The Importance of Diapers for Sleeping

The other day while changing the two millionth diaper or so on one of my twins, I began reflecting on the importance of a clean, dry diaper. Particularly when you want your baby to fall asleep quickly and go through the night.

Choosing Diapers for Nighttime

Huggies Overnight diapersWhen your baby starts sleeping through the night, it’s time to look into some serious diapers. You need something that will absorb and wick away moisture for 7 to 10 hours while keeping your baby comfortable.

If he gets too wet, and feels it, your baby might wake up crying. And this can be a hard problem to diagnose when he’s bundled up in pajamas and a swaddler or baby sleep sack. Thus, the nighttime sleep calls for a special diaper. For us, Huggies Overnites diapers, which go from size 4 to 6 (though we started when our babies were wearing size 3’s), were a lifesaver. As long as you can make it tight enough, a diaper that’s a little big for your baby is a good thing, as it offers more absorption.

Cute baby in sleep diaperOvernight diapers are just amazing. They’re extra thick, super absorbent, and I’m constantly surprised at how much they soak up over a long night. I’ve taken ones off that seem to weigh two pounds. They’re not designed for daytime use, when babies tend to want to move around. But they’re perfect for overnight, and also for long car trips.

A Classic Mistake: Not Changing Right Before Bed

Baby diaper for sleepPut your baby into a clean, fresh diaper right before putting him or her to bed. Do this even if the last diaper change was 20 minutes ago and you don’t smell or feel anything. It seems wasteful, especially if you’re trying to save money on diapers, wet wipes, and Diaper Genie refills.

Consider it an investment in a longer night’s sleep, for you and your baby. Because the moment the new diaper goes on, it’s a timer, ticking down. It’s only a matter of hours (if you’re lucky) until your baby will need a new one. If there’s ever a time not to skimp on diapers, it is at night.

And while you’re at it, make sure the flanges are out on those diapers! I’m talking about the thin plastic edges of the diaper that go along your baby’s cute little legs. These are designed to be on the outside of the diaper (not tucked in) to prevent leaks. The best way to ensure that they’re right is to run a finger along and under the diaper’s edge once you’ve put it on.

Watch For and Address Diaper Rash

Diaper Rash OintmentOne thing you should watch for at all times, but especially when your baby starts sleeping longer at night is diaper rash. There are lots of contributing factors to these, and it’s not entirely clear when or why they show up. If your baby seems unusually fussy or uncomfortable, even when fed and otherwise content, look for this at the next diaper change.

You can use cream-based ointments like Dr. Smith’s ointment to treat these whenever you put on a fresh diaper. If it’s hard to get the right angle on your baby’s bottom (even with a Q-tip), just put it on the diaper and it’ll rub into place on its own. Also, give your baby a quick, warm bath once every day or two and make sure his bottom gets a good soak. Dry him off well, and maybe skip the diaper rash cream right after the bath. If it persists longer than a week, you might want to call a pediatrician.

Make sure you keep plenty of hand sanitizer near the diaper changer, and wash your hands whenever possible!

So there’s the bottom line: keep your baby’s bottom as dry and comfortable as possible. It’ll keep him happier during the day and help him sleep at night.

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  • Anonymous

    Do you have any other diaper-related suggestions? Please let us know!