Don't let a wet diaper disturb your baby's sleep

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

A wet diaper is a top cause of night wakings. Use simple tricks and help your baby sleep through the night in spite of nappy-wetting, including using simply the right size, extra layers and cloth diapers.

Bedwetting is not the issue, nor the appropriate term for a young baby, they are not supposed to be dry at night yet. But a tiny nappy really can get overfull, wetting baby's clothes, covers and bed ...

But most of all, even for a newborn, a wet diaper can feel very uncomfortable and wake her up.

Feeling uneasy because of the dirty nappy, she will usually cry too and be unable to settle herself again

You can't avoid baby filling her nappy at night but here's what you can do to maintain optimal sleep:

  1. Use the right nappy
  2. Use an extra layer
  3. Try cloth diapers
  4. Change right before bedtime
  5. Do not change at night feeds if not really necessary

Wet diaper checks

If your baby wakes frequently with a dirty nappy and/or soaked clothes, check and try the following:

Baby in wet diaper

  1. The right nappy

    The best way to keep your little one as dry as possible is to use the right type of diaper for her.

    All babies are different so there is not one brand and model that will be best for all. So, look at your baby and experiment.

    Try out different brands. Often absorption increases with price but that does not always mean that the most expensive are best.

    If you do find you need the most expensive ones for the night, you may be able to go with cheaper ones for during the day.

    Absorption goes hand in hand with fit too, and a slightly different model can make a huge difference.

    Choose your baby's diaper size based on the manufacturer's guidelines.

    But it's worth experimenting here too. Some babies will do better with a size up or below their 'official' size.

    As your baby grows, she will move on to the next size, but may also shift to a different model.
  2. An extra layer

    If your baby's best nappy still is not enough, you can simply wrap an extra absorbing layer around her.

    That way, if the diaper leaks, you win some time before her clothes and covers get wet.

    Use cotton cloth or a well absorbing towel for this. Remember to fix it safely: simply tuck it in around the diaper and make sure baby still lies comfortably.
  3. Cloth diapers

    Cloth diapers, or reusable nappies not only can be more economical and eco-friendlier than disposable nappies, but they can offer great absorption and fit to keep dry.

    Ring of reusable cloth diapers photo courtesy by tiffanywashko

    Many moms report an important increase in comfort AND sleep when they started using reusable nappies.

    One of them is Taru, as she very happily announces in week 12 of Silja's diary!

    If you have been using disposable diapers, and find that your baby often wakes up at night because of a wet diaper, reusable cloth diapers are definitely worth the try.

    The may be just what you need to help your baby with sleep through the night.
  4. Change right before bedtime

    Change your infant into a fresh diaper right before bedtime, even if the previous one has not been on for long.

    Ideally, changing diaper will be part of your bedtime routine, one of the last things you do before bed.

    Not all babies like being changed - yes for some it is even a nightmare - but once they get over that it can be a special moment too. A tender quiet moment where you pamper her and gently wind down.
  5. Don't change at night feeds when not really necessary

    Many new parents are advised to change diapers at each feed. This is indeed a good idea generally but it's OK to be a bit more relaxed about it at night.

    Changing after a nightly feed will wake up both you and baby completely. So, unless necessary, do not change her at each feed.

    Experiment here too: if you don't change after feeding, but she wakes up all wet half an hour later, you haven't really won much.

    In all, making sure you have the best fitting and best absorbing nappy and change into it at the right times is as simple as it is helpful to get the best sleep for you and your baby.