The Diaper is Full and Your Baby is Asleep? – What Matters When Changing Diapers at Night
Diaper manufacturers promise 12 hours of dryness. Special nighttime diapers prevent leaks and make nighttime diapering unnecessary. But is that really true? Can a diaper last all night without leaking? And what happens if the baby poops in the diaper or becomes restless?
Do I need to change my baby at night? A suitable diaper can last all night. However, newborns in particular may still need to be changed regularly at night. Generally speaking: If there is poop in the diaper, you should change it.
In this article, you'll find out whether and when you need to change your baby at night. We will also give you tips on how to make nighttime diapering as comfortable as possible for you and your baby.
How often does a baby need a fresh diaper?
How often you need to change your baby's diaper depends entirely on their elimination patterns. During the day, the diaper should be checked every two to three hours and changed if necessary. While newborns still need 8 to 10 diapers within 24 hours, a one-year-old child may only need about 5 to 8 diaper changes. You can find a detailed report on the frequency of diaper changes here.
To avoid skin irritation, you should change your baby's diaper as soon as it's wet. Newborns in particular often make it known when they feel wetness because they naturally do not want to lie in their own excretions.
When it comes to bowel movements, always change the diaper immediately once you notice that it's full. Prolonged contact with stool can lead to skin irritation or even infections such as diaper dermatitis.
Regular diapering can also have a positive effect on potty training readiness later on, as the child learns that an action follows after wetting themselves. If, on the other hand, they wear the wet diaper for a longer period of time, it can negatively impact the potty training process. In fact, our study shows that children in cloth diapers tend to be potty trained almost a year earlier (here's the link to the study).
Photo by @isabelplett
The diaper is full and the child is sleeping: How to do it right at night
You might know the situation: Your child is just falling asleep and you hear them fill their diaper before closing their eyes. Or perhaps your child has restless phases during the night, and you find yourself asking: How often should I change diapers at night?
Opinions differ on this. Between diapers that provide all-night protection and the fact that sleep is important, there's the question of whether continuous skin contact with excretions is really acceptable.
We are convinced as well that sleep is crucial not only for the baby but also for the parents. With the right timing, good preparation, and of course the right diapers, nothing stands in the way of a restful night. Diapers are designed to absorb a lot of liquid and keep it securely contained. So, you certainly don't need to change your baby every time they wet the diaper. If you're regularly breastfeeding or bottle-feeding your child at night, that's the best time to take a quick peek at the diaper and change it if necessary. Later, we'll show you how to manage the changing process so that your baby's continued sleep isn't jeopardized. Typically, children fall back to sleep quickly during the subsequent feeding.
If the diaper is dry or contains only a small amount of urine, you don't necessarily have to change it. However, if you notice poop in the diaper, you should definitely change your child. With particularly careful handling, your baby will not wake up fully or not at all and can continue sleeping afterwards. Once your baby's digestive system has matured, which happens at around two to three months, nighttime bowel movements should be extremely rare. In those first few months, however, you will need to change them at every feeding.
Do older children still need to be changed at night?
As your child gets older, it's more likely that you can skip the nighttime diaper changes. For one, the bladder of growing toddlers has a larger capacity, and also the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) ensures that the body produces less urine at night. Your child’s sleep is less often disturbed by the need to urinate, and the amount of urine can be well accommodated by the diaper. Often the diaper even remains dry until the morning.
If your child sleeps through the night, you don't need to wake them to change the diaper. Again, we recommend checking the diaper before you go to sleep yourself. If your child still regularly wakes up during the night, that may be a good time for a check and possibly changing the diaper.
Nighttime Diapering sustainably diapers – for peaceful nights and healthy skin
Cloth diapers can provide extra protection at night, as they often absorb liquid better and faster than disposable diapers. Additionally, you avoid a lot of trash and chemicals on your child's skin. In this article, we have already discussed the composition and ecological balance of disposable diapers.
We at Judes make it especially easy for you, as we have developed a cloth diaper that is as simple to use as a disposable diaper. Many parents are thrilled with our diapers and find them even easier than disposables.
