Friday, September 11, 2009

Night-time Cloth Diapering

A couple of posts ago, I had a question in a comment about what to do about night-time cloth diapering. The mother said that her baby would wake in the night, but would quickly return to sleep after a diaper change. Obviously, this is no good, both for the baby's sleep...and the mama's! And of course, you don't want to establish a routine of night-waking if it can be avoided.

This is fresh on my mind because I just got done putting my children to bed, and my kids are definitely "bubble bums" when they have their night-night fluff on! (My son has been potty trained for nearly a year, but still wears a "just in case" overnight. And on a separate note, he has suddenly started soaking his bed at naptime - the past 3 days in a row - and having tinkle accidents during the day. He has never done this before. Help? Sympathy? Advice? Commiseration? All is welcome.)

Anyway, I don't know if I have the be-all, end-all answers to night-time cloth troubles. But let me tell you that my kids can flat out SOAK THROUGH a diaper. When my son was 18 months old, he would "pee out" (my own gross little expression for soaking through a dipe) a Happy Heiny with both inserts during just a 2-hour nap. On a regular basis. So we had to find another solution. After multiple trials and errors, I feel like I've hit upon a couple of different approaches and hints that really work for us.

Tip #1: Main absorbent material in the diaper

I know there's a bit of debate about this, and frankly it may just be one of those things that comes down to opinion. But I have found that when comparing thicknesses of different fabrics, inch for inch, Chinese prefolds are much more absorbent than microfiber towels or soakers. Does that make sense? Let me try to explain it a different way:

So let's say that you have a premium infant prefold (blue edge), and you lay it out long and fold it into fourths. (In half, perpendicular to the seams, then in half again.) Let's say, for the sake of example, because I've never actually measured it, that this folded up prefold was 1" thick. If I had microfiber towels, and stacked them together to make 1" of thickness, it just wouldn't absorb as much, thereby giving us more time per diaper.

So all that to say, I use a prefold as the real meat and potatoes of stuffing a pocket diaper for nighttime. (And, if I haven't said it before, or if I've changed my mind since the last time I talked about it, I am definitely a fitteds girl during the day time, but use pockets for naps and overnights.)

For my 3 y/o's just in case diaper overnight, I use a toddler-size prefold. And it is such a badonka-diaper. But he doesn't seem to mind, because to him, it's just his nighttime routine. It would have to be a very rare occasion that this prefold didn't make it through the night. Like if we let him have an extra cup of water/juice/watered down sweet tea (welcome to the south Honey, pull up a chay-air) before supper, then he might wet a little more overnight.

Tip #2: Doubling up and using multiple materials

Have you ever wondered why hemp and bamboo diapers are a little pricier? One reason is because you get what you pay for! :) The other reason is probably the current cache of those types of materials, but that's another rant for another post.

For my daughter's nighttime diapers, I start out with a blue-edged prefold and fold it into fourths as I described above. Then I use a microfiber towel from the automotive section of Wal-Mart ($5 Bag of Rags), and fold it into thirds. I place this against the prefold on one side. Then I use a hemp/cotton blend soaker that came with my Cricketts Diapers on the other side. (And now might be as good a time as any to mention that these diapers are positively out of this world. They are truly amazing - I have no flowery words for these pure and simple fitted diapers. I've told you how much my kids wet, so the fact that I can afford to use the diapers without the additional soaker they come with should say a lot about them!)

So, now I have a stack of absorbent material: hemp on the bottom, prefold in the middle, then microfiber on top. And here's a little secret a lot of parents may not know about: The order matters! Microfiber and prefolds are fast absorbing, while hemp is long absorbing. So when I stuff the pocket, I put the materials in with the microfiber closest to her bum.

Tip #3: Wicking the moisture away from baby's skin

If a baby feels wet, they're naturally going to be uncomfortable. So it is essential that whether you use fitteds, pockets, or AIOs overnight, the layer next to your child's skin needs to be a kind of material that will wick moisture away, giving your child a more comfortably dry feeling. This will also help to cut down on the rashes that we sometimes see after our babes have a long, wet night in one diaper.

