How Long Can I Leave A Wet Diaper On?

Wondering how long can I leave a wet diaper on for?

Well like most things baby related how long you can leave a wet diaper on for will vary on a few factor that we are going to discuss below.

We get it, diapers are expensive so you don’t want to be changing them unnecessarily.

But you also don’t want a wet diaper to be the cause of a nasty diaper rash or diaper blowout!

So, lets look at if you need to change a wet diaper right away or if it can stay on for a period of time.

And if you love this guide on how to tell if a baby needs a diaper change, then make sure you check out these guides on buying disposable diapers, best overnight diapers for babies and toddlers, and how much water does a diaper hold.

So, How Long Can I Leave A Wet Diaper On For?

The general rule when it comes to the length of time you can leave a wet diaper on varies depending on the age of your baby. But there are additional factors like the type of diaper that we will go into detail below.

However, in simple terms, it should be changed every two to three hours if your child is a newborn, and then much less frequently as they grow older.

And while it is okay to leave a super-absorbent diaper on for a little bit longer if you’re in a pinch, you should always clean it up as soon as you can.

This is especially true if your baby is sleeping comfortably through the night and doesn’t wake up for a diaper change or a feed.

But, if you spot a soiled or a heavily wet diaper, it is generally far better for your little one if you change it immediately.

In fact, many diapers now come with a wetness indicator to help let you know when your baby’s diaper is wet and needs changing. There are especially useful for new parents.

do you need to change a wet diaper right away

Why Should You Change A Wet Diaper?

You can’t over-change your child’s wet diaper. Granted, you may find yourself frequently checking their diaper purely to make sure they are clean, dry, and comfortable. But there are some other reasons as to why it’s essential to change a wet diaper.

Diaper Rash

A baby has very soft and sensitive skin, so it is absolutely essential that you check for diaper rash. Having a moist bottom for a prolonged period means your baby’s bottom can become very chaffed due to the wet diaper.

This rash will then turn bright red if the problem is left untreated. Or, in more severe cases, it could even cause a high fever and bleeding.

You may want to check out this guide on how to apply diaper cream the right way to help protect your baby against a nasty diaper rash.

Staph Infection 

This infection occurs when an extreme diaper rash is ignored. Bacteria from the diaper produces a toxin that reddens and damages the skin

Bladder Infection

This type of infection is usually caused by yeast, which grows on moisture. It then enters the urinary tract and causes an infection in your baby. Essentially, the longer the wet diaper is left, the more likely it is to become a breeding area for yeast.

Factors that Influence How Long You Can Leave A Wet Diaper On

It’s obvious why a wet diaper needs to be changed. But the question that must be urgently addressed is how long it can be left on, and how often it must be changed. There isn’t one exact answer. Instead, it depends on several factors.

To prevent the number of times that your baby makes contact with urine, you should consider some of the following:

Type Of Diaper 

How often you change your baby’s diaper depends entirely on its absorbing capabilities. Simply, the larger the liquid holding capacity, the less frequently it will need to be changed. There are two common types of diapers that are widely used:

Cloth Diapers

Cloth diapers are very commonly used. Not only are they quite inexpensive but they also don’t add any toxic waste to the environment.

If you opt to use this type of diaper then it must be changed immediately after it gets wet. This is because it doesn’t have any chemical gels that can soak up your baby’s urine.

That being said, your little one will immediately start to feel the wetness and will become uncomfortable very quickly.

This will lead to them crying, becoming cranky, and could even lead to health complications such as an infection if it is not prevented in enough time. 

Disposable Diapers

Also known as gel diapers, disposable diapers are thrown out after a single use. They are made from Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) which is capable of soaking the wetness of a diaper without making the surface feel wet. 

The more polymers that are present in a diaper, the more liquid that it can hold. This means it is very important to identify the number of polymers present in that particular diaper brand.

It can actually be found on the package of the diaper. Gel diapers are extremely effective at keeping your baby dry than cloth diapers, especially if you opt for one with many polymers. 

how to tell if a baby needs a diaper change

Time Of Day

Your baby will typically feed more throughout the day than the night, so you will probably find that you won’t often have to change their diaper at night.

But if you want to stay on top of things to keep your baby feeling as comfortable and clean as possible, all you need to do is check if their diaper feels wet when they wake up for a feed. 

Urine Or Poop

A wet diaper is only when a baby has urinated, rather than pooped in their diaper. A soiled diaper must be changed immediately after your baby has pooped to prevent infection, and just to generally keep them clean. 

Do not even think to make your baby sit in that breeding ground for bacteria even for a second. Just remove it instantly.

Skin Sensitivity 

A wet diaper should be instantly changed if your baby has a known skin sensitivity, or if they struggle with skin irritation.

This is mainly because keeping a wet diaper on for an extended period could result in skin rashes or infections across your baby’s skin, which could result in them being in a lot of pain and discomfort.

Type Of Food

The kind of food that you feed your baby has a big impact on the number of times you have to change their diaper. 

For example, if you are feeding your child food that is even slightly acidic – including lots of fruit like oranges and apples – then their urine will also become acidic. This could lead to infections or rashes, as we have covered above. 

While it would have been uncomfortable for your baby to sit in a puddle of their own pee in general, it will be very painful for them if they are left to sit in this type of wet diaper. 

Therefore, it’s so important to change this diaper as soon as possible!

Bottle Fed Or Breastfed

The amount of times that your baby will need their diaper changed in a day simply depends on the type of diet that they are on.

If your baby is being solely breastfed then it would likely mean less frequent diaper changes as they are on a very simple diet. 

But if your child is being bottle-fed, it would mean an increased number of dirty and wet diapers needing to be changed as they are receiving a far more wholesome diet.

So, if you are wondering how long to leave a wet diaper on your young child, you need to take many factors into consideration.

Final Thoughts on Do You Need to Change a Wet Diaper Right Away

You should always aim to change your baby’s wet diaper as quickly as possible. This will prevent rashes and infections and will also keep your baby happy. 

Yes, changing their diapers more will often mean purchasing more diapers on a more frequent basis, but it’s definitely worth it to ensure your baby’s overall wellbeing. After all, you wouldn’t like to be sitting in your own urine, right?

Continue to check your baby’s diaper regularly and always have some dry diapers on hand in case an emergency arises.

And if you’re looking for more great diapering guides, then check out these guides on best natural diaper rash creams, Desitin vs Aquaphor, diaper caddy essentials, and Desitin vs Boudreaux diaper rash cream.

How Long Can I Leave A Wet Diaper On