So you’ve started Cloth Diapering. You’ve built cloth diaper laundry into your daily wash routine and daytime diapering is going great! Night times, ah, now therein lies the rub. For, what if the diaper doesn’t hold or there are leaks and what if baby wakes up when you change. Most cloth diapering mamas dread taking the first step towards nighttime cloth diapering. But as I experienced and so did most of my cloth diapering mama friends, the first night is the hardest. The morning after the first night of Cloth Diapering is pure joy.
W hen you find that the cloth diaper did indeed hold up all night and baby’s skin is still dry and soft and no rashes or redness, it is pure happiness. Night time cloth diapering is not as scary as it sounds and this post is meant to encourage you to take that step and try it out.
Night time cloth diapering has evolved as a result of many trials for me and even I had my fair share of leaks and loss of sleep as I had to wake up to change babyT. However, with some perseverance, I learned some tips and tricks as to which diapers worked and how to troubleshoot.
I saw that many cloth diapering families fear cloth diapering and assume it won’t work for them. This makes them turn to disposable diapers for nights. I realized then I must share my learning so as to encourage them to show a deeper commitment to cloth diapering.
Getting started with nighttime cloth diapering
As with regular diapers, nighttime cloth diapering firstly requires an understanding of your baby’s wetting pattern. Most babies tend to pee more in the daytime and lesser in the nights. This pattern also varies by the season. For example babies (and adults for that matter) tend to pee more in the colder seasons such as monsoon and winters. However, these are broad generalizations. I am also aware of babies who are heavy night wetters in all seasons. The nighttime cloth diapering solution you use will depend on this pattern.
Don’t expect miracles with nighttime cloth diapering
A very important point to note about nighttime cloth diapering is that MOST cloth diapers will not hold up on their own, ALL NIGHT. You really cannot expect to have a diaper that you can just buy, wash and put on and expect to hold for 10 hours or more.
Do remember that cloth diapers are made of CLOTH and there is no miracle cloth which will hold up from the word GO. Your Cloth Diapers will most likely need a lot of prep.
Read this post on Washing & Prepping Cloth Diapers)
The diaper will also usually need the addition of a booster to hold for such extended hours. Once you have this basic understanding you can work towards building an effective cloth diapering system.
Materials that hold well
Your basic research would have shown you that there are several materials with which cloth diapers and inserts are made. In my experience natural fibres once well prepped are capable of holding a large quantum of liquid (read: Pee) and so make ideal solutions for night time cloth diapering.
Natural fibres include organic cotton, bamboo cotton, other bamboos, hemp, wool. These materials are therefore what is preferred for all-in-one diapers or night time diapers. These fabrics are also available as inserts which can be teamed up with your existing cloth diapers to make a great nighttime cloth diapering system.
What worked for us
I started off using All-in-one (AIO) types of Cloth Diapers for nights.
Read this post to know more about the various types of Cloth Diapers.
And it was a good job I did too because I was sold on the concept of nighttime cloth diapering pretty easily then. I used various brands of AIOs which allowed me to understand how natural fibres like bamboo cotton, organic cotton worked. It was a bit of hard work because I had to ensure the diapers had had multiple washes (read: at least 10+ washes) before they were efficient enough to hold up all night.
International brands like Blueberry, Smart Bottoms, and Grovia contain organic cotton or unbleached cotton and do hold well. However, they may need the addition of a booster to make them strong enough to last all night. In most cases, they also do not offer baby the stay dry feel and need you to add a fleece liner for the stay dry effect. But this works well in cases where babies are not sensitive to wetness.
My current favourite night time cloth diapering solution is Superbottoms’ Plus diaper. This diaper is an All-in-One type of diaper. It has one insert stitched in or attached to the shell of the diaper and another insert is detachable and can be snapped on when needed. Both the inserts/ soakers are made of organic cotton and the top insert/ soaker (the one which is stitched on) has a stay dry fabric on top which means baby’s skin is dry all night.
Superbottoms Plus needed about 6 to 10 washes before it can hold up all night for us (that’s about 11 hours) without a change in between. I also don’t see the need to add any booster for my medium wetter baby. But yes if you have a heavy wetter you will need to add a booster in the form of an insert, and I would recommend one preferably made of natural fabrics.
Prefolds & cover with booster
Prefolds are multi-layered cloth most usually made of natural fibres such as organic cotton or hemp. They hold a high amount of liquids purely by virtue of the fact that they have so many layers and therefore capacity to hold.
My tryst with pre-folds for nighttime cloth diapers occurred quite by chance when I had to stay overnight at a family member’s place and all I had in my diaper stash was one organic cotton pre-fold and a microfiber insert and a cover diaper.
I pad-folded the pre-fold and placed it under the microfiber insert (which had a stay dry cover on it and hence safe against baby’s skin. Microfibre on its own is never meant to touch baby skin as it dries the skin and causes rashes.) I then placed both these inside a cover to give waterproofing. And we were good for the whole night.
Since then I have loved using pre-folds, especially when travelling because they take less space in the bag and also dry much faster than some cloth diapers.
You can also up the holding capacity by using natural fibre inserts, such as organic cotton, bamboo cotton or hemp, along with the pre-fold. Some prefolds are also available with a stay dry layer on one side.
Other options for nighttime cloth diapering
Apart from the tried and tested solutions that work for me the favourite night time cloth diapering solutions used by cloth diapering families:
Multiple inserts inside pockets – layering up 2 or more inserts inside a pocket diaper. It is ideal to use natural fibre inserts again but some people also use man-made fabric inserts. (microfiber, charcoal bamboo etc.)
Flats & cover diapers – Padfolding multiple flats inside a cover also works for nights. It may not hold up on its own for a medium or heavy wetting baby. However, adding an insert will again help increase the holding capacity.
Fitted diapers and a cover diaper – Fitted diapers are made entirely of cloth. They have no PUL and so are not waterproof. However, since they are entirely made of cloth they have absorbing capability all across. This makes them ideal for babies who sleep in funny positions – tummy, sideways, acrobatic. Pairing fitted diapers with a cover diaper on top makes it leak proof and so good for nights.
Wool diapering – Wool when it is pure animal wool has a unique ability to be water resistant. And being a natural fibre it is also 100% breathable. This is why many caregivers prefer night time diapering with a wool cover. This is used together with flats, pre-folds or over a fitted. It is basically a replacement to a cover diaper made of PUL.
Have you tried nighttime Cloth Diapering? What have been your go-to nighttime solutions?