we were advised by a friend to let my newborn daughter, sleep without any diaper at night, claiming it has a bad effect on the shape of her legs wearing them the whole time.

  • It seems plausible since with diapers she has to hold her legs apart all the time.
  • I did some searches and could not find a valid source to assure me.
  • If it indeed hurts the baby, how can I avoid the harm? and how long without diapers is enough?
  • I already know about the diaper rash and let her have some minutes of free air every time I change her which seems to be working just fine.
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    Anecdotal evidence: A majority of adults in western civilization slept with diapers as babies, and don't have particularly horribly shaped legs.
    – Peter
    Jun 17, 2017 at 19:17
  • @Peter, yeah totally right, thanks. Though I just meant a simple bad effect and not really thinking to the degree of horribly shaped legs
    – azerafati
    Jun 18, 2017 at 5:54
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    What, no diaper during the night? Eww! Daily washing of bed+baby!
    – KlaymenDK
    Jun 21, 2017 at 12:24
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    Another small observation: Wet clothes can and will probably quickly cause skin irritation
    – martin
    Jun 22, 2017 at 13:58

2 Answers 2


No. As Peter commented, diapers/nappies have been used for hundreds of years and especially kept on at night to avoid nocturnal accidents. The common problem with them is nappy rash, and you are already well aware of that. Aside from that, they have had no effect on the healthy growth of legs.

Nappies, especially modern ones, do not hold the legs apart. Even cloth ones, which can be a bit bulkier, do not place any undue pressure on joints. When sleeping, this is especially true. As Catija commented, legs naturally part when we lie on our backs or stomachs.

  • 3
    Not to mention that our legs naturally fall apart when lying on our backs or stomachs... we just don't generally keep our legs together like that.
    – Catija
    Jun 17, 2017 at 22:58
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    @catija: That sort of begs the question, doesn't it? That answer, at least at the level of detail given, is not really satisfying, since the given evidence is precisely the sort of thing one would imagine as a consequence of the hypothesis that diapers hurt the normal shape of legs.
    – user11971
    Jun 18, 2017 at 10:09

I am not sure why they think that is true, but I can assure you that isn't an actual concern. While it might be possible to let a bay do this in a warm climate, you can't even consider this is cold climates. Just a generation ago for me, my parents grew up with frost on the inside of windows in winter. You can't very well leave a baby with a naked bottom when the indoor temperatures are enough to cause you hypothermia. Even now, with better heat & insulation, I can't imagine that my daughter, born when it was around 0F/-17C, was going to sleep for me at all without warm clothing on. I think what we call air time is good. It's just diaperless time relatively often to allow the skin to dry completely, etc. We tried to do that when we could & I would use a space heater to warm out bathroom & allow them to lay on towels on the floor, but I can't see being able to do that all night.

I think if this were truly a concern orthopedic Drs would be speaking up about the issue. They checked my small baby's right after birth & a few times after for hip displasia & they do look at how hips & legs are coming along after birth. I would think if anyone had a concern, it would be more about hips than legs. I am not sure where the concern about legs is coming from or if perhaps hip diplasia is what they were thinking of, but did know the proper name.

Here is a whole article on diapers, hips, etc that may ease your mind. https://consciousbabyblog.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/cloth-or-disposable-how-diapers-affect-your-babys-development/

  • 1
    No diaper doesn't necessarily mean no clothing at all...
    – Catija
    Jun 17, 2017 at 22:56
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    Well it would have to nearly mean that. If you put a baby into clothing and they pee, because newborns pee all the time, it's going to be even colder when wet than leaving them naked. The urine spreads rapidly, even in a diaper leak. It's not going to be warmer when it's wet than open air, it will actually end up colder. And newborns don't pee every few hours They often tinkle a little every 10-20mins from my experience. So once they get it wet, it will wick & spread. I can't imagine how you could make that work.
    – threetimes
    Jun 17, 2017 at 23:02
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    That is valuable information for your answer... rather than assuming there's no clothing, that's the sort of thing you should mention :D
    – Catija
    Jun 17, 2017 at 23:03

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