For most pockets, this isn't a problem. In most pocket diapers, the layer designed to be next to your child's skin is either polyester fleece or suedecloth. Both of these work great, although some parents may find that one is more effective over the other for their kids. Just try it out and see what works.

Now, if you're already using this kind of diaper, and it doesn't seem to be enough, you could also try using an additional wicking layer. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is with fleece. You may even have some un-needed polyester fleece baby blankets laying around that you could cut up. Just use an existing diaper as a template for shape and size, and cut out several liners. Fleece doesn't ravel, so you don't need to do anything to the edges! :) If you don't have any extra blankets, check the goodwill stores - or even your own closet - for an old fleece pullover. Then just place the fleece liner in between the diaper and your child's skin.

Tip #4: Outer layers and leaks

I know that this doesn't really apply to the original question, but I may as well include everything within my perspective on nighttime cloth solutions.

It seems 100% counterintuitive. I know it does. But trust me. Go with me on this one.

Fleece and wool covers and outers will provide an infinitely more leak-proof system than PUL ever can.

I don't understand it. I wish I did. But all I know is that when we switched to cloth diapers for my son, he would wake up with wet jammies and sheets every single morning until I ordered some DryBees Fleece Nighttime Pockets. Then we were wet free!! I did have to change him immediately, because if he sat down in his pj's and wet nighttime diaper, he'd have compression leaks. But that's really my own fault, of course.

I think it has something to do with how these fibers breathe a little bit naturally, so maybe the wet is evaporating...? Although that's a bit strange to think about.

You can get fleece pockets, like the DryBees, but you'll want to replace the velcro either with better Aplix or snaps. You can also get fleece covers for fitteds.

Unfortunately, I don't have any personal experience with wool...YET. :) I'm about to be brave and go for it when life calms down. Which will never happen. So, what I really mean is when I get my nerve up and get a chance to talk to some friends who use wool.

So there's my spiel about nighttime cloth. I hope you guys have found some of it helpful!


~rachel~ said...

Great Post!! I could have used this with my first. Everyone I spoke w/ online about cloth insisted fuzzi bunz was THE nighttime diaper (my oldest is 4 now). They didn't work at all for bedtime for him, and we just stuck w/ disposable.
With my second (now 1) I was determined to do cloth all the time, and we found a great system using a fitted and some major bulk! I love the big bedtime cloth diaper butt!! We use Bummis Superbrite cover at bedtime too (the only one I could find to keep leaks out all night.
I would love to try wool too- maybe one of these days!

Another great place to get fleece is fabric stores (or wlamart) in the remnats(especially around Christmas- a lot of people make those fleece blankets as presents).

I think the bedtime diaper is defiently something you might need to "pla" around with to find what works for you!

The Cloth Diaperin' Mama said...

Thanks for your comment! I totally forgot to mention buying fleece by the yard, which is bizarre considering the whole time I was writing that post, I was anxious to be done so I could sit down and get some sewing done!! ;)

I'm so glad you found a night system that works for you guys!

idnar82 said...

I can't wait to try wool either! I have decided I want some woollybottoms wool footies for the winter, but just haven't had the money to buy them yet (they are only $29 though...which is still pretty good for wool!). Plus I am still a little concerned about hand washing and lanolizing...BUT I still want to try it!

For us, the bamboo sbish fitted diapers and the drybees fleece worked well but I am now using a goodmama good.night that I found on sale :-) Its like a MIRACLE! I LOVE IT! I've never really had leak issues with the sbish, but I didn't love the fit. The good.night is pretty amazing though! We cover it all up with a dancing bears fleece nighttime weight soaker, and presto, no leaks and a great customizable fit (it's a snapless fitted so you get to use a snappi!)!

