How to fix babies peeing through diapers at night. Tips on why it happens and how to fix it, so everyone can look forward to dry mornings.
As a mom, I feel the pain of walking into your little one’s room in the morning and seeing a wet spot on their mattress where they’ve leaked through their diaper in the middle of the night.
Whenever it happens at our house, my toddler announces it first thing, a hint of exasperation in her voice.
“WHY’S IT SO WET?”
It’s disheartening, knowing you’ve got a yet another load of laundry to do, a bed or crib to make up, and possibly a mattress to clean. And, of course, I hate to think about my kiddo lying in urine for part of the night.
This happens to us a few times a month, and when we notice it happening with some frequency, we try to troubleshoot the why of it.
Since my little one has gone through a few peeing through the diaper phases, I’ve had the chance to try out many different techniques to keep her dry. And I’ve had some small successes along the way.
In my experience, there isn’t really one ‘trick’ that solves all overnight diaper leaking problems.
Rather, solving the leaky diaper at night problem takes a culmination of techniques. Taken together, they help us through the stages, and ensure more mornings waking up dry and refreshed.
Why Does My Baby Pee Through Their Diaper at Night?
There are many reasons your baby may be peeing through their diaper at night.
It can be due to how their body processes liquids, the amount of liquid they drink, how much they wriggle, or maybe just the diaper they are using is the wrong size or doesn’t fit properly.
Let’s look at some of the reasons individually.
#1 – How baby’s bodies process liquids
Babies can start peeing through their diapers as early as six months old and can continue on into their toddler years.
As they age, their bladders are growing, too. And that means they can hold more liquid – creating more pee that can leak out of a diaper overnight.
#2 – The amount of liquid they drink
I will never condone restricting a baby and how much they drink. It is essential that they get enough fluids in their body to be hydrated and healthy. Not to mention, the very little ones use liquid (breast milk, formula) as their sole source of nutrition.
However, if your toddler or older overnight wearer is waking up with a wet diaper every morning, you can make some subtle shifts to their habits.
In the three hours leading up to bedtime, have it as a house rule your toddler only drinks water, with no sugary juices permitted.
It’s also a good plan to try and encourage toddlers to drink more during the day. Make drinking fun, by keeping a cute sippy cup around during active times in the day, so that drinking is always encouraged, and they don’t need to catch up on it late in the day.
If your child is a reluctant drinker, you can also encourage water-rich foods into their diet too, such as cucumber, strawberries, watermelon (with seeds carefully removed), grapes (cut into smaller pieces so they aren’t a choking hazard), broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, and celery.
#3 – How much they wriggle in the middle of the night
Some babies just seem to sleep in a wiggly way, no matter how you put them down. For whatever reason, some kids stay put, and others are completely turned around when you go to check on them in the middle of the night.
If your baby is a wiggler, it’s more likely to put a strain on the diaper and allow gaps and leaks to occur. This is especially apparent in tummy sleepers, where the front of the diaper isn’t absorbent enough to catch all of the pee and it leaks through onto babies tummies.
(Safety note: always put babies to sleep on their back).
A good solution here is using Peejamas instead of diapers. Because the absorbent “diaper” part is sewn into the PJ bottoms, they stay fixed in place with less ability to wiggle around when your kid wiggles around.
#4 – The diaper they are using is the wrong size
Even if your baby is in a particular brand and size of diaper for the day, it doesn’t mean that it’s good for night times too. If your baby is leaking pee every night, it may be worth trying to go up a size in their diaper for overnight comfort and dryness.
A larger-sized diaper has a higher level of absorbency to hold the extra liquid that is seeping out.
It’s also good to mention that certain brands make specific overnight diapers that are designed to withstand the 12 hours of bedtime without leaks.
#5 – The overnight diapers don’t diapers don’t fit properly
There are also a few checks you can do as a parent when doing your final diaper change of the day, to ensure that your baby’s nighttime diapers remain as leak-free as possible.
Check the elasticated leg holes are positioned carefully and the sticky tabs are pulled securely across the belly.
If you have a boy, make sure his penis is pointed downwards when the diaper goes on, to position the flow of pee towards the absorbent diaper, rather than straight up and leaking from the front.
