Moms on Call: Expert Tips for Night Diaper Changes

Written by: Laura Hunter, LPN & Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN



Time to read 4 min

Welcoming a newborn into your home brings a flurry of diaper changes, particularly during those early weeks of frequent feedings. While diaper changes can serve as a means to wake them up for feeding, once they settle into longer sleep stretches, the timing and approach to nighttime diaper changes. Well, it changes.

Here's how to approach nighttime diaper changes effectively:

  • Timing: 
    • Prior to feedings: You may need to change the first few weeks prior to feeding in order to wake them and get them ready to eat. 
    • After Feedings: Once you are no longer waking them to eat and we have moved to on-demand feeding at night, we aim to change your baby's diaper after feedings. Since many babies pee or poop during or shortly after feeding sessions, changing their diaper afterward helps minimize disruptions to their sleep and reduces the need for multiple changes during the night.
  • Low-Light Environment: Change diapers in the dimmest light possible to avoid fully waking your baby. Use a nightlight or soft lamp to provide just enough illumination for the task at hand.
  • Safe and Efficient Technique:
    • Always ensure your baby is placed on a secure changing surface, such as a changing pad or table, to prevent accidents. Never leave them unattended.

    • Place a clean diaper underneath the baby prior to undoing the diaper.
    • Undo the soiled diaper and use a wipe or burp cloth between the legs to prevent any unexpected pee explosions.
    • Close the dirty diaper underneath your baby's bottom to contain any mess.
    • Clean area.
    • Remove the folded dirty diaper and place it in the bin.
    • Secure fresh diaper.
  • Re-Swaddle and “top-off”: If your baby is still swaddled at night, re-swaddle them after the diaper change to help them settle back to sleep. Offering a few additional sucks from the breast or bottle can also provide comfort and promote relaxation.

Nighttime Diaper Changes for Babies Over 12 weeks:

Once they are sleeping through the night, there is no need to wake to change. However, if you find that they are soaked through their diapers in the morning, there are a few things that may be helpful. 

Let’s talk diapers

Cloth Diapers: 

These are reusable and washable. There are a few different types you can get:

  • Flats and Pre-folded: These are cost-effective options that require clips and waterproof shells. They're easy to wash and maintain.
  • Fitted: Featuring elastic legs and snaps, these diapers provide a snug fit. You may need a waterproof shell for added protection.
  • Pockets: These diapers come with a waterproof outer layer and a pocket for an absorbable insert. You can adjust the absorbency level as needed.
  • All-In-Ones: Similar to disposable diapers, these have absorbent material and a waterproof shell combined. After use, you toss the entire diaper into the dirty bin for washing.

For cloth diaper users, here are some tips to keep your baby dry through the night:

  • Consider using "boosters," which are thicker and more absorbent inserts.
  • You may opt for a disposable diaper during nighttime to enhance absorbency.
  • Try fitted cloth diapers for nighttime use, as they have a larger surface area and can hold more liquid. Ensure the elastic is properly flared out.
  • Pay attention to the size and consider sizing up if necessary.
  • Check the placement of inserts: For boys, ensure the penis is pointing down, with the most absorbent area towards the front. For girls, focus on the middle/back area. Make sure the inserts lay flat against the baby to prevent leaks.

Disposable Diapers: 

With numerous brands, sizes, and types available, it's essential to find the right fit to avoid leaks.

  • Pay attention to the fit rather than relying solely on the size indicated on the box. Ensure the elastic is properly flared out and the diaper sits snugly at the waist, coming up above the belly button. If the diaper seems short, consider trying the next size up.
  • For boys, position the penis downward to prevent leaks.
  • Ensure there's no significant gap “hanging” between the legs.
  • Experiment with different brands to find the best fit for your baby. Some brands may work better for boys, while others may be more suitable for girls.
  • Consider adding a "booster" to the diaper for extra absorbency.

You can streamline the diaper-changing process, minimize disruptions to your baby's sleep, and enjoy more peaceful nights together.

Need more support?

With each and every  Moms on Call   Consulting experience, we have one goal in mind— to equip you with the confidence you need to become the best parent possible for your child. We are proud to partner with Certified Consultants who are uniquely trained to work with families utilizing the Moms on Call philosophy. All consultants are licensed nurses with pediatric experience who have used Moms on Call within their own homes.  Book your personal consultation with one of our Premier Certified Moms on Call Consultants to get help with diaper changes and so much more.

Co-Founders of Moms on Call

Laura Hunter, LPN and Jennifer Walker, RN, BSN

Co-Founders of Moms on Call, Pediatric Nurses and Moms to 8 kids between them, Laura Hunter and Jennifer Walker created Moms on Call to simplify parenting. Through their books, online courses, podcast and content, they help parents everywhere navigate the first four years with confidence and better sleep.

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