Dealing with heavy wetters overnight – what do you use to hold back the flood?
One of the biggest hurdles for many parents using cloth diapers is how to get through the night.
It might not be so bad if your little one is still waking frequently, because you could just give them a quick change before they drift back off to sleep.
But if your baby is sleeping steadily, most parents would rather walk on Legos barefoot than wake a baby for a change.
What to do?
The following are 10 ideas that should help you get through the night with dry sheets and a smile.
1. Extra Stuffed Pocket Diapers
This is where a lot of parents start, and it can be very effective.
Rather than completely change their diapering style for nighttime, they add an extra stuffer or two to their pocket diapers.
This is really nice overnight, because pocket diapers have a stay-dry liner, which keeps your baby from feeling the wetness all night.
It can work if your baby is a heavy wetter, but there are occasional drawbacks to this method.
A pocket diaper is only designed to hold a few stuffers, so if you overstuff them, it can affect the leg seal, allowing the urine to roll out of the diaper.
It all depends on babys’ body shape, so give it a try if you already use pockets!
2. All In Ones (With Booster Soakers)
All in ones are marvelous things – you can put them on and take them off as easily as a disposable, and many of them will hold a lot of urine.
And if you add a booster soaker to the diaper, often it’s plenty to catch whatever your baby can deal out for the night.
Just make sure any extra boosters are tucked all the way into the diaper.
3. Fitteds And Snap PUL Covers
A fitted diaper is a self-fastening cloth diaper – it’s usually a very thick cotton diaper, with elastic and snaps or hook and loop tape.
They don’t have a waterproof layer, so a cover is needed.
Some parents think that plain cotton diapers against the skin is too soggy feeling all night, but these diapers are incredible – they absorb from end to end, side to side, all the way through.
Pop a cover over it, and you should be squared away for the night.
Wait – which is better? An all-in-one or a fitted?
In my experience, a fitted will hold a LOT more than a comparable all-in-one, and because the cover is separate, there’s usually less of an issue with “wicking leaks” (leaks where one fabric bleeds onto another).
4. Fitteds With Pull-On PUL Covers
Once again, fitteds do their awesome work, but sometimes the snap covers fall down on the job.
If any of the diaper pokes out of the cover, or if the cover itself isn’t that great at holding back a big flood, you could end up with wet pajamas and a sad baby.
This is where pull-on covers are outstanding – they’re something like the old “rubber pants” in shape, but they’re made of breathable PUL.
These covers don’t let ANYTHING through.
Once you put on the fitted diaper, pull the cover on over it and check to make sure the fitted isn’t playing peek a boo.
This is a bulletproof combination that will guarantee dry sheets in the morning.
One little warning, though. Pull on covers have one major weakness – poop.
If your baby still poops in the middle of the night, dragging that cover down the legs can be a messy job if it didn’t stay in the fitted diaper.
So make sure the fitted is fastened so poop doesn’t leak out, and you should be golden.
5. Fitteds With Wool Covers
Although PUL pull-on covers are excellent, sometimes you want something a little more breathable and natural.
Enter wool covers!
Wool is a wonderful material for a diaper cover – it’s naturally water repellent, but it can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture before it feels wet.
The best part? The combination of the wool fibers and natural lanolin neutralizes urine, turning it into salt water as it touches the cover.
That means a wool cover can be aired out between changes and reworn until it gets soiled or after a few weeks, when you gently hand wash and air dry them.
It sounds gross, but it’s true!
A wool cover will not stink, even after sitting all night, and will not develop ammonia smells.
If you pair a thick fitted with a wool cover (either snap or pull on), your baby will stay warm all night, and the rest of their clothes will stay dry.
The only issue is this combo can be bulky, but it’s not like they’ll be running wind sprints all night (we hope).
Since this is for bedtime, it shouldn’t cause them problems.
6. Prefolds Or Flats, Doubled, With Snap Covers
Sometimes fitteds are too expensive, or too difficult to get completely clean and dry in the wash.
In that case, prefolds or flats, doubled up inside a cover, will get the job done.
With the snap cover option, you can simply lay the cotton diaper in the cover and fasten, no pins or Snappi needed.
However, since you’re putting on double diapers, or adding booster soakers, you might need to adjust the cover to a larger size to give the diapers a little more room.
7. Prefolds Or Flats, Doubled, With Pull On Covers
Much like the fitted with pull on cover option, this has most of the same benefits (highly absorbent, very leak proof, with the additional benefits of being a cheaper combo and faster/cleaner to wash and dry.
However, when you use prefolds or flats inside a pull-on cover, you also need to either pin or Snappi the diaper on.
I promise you, neither one is that bad!
Snappis are stretchy Y shaped items with little hooks at the ends, something like an Ace bandage grabber.
You simply stretch the Y, hook the hooks into both sides of the diaper and down the middle, and you’re done!
If you prefer, there are also similar gadgets called Boingos – they come in pairs, like pins, and have hooks like Snappis. You simply hook one at each hip to keep the diaper on.
But let’s say you only have pins – some people find that they really prefer pins for nighttime diapers, since they can’t come undone and hold very well. Just give them a try once or twice – you might be a convert!
8. Prefolds Or Flats With Wool Covers
Ah, this is an old classic!
You see, your great grandmother, rather than put plastic pants on your grandparents, would have pinned a flat or two on the baby, and covered it with a knitted wool cover.
Rubber pants were actually frowned on, and blamed for rashes – wool was the secret for nighttime dryness.
You can use any kind of wool cover you choose – snap, hook-and-loop, pull-on – and double diapers, and your baby should sleep warm and undisturbed by diaper leaks.
9. Any Diaper With Wool Pants
Some folks like their current diaper system, and it usually serves them well overnight, but maybe the baby slept extra long or snuck an extra feeding session in.
Then the usually fine diaper leaks onto the pajamas, sheets, Mom’s shirt, etc.
But slip a pair of “longies” (a term for long wool pants) over the diaper instead of pajama bottoms, and it should hold back the worst leaks!
Incidentally, longies are a favorite in cold weather, since they can take the place of both a cover and pants, and are very snuggly and warm.
Treat them just like you would a regular wool cover – air out between changes, and wash by hand/air dry if they get poopy or after a few weeks, whichever comes first.
A side note about wool – brand new wool covers or longies can be expensive, however:
- you only need one or two if you’re using them for overnight, and
- if you’re handy with a sewing machine, they can be made from thrift store wool sweaters! Just look for sweaters that are 100% wool and feel soft to the touch, and follow any number of free patterns available online. The sleeves should yield one pair of longies, while the rest can make 2 – 4 covers, depending on the size of the sweater.
10. Any Diaper With A Pull On Cover
This is another option for people who want to stick with their daytime set up, but want that extra reassurance that leaks won’t ruin a good nights’ sleep.
Take any of your usual daytime diapers, add a soaker or two, and pull on an extra cover over everything else.
This might be just the solution your heavy wetter needs, since you’ll have extra barriers in place to keep everything contained.
The only downside to this method is if your baby has sensitive skin, you might need to let them air out a bit in the morning, since this method is not very breathable.
Bonus – Disposables For Nighttime
I know, this feels like giving up.
But I want you to know that it’s an option, and that this world isn’t an all-or-nothing place.
There are a lot of moms who cloth diaper during the day and use disposables at night.
Would I rather see cloth work all the time for you? Of course!
But if you’re having a lot of trouble, if you’re really tired, if a package of Pampers helps you all sleep better and doesn’t harm your babys’ skin, go ahead and use one at night.
You can always go back to using cloth full time when things calm down a little.