What is the difference between a regular and an overnight diaper?

What is the difference between a regular and an overnight diaper?

A popular advert for overnight diapers compares the regular diaper with the overnight diaper by throwing the same amount of water on each of the diapers. The observer then turns the diapers around and squeezes them. The message is passed – overnight diapers are more absorbent than regular diapers.

For every family with babies and toddlers, diapers comprise a majority of the household supplies. Early years come with a lot of diaper demand, therefore, it's essential for parents to arm themselves with relevant diaper information. Don't use regular diapers at night, use overnight diapers.

Regular newborn diapers are necessary for the first few weeks, even though most babies tend to outgrow them very quickly. A lot of new parents often wake up to the nighttime reality after the first month. One day, they go to get their baby in the morning but all they can see is flood – a flood of pee.

Some babies do just fine with regular diapers at night, but that is often not the case. Most babies outgrow the use of regular diapers at night. Thus, nighttime comes with lots of discomfort in sleep due to wet and cold sheets caused by diaper leaks.

Wetness certainly causes discomfort and sleep disruptions for both the baby and the mom (or dad). If you use regular diapers then you have to wake up intermittently at night, depending on how often your baby gets soaked, to change the diapers and the wet sheet.

So what's the reason?

Day. And night. Everyone's active during the day, even day time sleep is adequately named "a nap". Generally, baby diaper gets changed every 2–3 hours during the day which helps to keep them clean and dry throughout the day.  

On the other hand, night hours come with extended hours of sleep so that the baby can go as long as 8 hours, or even 12 hours, in the same diaper. It's only logical that a regular diaper will become overloaded since it's taking double the volume it would have taken during the day.

overnight diapers

How regular diapers are different from overnight diapers 

Regular diapers have lower absorbance for liquid because they are meant to be used for a few hours. Overnight diapers are specifically built to last 8 hours or more. The mechanisms put in place makes it possible for the diaper to absorb twice as much pee as a regular diaper, without leakages. 

Regular diapers offer more freedom around the thighs for movement and play during the day. Overnight diapers fit snugly around the thighs, giving little or no room for movement. It's a sufficient amount of fit without cutting off the blood supply. Most of the baby's activities and movement happen during the day, therefore, the regular diaper has more room around the thigh to contain this movement.

Regular diapers have thin pads. They are lighter to wear and fit easily into clothes. Overnight diapers have thick pads and are heavier. This is not a problem since the overnight diapers are worn only to sleep.

The thin pads in regular diapers are specifically designed for light absorbency because the baby is not expected to wear one for a long time. Overnight diapers have high absorbency. They are made to hold in lots of liquid for a longer period of time.

Every diaper looks the same and has the same physical qualities. A waterproof shell, an absorbent core, and a permeable sheet next to the baby's skin. Their functions are fused to keep the baby dry and comfortable.

The sheet allows pee to pass through to the core where the pee is stored. The waterproof shell prevents pee from passing through. The bands around the thigh and waistband help to prevent leakage while keeping the diaper in shape.

The absorbent material used at the core of the diaper allows it to absorb as much as 15 times its weight in liquid. This technology has been used to develop lighter diapers over the years.

Some nighttime tips 

You may have introduced your baby to overnight diapers but you still find that they wake up wet and cranky. Your baby is possibly a heavy wetter. Here are a few tips to help manage nighttime wetting.

  • Reduce food and water intake. Late feeding increases the level of water produced by the body. Avoid feeding your baby a lot of food and water after 7:00 p.m. The less water your baby's system has to make at night, the better the job of the diaper to contain pee.

  • Make sure the diaper has a tight fit. A loose diaper will leak. Your finger shouldn't fit in easily, but be careful to leave enough room for blood circulation and comfort.

  • Change into overnight diapers at bedtime. Keep baby in regular diapers when they are still active and change them into overnight diapers once it's bedtime.

  • Go a size up if your overnight diapers still don't work. This might help in managing the pee and curbing leakages.

  • Use a diaper doubler. It is pad-like and acts as the first layer of the diaper. Pee soaks through it before getting to the diaper which creates extra dryness.

  • Have a bedtime routine. Babies recognize routines. Having a bedtime routine will help your baby settle into bed easily at night and also create a feeling of safety for them.

Is an overnight diaper worth the trouble

That would depend on your baby. Some babies will never need to use overnight diapers because they do not pee a lot at night. There's no point in getting an overnight diaper if your baby sleeps well in regular diapers. 

However, when the regulars begin to fill up and wet the sheets then it's time to switch. You surely don't want your baby waking up in a pool of their own body mess, plus cleaning the sheets every day is really not worth the trouble.


Your choice of diapers, regular or overnight, will depend on your baby. You can start by trying out the brand that appeals most to you. Get a small package and if it suits your baby, you can get it in bulk. 

Remember, it's possible that your baby's skin may be receptive to the regular diaper of a certain brand yet be allergic to the overnight diaper of the same brand. 

Efforts have been made to get the information as accurate and updated as possible. If you found any incorrect information with credible source, please send it via the contact us form
Sky Hoon
Family Man. He is a family man and married with 1 child. Spent countless nights changing diaper and surprised how outdated diapers are. Nevertheless, there is no solution yet as a parent, just want to research more about diapers.
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