How To Handle Early Morning Poopy Diapers

4-16 months

Nov 12, 2020

As parents we talk about sleep and poop ALL the time! Especially when it comes to early morning poopy diapers. Do you change baby’s dirty diaper at 5AM? Do you let your baby stay in the crib with a dirty diaper? It’s all so frustrating and confusing! So, today I’m going to share my strategies on how we can handle these early morning poopy diapers, how can we try to prevent them and give you some practical steps to try first thing in the morning. 


Know this first

Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot we can do about the timing of your child’s bowel movements. We can TRY these strategies, but this is kind of a blog where I can’t guarantee that it’s going to work. Simply because your child’s body is complicated! And when they go to the potty is not something that I can obviously habitually change, but we can TRY to help!!


Offer a “poopy spot”

The first strategy that I want to ask you is: does your child have a spot, a place, a toy, something in your house that tends to be your child’s like poopy spot? 

Let me explain. My oldest daughter, who’s now six, there was a toy, it was one of those like kind of table top activity centers where you could stand as a baby and like press the buttons. 

When she would go play at that, inevitably every time she had a dirty diaper! 

But if your child has a toy, a spot, a place that they go poopy, then I want you to offer that during or before the bedtime routine. 

So maybe while you’re getting the bath ready, you kind of urge your child to go over to that spot, have another partner go supervise them or have it nearby so you can watch them. But try to offer that place for them to see if they will go ahead and get their dirty diaper out of their system!

If not, oh well, we tried! It’s just a strategy to see if we can help. 


Slather on the diaper cream

Then you’re going to go through your bedtime routine as usual. At the diaper and jammies part of bedtime, I want you to grab your favorite diaper cream. (All my favorites are here!)  

Take your preferred diaper cream and act as if you’re icing a cake on your baby’s bum!

Seriously! You MUST layer it on this thick to prevent diaper rashes. And to know that come 5AM your little one is not going to be irritated by a dirty diaper. 

After laying it on thick, get the diaper on, do your jammies and finish the bedtime routine.

Now we know we’ve done all the preventative measures! Offered a space to go fill their diaper and now have a full bum covered and protected!


3 Ways To Respond


Option A: For newborns only

If you have a newborn, you are absolutely going to go change their diaper. They may even need a feed at that early morning waking!

Since newborns cannot self-soothe you will need to change them and help them get back to sleep. 


Option B: For babies over 4 months 

For babies who sleep independently I actually would prefer you to not go in at all in that early morning time. 

Yep, that’s right! Stay out. Here’s why…

Have you tried to go in and change the dirty diaper and then leave the room?

Did your baby go from a level 2 to a level 20 of upset because came in?

It’s very common, even if your baby sleeps independently, for the child to become more upset than soothed by you coming in in the early hours. 

At that early morning time I would rather you stay out until we hit the 11 hours of night (11-12 hours is the goal, 11 hours is the minimum so it’s okay to start the day!).

You know in your mind you’ve done all of the preventative measures at bedtime. It’s okay. Your baby is convinced that it’s time to start the day. But it’s 4 or 5AM. It’s. Not. Time. 


Option C

Hear me out on this. Not going in to change your baby’s dirty diaper is unfair if your child uses a pacifier to fall asleep, if you’ve been rocking them to sleep, if you’ve been feeding them a bottle or nursing them to drowsiness to put them to sleep. 

If your baby depends on YOU to get them to sleep, this strategy simply is not fair.

Let’s unpack this. 

You see if you have offered your child, any type of sleep prop, it really is unfair to just stay out. Because not only are they waking up because they have a dirty diaper…but they’re also waking up because they’re like, “Hey, bring my prop back, I want to go back to sleep!”

So the strategy of staying out until the 11 hours of being down for the night only works if your child has been sleep trained through a program, through a plan, through a method that ensures your child is 100% sleeping independently. 

Staying out of your child’s room will not work (and I don’t want you to do!) it if your child has been using props to fall asleep. 

I am all about fair and consistent plans. If you now are thinking, “Oh, wow! I didn’t realize that that was hindering my child’s sleep!” Then of course we have a sleep plan for you inside of our Baby Sleep E-Coaching

If you know your baby sleeps independently, puts themselves asleep within 10 minutes, they sleep great, then option B to not go in there is for you!

Instead of going in physically you can watch them and do visual checks on the monitor. 


How long will this last?

Staying out of your child’s room in the morning should be a relatively quick result! After 4-5 mornings you should see an improvement!


What if they are stuck?

If your child has an arm or leg stuck in the crib slats, of course go in and help them out! Quickly go in, move them and leave with no other stimulation.


Always Check This

When you do go to get your little one up in the morning, take a look around the room and evaluate the darkness. Is it 100% dark? Can you not see any bit of light coming through the windows or door?

I was recently sent two images by families inside of our programs, they wanted us to check the darkness of their room. And while they had done the blackout curtains and the blackout shades, there was light streaming in from streetlights, from parking lot lights in through the top of the curtains.

And so I said, “Oh no, no, we’ve got to fix that.” 

So I need you to go into your child’s room when it is time to go get them up at that 11, 12 hour mark, wherever your child’s goal marker is to get up in the morning. 

Go in their room, don’t turn the light on, but just look around. Is there any light coming in here? 

If you cannot see your hand in front of your face, then we’re good! 

If there is light streaming in, then we definitely need to get some blackout solutions in place! 

If your child’s room is bright, then it kind of goes with that whole mindset like sleep props! If they use props, it’s unfair to just let them be, because they’re looking for those props. 

If your child’s room has light streaming in the room in the early morning time, they’re not going to go back to sleep because they’re convinced of time to get up! 



So in summary of all of this, I know that dirty diapers in the early morning are frustrating, I totally get that, we can do some things to help. 

  1. Offer a space for your child to try and go poopy. A poopy spot can be a quiet corner they like to go when they have a dirty diaper.
  2. During bedtime, get that diaper cream and slather it on thick like you’re icing a cake! This helps prevent diaper rashes since we aren’t going to change until morning.
  3. If you have a newborn, go change them!
  4.  If you have a baby who is an independent sleeper, do not go in! Do visual checks on the monitor until it’s time for the morning (11 hours minimum from bedtime).
  5. Make sure the room is 100% dark! (Find your blackout solutions if necessary)
  6. If your child is NOT an independent sleeper, let’s teach them!


Sometimes early morning poops can be a phase and other times it can carry on for months. I know it is SO frustrating, so let’s do as much as we can to try and help!

One big measure of success here is if your baby keeps having that early morning poopy diaper, they go back to sleep because they understand it is still night time!

I’m really excited to make sure that we can try to eliminate this for your little one, because I know it’s a big pain point. By helping you solve this I know we will continue to be happy, healthy & well-rested families!



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