Nighttime diapering can be a source of frustration. Too many times, parents come to me and tell me they tried "everything" with nighttime cloth diapering and had to switch to disposables. STOP! This doesn't have to be!

Newborn Night Diapering
Newborn night diapering is no different than daytime diapering. Your baby is changed every 2 hours around the clock as a newborn and so the diapers are relatively the same throughout the day and night. One exception maybe that tired parents often prefer diapers that are easy to use for overnight such as the Thirsties AIO diaper . Diapers that have a stay-dry lining are also perceived as allowing baby to sleep better by reducing the chances that the infant will waken by feeling the wetness of the diaper. As baby gets a little older and is no longer pooping at night, she can then go in a diaper that has a bit more absorbency. At this point, a newborn AIO with a nice bamboo mini insert added or a diaper that comes with an additional insert is an option. Alternatively, parents can switch to a one-size diaper (a diaper that will fit to potty training). Even though these diapers will seem bulky on your little one, it's bigger and thus will have more absorbency. This will work for a while until baby gets bigger, starts eating/drinking more and needs a diaper with more absorbency.

Standard Pocket Diaper
Some babies do just fine with a Pocket Diaper whether sized or One-Sized and an extra insert or two. Extra inserts can be cotton, microterry, hemp or bamboo. Hemp and bamboo will be far more absorbent than cotton or microterry. Depending on how the hemp insert is made, it may be bulkier. Bamboo is more processed so it's generally considered less bulky but is a heavier fabric.

Some things to keep in mind: if you're going to use a pocket diaper overnight with added absorbency, you will need a pocket diaper that is not too narrow through the crotch. Choose a pocket diaper that has a generous cut through the seat and legs so that more inserts can be stuffed into the pocket. Some nice options are Blueberry One-Size Pocket Diapers and BumGenius One-Size Pocket Diapers. When stuffing, cotton or microterry should be the layer of absorbency stuffed first (so the first layer to absorb) with the hemp or bamboo insert underneath.

If you feel like you're doing everything right with your pocket diaper and baby is still leaking, then pause. Think about that sweet baby. Is she a side sleeper? Tummy sleeper? Do you co-sleep and baby nurses all night long and is generally on her side? Then you may want to move on to a fitted diaper.

Fitted Diaper
Fitted diapers are the big kahuna when it comes to nighttime diapering. Because parents are exhausted and sick of changing sheets in the morning, they are a bit hesitant to trust that there is a cloth diaper out there that will truly keep baby dry through the night. So they take home one fitted diaper and cover to try out. They're back within a few days to buy 2-3 more. Success! Fitted diapers work because every square inch of the diaper absorbs. From between the legs all the way up to the snaps. So if you have a side sleeper or tummy sleeper, there will be absorbency all around! If you purchase a fitted diaper made from bamboo or hemp, it will also hold a ton of liquid. Fitted diapers do not have any PUL in them so you will need to find a good cover to go around your fitted diaper. Keep in mind that fitted diapers tend to be bulky so you'll need a cover that is cut very generously to go around the fitted diaper. Rumparooz One-Size Covers, Blueberry One-Size Covers and Sweet Pea One-Size Covers work very well. When you go to change your baby in the morning, she may be soaked all the way to the snaps but all of that wetness should be absorbed into that fitted diaper and contained by the cover (side note--you can also use a wool cover over a fitted diaper).

With my little guy, we used a fitted diaper every night beginning at about 5 months. As co-sleeping breastfeeding parents, no pocket diaper or all-in-one diaper would work because he was a side sleeper that needs absorbency all along the sides and tummy. We usually added a fleece liner or fleece doubler to the diaper so that the moisture would wick away from his skin at night.

Fleece Cover
For heavy wettering babies the standard pocket diaper may not offer enough protection. Covering the diaper with a Fleece Cover can provide the barrier needed to keep the wetness in the diaper.

Wool Cover

Wool is desirable for the heavy wetting baby. Wool has the ability to not only repel moisture once it is lanolized but also to absorb moisture and evaporate it off. Wool evaporates moisture off more quickly than it absorbs moisture and so works as a dynamic system overnight to keep clothing and bedding dry. Wool can be used over hemp prefolds, fitted diapers, pocket diapers, and AIO diapers. We co-sleep and use wool as an extra assurance that our bed will be dry all night.

With wool it is important that you do not have tight clothing over the cover. For winter months in the colder regions of the planet, longies (wool pants) are a great solution for night diapering since they are worn as the pajama bottoms.

For summer months, you can use wool covers or wool soakers with good success.

When using wool over prefolds and fitted diapers it is important that you have a thick, dense wool for protection. Wool flannel, interlock and crepe or a tightly knit wool soaker are desired.

For use over a pocket diaper, most wools fabric types will work well although the fabric types described above are preferred. Some wool covers such as Swaddlebees tend to be cut trim for day use and do not tend to fit over a bulky night diaper well.

Tips from the Trenches

  1. When stuffing inserts into your pocket diapers keep them about an inch below the front edge of the diaper.

  2. Try not to allow the diaper to gap in the front waist.

  3. Try to avoid using undershirts that may fall into the waist of the diaper overnight.

  4. If using a onesie, choose one that is long enough to fit over the night diaper without being snug. Realize that onesies would have to fit outside any covers including wool longies.

  5. Don't overstuff a diaper so that the leg holes of the diaper gape.

  6. Choose super absorbent fabrics like microterry and hemp. My favorite choice is microfiber backed by plenty of layers of hemp. Cotton isn't as absorbent and creates a monster-size diaper without providing monster-size absorbency.

Again, you may not start out night diapering but don't wait to long before you make the change. Cloth diapering has been the solution for many clients across the years whose babies continually leaked when using paper diapers overnight.

Solving Night Diapering Problems

Leaking diapers can often be solved by adding more absorbency. Adding a basic hemp doubler may make all the difference. Make sure you have fully prepped your new insert before use so it is at its maximum absorbency. Other leaking issues may be solved by topping your diaper with a fleece or wool cover. For the heaviest of wetters the wool cover is preferred. Children who tend to leak out of disposable diapers overnight generally will have success in proper cloth diapers with the addition of a fleece or wool cover.

Bulkiness is often a concern of parents. While night diapering does tend to be more bulky than day diapering it should be reasonable. Choosing more absorbent fabrics can be a first step. We like to see a microfiber and hemp combination for night diapering. Too much microfiber tends to be bulkier than using the dense hemp inserts. Using wool as the pajama bottoms may be an excellent choice next step.

Night diapers do tend to smell more than day diapers. By their very nature the diapers are on longer than day diapers and will tend to smell in the morning. To avoid this, you can choose to change your baby overnight thus reducing the time a diaper is on. Diaper smell overnight that burns your nose hairs is not normal. This type of intense smell is often the result of either using too much detergent in your wash routine or from mineral buildup caused from hard water. In these cases, plan to strip your night diapers as described here.