Infant will be on his bed, so how will I know that it is the time to change his diaper?
Do I have to wait for his crying?
Do I have to check every 15 minutes whether his diaper is wet or not?

These would be cloth diapers.

New question:

How to check the diaper every hour at night? Should I set an alarm after every hour to get up and check for wet diapers every night? What is a practical solution for this?

  • I could have sworn this was a duplicate, but it seems other questions focus on how long is safe to leave a wet diaper, not how to know when to check. Apr 4, 2013 at 17:16
  • I don't think its available yet, nor I'm promoting any brand, but.. this will help many people in future: news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-57583594-1/… May 13, 2013 at 21:29

3 Answers 3


In general, an hour or two between changes is fairly typical. It takes a while to produce more urine or feces, so you can expect more than 15 minutes before diaper changes.

Waiting for the infant to cry is not perfectly reliable, because some children don't seem to mind wet diapers -- my youngest finds a wet diaper to be pure torture, my oldest couldn't have cared less. Most babies don't like wet diapers as much as dry, and will fuss to let you know it's time; you only need to schedule diaper checks if you notice your child is not bothered by a wet diaper.

Right after waking up, and right after eating, tend to be popular times to eliminate waste. Other triggers may be bath water or cool air. (For example, when you open a diaper to change, that's the PERFECT time to pee all over the place.)

I would not recommend waking yourself up to check whether a diaper is wet; a very young baby will be waking up to eat frequently anyway, and so diaper checks can be done at the same time. If a diaper has been soiled enough to irritate the skin (leading to redness and/or rash), then the baby will be crying about it, which will wake you up anyway.

It is not a big problem for a baby to be in a wet diaper for a little while, as long as they are not crying or obviously distressed by it -- if a diaper is only slightly damp, it may not wake up the baby, and it is very unlikely to cause irritation. It is probably far more valuable for both you and the baby to get rest instead of worrying whether the diapers are perfectly clean.


Some babies are extremely sensitive, and will cry about the slightest wetness. Some babies will have a huge soaking blowout in the middle of the night and barely make a peep. We've had both ways. If you're lucky, your baby will be somewhere in between.

Newborns wake up to get fed a lot, so generally you'll be just fine if you check the diaper just before and just after a feeding. If the baby's awake and you're interacting, it's no big deal to check every 15 minutes or so, and eventually you'll be able to tell from outward signs.

By the time your baby starts sleeping longer and going longer between feedings, you'll have a pretty good idea of his individual schedule.


Newborns need to be checked and changed much more frequently than older babies, simply because they poo more often. For the first few weeks, you can expect some poo in almost every nappy / diaper, and should check every half hour or so if they're awake, probably changing once every 2 or 3 hours. If they're asleep I wouldn't bother waking them up to check / change.

Once they get a little bit older a cloth nappy / diaper will be fine for about 4 or 5 hours. If you aren't quick enough to change it then it starts to leak and you get damp patches on the baby's clothes!

NB as a happy cloth nappy user for both my children, I would NOT recommend using cloth nappies from the very start because the newborn poo ("meconium") is very difficult to clean and can stain the nappies easily. If disposables are an option for you they are vastly preferable for the first couple of weeks until the poo is normal.

Edit to answer your additional question about night times: In the night time you can add a booster pad to the nappy which makes it more absorbent (but also more bulky, which is why you don't normally use them during the day as well). Or if you're using prefolds, stick two prefolds in the same outer for the same effect.

In the very newborn days you'll be up frequently in the night anyway and just give the nappy a quick check then. After that you'll soon learn how long the nappy lasts before leaking and how often your baby poos. Definitely no need to set an alarm and check. There are really only two ways things can "go wrong" (if you haven't checked often enough) - either the nappy leaks, in which case just clean up and check a bit more often next time, or the baby ends up with a sore bottom from being in a dirty (as opposed to just wet) nappy, in which case barrier cream can help.

One particular recommendation is to make up the bed / cot as follows: mattress, waterproof layer, sheet, waterproof layer, sheet. Then if there is any leakage in the night you can strip off the top sheet and waterproof, leave them to be washed in the morning and go back to sleep on the second layer without having to re-make the bed!

Two general points: first, trust your instincts - you seem to be very unsure about quite specific aspects of all this and really, I promise, it will all fall into place once the baby is here! And second, you will inevitably get leaks / containment failures / sore bottoms etc at some point - just clean up and move on, the world won't end :-)

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