Have you spent too many mornings washing wet sheets? Have you considered switching to disposable diapers at night, just to avoid the hassle? Using one disposable diaper every 24 hours isn’t much, but there’s no need to give up nighttime cloth diapers because of leaks. Even if your baby is a heavy wetter, you can still use cloth at night. The perfect nighttime solution will vary depending on your baby’s body type and wetting patterns, but these tips will help you know what to look for as you search for the perfect nighttime cloth diapering solution.
1. Adjustable absorbency. A diaper with enough absorbency for nighttime use will often be too bulky for daytime use. Adjustable absorbency allows you to add more absorbency when–and where–you need it. Pocket diapers are a good option for this, since you can stuff the pocket with as many absorbent layers as you need. However, you can add more inserts or layers to any type of diaper; even prefolds can be doubled-up for nighttime use.
2. Adjustable location of absorbent layers. You should also look for a diaper that will hold absorbent layers in place and that allows you to put more layers in specific locations. Generally, boys need more absorbency in front, while girls need more in the back, especially at night, but this will vary depending on your individual baby’s anatomy and preferred sleeping position. Experiment with more thickness in different locations. Pocket diapers are one of the best choices for this option, since the pocket will hold layers still, and you can add inserts in front or in back. All-in-twos, some covers, and many all-in-ones also offer methods for snapping or attaching absorbent layers to keep them in place. You can also fold prefolds and flat folds in different ways to create more absorbency in different locations.
3. A wicking layer next to your baby’s skin. If you’re planning on leaving your baby in one diaper all night long, then it’s nice to know that your baby’s skin won’t be pressed up against cold, damp cotton for twelve hours straight. A diaper that includes a wicking layer such as microfleece or suedecloth won’t feel as wet for your baby. This will help prevent diaper rash, keep him more comfortable, and possibly even help him sleep better. If you’re using cotton diapers such as prefolds, consider adding a suedecloth or microfleece insert for the inner layer.
4. A well-fitted outer layer or cover. Even if your diaper has enough absorbency, it can leak if the legs openings of the diaper don’t fit snugly around your baby’s thighs. Adding more absorbent layers can actually contribute to this problem: the layers make the diaper thicker in the crotch, which can cause it to gape more at the thighs. Covers with gussets or adjustable elastic are good solution, as are covers that extend farther down your baby’s legs such as longies and shorties.
5. A leak-proof cover. Although a waterproof PUL outer layer will work well for many babies at night, some heavy wetters have more success with outer layers that can absorb a little as well. Wool and fleece covers, especially longies, will help absorb potential leaks before they reach your baby’s sheets.
It may take a little experimentation, but you can find the perfect nighttime cloth diapering solution for your baby. If possible, borrow from friends or buy used diapers to try different options as you’re searching for a combination that works best for you.
Lisa C. Baker is a full-time mom and part-time writer in Atlanta, Georgia. She writes about green parenting topics at Organic Baby Atlanta andteaches workshops on cloth diapers and elimination communication. She’s been a mom since 2008 and has never bought a disposable diaper; she hopes she’ll never need to!
*Photo by Janelle Hill (http://www.flickr.com/photos/janellehill/) used by creative commons license.*