Express Sleep Plan

7 Tips to Handling Your Baby or Toddler’s Nighttime Leaky Diapers

Leaky Nighttime Diapers

As parents, we’re all familiar with the standard reasons for a baby’s nighttime waking or toddler’s nighttime waking. Newborns and young infants often wake at night out of hunger. Many babies wake out of habit, because they’ve formed sleep associations. Toddlers may wake up in the middle of the night because they’ve had a nightmare.

Let’s add another cause for nighttime waking to our list: leaky diapers. Have any experience with that? I’ll bet most of you have. If so, you know how it goes — you wake to find your little one wet and cold and wailing loudly.

Sometimes, one leaky diaper is all it takes to turn a peaceful night of sleep into a chaotic mess!

So, what’s a parent to do? How do you stop leaky diapers from waking your baby or toddler at night?

Today, we’re spotlighting 7 tips that’ll help you banish those leaky diapers and keep your little one sleeping peacefully.

1. No drinks before bed (for toddlers).

Ignore this tip if you have an infant; babies need to nurse or take in formula frequently, and you should never withhold a feeding from your baby in order to prevent diaper leaks. If you have a toddler, however, it’s a different story. If your toddler routinely has something to drink right before bed, this could be part of the leaky diaper problem. Change your routine, and make sure that your toddler’s last drink of the night happens an hour (or more) before bedtime.

2. Do a diaper change right before your baby or toddler’s bedtime.

This one seems obvious, but not all parents take this step. If your baby or toddler is routinely waking up with a wet, leaking diaper, be sure to do a fresh diaper change right before you put your little one to bed for the night.

3. Do a diaper change right before your bedtime.

Disclaimer: this won’t work for all babies and toddlers. If your child is a light sleeper who will wake up completely if you try to do a late-night diaper change, then forget it. You’ll probably end up creating more problems than you solve! But if you think your child may sleep through (or at least wake only slightly during) a late-night diaper change, then consider sneaking in a diaper change right before you go to bed yourself.

4. Start buying bigger diapers.

Once your baby or toddler starts approaching the upper end of a diaper’s size limit, the leaks will probably start. If your little one is waking regularly because of a leaky diaper, consider moving up a size (at least at night). Some parents find that this solves the problem completely.

5. Invest in good overnight diapers.

If none of the above tips make a difference in the leaks, consider purchasing separate overnight diapers. Huggies Overnites are a great solution (I can vouch for them personally!); Pampers Extra Protection Nighttime Diapers are also a good choice. These overnight diapers are thicker and more absorbent than regular diapers, making them a good choice for nights. They’re also more expensive than regular diapers, but since you only need to use them at night, a large box will last a long time.

6. Consider using Diaper Booster Pads.

I’ll confess — I’d never heard of diaper booster pads until I found them while researching this article. Turns out that some parents swear by them as THE solution for their little ones’ nighttime diaper leaks. These booster pads look a bit like feminine pads, and they’re designed to fit inside a regular (or overnight) diaper. The booster pad acts as a first line of defense — it absorbs up to 8 oz. of liquid. Once the pad is full, the diaper absorbs the excess. These might make a good last resort option for those parents who find that even overnight diapers aren’t doing the trick. Using cloth diapers? They have cloth diaper insert pads, too!

7. Keep Sleep Training

Although inconvenient, if you are sleep training, you will of course want to clean your baby up, change the sheets, redo a mini routine, and still have your baby try to settle herself. You don’t want to let something like a leaky diaper lead to inconsistency in your behavior and undermine your progress.

Of course, if you need help in your sleep training – look no further! That’s what we are here for. Sleep training can be tough, and hundreds of parents turn to us for sleep coaching help every month. We can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.
Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.
Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

Have you struggled with leaky diapers waking your baby or toddler? How did you cope? Any tips to add to our list? Share below!

bss_email_featprod_memberspic-CROPPEDOur Members Area is packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and more. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! As a member, you’ll also enjoy a weekly chat with an expert sleep consultant. And the best part – members receive 20% off all sleep consultation services!
Essential Keys to Newborn Sleep Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep is THE newborn sleep book that will help you to not only improve your newborn’s sleep using gentle, sleep-inducing routines – it will also answer your feeding and newborn care questions. You can even buy a bundle package that includes the e-book AND a Personalized Sleep Plan™ PLUS a follow-up email to use for further support!
bss_ebook_3stepsystem_leftFor those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3 Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your baby sleep through the night.
bss_ebook_masteringnaps_leftIf you’re looking for ways to get your baby or toddler into a healthy sleeping routine during the day, I encourage you to explore Mastering Naps and Schedules, a comprehensive guide to napping routines, nap transitions, and all the other important “how-tos” of good baby sleep. With over 45 sample sleep schedules and planning worksheets, Mastering Naps and Schedules is a hands-on tool ideal for any parenting style.
bss_ebook_5steptoddler_smalFor those persistent toddler sleep struggles, check out The 5 Step System to Help Your Toddler Sleep. Using the same unique approach and practical tools for success, this e-book helps you and your toddler sleep through the night and enjoy a better daytime schedule.

