When choosing an overnight diaper, you not only have to consider your child’s unique needs. You also need to look at how the diaper is going to perform over the hours your baby is asleep. Read on for information about why overnight diapers are necessary and what to look for when choosing a brand.
Why do I need Overnight Diapers?
Overnight diapers might initially sound like a gimmick to get new parents to buy more diapers, but most seasoned parents will tell you they’re completely necessary. Below, we outline the main differences between overnight and daytime diapers:
- Absorbency: All diapers have some sort of absorbent core. The key difference between daytime and overnight diapers is the number of layers in the absorbent core. Both disposable and cloth diapers designed for overnight use have extra layers to keep your baby dry, usually for up to twelve hours.
- Leak Protection: Some diapers absorb liquid well, but a poor fit can lead to leaks every time your baby moves. Most overnight diapers are designed to fit comfortably but snugly to avoid this problem.
- Comfort: Just like you might choose a fleece sleeper to keep your baby cozy during the night, you want a diaper that performs well while still being comfortable. Many overnight diapers are made from softer materials and designed to keep moisture away from your baby’s skin.
What should I Look for in an Overnight Diaper?
Choosing the diaper that works best for your baby is difficult enough, and the decision is even more complicated when it comes to overnight diapers. To help you, we’ve outlined the most important considerations to make when choosing an overnight diaper.
The material used in an overnight diaper is arguably more important than in a daytime diaper because it’s going to be in contact with your baby’s skin for longer. Especially if your baby has sensitive skin, you’ll want to find a material that’s gentle. We explore the most common materials below, grouped by disposable and cloth diapers.
||The absorbent core in disposable diapers is typically made from super-absorbent polymers (SAP), which are tiny particles that soak up moisture. It also usually contains wood pulp to help distribute fluid.
||In a cloth diaper, the absorbent core can be a fabric insert or the entire diaper itself. Extra absorbency comes from extra layers of fabric, and the most common materials used include cotton, bamboo and hemp. Cotton is the most affordable but bamboo and hemp tend to be more absorbent.
||Most disposable diapers have an outer lining made from polyethylene film and an inner layer of polypropylene. These materials are stretchy and often treated so they’re soft. Some brands used plant-based plastic instead of petroleum-based.
||Modern cloth diapers have an outer, waterproof cover. These are either separate pieces that fit over the cloth diaper or are integrated with the absorbent core. Polyurethane Laminate, or PUL, is the most common material because it’s breathable. Nylon and wool are also used.
Allergies & Sensitivities
Some babies have sensitive skin or allergies to certain ingredients used in diapers. It only takes one bad reaction for parents to know they want to avoid certain materials at all costs. If your baby has sensitivities, you may want to look out for these ingredients:
- Fragrance: Many disposable diapers contain fragrance. While it might seem like a nice idea to mask otherwise unpleasant odors, some babies react to fragrances. Furthermore, fragrance is considered a trade secret, so brands don’t need to disclose what chemicals are used in their fragrances.
- Dyes: Most diapers come with some sort of cute design or character, but these become less cute if your baby develops a rash because of the dyes. Try to avoid diapers that use dyes in areas that come into contact with your baby’s skin.
- Chlorine: Chlorine is the reason many diapers are bright white. While these diapers usually only contain trace amounts of chlorine, that can be enough to bother some babies. Some parents also worry about the safety of chlorine in general.
Appropriate sizing is important not only for your baby’s comfort but also for leak protection. Some brands only carry certain sizes, so it’s important to check what’s available, especially as your baby grows. And because overnight diapers tend to be geared toward older babies who can sleep for longer stretches, it can sometimes be difficult to find smaller sizes.
Be sure to choose a size that fits snugly without being too tight. Indentations around the waist and legs are a sign the diaper is too small, while constant leaks might indicate your diaper doesn’t offer enough absorption, and it’s time to size up.
Absorbency & Leak Protection
Most overnight diaper brands will tout their unique absorbency and leak protection capabilities, but how do you know what’s important and what’s just talk? Look at the number of layers in the diaper. Typical disposable diapers include two layers in their absorbent cores, but a good overnight should contain three or four. Leaks often occur around the legs or waist, so a good overnight diaper will account for this. Look for one with stretchy and adjustable tabs so you can get the perfect fit. An extra leak guard right inside the diaper is also helpful.
When it comes to cloth diapers, layering is still key. Cloth diapers tend to be fairly customizable, so you can either fold diapers for extra absorbency or add absorbent inserts. Certain materials, like wool, are also extra absorbent. It’s important, too, to look for a cover that’s highly adjustable so you can get a snug fit.
As mentioned above, fit is key for comfort and leak protection. Look for diapers that are very adjustable and secure well. Some diapers don’t include much stretch around the waist or legs, which can either lead to a loose fit or can be too tight on your baby. Be sure to pay attention to the tabs as well. If a tab doesn’t secure well, it won’t matter how absorbent the diaper is.
Diapers are one of the top costs when it comes to having a baby. While performance and comfort come first, there’s no need to pay for diaper features that don’t matter to you. Eco-friendly diapers and those made for sensitive skin tend to cost more than basic diapers. If your baby doesn’t have skin allergies, a budget diaper brand may work just fine. Cloth diapering can have a higher upfront price tag but actually cost less than disposables over time, especially if you wash them yourself.
Many parents are concerned about the environmental impact of diapers, and for good reason. Disposable diapers lead to a lot of waste in landfills and require a great deal of resources to make. While no diaper is entirely sustainable, there are more eco-friendly options.
Some “green” disposable diapers use plant-based plastic instead of petroleum-based plastic in their outer layers. Some even claim to be at least partially biodegradable, though this claim is somewhat questionable if diapers end up in the landfill. Diapers that are free of chemicals like fragrances, dyes and chlorine also have a smaller environmental impact and may be better for your baby’s skin. Cloth diapers are often considered a more eco-friendly alternative to disposables, though the impact is dependent on how they’re laundered.