Night-time diapering can prove to be a doozey, especially for heavy, fast wetting babies. Leakage happens to even the most experienced cloth diapering parent. Why? Because that’s life and things happen, but there are ways to ensure extremely infrequent leakage, a stay dry feeling to promote longer sleeping times while being stylish and fitting in your budget!
One of the most important tips in night time diapering is using the right kind and enough absorbent layers. Lots of parents new to cloth diapering worry about its bulkiness. They may say things like “my baby can’t close his/her legs or it just looks so thick”. That’s okay! They’ll be sleeping well and so will you if they have enough layers to absorb their nighttime eliminations. You’ll find 100% cotton layering most “bulky” or thick so if the sight of extra fluffiness bothers you, look for diapers or doublers/inserts in hemp and/or bamboo cotton-blends, which are more trim. Knowing the right combination of absorbent layers may take some trial and error, but it’s worth testing to find the right solution.
Think about your baby’s sensitivity to moisture. Every baby is very different and thankfully, cloth diaper manufacturers had developed diapers to fit the varying needs of babies. If your baby has a sensitivity to moisture, I’d consider using a “stay-dry” barrier between the skin and the absorbent layers of the diaper. A “stay-dry” barrier is one made of either Microfleece or Suedecloth fabric that wicks the wetness to the below absorbent layers allowing the child to feel dry. This could be a DIY piece of microfleece that you get from Joann Fabric’s or another local fabric store that you’ll cut to fit your baby or a diaper that offers this type of fabric. A pocket diaper allows you to stuff it to capacity to create a nighttime solution that’s right for your baby. If you’re like me and use two part systems, you can find prefolds and fitteds in hemp or bamboo blends, then cover it with your favorite diaper cover. Be sure you tuck in any and all exposed cloth so that the sheets and baby’s clothes don’t get wet from exposure to the diaper.
Wool is an amazing nighttime diapering problem solver – even if you live in warmer climates like me in South Florida! Wool is not difficult to take care of and could be a welcomed addition to your cloth diaper stash – especially for night-time diapering since it’s so absorbent. Once you’ve put the lanolin (natural oils from sheep fur) back into the wool cover, the lanolin will neutralize the urine virtually turning it into water and since wool is so breathable, you’ll be able to air-dry your damp wool covers and then use them over and over again and again until they’re soiled or until it’s just time for a good wash and re-lanolizing.
Be realistic about your baby’s sleep patterns. If you have a newborn, 9 times out of 10, no matter how much you layer, no matter whether you have a stay-dry barrier or not, you baby will wake up every 2 hours or so. This isn’t because of the diaper, necessarily, but because new babies wake, eat, poop and sleep very often. If you’re making the switch to cloth and your infant or toddler is already in a rhythm be aware that your baby may need some adjustment time too. He or she will feel wet after they’ve urinated. This is a GOOD thing! Their ability to make a body/mind connection early in life enables you to potty train earlier. Everyone wins.
For more tips, check out the Real Diaper Association’s Nighttime Diapering Tip sheet.
Happy Cloth Diapering & Goodnight!
Mia McDonald, Real Diaper Circle of South Florida Co-Leader