This week we are starting our nighttime discussion. This week we are going to cover some of the “basics” for nighttime diapering. I will start this with the caveat that if what you are doing is working then don’t bother reading this, but if you are troubleshooting nighttime leaks this is a good place to start :)
1) be ready for the fact that your child’s output can change overnight, literally. If your baby is a very light wetter and then starts soaking through diapers, it is very likely that they really did become a heavy wetter overnight. We talk with many customers who spend many nights on wet sheets thinking they have a buildup problem when it is absorbency that needs to be fixed. Remember that the vast majority of buildup issues will be accompanied by odor, it is very rare when detergent buildup is so bad it causes leaking without you smelling the trapped feces and urine being left behind. Another clue to this is if the diapers are soaked. Buildup will leave you leaking with very little absorbency, the inserts will be bare;y wet or wet only in spots, if your diaper is soaked, you need more absorbency.
2) For most babies, pockets will not cut it for heavy wetters. There is only so much pockets can do for a heavy wetter at nighttime, remember pockets are great for daytime use because they are trim and easy to change. At nighttime you don’t need either of those features, and your absorbency is held really in the middle of the diaper. When you have a wiggly baby who is rolling around in their sleep, their urine can be hitting the sides of their diapers, meaning you will leak out of the sides quickly. The trim cut you love for daytime pockets will work against you for nighttime, stuffing them too much will cause gaps, and then urine will roll out the side of the diaper. This is the reason fitteds and covers work well at nighttime, because they wrap absorbency all around the child’s waist and legs, protecting better.
3)Some babies may experience diaper rash from nighttime diapers if they are really soaked, be open minded about natural fibers if your baby is sensitive to wetness. The overnight heat rash/urine chafing rash usually starts as a mild sunburned look where the diaper touches, this may or may not be accompanied by pinprick red dots all over the diaper area. If you are using prefolds at night be aware of this, if your baby is rashy in the morning you may need to change up your system you are using.
This week I wanted to chat a little about absorbency, we had lots of emails this week about leaks and I wanted to do a brief 101 on insert and fabric density, next week we will get into more specifics. In cloth diapers, there are 3 basic “groups” that I put fabrics into.
1)microfiber/microterry, 2) cotton/bamboo (other organic velours and cotton blends fall here) 3) hemp
You can have variations of these groups, but for discussing density these three will do :)
These three groups will behave differently in wetting situations. If I laid out a microfiber insert, a cotton prefold and a hemp insert (all prewashed),
and tossed a cup of water on them, the microfiber is going to slurp it up wherever it hits, but hold the least amount overall. The cotton prefold will soak up most of it, some will roll off before it has a chance to absorb, but will hold more overall. The hemp insert will likely “catch” the least amount, but if it has time to absorb will hold the most overall. This is why layering is important in fitteds and pockets. Now, many times fitteds will have the hemp blended with another fabric to “catch” faster, so this isn’t so much of a deal as just putting plain hemp inserts inside a pocket by themselves. If you have pocket diapers, putting microfiber on top of a hemp or cotton insert will help catch fast wetters. If your baby or toddler is a slow wetter or light wetter (meaning they pee a tiny amount every few minutes rather than flooding the diaper once or twice an hour), denser fabrics will work more effectively by themselves. For quick wetters or flooders you may find you need the microfiber to catch it initially and give the hemp a chance to absorb it all. Next week we will get into some specific layering advice, what is “too much” for a pocket diaper, and why pockets don’t usually work for super heavy wetters at nighttime and naptime, even if layered correctly~
Many of our pocket parents are at wits end trying to find the balance between appropriate stuffing/leg gaps with their heavy wetters. And honestly, even without labeling the baby as a heavy wetter, 8+ hours is a long time in a diaper, so even the light wetters can easily flood a light nighttime solution.
Pockets can be tricky with nighttime, the trim fit welove during the day does not accomodate nighttime stuffing for most babies, and when we stuff it enough, the rise sinks down, the legs stand an inch away from their thighs, and you can count on at least one wet sheet change in the middle of the night.