To make diapering with Judes as easy as possible, they consist of only two parts. Our inner diaper made from 100% organic cotton provides a comfortably soft wearing experience. It's super absorbent without taking up too much space. Thanks to the special weave, the inner diaper keeps tight for up to 12 hours and can absorb a large amount of liquid. At the same time, the fabric is breathable and ensures a healthy diaper climate. It is put on just like a disposable diaper. Flexible leg cuffs and the well-thought-out velcro closure allow you to perfectly adjust it to your child's body shape. Leakage is thus out of the question.
As a moisture barrier, you place an outer cover over the inner diaper, which is also put on like a disposable diaper. This ensures that all liquids stay inside the diaper.
Photo by @plantifultaste
How do you change Judes?
Changing cloth diapers is just as quick and easy as with disposables. In fact, using Judes can even save time. You can find more details on this subject here. You open the velcro fasteners, put the inner diaper in the laundry, and hang the cover to air out. The latter can be used until it comes into contact with poop or a large amount of urine, only then does it need to be washed. You can find out how to gently and hygienically wash your cloth diapers here.
As you can see: Judes are well-thought-out and simple. Moreover, they contribute to restful nights by absorbing large amounts of liquid in a short time. For even greater protection, you can add an additional booster insert into the diaper.
However, the same rule applies: As soon as there is poop in the diaper, you should change it to avoid unnecessary irritation to your baby's skin.
My child reacts strongly to wet diapers, what can I do?
Some children are particularly sensitive to wet diapers or may show signs of discomfort even before they are completely wet. There are two solutions: A so-called Stay-Dry layer provides a dry skin feeling, even when the diaper is wet. The thin liner transfers the fluid to the absorbent material and protects your child's skin from moisture.
If you notice your baby is restless at night, you can also help by holding them over the toilet or a potty to pee. It is not possible for children to relieve themselves during deep sleep. However, if you undress your baby and gently hold them over the toilet or a little potty, they can relieve themselves in a half-asleep state, then continue sleeping. Naturally, babies don't want to soil themselves, their caregiver, or their sleeping area, which is why relieving themselves at night often becomes distressing. If you learn to interpret your baby's signals, not only will you make the nights more comfortable for them, but you will also be laying the foundation for later potty training at an early age. Here we have collected more information about the potty training process.
Photo by @madame.vio
Diapering right at night: 4 tips for peaceful nights
Especially with little babies, you can't avoid nighttime diaper changes. Below we have summarized the most important tips for diapering. Generally, the best time to change is when your child wakes up on their own. However, even when the diaper is full and your child is sleeping, the following advice can help:
1. As little light as possible
To prevent your baby from waking up, or to help them fall back asleep quickly after a diaper change, you should avoid bright light. With very young babies, bright light can quickly awaken their natural curiosity, leading to disruptions in their sleep rhythm. Portable nursing lights or similar lamps that can be dimmed significantly are highly recommended. They provide enough light for diapering without disturbing your child.
2. Quick and uncomplicated
Especially at night, you should try to make the diaper changing process as uncomplicated as possible. Avoiding carrying your baby around and searching for diapering supplies in the middle of the night will allow both of you to fall back asleep more quickly. It’s best to place everything you need for diapering close to the bed and change your child right there. Remember to have:
- Enough spare diapers
- Wet wipes or washcloths
- A changing mat (a towel is usually sufficient)
- Extra clothing for emergencies
- A wet bag for used diapers or wet clothes (this should be understood as a type of waterproof laundry bag specifically for cloth diapers)
3. The right sleepwear
Choosing the right sleepwear can also help minimize the duration of the diaper changing process. Sleeping bags and sleepwear that can be opened from the bottom not only allow for quick diaper changes but also mean that you don't have to completely undress your child. This way, there's no risk of your child getting cold and waking up during the change. For babies who are particularly sensitive to temperature, a portable heat emitter can also provide relief.
Even though diaper changes during the day may be accompanied by playful games and lots of talking, this is off-limits at night. Of course, you should always narrate what you are doing with your child, but at night, do so with a quiet and soft voice. Likewise, avoid any sudden movements and convey calmness to your child through lots of physical contact.
What tips do you have to make nighttime diaper changes more pleasant? Feel free to write them in the comments!