How to Change Diapers Without Waking Baby (And Making Them Cry!)

How to change diapers without waking baby is a common issue amongst new parents.

You don’t want to wake up and disturb your baby’s sleep but you don’t want them soaking in their pee either. 

You don’t want to go through the whole sleep routine again, which will probably take an hour or so, but you don’t want to leave your baby with a full diaper.

Your baby hates diaper changes but what if they get a diaper rash if you don’t change it regularly, even at night?!

Don’t worry, you’ll learn the answers here and more.

Let’s start first with knowing when NOT to wake up your baby for a diaper change at night.

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When Not To Wake Baby for a Diaper Change At Night?

When They’re Not Awake, Crying For You

Sounds like a big DUH, but listen – everyone has sleep cycles, even babies and newborns.

And they will wake up after every sleep cycle.

And your little one will let you know if they’re hungry, cold or they have a dirty or wet diaper.

So if your baby is asleep, don’t wake them up for a diaper change.

When It’s Only Pee and They Don’t Have A Diaper Rash

You’ll smell the poop if they pooped. 

But if it’s just pee and your baby isn’t prone to diaper rash or doesn’t have one, you don’t need to wake them up for a diaper change.

How to Change Diapers Without Waking Baby

Set a routine

For their last diaper change for the night, remember to always use an overnight diaper and slather your baby with diaper cream.

The diaper cream acts as a barrier between your baby’s poop and their sensitive skin, which prevents diaper rash.

Visualize where and how you’ll change your baby

This might seem crazy but I always visualize and plan what I’m going to do before I do things.

I don’t usually wing it – I prefer to plan as I easily panic and get anxious when I don’t. So it was the same for diaper changing at night.

For eg., when I was thinking of how I was going to change my baby’s diaper at night without waking her up, I visualized the whole scenario in my head.

I imagined what type of clothes she has to wear to make changing diapers easier, where her diaper essentials should be so I can easily grab them, where to put her night light and such.

So I encourage you to look at your baby’s room or your room, if your baby sleeps with you, and try to visualize the whole diaper-changing scenario in your head, before actually changing their diapers at night.

You can even act it out – pretend you’re changing your baby’s diaper at night and move around the room and see how it’ll all play out!

Dress your baby appropriately

If you have a baby who loves being swaddled, choose a swaddle that opens at the bottom so it’ll be easier to change their diapers, like the SwaddleMe Luxe Easy Change.

It’ll make diaper changing at night easier as you don’t need to unwrap or unravel the whole swaddle to get to your baby – you just need to open its bottom!

If your older baby prefers wearing pajamas, get one with a zipper, one that preferably runs down to their lower torso, like these pajamas:

Changing diapers will be much easier with a zip-front pajama, as you don’t need to fully undress your baby or expose them to the cold.

Prep the room and diaper essentials

  • Set a comfortable room temperature – make sure it’s not too cold or too warm for your baby.
  • Keep the room dark – but know where the night light is to quickly switch on for diaper changes.
  • Keep the diaper caddy close – you don’t want to struggle in the dark looking around for their diapers, wet wipes, and diaper cream.
  • Place the diaper genie or trash can nearby – I placed mine right by the door. I just use a regular stainless trash can with a cover and I always place a plastic bag inside it. Then I always throw out the contents every day and I also change the plastic bag regularly.

Don’t interact with your baby

Change diapers quickly, efficiently, and quietly.

Don’t talk to your baby, don’t sing a lullaby, don’t even say hi – just don’t interact with your baby during diaper changes.

Just stay quiet, focus on changing their diapers, shush them to calm them, and get out. 

Other Tips on Changing Diapers At Night

  • Make them fart

If your baby cries when changing diapers, it could be for several reasons and one of them is, they might be gassy.

You can make them release the gas or make them fart by giving them a gentle tummy massage.

  • Regularly use overnight/ nighttime diapers

They’re not named so without any good reason. 

They’re ideally and supposedly better and faster than regular diapers in absorbing liquid so remember to use one for your baby every night.

Related Article: Best Overnight Diapers for Tummy Sleepers (And Side Sleepers!)

  • Change diapers before or during a feeding

Especially if you’re following the Eat-Play-Sleep routine

It just makes things easier for you and your baby.

You can also change their diapers in the middle of a feeding. 

Just pause for a bit, give your baby enough milk so they won’t get hysterical, change their diapers, then continue feeding them.

  • Change poopy diapers right away

Don’t wait until your baby gets a legit diaper rash from it. 

Even if you just changed their diapers, and they’ve been sleeping for only 10 minutes but you can smell the poop, wake them up for a diaper change.

Especially if it’s a diaper blowout!

Related Article: Best Diaper Blowout Hacks Every Parent Should Know!

  • Change leaky diapers/ drenched clothing

Your baby might be sleeping peacefully and is not bothered swimming in their filth but if you can smell, feel, and see the pool of pee surrounding them, please change your baby’s diaper and clothes.

Even if it wakes them up.

  • Upsize diapers if needed

If you notice that more diaper leaks are happening, then it’s time to change your baby’s diaper to a larger size.

  • Manage your expectations

There’s always the probability that your baby will wake up during a nighttime diaper change.

Which is okay, if you’ve already managed your expectations about it.

Most of the time, it’s the stress of waking up our baby from diaper changes that make the whole thing taxing.

So try to chill and not stress yourself out too much. 

Is it really a big deal if your baby cries and it takes you an hour to put them back to sleep? Is that thought and probability worth stressing over?

Think of the worst thing that can happen if your baby wakes up then take things into perspective and you’ll get less overwhelmed about changing diapers at night.

FAQ: Night Time Diaper Changes

Should you wake your sleeping baby for a diaper change?

No, you shouldn’t wake your sleeping baby for a diaper change, especially if the diaper isn’t overly soiled. 
However, if your baby tends to develop diaper rash or easily gets irritated, changing their diapers in the middle of the night is then needed. 

How often should you change your baby’s diaper at night?

Change your baby’s diaper at night every 2 to 3 hours, especially newborns.
They feed often anyway, so they will wake up every 2 to 3 hours so might as well change their diaper.
Otherwise, if your baby isn’t premature, or is not prone to diaper rashes or irritation, or didn’t poop, or is not waking up crying, there’s no need to change their diaper that often at night.

Should I change a poopy diaper if the baby is sleeping?

Yes, you should change a poopy diaper even if the baby is sleeping.
It’s to prevent diaper rash and irritation and for hygiene in general. So always change your baby’s soiled diapers, even if you just changed them 10 minutes ago.

How do I keep my baby still during a diaper change?

To keep your baby still during a diaper change, give them a small distraction, like a toy, or sing a lullaby to them.

How long can a baby stay in a poopy diaper?

It doesn’t matter how long a baby can tolerate a poopy diaper. You should always change their diapers immediately if you know that it has poop for hygiene purposes.

Should you change a diaper before or after a night feed?

You should change a diaper before a night feed, to avoid disruptions to your baby’s sleep. 


How to Change Diapers Without Waking Baby: Takeaway

Remember this diaper changing phase will eventually end.

There will come a time when you don’t need to worry about changing a diaper without waking up your baby.

You will eventually learn when to stop changing diapers at night when you won’t even need a diaper so tough it out, you can do this!

I hope you find my “how to change diapers without waking baby” guide useful.

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