If your pockets have been exhausted with options, consider the following solution of a pocket fitted and a cover. Now, don’t tune me out just yet, this isn’t a wool cover we are talking about, so if you are not on Team Wool yet, you can still do this.
My favorite pocket fitted is the Happy Hempy. It accomodates chunky thighs, but can still wrap around slender ones. The diaper itself is absorbent, so you have the sides and front able to hold urine. Then, you stuff it with whatever you have on hand/need to meet absorbency needs. My favorite insert for these, and the most economical, is a prefold trifolded width-wise (not lengthwise, so turn it 90 degrees), with some microfiber or hemp if you have it handy.
The whole thing gets wrapped in a cover.
I use both wool and PUL covers, you can easily use your PUL covers over these. Hempys run small, they also shrink over time, so buy bigger than what you think you need. Sebastian has his extra larges getting prepped today, and he is 18.5 pounds/almost 10 months old. I need to stuff the heck out of them though, and his larges were left over from my last daughter, so he is a little early on the XLarges. I use an extra large Bummis Super Brite cover over the XL’s, for the Larges I used large Thirsties covers, or Duo Wraps in size 2 all the way unsnapped. For his mediums we used a medium cover, and size 2 Thirsties duo wraps almost unsnapped. Wool is also great over these guys for a completely breatheable system.
Next week we have the One Size Hempy in snap or aplix closure coming in, which gives you small-large in one 3 step rise fitted. Great investment for nighttime and naptime. Now, Hempys will be bulkier, it isn’t trim, so either plan on sizing up on fotted pj’s, or toss on some babylegs with a longsleeve onesie or tee shirt for pajamas. Our Hempys all have the stay dry fleece inner to wick away wetness as well.
In summary, here is how I stuff/size wise:
Small Hempys for newborns=trifolded infant prefold with small covers, or one size covers on small or medium rise settings
Medium Hempys=trifolded infant prefolds OR trifolded regular prefold for the hevier wetters, with one medium joey bunz, medium size covers or one size covers with one rise setting to go
Large Hempys=Regular prefolds trifolded with joey bunz and/or microfiber insert, large Thirsties cover, Large Super Brite, Coverall all the way open, Duo Wrap all the way open.
Extra large Hempy=premium prefold trifolded, joey bunz and microfiber, extra large Bummis Super Brite or Extra Large Bummis Super Whisper Wrap.
Disana wool soakers are great at any point, we always have our wool info up here if you want to refresh:
I wanted to address the pocket-mamas this week. We have a lot of moms who email us with disappointment that their pocket diapers aren’t cutting it for nighttime, even with their young babies. We love pockets in this house, and use them for day and nighttime, but we have two very different systems for each timeframe.
Our daytime diapers are usually Bumgenius, some one size Fuzzi Bunz, and also a few trim AIOs. Nighttime is a different story! The pockets we use at night would fall off my girls during the day, they are cut bigger, fit bigger, and are stuffed to the max with cotton, hemp and the kitchen sink. Around 2 months is when my little dainty flowers turn into super soaking pit bulls who do not appreciate being changed at night. They won’t sleep through the night for another two years (sigh…) but if I try and change them, teeth start gnashing and the claws come out.
I love the bumgenius line, but it is a tricky diaper to use for nighttime. They are contoured, trim, and can be tricky with leg gaps with their slim fit. We love the Happy Heiny one size (and it comes in snaps for you snap loving mamas and daddys!), and have a nice, generous pocket, legs and waist to accomodate all the stuffing you need. If you are waking up with puddles around your child, and your roof isn’t leaking, check the inserts.
You need to upgrade absorbency, and if your present diaper can’t stand the bulk, time to change brands or upsize.
Most likely a sizing issue, or overstuffed. I like to start with stuffing an overnight pocket with a trifolded prefold. Cheap, easy to wash, and absorbent. Next, if that doesn’t cut it, toss in a joey bunz, happy heiny stuffin, or another trim hemp insert behind the prefold (meaning the urine hits it after the prefold).
