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All About Night Nappies

1 CommentThursday, 16 April 2015

It is not generally wise to leave a child in the same nappy (of whatever variety) while they are still having night feeds. Apart from the fact that they are still presumably fairly young, babies tend to poo around feed times, and these are ideal conditions for nappy rash to develop. Also, a child still being fed at night will wee a lot more than a child who is sleeping through. Even the best real nappies cannot cope with this volume of liquid without a change.

In my experience, it is rare for a baby to poo during their sleep - if they have full bowels, they will empty them on waking (eg for a feed), or being filled up by the feed will cause a peristaltic impulse to empty their bowels before going back to sleep. Either way, it is very common for a young baby to poo either before or after a night feed, and so nappies should always be changed at this time.

A successful (ie. leak free) night nappy depends on two things:

  1. Adequate absorbency
  2. A good cover

Unless your child is a light wetter, you will need to pad a night nappy up more than its daytime equivalent, as it is designed to be on for a much longer period without a change. A real nappy for night use is much bigger than a disposable, which can initially be a bit of a shock to the new user (for the parent - the child doesn't care!), but despite this it is not as heavy as a disposable the next morning (that weight is not only caused by urine, but by the chemical reaction of urine on the sodium polymer crystals, producing a gel).

A child no longer having night feeds can easily sleep through 12 -14 hours in the same nappy, as long as it is sufficiently padded. Personally, I use either a purpose-designed terry booster pad or a flannelette (or small size) prefold, folded into thirds one way, and then into two the other, resulting in a rectangle about 3 inches square. However, you can use a half terry, a flannel, a disposable pad, a muslin (less absorbent, but very large, so about the same efficiency), old fashioned nappy roll or anything else absorbent that you can lay your hands on - even a clean duster will do (although you may like to avoid bright yellow ones because of the dyes!).

Place night padding at the front for a boy or between the legs for a girl. Alternatively, to make the nappy less bulky at any particular point, you can lay the boosting along the length of the nappy.

If you use a disposable Weenees pad, remember it needs no liner over it, as it has its own stay dry layer.

When you try your first night nappy, you can reduce your own anxiety by putting in two small prefolds instead of one and - when you are happy that this is reliable against leaks - you can try with just the one. With this option, you need to ensure that the wraps you use can cope with the quantity of padding you have used, and that none of it sticks out. You will probably want to fold the prefolds along the length of the nappy so as to keep the nappy as slim as possible, rather than folding them into a square pad. Also, if you have one prefold on the inside of the nappy and one on the outside (between nappy and wrap), this won't make the nappy too tight for your baby to be comfortable.

As for the cover, remember this nappy is going to be on for at least 12 hours, and so it makes sense to use one of the fabulously non-sweaty PUL wraps that are now available rather than plastic or nasty PVC, which also goes hard and pointy quite quickly. It is the nappy that will trap the urine, and - if this is sufficiently padded - there is no need to put on pants that are so tight that they cause red marks. You are not attempting to hold the urine in by damming it - if this is what is happening, you do not have enough absorbency in your nappy.

For children with sensitive skin many people swear by fleece wraps and wool wraps for night time covers. Both of these are extremely breathable covers but only "water resistant" rather than waterproof.


Susanne Bouwmeester
Tuesday, 15 September 2015  |  15:32

Thanks you for the advice

Nappy help & expertise since 1999