How to Choose the Best Overnight Diaper for Baby Sleep

Updated 
January 25, 2024
 | 
9
 minutes read
Written by
Amanda Kule
Parent Contributor
Medically reviewed by
Arik Alper, MD
Pediatric Gastroenterologist and Aerodigestive Specialist

A good night's sleep is invaluable, both for you and your little ones. But as you probably know there are many things at the beginning of your baby’s life that can disrupt sleep, and some of these, such as teething or a developmental milestone, are out of your control.

However, there are certain factors affecting your baby’s sleep that are in your control. One of these is choosing the best overnight diaper for your baby.

In this article, we review the importance of nighttime diapers and share what parents should look for when choosing the best overnight diaper to keep your baby comfortable and dry all night long.

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The Importance of Nighttime Diapers for Sleeping

You may feel like you’re constantly changing your child’s diaper for the first few years of their life, and the truth is, you probably are! Babies don’t feel comfortable when their diapers are super wet, and it’s not good for their skin. Therefore, if their diaper is too full during the nighttime, it often wakes them up.

Early in a baby’s life when they wake often to feed, changing a very wet diaper during the nighttime is not as disruptive since they’re already awake. However, as they get older and can sleep longer stretches at night without feeding, peeing through their diaper and being wet can often wake them unnecessarily.

Nighttime diapers are designed to last for extended periods of time to ensure your baby’s comfort during the nighttime. Unlike a daytime diaper, nighttime diapers are designed to hold a larger volume of liquid. The extended absorbency helps keep your baby dry through the night, preventing discomfort and helping them stay asleep.

The benefits of nighttime diapers for sleep include:

  • Decreased chances of leaks and discomfort: The extended absorbency of overnight diapers moves the liquid away from your baby’s skin, preventing leaks and keeping your baby dryer for longer. Overnight diapers such as Pampers Swaddlers Overnight are designed to prevent leaks at the legs and top of the back, and even prevent nighttime blowouts!
  • Prevent diaper rash: Wetness against your baby’s delicate skin can lead to diaper rash, which can be painful and uncomfortable.
  • Less nighttime changes: Not having to change your baby as often during the night, even if they wake to feed, can help you keep to a consistent sleep routine and minimize disruptions at nighttime.
  • Improved sleep quality: Around the age of 6 months, babies are developmentally able to fall asleep independently and sleep for longer stretches at night. If they are woken up unnecessarily by a wet diaper, this can affect the amount of quality sleep they receive, which can cause overtiredness the following day.
  • Peace of mind for parents: When you go to sleep knowing your baby likely will sleep a longer stretch, you may sleep more soundly not anticipating a wakeup.
  • Flexibility: Overnight diapers typically come in multiple sizes to grow with your baby and toddler until they are potty trained, which usually happens between 2 and 4 years old. Pampers also has an overnight pullup for potty trained kids who still wet the bed at night, which is completely normal and developmentally appropriate!

Nighttime diapers are big piece of the puzzle to ensure quality sleep overnight for both you and your little one. A quality overnight diaper can make all the difference for how your baby, and you, sleep at night.

Pampers Swaddlers Overnight

Overnight Diaper for Sleeping by Age–What to Consider

Newborn

For a newborn baby, you’re likely feeding and changing their diaper around-the-clock. This is because they have tiny stomachs, and are growing quickly, so need to be fed every 2-3 hours. When they are drinking so much, they also tend to need a fresh diaper quite often!  

Since newborns cannot sleep through the night, overnight diapers typically don’t come in a newborn size. However, a quality newborn diapers should prevent leaks and keep your baby dry for as long as possible.

Infants

Once your baby starts being able to sleep for longer stretches at night, which is around 16 pounds, or 6 months old, a quality overnight diaper can help them sleep more soundly.

Infants don’t master nighttime bladder control until way into toddlerhood, so peeing during the night is normal and expected. An overnight diaper that has extra leak protection around the legs and back is a great way to keep your baby from peeing through their diaper and PJs. Even though bowel movements during the night decrease as they get older, an overnight diaper such as Pampers Swaddlers Overnight has a Blowout Barrier to prevent a messy middle-of-the-night change.

Toddler

Even if your toddler is potty-trained during the day, they typically don’t stop peeing at night until they are between 5 and 7 years old, which is normal and developmentally appropriate. It takes time for the bladder to mature and for their brain to be able to wake them from sleep to pee.

Since many toddlers wear pull-ups or training pants or underwear during the day instead of diapers, there are also nighttime potty-training pants for toddlers that keep a toddler dry while also helping them to master potty-training.

Many toddlers do master bowel control during potty-training, so don’t often make a bowel movement at night.

Features of Overnight Diapers

The main differences between a regular diaper and an overnight diaper include:

  • Absorbency: Overnight diapers are more absorbent. Some options can absorb 50% more liquid than daytime versions and keep baby dry for up to 12 hours.
  • Fit: Extra-absorbent nighttime diapers, such as Pampers Swaddlers Overnight, oftentimes start at size 3. They come in multiple sizes to ensure the right fit, since if a diaper is too big or small, they may leak.
  • Unique features: Overnight diapers have unique features to further reduce the risk of leaks. For example, Pampers Swaddlers Overnight include a moisture-wicking BreatheFree Liner, dual leak-guard leg barriers, and a Blowout Barrier to stop leaks where they happen most.
  • Cost: Overnight diapers sometimes can be expensive because they are made with more absorbent materials. However, they are made only for night, so you use them less.