Shoot me an email with any questions on this, it doesn’t take an older baby to be a heavy wetter, especially the all-night nurslings, they can really be a fire hydrant at a y ung age.
I want to revisit nighttime diapering again – I know it is a Waterloo for many cloth mamas, no-one likes the 3 straight hours we usually get interrupted by a swimming pool either in our sheets, the crib or the new toddler bed we just put together. Many mamas will use disposables at night, and believe me, that is not going to get a raised eyebrow from me.
Very heavy wetters can be very challenging, and if one disposable a day helps you keep some sanity long enough to cloth diaper during the day, by all means you have my blessing. However, if you have the desire to try or re-try nighttime diapering, we would love to help you find a solution. The typical age we see most babies outwetting what they use during the day is 4-6 months. Around 9 months, we usually see a big jump in absorbeny needs, and it truly can happen over night, so don’t be surprised if the change seems very sudden.
For the fitteds/pocket using moms, I always love to bring up the Happy Hempy. It is a simple diaper, a pocket fitted with a stay dry inner, and often is overlooked as a nighttime solution. It does need a cover, and inserts/trifolded prefolds to put in it, but it holds everything in place, is easy to put on and off, helps contain a great deal of absorbency, and is easy to wash and dry because it is essentially a pocket without any PUL or encased layers. It is roomy in size, so trifolded a prefold with hemp inserts is easy to do, and it still provides the stay dry protection many babies need at night to avoid the pink tinge to their skin from overnight wetness and/or heat rash.
Let me know if you have any questions, it is easy to upsize in these, they are sized low in the rise to fit under covers, so if your child is close to the next weight range, feel safe in sizing up for the longevity of wearing that size. Let me know if you have any questions.
In the first six months, babies are still waking to eat/play/laugh all night long, but they are no longer having bowel movements at night. This is when you would like to encourage nighttime as a quiet, non-playtime time period, and often having to change a diaper really wakes up the baby and makes it harder to get some rest. What makes this easier is knowing you don’t have to change the diaper, you can just feed/burp/soothe and get through the night.
At this point many of our customers switch to pocket diapers. You can certainly use your natural fibers (prefolds, fitteds, etc..) but if you find your baby is waking up to a bright red bottom, you need to either start changing again at nighttime to keep the wetness away, or use a polyester liner to provide that “stay dry” effect.
Pockets are nice at this point for their ease of use. For the slender to average build baby, I like the Bumgenius pocket with a microfiber insert and prefold (trifolded like a business letter inside the diaper) or a prefold/joey bunz combo. A Happy Heiny one size diaper is nice for the average to chunky build baby, they are more generously cut in the legs and waist, allowing for more stuffing in the diaper itself without cutting into the thighs. Same combos, prefolds/microfiber or prefolds/hemp.
If you like using fitteds or prefolds with either a wool cover or a PUL cover, the Baby Beehinds one size fitted is a nice option at this point, it won’t seem so huge and really has a good deal of absorbency. Remember, you can always add a fleece liner to your natural fibers to keep using them if the baby shows irritation to the wetness. FOr prefolds, you may find you need hemp inserts laid inside to keep them absorbent enough.
Remember, you can always put a wool cover, like a Disana, over your pocket diaper/fitted/whatever you are using combo. Wool is 100% breatheable, no different than putting pajama pants on, it will be bulkier but will provide extra protection.