Disclosure: The Baby Sleep Site is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link above and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product. This commission will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and good for our readers.


  1. Jennifer says

    We started using two nighttime diapers, and went up a size so he is at the lower end of the diaper weight limit and that seems to have helped immensely. He is no longer wet in the morning. He used to soak through the diaper, sleeper, and sleep sack.

  2. Alison says

    My three year old started waking up with a wet bed every night. We were really confused as we always made sure he didn’t drink anything at least an hour before bed and we always put him on the toilet last thing before he went to sleep. He was also on the largest nappy size available. The only thing I could think of was that since toilet-training in the day, he had become very intimate with his intimates! I wondered if he was putting his hands in his nappy at night and moving it around as it was never full, but it was leaking. He was wearing pull-ups at the time, so I went back to basics and bought some ‘normal’ nappies (ones with tabs) as I thought they might stop him getting his hands down his nappy. I told him they would stop him going to the toilet in the night. Sure enough, the combination of something new and the suggestion that he wouldn’t need to wee changed the situation overnight. In fact, he decided to toilet train himself at night and most days doesn’t go until he gets up in the morning. He’s back in the pull-ups at the moment, because they make him feel safe, but I am sure he’ll be out of the nappies completely within a couple of months. Perseverence and consistency. Works every time.

  3. Amanda says

    I use the Kushies diaper wraps over his diaper. Works like a charm!

  4. Danielle says

    I still nurse my 14month old, and usually give him a feeding right before bedtime as part of our routine. Should I start doing this earlier?

  5. Landon Figg says

    I’ve been using a booster pad on our 23 month old boy for 6 months now. He is so skinny and little that going up a diaper size wasn’t practical. They seem to have solved the wet bed problem; however I still must get up to change him at midnight or 1am or he and the bed will be wet. He drinks water all day but he plays hard all day too. Plus he doesn’t like the feeling of being wet and will wake up saying “Charlie soaked”. My little parrot.

  6. Joanne says

    We found nighttime pullups is the only thing that works for our toddler/preschooler. He still wet through the nighttime diapers. I’m thinking I would like to try the diaper inserts.

  7. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jennifer — the “double up” strategy! Good tip. Thanks for sharing :)

    @ Alison — interesting! Glad to hear this approach has paid off for your family. And extra glad to hear that your little guy will be out of his nappies soon. Bet none of you will miss those much!

    Thanks for commenting, Alison!

  8. kelly says

    We use a size 4 overnight diaper with an insert in it, with a size 5 regular diaper over the top of that! Finally found a combination that he can’t leak through.

  9. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Amanda — thanks for tossing out this product recommendation! We love first-hand recommendations on products like these. So helpful to other parents :)

    For those who might be interested, here’s the Kushies link:

    @ Danielle — I’d say that as long as that nighttime feeding isn’t causing regular, major diaper leaks, then you can probably continue on with it as normal. But if leaky diapers are becoming a regular (and disruptive!) thing each night, then you might want to make that feed happen a bit earlier and then do a diaper change right before bed. You could always sub that before-bed with some extra story/cuddle time.

  10. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Landon — Bummer on having to get up in the middle of the night to change him! So the diaper booster pad won’t take him all the way through until morning, then? Maybe he needs a diaper + a booster pad + some kind of waterproof wrap, like the Kushies that @Amanda mentions… Of course, by that point, his little bum might outweigh the rest of him! 😉

    @ Joanne — thanks for mentioning the nighttime pull-ups! Those can be GREAT for bigger toddlers and preschoolers who are wetting through at night.

  11. Emily DeJeu says

    @ kelly — way to wrap that little guy up tight in as many diaper layers as possible! His bum must look positively gigantic at bedtime 😉 So glad to hear you found a system that keeps him dry through the night, Kelly!

    Thanks for commenting.

