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What is a Puddle Pad?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Puddle pad can have a couple of definitions. Some people define cotton pads with rubberized backing or absorbent wool pads that can be used under sheets on cribs, or on top of changing table mattresses as puddle pads. Another definition is smaller rubberized cotton or wool pads that may be useful to clean up small messes, or to provide a little protection against baby leaks in things like strollers. The small puddle pad may also make good temporary coverage if you need to change a baby on the floor or a couch, though they usually are only large enough to provide coverage under the diaper area.

You’ll find many uses for both large and small puddle pad types. Babies are notoriously messy, and it can be frustrating to constantly be changing bedding when you could have provided a pad protection. Some parents may feel strongly that these pads should always be made of completely natural material such as wool. You will pay more for these, and some people argue they don’t protect against wetness to the same degree, as do rubberized pads. They also may have slightly different washing care requirements.

Whatever puddle pad you plan to choose, get quite a few puddle pads that are smaller. It’s fairly easy to use a dozen of these each day when your baby is young. They also double as good spit up cloths and you can use them over a shoulder when you burp babies. The small ones are often sold in packages, and it’s safe to say you’ll probably need at least a dozen. Some days, you may find yourself changing a baby’s sheets a few times, which means you should plan to have a few extra puddle pad mattress covers on hand too.

You should also consider purchasing some mid-size puddle pad types for use on changing tables, or as extra coverage in strollers and bassinets. Though there may be a little bit of extra cost at first in purchasing these, they are nowhere near as expensive as having to replacing mattresses for cribs, bassinets, strollers or changing tables. They’re also much cheaper than having to get your carpet or clothing cleaned.

You’ll find a variety of puddle pad types in baby supply sections of department stores. You can also order these online. It may be easier to find the natural fabrics ones at specialty baby stores or from stores specializing in natural products for babies.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By Oceana — On Jul 24, 2011

I helped my son avoid embarrassing sleepover situations by using mattress puddle pads under his sheet. He wet the bed until he was eight, but the pads absorbed the urine.

The first time that he did it when a friend was sleeping over, the kid made fun of him and threatened to tell everyone at school. My son had slept on the bottom bunk, and he had gotten up before the other kid. When that kid got up and saw the puddle in the lower bunk, he made a big deal out of it.

The next time he had overnight company, I slyly tucked an absorbent cotton puddle pad under his sheet before his friend arrived. He did wet the bed, but the puddle had soaked into the pad and didn’t leave a glaring spot of standing water like before.

By StarJo — On Jul 24, 2011

I use puddle pads to protect my floor when I am working on an acrylic painting. I tend to get kind of messy when I mix paint, and since I’m not a newspaper subscriber, I don’t have large amounts of scraps lying around to line the floor with. A couple of puddle pads do the trick.

If the paint fell on the floor and dried before I could clean it up, it would be permanent. I would have to scrape it off. With the puddle pads, I just drip and go. I don’t wash the pads, because all I ever use them for is to catch paint.

By shell4life — On Jul 23, 2011

@kylee07drg - I have a Weimaraner with low sphincter tone. She experiences leaks in her sleep as well, and I use a wool puddle pad to protect our carpet and her doggie bed.

When she first started leaking, she seemed ashamed. She tucked her tail and wanted to be let out. The vet told me what her situation was, and she suggested that I invest in some puddle pads.

I like the organic wool pads because they are soft. My dog only likes to lay in soft spots, and if I used a rubber pad, she would just move over to the carpet beside her bed.

By kylee07drg — On Jul 23, 2011

Puddle pads can be good tools for protecting your home against accidents from old dogs with leaky bladders, too. I have a seven-year-old Doberman who has recently begun to develop incontinence, and we have a hardwood floor. I put down two layers of puddle pads for her to lay on, and she goes to sleep and pees.

The pads are thick enough to keep the urine from soaking into the wood. They hold the fluid until I get up the next morning and clean up the mess. Since they are absorbent, my dog doesn’t have to lay all night in a puddle of her own urine.

By fify — On Jul 22, 2011

@feruze-- No, if you buy the ready made wool puddle pads, they are made from super soft wool.

It goes right under the baby. It will be a barrier between the baby and the bed or car seat and will prevent them from soaking up any liquid. The pads are really easy to clean too.

I know some people make their own wool puddle pads. In that case, you would probably have to do some looking around and select a really soft wool for it. Or it would irritate the baby's skin like you said.

By bear78 — On Jul 22, 2011

So does the puddle pad go under the sheets or on top? Since you mentioned not having to wash the sheets often, that means it goes on top of the sheets?

That sounds fine, but wouldn't the wool be too harsh for the baby's skin?

By dfoster85 — On Jul 21, 2011

@EdRick - I used the OB pads for the same thing, but I never thought of using puppy pads! I just used a folded towel after I ran out of OB pads.

I like the use the large waterproof flannel pads. I have medium-ish ones for diaper changes and bigger ones for the crib. What I do is I put down one pad on the crib mattress and cover it with a crib sheet, then I put down another pad and another crib sheet. If there's an "accident" in the crib, then all I have to do is take off the top sheet and the top pad--crib is still usable and no need to make it up in the middle of the night.

Of course, if you go that route, it's important to have one more crib sheet and one more pad tucked away just in case there's a super explosion that takes out both crib sheets at once!

By EdRick — On Jul 21, 2011

When I saw the title, I thought the article was about the pads you use for a puppy--that's what I've always called a puddle pad! Actually, though, puppy pads can have a use with a baby.

When our son was a newborn he had terrible diaper rash and the pediatrician said to put a waterproof pad underneath him. At first, we used the OB pads that we brought home from the hospital. (They'd given us a whole bag of giant maxi pads and mesh underwear and all kinds of goodies.) When those ran out, my mother-in-law brought over some leftover puppy pads and they looked like just the same thing! And much cheaper.

There are all sorts of creams and lotions you can buy for diaper rash, but nothing beats letting the area air dry. Of course, once they start moving around, letting them go diaper-free is a bit of a problem!

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a HomeQuestionsAnswered contributor,...
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