We are tackling nighttime diapering for the 6-12 month age group. I like to do these sections by age rather than weight, wetting patterns are usually more linked to age, bladder size and control more so than by size, but please let me know if you have a child that these suggestions are not working for, we can find a solution~
For this age group, they may be starting to sleep in 3-6 hour stretches, if your child is sleeping longer than by golly consider yourself blessed and I don’t want to hear about it ;)
If you are using:
Pocket diapers: A good nighttime combo would include a prefold, trifolded like a business letter, sandwihed between hemp inserts, or a microfiber/hemp combination of inserts. Make sure the pocket isn’t having gaps at the legs from stuffing it, this will cause side leaks. Now, a good rule of thumb is to out anything with microfiber closest to where the urine hits first. Not outside of the pocket, but right underneath the fleece or suedecloth. Microfiber is “quickly” absorbent, and will distribute the urine better to the layers underneath, rather than concentrating it in the middle. Put your prefold in the middle, and your hemp underneath. I like Joey Bunz regular hemp inserts, or even the premium inserts for this combo, and you can always upgrade from your indian prefolds to a Babykicks hemp/fleece prefold for this nighttime task. They are more expensive, but you really only need 2 (one to use while washing the other), so they can be a great investment. If you have to stuff your pocket so much you are having gaps, don’t forget I am a huge fan of putting that Disana wool cover over the whole thing as a backup.
Prefolds/Covers: If you are using prefolds and covers at this point, you will need some extra oomph in the prefold. You may need to upsize on your cover to make this work, you can trifold another prefold, laying it in the middle to act as a doubler with lots of layers of absorbency, you can also lay in a hemp insert like the premium joey bunz, or a Happy Heiny Stuffin to add extra layers. If you are finding at this point you are noticing the child has a red tint to their skin when they wake in the morning, you may need a fleece liner to help keep the wetness from their skin at night.
Fitteds: This is a great time to invest in one of the one size fitteds that carry a higher price tag. The bulkiness of the newborn stage is gone, you have lots of life in the sizing, and they will work well for overnights. Baby Beehinds and Swaddlebees one size Organic Velour fitteds are two that we like, you may need to add doublers in cotton or hemp as well. YOu can add doublers between the fitted and the cover here, especially if your fitted has a stay dry liner, put the trifolded prefold behind the fitted, or the hemp inserts behind the fitted, inside the cover.
We are dishing on nighttime diapering for the 1-2 year old age group. No way around it, nighttime diapering at this age is going to be bulky. The older your baby gets, the more absorbency they need, which means more layers, which means more bulk. Now, certain fabrics are bulkier than others, but be prepared for a booty-galore on your baby. I promise it won’t make them bowlegged, and they will sleep just fine. For pockets, a prefold is going to need to be in there, trifolded like a business letter. This is a great point for a Babykicks hemp/fleece prefold, these do have more absorbency than a cotton prefold, hence the higher price tag. Sandwich this with some hemp on the bottom (a Happy Heinys Stuffin or a Joey Bunz Hemparoo) and either hemp or microfiber on top, and it makes a nice sandwich for the diaper. If your baby is still in size medium during daytime diapering, you may need to upsize to a large diaper for nighttime, this goes for covers, too, if you are using covers and prefolds/fitteds.
Prefolds at night can be tricky at this age. You will need more than a prefold, including some hemp doublers or inserts tucked in them, which may just be to bulky even for the easy going baby. Try the babykicks hemp/fleece prefold first, and see if that meets your absorbency needs, but this would be a time to consider a fitted diaper under your cover for the ability to have more absorbency and also to lay things underneath it inside your wool or PUL laminate cover. We have talked about the Happy Hempy pocket fitted before, this is a good one to look into, it is under $15.00, and you really can stuff the heck out of it for nighttime diapering. It does need a cover, and it does have a fleece stay-dry inner liner.
If you are getting deep red marks on the baby’s legs or waist from the nighttime diaper, it may be time to upsize. Now, some red marks will be normal (think of your bra or underwear), any close fitting clothing with thin elastic will most likely leave a mark if left on all night, as long as it goes away within an hour and doesn’t appear too deep or painful, I really wouldn’t worry about it. If it is deep and looks painful or irritating, time to upsize or switch to a different cut of diaper.
If your baby/toddler is outwetting the suggestions above, you can always pull a Disana wool cover over the whole shebang, it is really a breatheable backup to avoid leaks. If that still is not enough for your little super soaker, please e-mail me, we have some other mamas who sew diapers that we would love to refer you to for some customized diapering options, especially for mamas who have babies aged 3+ who still need nighttime help with their wetting patterns.