If your baby is a known front sleeper, you can even pull the front of their overnight diaper up more and have more material covering higher on the tummy.
How to Stop Overnight Diaper Leaks (And Make it Easier When They Happen)
Whenever we go through a phase that involves peeing through a diaper at night, we hit problem solving mode.
Here are some of the more successful things that we’ve tried. Worth noting, it may take a combination of several to find a solution for your family.
I can’t remember how I first found out about Peejamas, but holy heck do I think they are cool.
To be clear, Peejamas aren’t the perfect solution for babies.
However, they’re a great solution for toddlers who are starting potty training (or are mid potty training), and are ready to start tackling overnight bladder control.
The Peejama bottoms have what is essentially an absorbent cloth diaper sewn into the crotch. You pull them on like a pair of undies and pajama bottoms, and then they can hold around 10oz of urine, or roughly 3 pees per night (a typical baby bladder can hold 1 to 2 ounces, and a typical toddler bladder can hold 3 to 5 ounces).
You use these instead of a nighttime diaper, with the idea that they’ll slowly help your toddler hold their pee overnight, and transition out of diapers and Peejamas all together.
They’re very cute (we have the Daniel Tiger ones), and are free from nasty chemicals, using Oeko-100, certified fabrics and zero flame retardant chemicals. Add to that, they are an eco-friendlier solution because they reduce diaper waste!
#2 – Add A Waterproof Mattress Pad to Your Crib or Toddler Bed
The two brands we’ve personally used include the Naturepedic crib mattress, which have a waterproof surface that’s super easy to wipe down, and the Newton crib mattress, which you can literally wash in the shower or bath tub (AirWeave makes a similarly washable one available in larger sizes for older kids).
However, if you already have your kid’s mattress and don’t want to change it, you can get a non toxic waterproof mattress cover, and it will make your life so much easier. Naturepedic’s version, which is safe and doesn’t use any nasty chemicals to achieve waterproofing, starts at $59 for a flat protector pad and $69 for a fitted (learn more).
The pad is machine washable and dryable, and will prevent any pee from soaking past the sheet, and deep into the mattress, where it can encourage mold and bacterial growth.
For me, this is a no brainer, money well spent solution to make your life easier when accidents do happen, and protect your investment in the mattress.
#3 – Change your Baby’s Diaper Just Before Bed
Now, this may seem like an obvious one, but when your baby heads off to sleep at night make sure they’re in a fresh and dry diaper.
If you have a little one that wets through in the night, to give them the best chance at staying dry, you might want to try another diaper change in the last moments before laying them down to sleep.
While this made disrupt the routine a bit, it will also give them the best chance of staying dry.
#4 – Use an Overnight Diaper, Not Day Time Diapers
Some brands have specifically designed overnight diapers that are tougher and more absorbent, and therefore able to withstand and entire night’s worth of pee.
All babies are different, and so are diaper brands. So if you get to the point where one isn’t working for you (aka: you’re experiencing constant peeing through diaper at night), you may want to switch brands before giving up.
(My picks for biodegradable diaper brands are DYPER, which makes an extra wide and extra absorbent solution for overnight, and EcoPea).
Overnight diapers are a bit more expensive than regular diapers, but you’ll only be using these special diapers at night so a package of them should last longer.
Not having to do laundry, not having pee-soaked sheets, and being able to keep baby dry is worth the cost!
#5 – Use a Larger Diaper Size at Nighttime
As I mentioned earlier, you may have found a great brand and style of diaper that works perfectly for your baby’s butt during the day, but at nighttime, it simply can’t cope with the level of liquid it needs to hold.
In this case, you can try to go up a size to a larger diaper size for night to keep your baby drier, as the larger sizes have an increased level of absorbency to soak up extra pee, and prevent leakage.
#6 – Double Up Diapers
I thankfully never needed to do this with my little one, but I’ve heard from friends it works to get through a particularly rough phase.
Put a normal diaper on first, in baby’s usual size, but with a slit cut into the butt of it. Then put a larger overnight diaper over top of the first diaper.
