How to cope with diaper leakage

How to cope with diaper leakage

Whoa, Baby!

It’s the middle of the night, and your baby is awake, and soaked. Pajamas, bedding, and diapers all are wet and must be changed. How did this happen, and more importantly, how can it be prevented in the future?

This zone will examine several options for preventing diaper leakage… at bedtime, during naps, and throughout the day. Most of these suggestions are for those using disposable diapers; however, some will be of help to those who have chosen to use cloth options.

Keeping your baby dry is important for your sanity, but it is also an effective diaper rash treatment. There are ways to keep your baby dry and prevent diaper leakage. This zone can show you how to accomplish this.


Step 1

Choose the right size

Selecting the right diaper size for your baby is the first step in ensuring there is a good fit and no leaks. Start with the recommended weight/size chart on the diaper package. However, you may have to adjust a bit for your baby. If he/she is a little «fuller» through the middle or has extra chubby thighs, the size recommended for total body weight may be a bit snug and uncomfortable. On the other hand, slender builds may be able to wear a size smaller that will provide better coverage.

Additionally, one brand may fit your baby better than another. Don’t be afraid to experiment with several brands. Disposable diapers are expensive, so perhaps you can ask around and find someone who uses a competing brand and «swap» a couple to see if they work better for your baby.

Step 2

Use the Right Diaper for the Situation

Amazingly, diapers come in all sizes AND designed for a variety of sitautions. There are night-time diapers, «snug and dry» diapers, «little crawlers» and «cruisers» — and much more. The night-time diapers do seem to be more absorbent and «wick» better for extended periods of time. However, they are not foolproof, so don’t be disappointed if your baby has a night-time accident anyway. But choosing the right diaper for sleeping/crawling and more will be a step in the right direction toward preventing unwanted leakage.

Step 3

Point and Pat Down

If you are noticing that your baby boy wakes up with wet pajamas and bedding, particularly a damp back (and perhaps he seems to favor sleeping on one side?), most likely, he is «pointed upward» and urinating toward the top of the diaper, which is not as absorbent.

As baby boys grow, they may need a physical adjustment within the diaper in order to prevent leakage. As you diaper your baby boy, try «pointing and patting down» the penis, so that it does indeed point downward. Everything may not stay in position, but you will have a better shot at the urine flow filling the lower part of the diaper, as opposed to shooting upward and leaking out the top edge and soaking your child.

Step 4

Double Diapering and

Double diapering babies is nothing new. Mothers have done it for years, particularly with cloth diapers. Some even used a more absorbent flannel layer at night to further control leakage. Anyone remember rubber pants that topped the diaper?

Today, there are several options:

  • Literally «double diaper» the baby, putting one diaper on over the other. This can be cumbersome and your baby might find it uncomfortable, so double diapering with the thicker «night-time» diapers is not recommended.
  • Several companies make «diaper doublers,» a thin absorbant pad that is inserted into the diaper (much like a feminine hygiene pad), for an added layer of absorbancy. These can be ordered from several online sources or purchased at such retailers as BabiesRUs. Disposable, environmentally friendly diaper doublers are popular with parents who have chosen to use cloth diapers.
  • Some parents have resorted to actually using maxi-pads as an insert in the diaper for additional absorbency. This might work, also, and be more cost-effective when compared with official «diaper doublers.»
Step 5

Monitor Liquid Intake

While depriving a baby of needed milk or formula is never an option, it might be a good idea to take a look at your baby’s feeding schedule. Is he/she going to bed for a nap or the night with a bottle? Do you give your baby another bottle in the middle of the night when he/she awakens?

By rearranging the feeding schedule slightly — and encouraging the baby to fall asleep without a bottle — excessive intake of liquid that can lead to diaper leakage may be avoided.

Try giving the last bottle of the night an hour or so before bedtime. Change the baby as you notice him/her getting sleepy, and prepare for extended time without a diaper change. If you are double diapering or inserting an extra layer of absorbency, this is the time to do so.

During the day, change the baby frequently. Do not allow the diaper to become oversaturated — this can lead to leakage and diaper rash!

Step 6

Pay Close Attention to Your Baby

If, despite your best efforts, your baby continues to have frequent episodes of diaper soaking, pay close attention to what else is going on. This could be something as simple as a growth spurt, the way you are diapering — and even removing the diaper, or it could be a sign of something more serious, such as juvenile diabetes.

Note when this happens, what the circumstances were before hand (had the baby just had a large bottle? had it been more than an hour since you had changed the baby? did the baby seem to be needing a change too frequently?), and any other signs of illness or distress. Click here to read an excellent article on signs and symptoms of childhood diabetes.

If your baby seems to be having frequent unexplained episodes of diaper leakage, and all of your efforts to prevent them are falling short, it may be time to consult your pediatrician. It may all be nothing, but you will feel better knowing for certain… and your baby’s health and well-being could depend on it!

Things Needed
• The right diaper for the situation.
• The right diaper size for your baby.
• Extra layers of absorption, such as «diaper doublers».
• Pen and paper to chart diapering and note any abnormalities.

Tips & Warnings
• Pay attention to how often diaper leakage occurs and the circumstances surrounding the episode.
• Watch for signs of health-related causes.
• Monitor the feeding schedule and avoid too much liquid near bedtime or nap times.
• Keep extra pajamas, bedding, towels and wipes handy for night-time changes.
• Don’t panic! You WILL get through this!


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