopy, you will need to wake them and change them. If you stick to the suggestions above, you should be able to change your baby and get them back to sleep as quickly and painlessly as possible.

checking the diaper

Final Thoughts

Sleep is a precious commodity when you’re a parent so if there is any way to avoid having to wake your baby once they are sleeping I would go stick with it.

As a parent, you’ll get many months or even years, if you are unlucky like me, of broken sleep. So if it is possible for you to not have to wake your baby to change a diaper, I would go with that. 

Parenting is hard and babies do not come with any sort of instruction book, so there are often questions that you may have that you might think are stupid.

Although the chances are that most other parents have had the same question at some time, so don’t be afraid to ask the question.