Pre-Bedtime Strategy Tips

Putting your baby in an overnight diaper for sleep is just one strategy for getting your baby ready for a long, restful night of sleep. Other strategies for promoting healthy sleep all night long include:

  • Keeping your bedtime routine consistent: A consistent bedtime routine is proven to promote better sleep in your baby or toddler. Doing the same set of pre-bedtime rituals every night helps your baby and toddler relax for the night, teaches your baby that it’s time for sleep, and provides a feeling of security.
  • Putting them to sleep at the right time: Did you know there are ways to figure out the exact time to put your baby to bed to help them fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer? Aligning when you put your baby to bed with their circadian rhythm is proven to help them sleep for longer stretches. The Smart Sleep Coach by PampersTM app has a Smart Schedule that can track your baby’s sleep patterns to figure out the perfect schedule to align with their sleep patterns. It also can adjust their schedule as they age and their sleep needs change.
  • Ensuring a comfortable sleep environment: In addition to having a dry diaper, baby’s do well with a cozy room and sleep space. Keeping your baby’s room dark and at the right temperature is crucial to encourage the best shuteye. Try Smart Sleep Coach’s 7-day free trial and let it help you set up the perfect, sleep-supportive environment for your baby.

Just like adults, it’s hard for a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep if they’re not tired, comfortable, or calm. By implementing these strategies at bedtime, you are helping your baby build healthy sleep habits that can prevent sleep-related struggles, such as nighttime wakeups and not being able to fall asleep independently, down the road.

Future-proofing tip: Even if your baby is sleeping well at night now, implementing these bedtime strategies will help you more easily navigate the inevitable sleep disruptions, known as sleep regression, that’s to come. Sleep regression is developmentally appropriate and normal—it’s all part of your baby growing and changing! Having healthy sleep habits in place today is key for helping your baby get through the periods of sleep change down the road.

Does My Baby Need an Overnight Diaper at Naptime?

Overnight diapers are designed to last for up to 12 hours. Since baby’s typically don’t nap more than 2 or 3 hours, an overnight diaper is likely not necessary at naptime.

Nighttime Diaper Rash Awareness

Diaper rashes are common—the American Academy of Pediatrics says at least half of all babies get a diaper rash at some point!

There are different types of diaper rashes, but oftentimes they are caused by soiled diapers. A baby’s skin can get irritated if a diaper is left for too long and the diaper rubs against their skin. Urine also can change the skin’s pH level, and the warm, moist environment of a dirty diaper can promote germs from growing.

Here are some tips to prevent diaper rashes at night:

  • Use a highly absorbent diaper: Overnight diapers are designed to be more absorbent, so they do a better job at keeping your baby’s skin dry at night.
  • Gently clean during changes: If your baby has sensitive skin, choose a wipe that is alcohol and fragrance free, such as Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes.
  • Change the diaper if needed: If your baby makes a bowel movement or wakes because their diaper is extra full, experts recommend you change their diaper but keep the lights low and the environment calm. Enzymes in stools can irritate the skin so they should always get a fresh diaper when they poo.
  • Use barrier paste: Experts view barrier paste or diaper paste as a shield between your baby’s skin and the diaper. Many say there’s no such thing as too much! Adding a thick layer of paste after diaper changes and before bed helps keep your baby skin shielded from the content of their diaper.
  • Choose the right diaper size: You should make sure the overnight diaper isn’t too small or tight to reduce the chance that it will rub against their bums.
Pampers Sensitive Baby Wipes

The Bottom Line

There are many ways to encourage healthy, restful sleep in your baby or toddler, and using an overnight diaper is one proven tool for parents to try. Complementing an overnight diaper with an optimal sleep environment, tailored sleep schedule, and consistent bedtime routine increases the chances that your baby will sleep longer and more comfortably at night and prevent unnecessary wakeups.

For parents looking to try an overnight diaper, extra-absorbent diapers such as Pampers Overnight Swaddlers are proven to keep them feeling dryer for longer. And trust us, a happy bum and well-rested baby make the days (and nights) much, much more enjoyable for everyone!

How We Wrote This Article

The information in this article is based on the expert advice found in trusted medical and government sources, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. You can find a full list of sources used for this article below. The content on this page should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult medical professionals for full diagnosis and treatment.

Sources

American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children.Org, “Common Diaper Rashes & Treatments”

American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “Behavioral Treatment of Bedtime Problems and Night Wakings in Infants and Young Children.”    

KidsHealth.org, “Bedwetting: 3 Common Reasons & What Families Can Do”

KidsHealth.org, “Changing Diapers”

KidsHealth.org, “Diaper Rash”

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FAQs:

The extended absorbency of overnight diapers moves the liquid away from your baby’s skin, preventing leaks and keeping your baby dryer for longer. Overnight diapers such as Pampers Swaddlers Overnight are designed to prevent leaks at the legs and top of the back, and even prevent nighttime blowouts!

Unlike a daytime diaper, nighttime diapers are designed to hold a larger volume of liquid. The extended absorbency helps keep your baby dry through the night, preventing discomfort and helping them stay asleep.

Nighttime diapers are designed to last for extended periods of time to ensure your baby’s comfort during the nighttime. Unlike a daytime diaper, nighttime diapers are designed to hold a larger volume of liquid. The extended absorbency helps keep your baby dry through the night, preventing discomfort and helping them stay asleep.

Extra-absorbent nighttime diapers, such as Pampers Swaddlers Overnight, oftentimes start at size 3. They come in multiple sizes to ensure the right fit, since if a diaper is too big or small, they may leak.

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