Sheets and Things - or - how many layers can your child pee through?

Everybody pees...

But babies and kids have special abilities to pee on (and through) everything. So what is a good parent to do other than be prepared (or, pee-pared... ahem).

Consequently, the method here is to treat your child's sleeping arrangements like the many layers of the earth, all working in concert to protect the inner core, i.e. the mattress.

Wait, Wait, Mr. Earth Science - Isn't this why we use diapers?

Yeah, modern diapers are pretty amazing, aren't they? They swell to many times their original size, super gels absorb even the humidity in the air, and you get a nice snug fit. Alas, every child in every diaper type will have a blowout from time to time. Maybe the diaper wasn't on quite right, maybe they learned to open it, maybe they're too big or too small for the current size, maybe they ate something funny. Whatever the cause, it happens, and when it happens, you don't want to be unprepared.

But even if diapers were perfect, all this pee-proofing is necessary for two more reasons:

  1. 1. It won't always be pee. While diapers may catch other bodily fluids, it'll be no help for spit-up, vomit, nosebleeds, or whatever other foul things may (and will) emanate from your precious angel.

  2. 2. Hard is it may be to believe, someday the child will be learning not to use diapers and when that day (or, indeed, many days) comes, nap time and bedtime are likely to result in a frequent changing of the linens. So if something keeps you sane with your baby also and a toddler, that's a "go for it" in our book.

 The Inner Core - Mattress

So at some point we'll have a big write-up on mattresses, but for what we are discussing here, the key is preventing any liquid from getting INTO the mattress where Very Bad Things can happen (mostly mold, followed closely by breathing problems). And because mattresses are pricey, this is the last thing you want to replace.

Many mattresses out there are waterproof but check and double-check. There are some weasel-words describing, particularly, "natural" mattresses that may mention "protecting against leaks," but don't actually claim to be waterproof.

Because liquids will move to find the lowest point we also recommend finding a mattress without seams.  A seamless mattress doesn't give a place for liquid to pool and also doesn't provide an easy-opening to seep through.

Finally, remember that accidents are going to happen for years and you may find yourself changing the bed at 3am solo, so a lightweight mattress will be your friend.

We went with the Lullaby Earth Healthy Support Crib Mattress because it is waterproof, seamless, and only weighs 7 pounds. 

The Outer Core - Mattress Pad

So the mattress is waterproof, mission accomplished, right? No.

Let's say your kid pees through to the mattress. You strip the bed and wipe the mattress up to the best of your ability. But where does the kid sleep until everything dries? This is doubly an issue if you find yourself needing to disinfect something worse than pee. So, to the rescue is a mattress cover.

The mattress cover, aside from being another layer to absorb and stop whatever is thrown at it, is machine washable. Now the mess you have can be easily stripped from the bed and thrown into the wash (pre-treated with spray, as needed) without much additional thought. This is much better than dealing with a wet mattress.

We bought the American Baby Company Organic Waterproof Natural Quilted Fitted Crib Mattress Pad Cover but no matter what you get, be sure to get more pads than you have mattresses (we own three between the two kids) as this allows the quick change without waiting for the washing machine.

The Mantle - Piddle Pad

And now we get to the first line of defense... the lap/piddle/bassinet pad. These are bits of waterproof fabric you can lay down right under the sheets to sop up most (or all) if your mess. 95% of the time, when we've had to change things, we've only needed to change the sheets and the piddle pad.

Wonderful things about piddle pads:
  1. 1. They come in lots of shapes/sizes so you can put them in whatever orientation makes sense and you can use them for a bassinet, a play yard, a bed, or whatever else you need.  The mattresses in these things often have no waterproofing at all so these babies may very well be your only defense.

  2. 2. You can use them as a changing pad on-the-go or in some other pinch. (We've had a couple instances when ALL of our changing pad covers had been soiled.  We just plopped one of these down and used in the interim).

Consequently, it's worth having a few sets of these handy. We have a few hand-me-downs from other families, but when we needed more, we bought the MyKazoe Waterproof Bassinet Play Yard Pad & Lap Pads.  These are available in a variety of colors/patterns. Note that three pads come in the set.  

The Crust - Sheets

From a waterproofing perspective, these don't matter much. We have a bunch of sheets from Skip Hop.  That said at the moment of this writing they appeared to be discontinued. The reason we bought these is that they were soft the touch and very cute from the side of the crib, even if you didn't have a bumper on (which are no longer recommended).  For the record we also own some Summer Infant Printed Crib Sheets that we use for day care and they are much rougher to the touch.  Given that babies and kids spend a lot of time in their cribs, getting some comfy sheets seems like a good investment.
 



Photo credit: Earth Layers by NASA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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