Should you Wake a Baby to Change a Diaper at Night?

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Any parent will tell you that you need to sleep whenever you can when you have a new baby. For the first two months after birth, a newborn will typically wake and feed every two to three hours. This schedule varies depending on a range of factors such as form of feeding, illness, or even room temperature, so it is recommended that parents sleep when the baby sleeps.

However, if your little one is finally sleeping soundly through the night, should you wake them for a diaper change, or let them keep sleeping? Newborns frequently urinate during the night, and it may cause them to wake up naturally, or lead to diaper rash if left until morning. If you are unsure about whether to wake your baby to change, here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Is it a Number One or a Number Two?

Newborns may wet their diaper 6-10 times per day, typically an hour or two after being fed. Prolonged exposure to urine can change the pH of your baby’s skin and some bacteria and fungus thrive in an alkaline environment. Urine can also dry out the skin and lead to chafing and diaper rash. However, if you are feeding your baby on a two-three hour schedule, you can quickly change your baby’s diaper after a feed without waking them, to minimize diaper rash.

However, if your little one has had a blowout, it is essential to change your baby’s diaper immediately, even if it is 3 am. Feces contains high levels of harmful bacteria, which can cause rashes and infection. Most babies appear visibly uncomfortable after defecating, so if you hear fussing coming from your baby monitor, check your screen to see if your little one is squirming to get comfortable; it’s likely they’ve pooped and need a change.

Lumi by Pampers is a state-of-the-art smart baby monitor that lets you sync the camera and microphone to an app on your phone. The HD crystal clear image and 180° panoramic view allow you to see whether your baby has woken due to a wet or dirty diaper so you can change them.

Which Type of Diaper Do You Use?

Lumi Monitor_KeyVisual_BlackiPhoneMost modern disposable diapers are highly absorbent, drawing moisture away from the skin to minimize the risk of diaper rash and keep your baby dry and comfortable. As newborns typically don’t produce significant amounts of urine, it may be safe to leave the diaper change until first thing in the morning.

Be aware if the diaper is too big or too small, it may leak, and you’ll not only need to change the baby but also the bedding. Get the right size diaper for your baby’s weight to avoid waking your baby for a change.

Cloth diapers are a fantastic eco-friendly choice and can be more affordable long-term. However, they are often less absorbent than disposable diapers and need to be changed more frequently.

Is Your Baby Prone to Diaper Rash?

Some babies have more sensitive skin than others and experience diaper rash more readily. If your baby suffers from frequent rashes, eczema, or has allergies, you should change your baby’s diaper during the night to reduce the probability of developing a diaper rash.

Is Your Baby Uncomfortable?

No matter the type of diaper you use, or how often your baby dirties their diaper, if they are uncomfortable during the night due to their diaper, they will wake on their own. You can keep an eye on your little one during the night with Lumi and monitor your baby’s sleep patterns to find out when they wake.

You can also get the Lumi Smart Baby Monitor + Smart Sleep System which includes a sleep coaching series of pediatrician-developed videos and a smart sleep sensor. The sleep coaching series teaches parents how to teach their baby better sleep habits and the sleep sensor helps parents apply the courses based on their baby’s specific needs. The courses along with the sensor’s personalized insights work in harmony.

How to Change a Diaper at Night Without Waking Your Baby

Lumi: How to get a good night sleepCheck the Monitor

A baby nursery monitor is one of the single most useful pieces of equipment you can buy for your little one. A smart nursery monitor lets you check your baby from your bed to see if they need to be changed, so you can go back to sleep if they don’t.

Change During a Feed

If your baby is still waking for night feeds every two to three hours, it is best to change your little one after feeding, so they go back into the bed clean and dry. At night, babies are usually only semi-conscious while feeding, so if you are extra gentle while changing them, they may not wake at all and go back to sleep more easily.

If the baby already has a full diaper before feeding, change them before giving them the bottle or the breast to minimize any discomfort. They are unlikely to wet or dirty their diaper again during the feed.

Be Careful of Diaper Rash

Ensure you use plenty of barrier cream when changing diapers day or night. Be generous with the amount of cream to ensure an effective barrier between the baby’s skin and the urine and fecal residue. This is especially important if your baby is sleeping for more extended periods during the night.

Use gentle, water-based baby wipes to clean around your baby’s bottom and genitals. Be sure to clean thoroughly as bacteria grows in damp, moist areas in the fold of the groin.

Choose the Right Diaper

There is also a range of dedicated night time diapers available on the market that are more absorbent than the daytime variety. They may be slightly more expensive, but they are also less likely to leak, making nighttime diaper and bedding changes less likely.

Don’t Provide Stimulation

If you need to wake your baby to change a diaper, it’s essential to be as quiet as possible. Avoid playing and chatting to your bundle of joy as this stimulates your baby, making it more difficult for them to fall back to sleep.

Keep the lights as dim as possible, don’t make eye contact, and try to be as quick as possible. Put the baby back into their bed and leave – you don’t want to give the impression that it’s time for play!

Stick to a Routine

Just like your baby’s nap and sleep schedule, you may notice predictability in your baby’s toileting habits. It’s not true of every baby; however, some infants are like clockwork, allowing you to know exactly when your baby needs a change.

If your baby tends to fill their diapers toward the end of a nap, it may be better to leave them to sleep until they wake naturally. If you need to wake your baby to change their diaper, try to keep the same routine throughout. This regularity comforts the baby because they thrive on routine.

With the Lumi by Pampers Smart Sleep System, you get 24/7 sleep tracking which provides personalized insights into your baby’s patterns so you can anticipate their needs and make adjustments to their routine.

The Takeaway

Sleep really does come at a premium for new parents, so waking a baby to change their diaper isn’t usually necessary. Of course, if your baby has had a blowout, has a severe diaper rash, or if their diaper has leaked, then a change is needed.

Try to keep a consistent nap, feeding, and changing routine to provide comfort and stability, and make sure you choose the best diaper option and size for your little one. Ultimately, unless your little one is noticeably uncomfortable or distressed, no change is necessary, and everyone can have a good night’s rest.

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