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From Diapering to Toileting – How to Help A Baby Sleep

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Are you a tired parent who just wants a good night of sleep? Nothing is worse than figuring out how to make a baby sleep.  Check out some tips from our partner The Baby Sleep Site® on how diapers and potting training can affect your child’s, and your, sleep!

Help a baby sleep

When it comes to thinking about the things that affect your child’s sleep, you are no doubt very focused on factors like…..

…how hungry your baby is.

…how noisy and/or bright your baby’s room is.

…your baby’s bedtime routine.

But here’s a factor that you might not have considered: diapers and potty training have a HUGE impact on sleep!

Diapering and the Impact on Your Baby’s Sleep

First up, let’s consider how diapers affect your baby’s sleep. When our babies are young, we get very used to changing diapers every few hours (sometimes every hour!). We change wet diapers, dirty diapers…..basically, 10-12 diaper changes a day is pretty normal.

But as you may know, all those diaper changes can really disrupt your baby’s sleep, especially if your baby is all nice and drowsy after a nighttime feeding and you have to disrupt it with a diaper change. So here are some tips we think will help:

By the time your baby is 8 months old, you can stop changing wet diapers that don’t seem to be bothering your baby. We recommend continuing to change dirty diapers to avoid diaper rashes, though.

If leaky diapers are an issue at night for your baby, you can switch to an overnight diaper; these are super-absorbent and should prevent diaper leaks from waking your baby. Occasionally, that’s not even enough, so some families have to use inserts or double diapers!

If you do need to offer a nighttime diaper change, but don’t want it to disrupt your baby’s sleep too much, you could try changing the diaper before you feed your baby; this will allow the feeding to relax your baby, which in turn can make it easier for your baby to fall back to sleep.

Late-night diaper changes are made easier by products that allow you easy access to your baby’s bum without having to undress your little one entirely. Look for PJs with zippers, not snaps; additionally, wearable swaddle blankets that allow access to the diaper area without having to be removed are ideal.

Toileting and the Impact On Your Baby’s Sleep

Once you’re ready to potty train, you may be overjoyed that diapers will soon be a thing of the past. But the sleep disruptions aren’t over yet; toilet training can gave a big impact on sleep, too!

First, it’s important to remember that many experts consider potty training in two phases: daytime training and nighttime training. Simply put, your child will likely master daytime potty training faster (maybe much faster!) than he or she masters nighttime potty training.

As for how potty training impacts sleep: it can be rough on a toddler’s sleep! This is in part because it’s a huge, new skill, and just as other big skills (walking, talking, etc.) disrupt sleep, potty training will disturb your toddler’s nap time and nighttime sleep.

Potty training can also cause more nap time and nighttime waking because it’s teaching your child a new awareness of her body. She’s learning the sensation connected with having to pee,

or poop, and that sensation may start waking her early in the morning, or in the middle of the night. It may also cause her to wake early from her naps.

Your potty-training toddler is also becoming more and more aware of how a wet or dirty diaper (or pull-up) feels. So even if he isn’t waking in the middle of the night to actually use the potty, he may wake because his wet or dirty diaper is making him uncomfortable (even though prior to potty training, he would’ve slept right through that sensation.)

So all in all, potty training can mean less sleep for a short period of time, while your child works on mastering nighttime bowel and bladder control.

Sleep Help For Every Situation

Whether it’s diapering and toileting that’s getting you down, or if it’s something else, The Baby Sleep Site® can help! For a quick-start guide to help your baby sleeping better, download a copy of my free e-Book, 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night. It’s 100% free (really!), and it outlines tried-and-true tips you can use as early as tonight to help your child start sleeping better.


Nicole Johnson is a married mother of two wonderful boys and owner of The Baby Sleep Site. When her eldest son was born, he had a lot of sleep problems – he would wake every one or two hours, all night long! She got busy and thoroughly researched literature and scientific reports until she became an expert in sleep methods, scheduling routines, baby developmental needs, and more. She overcame her son’s sleeping issues in a way that matched her own parenting style, and knew it was her mission to help other tired parents “find their child’s sleep”. If you have your own sleep issues, maybe she can help you, too.

This article may contain affiliate links.

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  • Katia
    March 7, 2017

    Hi, Camille!

    Thank you for your wonderful tips! Our son is 2 years old and he wakes up at night by himself when he feels wet or durty diaper. But it doesn’t take much time for him to back to sleep after the diaper change. We’re using Pampers Pants now and it’s very convenient. You don’t need to deal much with the baby and don’t need to turn your baby too. It seems the baby continues to sleep even at the time of changing the pants. Soon we will begin the potty training. I will need to read more about it. Can you recommend the good resources?

    Thank you again!