How to prevent diaper leaks at night

What can I do about my kid’s diaper leaking at night?

It’s a situation that can cause your stomach to sink into your boots. You put your baby to bed feeling clean and warm, but you’re woken early in the morning by her cries of discomfort. You find that not only is she soaking wet and very uncomfortable but her clothing, sleep sack and even bed covers are soaked. Then, the next night the same thing happens.

It isn’t difficult to figure out that the problem is the diaper, but what to do about it?

First step is to be sure the diaper is fitted properly. The tabs should fit straight across the front of the diaper and feel firm, not loose or asymmetrical. Check that the diaper is centered properly, and that the leg cuffs are snug but not too tight. For minor or occasional leakage, this might fix the problem.

The next thing to do is to look at the brand of diaper you use. Is your baby close to the upper size limit? Switching to a larger size can often be all you need to do to restore sleep-time peace.

Sometimes, though, the problem isn’t so much the diaper size as its make-up. A good diaper has a strongly absorbent core that will quickly absorb large quantities of liquid. It will also have a broad but flexible waistband to ensure that the diaper fits your baby properly. Many, but not all of these, are marketed as “overnight” diapers because they solve exactly this problem.

Parents find that babies who like to sleep on their fronts are also much more likely to have night-time leakage issues. This is because only a small part of the diaper is available to absorb your baby’s pee – the rest leaks out of the top and onto your baby’s sensitive skin. The solution is to either choose a longer diaper or else position it so that it extends further up your baby’s belly. Some parents even fit them back to front to be sure that most of the absorbent core is where it needs to be.

And although the problem is likely to be the diaper, the solution might not be. Many parents attempt to restrict their baby’s liquid intake at bedtime as a way of limiting the amount their baby pees during the night – usually it doesn’t work. This is because our kidneys work throughout the day to clean waste products from her blood. If your baby doesn’t usually drink until later in the day, the process won’t be complete by bedtime, and peeing will continue through the night. Compare that with a child who drinks enough early in the day and so isn’t as thirsty in the evening or at bedtime. It isn’t a fix on its own, but taking care that your baby has a drink early in the day is a step in the right direction.

And, it goes without saying, save that last diaper change until bedtime. Even half an hour can make the difference between very full and overflowing.

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