Recently I have had the pleasure of meeting many parents who use cloth and many more who are or were "considering cloth." I think the process of discernment for parents is critical to the success of the options we choose for our children. Taking time to think through the pros and cons of a strategy allows for confident problem solving and a desire to overcome obstacles. Strategies are adjusted as we learn and grow as parents in order to meet the ever changing needs of our children.
Sleep routines, nutrition, exercise, and diapering are all challenging aspects of life with small children. Some children sleep through the night soon after birth (though I cannot speak from experience on that), others have varied patterns coinciding with milestones or life events, while a smaller set appear to be entirely nocturnal. Parents are taught to feed their children what they need, and those needs change as they grow and gain teeth. Tummy time turns to baby proofing the entire house as baby becomes mobile. As parents we have confidence to find sleep, food, and exercise solutions that work for everyone involved, and we understand that what works for one parent might not work for us.
As I spoke with parents about struggles with their children several told me they have issues with diapers: leaking overnight, foods causing rashes and diaper blowouts, and inner thigh rub once baby started crawling. I suggested a possible strategy: cloth diapering. Some parents told me they "considered cloth" but decided it was too difficult, too gross, or expensive. This, I think, is one major hurdle that parents face: the all or nothing approach to diapering. In reality, cloth may work for you for bedtime, but not for day-time, or vice versa. It may be perfect for grandma's house, but not on vacation. Trying out a cloth diaper does not mean you need to switch to cloth full-time, you may only own one or two, and you do not need to do it forever. Like every other aspect of parenting, diapering needs to fit your lifestyle and the needs of your child.
This post is focused on the possible strategies for night-time diapering (though I am working on more to address additional opportunities to test out cloth). Night is difficult because you want to sleep. Sleep is a universal desire parents have and in order to achieve good sleep we need to not wake up to a puddle of urine. Most diapers can hold a considerable about of urine and can hold their own with baby. The difficulty, however, is with a child that will fill a diaper during the night and then lay around just to fill it again. Parents of these "heavy wetters" know the scene, the well-meaning diaper fought hard but eventually lost, leaving a puddle in the crib or bed and an unhappy kiddo.
Sleep is a universal desire parents have and in order to achieve good sleep we need to not wake up to a puddle of urine.
One good short-term solution: one size diaper cover. These covers can be worn over the top of a disposable diaper and add an extra waterproof barrier. These covers can be made from pul, tpu, or wool depending on your preference. Worn over a disposable they need minimal cleaning and can be hung to dry and be worn again the following night (unless poop has come into contact). Covers come in great colors and are thin so they will not cause any issue with the fit of sleep clothes.
*Bonus Tip* pul and tpu one size covers can also be used as swim diapers and come in handy during potty training.
Second strategy: A dedicated "heavy wetter" overnight diaper which is all cloth. These diapers can be a pocket style which have a microfiber insert or two that can absorb a tremendous amount of urine and a thick waterproof cover. Fitted diapers are another night-time friend, bamboo cotton fitted diapers can be paired with a one-size cover to absorb an absurd amount of urine. These diapers can be laundered daily, and since most children do not poop in their sleep, require nothing other than a good wash in the machine. Having three of these diapers will allow for laundry every two days rather than daily. Major pro: a pocket style heavy wetter looks and operates similar to a disposable to keep diaper changes simple. They are slightly bulkier than a disposable but do not expand and droop as they gain moisture.
Third Strategy: A mix of materials to reach the absorbency you need. A good one-size cover, an inexpensive prefold cotton diaper or two, wrapped around a high absorbency material insert (bamboo, hemp, or microfiber), and a positive attitude. This solution is a bit bulkier but employs natural fibers which can also keep rashes at bay. It is also an opportunity to customize the diaper to your own preferences: budget, materials composition, fit, etc.
For parents considering these solutions: The biggest player in the success of these strategies is your waterproof layer. Using wool will require some knowledge of wool care and a bit of patience. If you choose pul or tpu covers I recommend good quality 0ne-size wraps with double gusseted legs, elastic in the back of the waistband, and snaps (kids learn to remove velcro quite quickly). Covers can be purchased in sizes based on weight or as "one-size" which adjust with a series of snaps. One-size covers are a one time investment and can be worn by babies 7-35lbs comfortably. Night-time is a great time to experiment with cloth as its only a few diapers a week and, like all cloth, they can be washed along with baby laundry. If you have a child prone to rashes overnight (especially those who are still eating at night) you may want to use a fleece liner inside either your disposable or cloth diaper solution to keep skin dry and happy all night. Another great thing about fleece liners with cloth is you can use any diaper cream or oil and it will not affect the absorbent properties of the diaper.
Cloth diapering is not an all or nothing, its a tool that can be used to help solve the problems that arise on the journey of parenthood. Got a great tip or story to share about diapering at night? Add your comment below, no sense in keeping your wisdom to yourself!
I am a highly opinionated and sassy mother of three and wife to one. I hope you enjoy reading about my efforts to tackle the infuriating obstacles of life using straight talk and humor. If I say it, I mean it, or maybe I am being sarcastic. I like to focus on topics from my everyday life: parenting, cooking, crocheting, and a whole list of other things that inspire my rage.