Our 2-year old son is going through a rough period - we have cut his breastfeeding to once daily (before bed) and his sleep pattern is changing and is therefore unpredictable. Lately, he will often wake during the night and as we refuse to let him to breastfeed, he will throw terrible multi-hour tantrums which include him hitting us. We think we know how to deal with them, it just takes time, enormous willpower and energy.

We've had a dilemma lately: if he is sleeping and we notice that he has thoroughly wet himself (his diaper can't hold it all), is it better to change him and thus risk waking him into another tantrum that is emotionally hard on all of us, or do we (for the time being) let him sleep in wet sheets until he wakes on his own? My wife wakes up because she can smell the urine!

5 Answers 5


This sounds like a difficult position to be in, but if the wet diaper isn't uncomfortable enough to wake him up, I would let him sleep. If you end up doing this several nights in a row, just make sure to check carefully for developing diaper rash or infections.

In the mean time, have you tried overnight or extra-absorbant diapers?

  • This is what we decided on in the end and luckily the problem has gone away recently (at least for now - keeping my fingers crossed). The diapers are the best we can get here, we've tried others and they've usually proven worse. He holds urine for a long time, then lets it out all at once - my wife has a theory that the diaper can't distribute it around its absorbative parts quick enough.
    – gregopet
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:40

The other answers address the diaper-change well. Let me add: Make sure to reduce the child's fluid intake in the time prior to bedtime. Don't let him drink too much in the last 1 or even 2 hours, obviously except the good-night bottle if you have one.

  • We try to reduce the liquid intake before bed but sometimes it's hard - after brushing his teeth he rinses and will continue to refill his glass and drink from it several times. Preventing him from doing so causes drama which upsets the bed routine so whether to stop him or not is another choice we have to make :)
    – gregopet
    Oct 4, 2011 at 19:38

My son had the soaking through the diaper problem when he was younger. I just switched brands to a more expensive one. I noticed the Wal-Mart or Target brand diapers didn't hold in the pee. The only brand that worked was Pampers. Luvs didn't even hold it in.

Like others have said before, change right before bed, and hopefully just switching brands will work. Pampers always has a lot of coupons out there and they even have a UPC program that gives out toys depending on the number of points you have collected from them.

  • 1
    Leaking diapers aren't always related to price, in my experience. We tried a variety of brands, and repeated these trial rounds at intervals as the baby grows and the "diaper fit" changes. Sep 14, 2011 at 17:39
  • That makes sense. When they start running around more, diapers will get loser around the legs. Both Pampers and Luvs have "cruiser" type diapers for those purposes. Good point.
    – jlg
    Sep 14, 2011 at 17:43
  • ... but it's equally valid when they don't run around. Just like one kind pair of pants won't fit everybody, neither do diapers. Sep 14, 2011 at 17:49

Tangential answer because I don't have comment rights:

Perhaps you should look at how his diet influences his night time peeing? I recently noticed that if I limit my carbs in the evening to slow starches, then I'm not as thirsty and I don't sweat at night. (so no sugary goods or even fruit juice, just potatoes, rice, that kind of thing - for me that boils to foregoing my ice cream)

See the Paleo Hacks forum for an inconclusive but interesting discussion of peeing and diet.


Why are the sheets wet? Are you not using a diaper?

Assuming you are using a diaper and the sheets are not wet, I would suggest you leave the wet diaper on. Our nightly routine with all 5 of our kids included changing the diaper right before bed time (unless it was still crunchy) and leaving it on them until the morning. Yes, it may be wet, but the diapers are so absorbent that they don't really feel the urine on their skin. Even if they do, you'll just bathe them in the morning.

If, in the rare case, your child develops diaper rash, then just treat it with diaper rash cream as you would otherwise. I've seen some people use ample amounts of diaper rash cream on their kids (particularly girls) before bedtime, whether they have diaper rash or not. We've never found much need to do this, but if it makes you feel better, go for it.

Either way, in my experience, its better for your baby and your sanity to let your baby sleep, rather than being obsessive-compulsive about cleanliness. Urine is generally sterile, so there is nothing to worry about in terms of health. Yes, it can start smelling like ammonia, but if you have an absorbent diaper with deodorizer (which most modern brands have) then you're not likely to smell it.

  • Diaper + wet sheets - also happens often to us. If the child has drunk too much before going to sleep it can happen that the diaper can not sponge all the fluid, so the bed can get really wet (despite diapers).
    – BBM
    Sep 17, 2011 at 0:20
  • "urine is sterile" - at first, there is for sure no problem with health, but if the child's skin is wet for hours, I think it will get red and very irritated.
    – BBM
    Sep 17, 2011 at 0:22

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