  12. Emily DeJeu says

    To all the parents who’ve commented so far, here’s something I’m noticing: you’re all referencing your sons in your comments. Which leads me to wonder if leaky nighttime diapers tend to be more of a boy problem than a girl problem? Anyone have thoughts/insights on this?

  13. Ashley says

    We had this problem a few months ago with our now 18 month old daughter. We cut off liquids after dinner time and we started using the diaper booster pads inside her nighttime diaper. I now, however, just use a big maxipad in her diaper, because they are cheaper than the booster pads, and it works just as well!

  14. Loz says

    1. don’t tuck their shirt into their pants; this will exacerbate leaks
    2. polyester fleece or wool pants will help, since this will evaporate off the runoff while still being breathable. you can also get fleece or wool nappy covers (to use over cloth or disposables), works a treat but must come well above the waistline of the nappy. alternatively a wool sleeping bag over their nappy, no pants at all. cotton is a bad pants choice if you are having leakage.
    3. consider food intolerance, as heavy bedwetting at night is a food reaction symptom.
    4. I have found heavily boosted cloth nappies much more absorbent than disposables. when we had bad night leakage I would either use a fleece or wool cover over the disposable or use a fleece pocked nappy heavily stuffed with bamboo (added advantage, more breathable for baby than a disposable). now we can get away with disposables at night again though as at 2, they aren’t weeing as much overnight.
    5. you can put a cloth nappy and cover over a disposable to catch any leaks. this works better than disposable over disposable, because the backing of disposable nappies is waterproof and you have to stab through it to let the wee from nappy one get through to nappy 2. when I have done that the baby has ended up with poolyacrylate crystals on their skin which is not good.

  15. Dale says

    My twin boys have been soaking through their diapers since 5.5/6 months…they are 9.5 months now. We went up in sizes, tried over night diapers, doubled up, even tried the cloth diaper plastic covers…they soaked through everything! We found the diaper boosters, and have found those to truly work the best. They will actually still wake up wet sometimes, but they work about 85-90% of the time. I have only found them at Babies R Us, for $6 for a package of 30. I buy them out when I go :) I’m hoping that they’ve now started to drink less and eat more, that we’ll slow down on the leaks!

  16. Meg says

    My heavy overnight wetter/leaker is also my 26 month old son. We had tried cloth diapering when he was an infant but abandoned that after a few months. I still have all the diapers and doublers I bought so tried a hemp doubler in his overnight diaper (which he ALWAYS pees through regularly). Voila! He woke dry. Thinking of trying the disposable doublers for as long as we keep him in ‘sposies. Thinking of trying cloth again for the new one due in July!

  17. michelle says

    My son Brayden is 15 months and would always leak through his diapers he is pees quite a lot lol. After many months dealing with this I ended up buying a great overnight diaper because sometimes he does wake up for a drink they r human we as adults get thristy and get up & get a drink of water so why shouldn’t they. I only give him water no milk. Anyways I found if he needs a quick drink I change him than and sometimes use a little baby powder to help absorb. That has helped me a lot it takes 5 minutes at most of my time and prevents a big mess. I personally would never deprive him of a quick drink if he is thirsty!.

  18. Becky says

    Hello all.
    My 3-year-old has gone through various spells of wetting through diapers over the last 18 months or so. I have actually read on other blogs that this can be a “developmental” thing where it doesn’t matter what you do to try to avoid it (withhold fluids, etc), it just .. happens. It’s an interesting philosophy and I’ve found it to be particularly true in our case. We’ve successfully used overnight diapers for months and months and about 3 months ago he went through a spell of wetting through EVERY night. It didn’t matter what I did to try to avoid it. Even on days he drank next to nothing (of his own accord), he’s still wet through. It was annoying to say the least. I used boosters and got through it with those, and he’s been without the boosters for several weeks and hasn’t wet through and we haven’t increased diaper size either. To me, it gives some merit to the idea that it’s just something their bodies go through. They certain have so many other changes occurring, why not changes to their process of elimination? Anyway, just thought I’d throw that out there. Sometimes, but certainly not in all cases, it might be a matter of waiting it out before making any drastic changes to see if the “phase” passes.

    Also, let us not forget the repercussions of said diaper leaks: the wet bed! I spent weeks stripping and washing bedding daily before I got wise and invested in those Goodnites mattress liners. I think the intention for those is for kids that are potty training and still have accidents at night. But, I found them QUITE useful when dealing with the diaper leak incidents. Just pop one on the mattress (be it a crib mattress or toddler bed/regular bed), and let the leaking begin, and have NO bedding to clean (or, virtually none depending on if a blanket or lovey gets wet!). I found it to be quite a time-saver.

