Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

So should I really change my sleeping baby’s nappy? This is a very common topic of conversation for many expectant and new parents!

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Would you believe that such a small thing can actually make a big difference in the world of baby sleep and settling. The quick answer from my experience is no, unless they have soiled their nappy or you know that your newborn baby has uncomfortable nappy rash. That said there are some considerations and questions that I cover in depth in this article.

Read on to get a fuller understanding of this tricky topic and some helpful hints to make it an easier situation for your family to navigate but if you are looking for hands on help now – book in a 15 minute free chat here to discuss how I can help

should i change my sleeping baby's nappy

A little bit about nappy changes

Congratulations, you’ve just had a baby! So this little person is going to need changing about 12 times a day. I know, wow! That’s a lot of nappy changes initially; it won’t be long before you can do it with your eyes closed!

Beyond the first couple of weeks your baby will still need frequent changes, as your baby’s skin is delicate and sensitive. As you get to know your baby and their patterns, you may be able to predict when they will soil their nappy. It’s always worth checking their nappy before and after feeds specifically and also prior to settling for sleep.

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How can I avoid changing my baby’s nappy overnight?

From my experience there are 3 proactive steps that you can take to reduce the likelihood of needing to change your babies nappy overnight:

Step 1 – Nappy change before settling for bed

This is the optimum time for giving your baby a nappy change, perhaps after a bath or calming massage prior to them settling for sleep in the evening. In fact, whenever you are settling your baby for sleep daytime or nighttime, I always recommend changing their nappy. Your baby willl soon get used to this ‘pattern of event’ helping prepare them for sleep.

Step 2 – Find the right size of nappy

If you find your baby is waking up with a dirty nappy that is overly wet and leaking, it’s worth checking that the nappy fits them securely around the legs. It can be a bit of trial and error, till you find the right size and right nappy for your baby. More on this later in the article 🙂

Step 3 – Use the right nappy brand

One other trick many families have found useful is to try using a boys nappy overnight as they tend to be more absorbent too! If you can use nappies specific for overnight as they are designed to hold moisture in for an extended length of time. This will ensure you keep a clean nappy as long as possible.

When and how often should you change your baby’s nappy at night?

Baby has a soiled nappy or nappy rash

If your baby has soiled their nappy or it is completely wet through you will need to change them. Another situation is if they have a nappy rash. Nappy rash can quickly escalate from ‘bad’ ‘severe’ so it’s best to change babies nappy at regular intervals overnight, ideally during those feed times. As your baby will have delicate skin this is important to keep in mind. Note – if your baby only has a little bit of urine in their nappy and no nappy rash you are fine to wait and not change them.

During feed times

If your baby wakes for a feed, you may like to change him/her before you start feeding, this way they may be more drowsy and easier to settle after the feed. However, if your baby usually soils their nappy during or after a feed, then it would be best to wait till after the feed and then change their dirty nappy.

How to change a nappy without waking my baby?

If you really do need to change your baby’s nappy overnight then the key is to do it with a minimal amount of fuss and to keep them as sleepy as possible. Here are 3 simple tips you can apply to make sure they stay as sleepy as possible.

Tip 1 – Keep it dark

If you can leave the lights off or use dim lighting this will help to keep your baby as drowsy as possible. A night light is also ideal to provide low level lighting. What is the best night light for nappy changes you might ask? It really does not matter in my opinion as long as it is dim, easy and accessible in a place within arms reach of the nappy change table so you can turn it on with minimal disruption to your baby!

Tip 2 – Be Prepared

Before settling your baby for sleep, make sure your change table is fully stocked with everything you might need overnight. This might include: nappies, towels, cotton wool, nappy cream, spare set of clothes and sheets.

Tip 3 – Use Warm Cloths/Wipes

If you can use warm water or warm your baby wipes when changing your babies nappy. The cold sensation is likely to startle your baby and make her more alert.

Tip 4 – Avoid Stimulation

When changing your babies nappy try to keep things as calm as possible and talk softly. Try and slow down and avoid stimulating your baby too much.

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Video Summary – Check Out My Below Video Summary On Changing Your Baby Nappy At Night!

Other FAQs

Which nappies should I use?

When it comes to choice of nappy you really need to be mindful of 2 things – the size and how absorbent they are.

Size of Nappy

When it comes to size you need to make sure the nappy is not too tight as it might make baby uncomfortable. On the other hand a loose or poorly fitting nappy might result in unwanted leakage which is going to result in baby waking and more cleanup for parents! A general rule of thumb is that you should be able to fit 2 fingers comfortably under the waist band when nappy is on. Look out for red marks on the waist and groin areas which will be an indicator of a tight fitting nappy. A disposable nappy vs a non disposable nappy is completely your choice its balancing up what is a better environmental choice in a cloth nappy for example vs convenience of a disposable nappy at the end of the day!

Absorbency of Nappy

When it comes to absorbency it’s often a matter of trial and error to find the best nappy for your baby overnight. There are specific night time nappies on the market that offer more absorbency for your baby for longer periods. As mentioned earlier you could try using a boys nappy for nighttime if you have a girl as they are also more absorbent! The last thing you want is a over wet nappy particularly if your baby has sensitive skin!

What steps can I take to reduce the chances of nappy rash?

In addition to the above point around how to choose the right nappy, its important what you use to clean your babies bottom with. If you would like to minimise nappy rash then only use cotton wool and luke warm water. When it comes to changing a poo nappy however or changing in the night that is not always a very practical option. Instead, try and use water based wipes or at minimum fragrance free wipes. Finally a high quality emollient cream which can create a barrier on the skin applied after changing is going to protect your babies skin from developing nappy rash. Avoid all soap products during bath time as they can irritate nappy rash further.

Quick Tip: Penaten cream is a german manufactured nappy barrier cream which I have used on all my babies and is ideal if your baby develops nappy rash to help the area recover!

How often should you change newborn nappy overnight

When it comes to changing a newborn baby’s nappy overnight, the most important thing is to ensure that the baby is comfortable and dry. Generally speaking, you should aim to change your baby’s nappy every 2-3 hours during the night if they are not using cloth diapers/nappies. This way, you can be sure that their skin will stay clean and dry and free from any diaper/nappy rash. If you are using cloth diapers/nappies, then you may want to change them more often as they can become less absorbent over time.

How long can you leave a baby in a dirty nappy

Frequent changing of a baby’s nappy is necessary to maintain healthy skin and prevent diaper rash. As per above we would suggest changing nappies every two to three hours or immediately after a bowel movement. Prolonged exposure to a soiled nappy can cause skin irritation, discomfort, and potential infection.

Infographic On Deciding If You Should Change Your Sleeping Baby’s Nappy

Should I Change My Sleeping Babys Nappy Infographic

A Final Thought – Extra Tip

So should I really change my sleeping baby’s nappy? If you are concerned or worried at night about if your babies nappy needs changes then I suggest you just gently check your babies nappy by having a little peek and re wrap them, pop them back in their crib if they don’t need a change. It’s sometimes better for your sanity to have the reassurance rather than lie awake wondering. Yes there is the risk they might wake up but with a little practice you can master this quick check!

Catherine Completely Baby Sleep Consultant

Catherine Thompson
Baby Sleep Consultant & Owner of Completely Baby

Did you find this article helpful? I am a highly experienced baby sleep consultant with a unique educational and healthcare background who supports tired parents to help their babies find sleep more easily. If you want to chat about your situation please book in a free chat today by clicking the below button now! Alternatively you can text or call me on: +61 406 344 010.