The butt slit in the first diaper lets any excess liquid to leak out of diaper #1 (into the second diaper) rather than squishing out the sides or up across baby’s tummy or back.
#7 – Wear a Diaper Backwards
This tip is more useful for parents with tummy sleeping babies. When they sleep, the urine runs toward the front of the diaper, which is where it’s less absorbent.
By fitting the diaper backward, you place the absorbent larger area underneath their front, and this may prevent font leaking.
#8 – Use Cloth Diapers with Doublers
With a cloth diaper, you can place “doublers” inside to soak up extra liquid. With some brands you can even fit two doublers for double protection. ClothDiaper.com is a good option if you need cloth diapers or doublers, and they also offer organic options
#9 – Add Diaper Liners
You can also use diaper doublers inside disposable diapers. They can be positioned to fit around your baby where you need it most. Although you’ll usually place it between the baby’s legs. You may also want to position a liner horizontally across the tummy, below the waistband of the diaper if pee comes out there.
Either way, experiment with the position of the doubles to find a way that works for you
#10 – Adjust the Diaper
When you put the diaper on your baby, do a careful check of all of the fasteners, and check the leg holes and gusset are all positioned correctly before slipping pajamas over the top.
For boys, make sure his penis is pointing downwards, too.
#11 – Change diapers during overnight feedings or wakings
If your baby has a feed in the middle of the night or gets up for any reason, use this time to change them into a dry diaper.
#12 – Encourage back sleeping
You should always place babies to bed on their back for safety, but it also helps with leaks.
Placing your baby on their back as they sleep enlists the help of gravity to help the pee flow to the absorbent butt areas of the diapers.
Tummy sleepers are more likely to leak through the front of their pajamas and diaper and wake in the morning in a puddle.
#13 – Limit certain liquids at night
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t want to restrict liquid intake for a child, but you may wish to consider only allowing water for the evening in the three hours before bedtime.
If you can, encourage a more balanced intake of water during the day too.
What Can I Do to Make Managing Diaper Leaks Easier?
As a parent, the toll of supporting an infant or toddler who wets through their diaper at night regularly can also be tough on you.
If it wakes your baby (my daughter used to wake as a baby when she was wet; now as a toddler she sleeps through the whole thing and stays wet all night), then it disrupts your sleep too.
Make your life easier with these tips to save your sheets and do less laundry.
Invest in a Washable Mattress
If your baby is peeing frequently through their diaper and over their bed, you’re going to want to clean it properly to stop it from becoming damp and smelly, which can become a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.
A washable mattress saves you the cost of needing to replace a mattress frequently as you can strip it down and clean it yourself when you need to.
If this is still happening with older kids who are wearing overnights, the Naturepedic 2-in-1 mattress has a waterproof side and a “big kid” quilted side, which you can switch too once they’re over the huge nighttime pees.
Layer your baby’s bed
You can even go one step further than having just a mattress and pad under your baby, but having two sets.
Think of it like a double-stacked sandwich:
This way if your toddler does pee through their pajamas and sheets during the night, you simply need to remove the top 2 wet bed cover layers (the fitted sheet, and waterproof pad underneath), as there is an extra clean set underneath.
Basically, it makes it super quick to change everything, and get everyone back to bed as soon as possible.
None wants to be stripping and changing a bed in the middle of the night. This allows a faster change, giving less disruption to both you and your baby’s sleep.
Change your baby when YOU go to bed
You may have heard of dream-feeding babies, but there’s also a chance to dream-change your baby too. Depending on their level of sleeping, you may be able to add in a quick diaper change as you go to bed, giving you an extra few hours of dryness.
For a dream-change, be as quick and quiet as possible and don’t interact with your baby in the same way you would during a normal diaper change.
You might want to have pajamas that are more accessible so you don’t need to fuss with your baby as much, and they remain sleeping. These gown styles stretch up and allow you diaper access for a swift change.
Final Thoughts on How to Prevent Leaking Diaper at Night
Let us know what you think about our article on peeing through diapers every night. I hope some of our helpful tips make it easier for you to handle diaper leaks during the night and help both you and your baby get more restful nights of sleep.
If you think the tips in this article will be useful for your friends and other parents you know, please share it with them too.