    Good luck everyone.

  19. Sara says

    Wool!! I love our wool diaper covers and longies to keep leaks away!

  20. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Ashley — love the maxipad tip! Economical, and it’ll make a great, funny story to tell your daughter when she’s older 😉

    Thanks for commenting, Ashley!

    @ Loz — awesome tips! Thanks so much for sharing these. I especially like your 2nd point, about paying attention to food intolerances. I’ve heard that heavy bedwetting can be a sign of a milk intolerance specifically, but I don’t know much more than that. So thanks for pointing this out!

  21. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Dale — another vote for the booster pads! I feel like I’ve been living under a rock or something; so many parents are chiming in about how awesome diaper booster pads are, and I’d never heard of them until I started writing this article!

    Thanks for commenting, Dale :)

    @ Meg — thanks for sharing your experience with us! Glad to hear that hemp ended up working out well for your little one. :)

  22. Emily DeJeu says

    @ michelle — we definitely don’t want to deprive our little ones of fluid if they’re thirsty, of course. No one’s suggesting that. But it is good to keep an eye on when they’re drinking lots of fluid. I know I’ve found that my kids will go through spells when they really won’t drink much during the day, but then later, between dinner and bedtime, they’re drinking 4 or 5 glasses of water. Not good — that doesn’t make for a dry bed! So I’ve learned to be proactive — I ask my kids to sit down throughout the day and drink small glasses of water/juice/milk. I’ve found that it they stay hydrated throughout the day, they’re less likely to load up on fluids before bed, or to wake during the night and ask for something to drink.

    Just my experience, though — different for every family, of course! Thanks for commenting, Michelle! :)

  23. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Becky — fantastic insight about heavy bedwetting possibly being something developmental. I personally don’t have any knowledge about that, but as you say, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. The changes come so fast and furious in our babies’ and toddlers’ early years that it wouldn’t be surprising if that had some kind of impact on their bladders. 😉

    Thanks, too, for the tip about the Goodnight mattress liners! You’re definitely right — the wet diaper isn’t the only issue you have to deal with in the middle of the night!

    Thanks for commenting, Becky :)

  24. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Sarah — agreed on the wool! Makes a nice (and natural) moisture barrier.

    Thanks for commenting!

  25. Jamie says

    My son is 4 months old and his size 2 diapers don’t hold it all in for an overnight so he leaks so I went up to a size 3 and he leaks out the side of those almost everynight they are still 2 big(he likes to sleep on his side. Will these pads and all this stuff help with leaking out the sides of his diaper?

  26. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jamie — Probably, yes. You could either try buying booster pads and putting them in his regular diapers, or you could opt for overnight diapers (like Huggies) and see if those help. Let us know what ends up working for your little guy, Jamie!

    And thanks for commenting. :)

  27. Ben says

    My wife and I are a huge fan of the overnight diapers, one size larger than he wears during the day. We believe that was a key element in our son learning to sleep through the night when we started sleep training him.

  28. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Ben — thanks for this input! We love it when dads chime in. :) Agreed; babies can’t be expected to sleep through the night if they end up soaking wet halfway through it! My husband and I are big fans of the Huggies overnights, too. They were lifesavers with both of our boys, and we’re using them now with our 18 month old daughter. I’m a major cheapskate, but even I’m willing to pay the extra money for overnight diapers, since I’ve found that they work so well.

    Thanks again for commenting, Ben!

  29. Jen says

    We have occasional periods of overnight leaks with our daughter (now 26 months), but the greatest problem was when she was about 4mths old and started to roll. As she likes to sleep on her tummy I found the nappies leaked out the top of the front. My solution? I changed her into Huggies Boy nappies (as they have more absorbancy in the front than the girls ones) for nighttime only and they worked a treat!

  30. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jen — great tip! Thanks for sharing it. :)

  31. Jen says

    We had this problem a LOT with my oldest daughter. We did the maxi pad trick, and it worked wonders!! My husband came up with the idea, and we thought we were being very innovative, but then did a search and found the boosters. Oh well, pads are much cheaper!

  32. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Jen – Good for your husband!! And glad you found a solution to your little ones leaky diaper issues :) When my kids were in diapers, we relied heavily on those Huggies Overnights – those worked miracles for us :)

    Thanks for commenting, Jen!! :)