I may try a prefold in my drybees nighttime fleece though for the nights when my good.night is dirty...good idea!

Rachael said...

We've found that a double-stuffed Fuzzibunz or bumGenius is just fine for our 2-year-old daughter; our infant son (who still nurses several times at night) can go all night in a single-stuffed bumGenius if I'm so tired I forget to change him! so for newbies, don't rush off to buy super-absorbent night diapers without giving your daytime ones a little tweak and try first!

Rachael said...

oh, and I should mention too that our kids are fine in prefolds and wraps during naptime--no leaks!

the monkey's mama said...

Yay Lauren--this is a great post. i'm going to send the link to a few of my friends who are considering cloth. Thank you for writing it all out--its perfect.

Hope you had a great weekend!

The Cloth Diaperin' Mama said...

That's a good point Rachael - not everybody's children pee as much as mine do, LOL. :) It's definitely important to see what your needs are before you purchase an entire stash's worth of stuff!!

I was mostly trying to address the problem that one mom had asked me about where her daughter was waking up in the night, and going quickly back to sleep after a diaper change. Fortunately (trying to look on the bright side), my experiences with many many nights and naps of leaking out of diapers, and changing entire outfits and bed linens multiple times a week with my super-soaker kids have equipped me to know the 4-1-1 on what to do with heavy-wetting babies! :)

So for me, this is just my nap and nighttime reality. I know though - and am a little envious - that not every cloth parent has the same experience. :) Thanks for sharing a different perspective!

An American in Croatia said...

I second ~Rachel~'s comment. Great post. Very helpful. I haven't given birth yet so I have no idea what I'm talking about...BUT I'm armed and ready with a complete stash of (20) newborn fitteds and (12) wool covers (some of the covers are strictly for newborns...others have a lot more wear). In addition to this, I have a full compliment of prefolds (Chinese, hemp & some bamboo) sized from Preemie to Infant, just in case I prefer folding and also for extra stuffing. Finally, I have one Imse Vimse AIO and a Rocky Mountain pocket, just to try the other styles - but I think I'm committed to fitteds/prefolds and wool covers.

My question for you is:
Since newborns sleep so much - do you just pack them with the Nighttime Solution all of the time or do you wait for scheduled bedtime/naptime.

I don't think I care about bubble butt at this point since most of the wool covers that I have also double as bottoms (meaning, they're cute like pants). So, let the bubble be magnificent...if it works.

I'm totally new to this. Bascially, what do you recommend for a Newborn Solution?

Natalie said...

-Yet ;)
Great post! I am an old fashioned pre-folder with wool covers. They are great until this past week when I have changed the sheets every day :( My fault I got out of the routine of taking her to the bathroom before bed. And I also need to re-lanolize.
Gata hata haha

The Cloth Diaperin' Mama said...

@An American in Croatia:

My opinion on this is that because all newborns - whether breast or bottlefed - will be eating every 2 to 3 hours for a little while, and then (hopefully) sleeping in between all feeds, YOU SHOULD PLAN TO CHANGE BABY'S DIAPER WITH EVERY FEED AT FIRST.

Once they start sleeping longer stretches, you may need to load those dipeys up with more absorbency. Eventually, you may want to really load up for nighttime, and plan to just feed - but not change - when baby wakes up in the night.

But as Rachael pointed out, not all children will wet as much as others. So you may find that you don't need to overstuff their nap/nighttime diapers. So that's another reason to change with every feed at first: it gives you time to see what kind of damage the baby will do within a 2 to 3 hour stretch. If they're soaking - to the point where you could wring it out - a diaper in that time span, then increase and adjust your absorbency from there.

It sounds like you've got a great stash and plan built up. Hope your pregnancy is going well! :)

Jenney said...

I (usually) don't have any trouble with cloth diapering overnight...except...the SMELL. When I pull that sucker off my 14 mo. old I about die. The ammonia smell is SO bad. Any suggestions?