What To Do If My Baby Poops While Sleeping? Tips & Solutions

In the daytime, you know exactly what to do when your baby poops. Without flinching, you grab her for a diaper change. However, at night it is a different ball game altogether. You have to weigh your options carefully and decide what you want to prioritize between your child’s comfort and sleep, as it is extremely frustrating to many parents to get some of these little munchkins even to sleep.

Some of the bacteria in your baby’s poop release an enzyme that can cause ammonia to be released from the urine, which in turn raises your baby’s skin PH levels. This raising PH level on your baby can decrease the growth of healthy skin microflora that would protect her while increasing the activity of things that irritates her skin. This combination of urine and poop makes your baby susceptible to yeast infection.

In this article, Let’s explore potential causes, how to handle them, and ways you can help reduce the times when it happens as well as how to help get your baby’s sleep back on track.

Why do babies poop in their sleep?

An infant baby girl is getting her diaper changed in the middle of the night by her mom.

If your baby is pooping in her sleep, normally there is something that is causing her to. So let’s troubleshoot together…

  • Is your baby going through a growth spurt? Babies tend to poop more frequently when they are sprouting.
  • Did your little person recently start on solids? Introducing solids and new foods can increase pooping at bedtime and also early in the morning.
  • Is your little one teething? Added drool can make your baby’s stool looser and cause more frequent poops at odd hours.
  • Is your baby eating right before their sleep time and not having enough time to digest?
  • Is she still eating like a newborn overnight? Frequent eating equals more pooping.
  • Are you sleep training? When babies are learning independent sleep patterns, it is common for them to poop more frequently overnight. 

Tips to stop poop from interrupting your baby’s sleep

An infant boy is sleeping soundly at night.

So what can you do to help stop your baby’s night poop probs? That is a question you’d want to ask and get a quick solution to. Sometimes, you’ll have to make a list of possible solutions and implement them. You might not know which will work until you use it to fix that night poop issue and it works. So let’s talk about ways to get your baby to not poop and help them sleep through the night.

  • Lather up. This is my favorite. Always lather your baby’s cute bum like a cake with a thick layer of diaper cream before a sleep period so that if you miss the poop or determine that you aren’t changing her, you will still protect the baby’s sensitive skin from diaper rash.
  • Eat, play, sleep. Use the eat, play, sleep method with baby’s so your little one has time to digest and hopefully poop. Plan to feed your baby when they wake instead of when they are going down. This is also helpful in many other ways in your baby’s life.
  • Time to digest. A little playtime after lunch or dinner often helps to get the baby’s system moving. Ensure you are giving enough time for digestion before putting your baby in the crib.
  • Hydration. Ensure your baby stays hydrated. This will help your little one to poop and avoid constipation.
  • Food log. Keep a food log and ascertain which foods are causing the poop.
  • High fiber and p-fruits. Give your baby high fiber cereals and p-fruits, peaches, plums, pears, and prunes earlier in the day so she has time to digest before sleep time and switch to starchy carbs like sweet potatoes at dinner time.
  • Routine. Consider lengthening your baby’s routine with an earlier bath to give her time to poop as going to the bathroom is easier when we are relaxed. Doing bicycle legs and a baby massage can also get the system moving.
  • Schedule.  A too-early bedtime for too long can cause early morning wake-ups to your baby because they could be done sleeping and their bowel is waking up with them. Try to adjust the baby to an age-appropriate bedtime which is usually between 6:30 to 7:30 pm.
  • You can also try some more binding foods at dinner time like pasta, rice, toast, cheese, meat, and bananas with the approval of your pediatrician.
  • Sleep training. It can be harder for babies to regulate their body systems if their nights and nap times are a mess and they don’t have healthy sleep habits. Teaching your babies to put themselves to sleep, sleep through the night, and have a well-planned daytime sleep schedule can help them move past these challenges and stop poop from interrupting their sleep.

How to resolve sleep time poop emergency 

A dad is changing his infant sons diaper at night time.

Okay, great. Now that we’ve talked about how to avoid pooping during bedtime issues, what should you do when it does happen? The best way to react is 

  • Quickly and quietly change the diaper and pop her right back into bed.
  • You want to avoid making a big fuss over it so don’t turn on all the lights. Throwing on the main lights will only wake her body back up when it was preparing to go to sleep.
  • Avoid eye contact and talking to your child through it. You don’t want to do the whole routine again. No reading her a book, giving a bottle, or whatever it is that she is used to having before her sleep time. You don’t want to give her a reaction.
  • If you can change her in the crib, the better. It doesn’t have to be a perfectly clean-up job because you can re-clean her after the nap.
  • Avoid wet wipes as they can be cold and might wake your baby right up. You can as well hold a wipe in your hand to warm it up a bit before using it on the baby. 
  • Using a sleep sack can be super helpful and I much prefer a zippered sleeper to button sleepers. 

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

How long can your baby sleep in a poopy diaper?

Waking up due to wetness is typically an issue if they are in cloth diapers that don’t absorb away moisture the same way modern diapers do but a diaper change is required with every soiled diaper to avoid skin irritation especially when babies become more active and mobile. 

The American Pregnancy Association warns that the acid contents of a baby’s bowel movements may irritate their skin and you should change her as soon as possible.

Should I wake my sleeping baby for a diaper change? 

Unless it is a blowout situation or your baby has open sores that require monitoring, let them sleep. A breastfed baby’s poop isn’t very irritating to the skin so you can put it off for a little while if they are sleeping soundly.

Formula-fed babies on the other hand will require more prompt changing since their poop is more likely to be more aggravating to their skin, but they are likely to wake up on their own.

When do babies stop pooping at night? 

According to the advice from Johns Hopkins Medical, children develop at different rates, and a child younger than 12 months of age has no control over bladder or bowel movement.

So the truth is, the answer is individual for every baby, and as much as I would love to give you a poop-by-date, which I can only imagine what it would do for the happiness of humanity, you won’t know the answer until it arrives. 

Is baby pooping while sleeping normal?

Yes. It is very normal for babies to poop during sleep and in the first month of life, you will find that poop likely happens frequently and has no respect for time or day.

Over time, you’ll see the night poop fade but will pop up again when your baby is older. If they are six months old and started pooping in the night again it might also be because of teething. So pooping in the night can be normal at various stages for various reasons.

Takeaway

Some things you just have to play the wait-and-see game with as you wait for your baby to mature and stop pooping at night. In other cases, there are other causes of that night poop and you can stop it. If you go in for a dream feed and your baby has pooped, change her diaper before putting her back in her crib even if you usually don’t change her at feeding.

As your baby grows, their pattern of sleep and diapering will change and so will your anxiety about it. There’s no point in feeling guilty about missing a diaper or two during those inevitable first few months. It absolutely won’t harm your baby if they have to wait a bit longer for a change. It is ok to wait.

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