Should You Change Baby’s Diapers at Night?

Whether or not to change an infant’s nighttime diaper depends on several things. Sometimes you definitely should get your little one into a fresh diaper. Other times, you will do yourself a favor by letting her be.
Caring for a newborn baby is serious business. New parents often go into shock, getting by on four hours of sleep per night (and that’s not necessarily consecutive!).
That said, newborn care is not particularly complicated. Mostly, you’re moving through cycles of feeding, burping, changing diapers. The rest of the time your infant sleeps. The work itself is pretty simple, but its constant nature is quite demanding.
Taking a “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” approach to nighttime diaper changes can help your baby sleep better and longer at night. However, there are some instances where you absolutely should rediaper an infant.
Change Night Diapers When You Wake to Feed
In the early days, you will need to wake your baby to feed about every three hours. This is important medically. You need to ensure that a new baby gets enough calories and that he passes any excess bilirubin (bile) efficiently. If you are breastfeeding, frequent feeds will also help to establish your milk supply.
At some point, usually when the baby regains birth weight, you can let him wake you if he needs milk. But while you’re still waking him, go ahead and change his diaper at each feed. In fact, a diaper change is a great way to wake him up for a full feed.
Let Wet Diapers Slide in the Name of Sleep
Once your baby is past birth weight and you have the doctor’s approval, you can stop waking to feed. At this point, your main goal shifts a little. Making sure baby gets enough milk becomes a little less important than your new aim: making sure baby gets enough sleep.
When your infant calls to you for a feeding, try to feed and immediately get her back down. That means it may be best to skip the diaper change.
Try Changing Wet Diapers for Unexplained Wakings
Some babies feel uncomfortable in a wet diaper. If your infant wakes soon after a good feeding, investigate other issues besides hunger. She may be too hot, too cold, need a burp, feel lonely, or she may need a change.
You will learn through trial and error if your baby is sensitive enough to require changes throughout the night. Cloth-diapered babies may need nighttime changes because the cloth allows them to feel wetness. Disposable diapers are so absorbent that babies generally do not feel wet.
Change Dirty Diapers
Whenever your baby poops, get her cleaned up immediately. Sitting in a dirty diaper is not healthy. Not only does the bacteria leave your little one susceptible to infection, but it can also cause irritations or rashes. To sum it up, poop is gross. Change it.
Sleep Begets Sleep
In a nutshell, do not change a baby’s nighttime diaper unless there is a reason to do so. Interrupting an infant’s sleep can make it harder for them to drift back into dreamland. It can also cause more fractured sleep throughout the night.
Nighttime feeding can often take place while the baby is in a half-awake state. Putting baby right back down after a feed can prevent a full waking and help him doze for longer stretches.
Avoiding extra steps in the wee hours can also benefit mom or whoever is feeding the child. Unless you have a night nurse, you’re losing sleep too. Minimize your tasks whenever possible and practical.
So, if you can avoid it, don’t change diapers at night.

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