Monday, October 14, 2013

Why overnight diapering can be such a nightmare

Overnight can be one of the most difficult times to be diapering a child.  Whether you are using cloth or disposable diapers, leaks often occur when baby is sleeping in odd positions and sleeping for long stretches of time.  Sometimes overnight leaks can be easily fixed by trying a different diapering system.  But what if leaks are not your only issue?  Damp diapers left on for extended periods of time (like overnight), may cause irritation and result in rashes.  Cloth or disposable: overnight diapering is not easy. 

These simple tips can reduce leaks and prevent rashes:

1. Invest in "Overnight" diapers
During the day, we prefer diapers that are trim-fitting and stylish.  Overnight diapers must be functional instead of fashionable.  Investing in several highly absorptive diapers is a big step towards solving leak issues.  My favorite overnight solution is a fitted diaper [aff link] with a good diaper cover [aff link].  Some people prefer to use wool diaper covers, but any good-fitting waterproof diaper cover can serve equally well.

2. Select natural fibers
I like natural fibers for a variety of reasons. Natural fibers used in cloth diapers are less prone to repelling and build-up issues than synthetics fibers such as microfiber and bamboo.  Having an overnight diaper that is 100% clean is important, otherwise residual bacteria will have 12 hours to flourish in the diaper and convert urine to rash-causing ammonia.  Did you know that under damp and warm conditions the bacteria population doubles every 20 minutes? 

3. Late-night diaper changes for newborns
Newborn diapering is a special situation.  Since newborns are eating very frequently and do not have a typical sleep-wake cycle, they will be "going" more frequently at night.  Many newborns have a bowl movement every time they eat, and you may already be changing multiple diapers in the middle of the night.  If your newborn is saturating diapers with urine, add a diaper change in the middle of the night.

4. Is your child ready for overnight potty training?
If you have an older child who is consistently leaking through his overnight diapers, it may be time to consider if he is ready for potty training.  Older children have larger bladders, and usually expel more liquid at a time. Look for signs of readiness for potty training and tips for overnight potty training to see if diaper leaks could be an indication that your child is ready to take control of his bladder functions.

Overnight diapering doesn't have to be a nightmare: with the correct diapering tools you can enjoy leak-free nights.  What is your favorite night time diaper, or what are you struggling with?


  1. I have been wondering about purchasing separate diapers for overnight! Your post helped; thank you!

  2. We've recently been having leaks at night, all the sudden out of nowhere. Time to go back to fitteds!

  3. We don't have any problem with leaks overnight, just ammonia build up. I was using hemp and bamboo inserts, but the ones I have seem to be breaking down (the inner layers have almost disintegrated, and I can see through a few spots on some of them). Either the natural fibers are pretty fragile, or I am just too rough with them.

  4. I am exploring the idea of switching to cloth, and I have been wondering about this. Thank you!

  5. We don't have leaks but the ammonia causes burns unless I do disposables. I was doing a fitted with a cover, then tried a pocket with microfiber and some bamboo/hemp soakers. Any other suggestions? The same thing happens during the day and I change him every 2 hrs.

    1. You might not be getting the diapers completely clean. Fitteds are often difficult to wash because they are very thick and absorbent. Try rinsing the diapers after using them overnight, or try washing the diapers more frequently. If you're having problems with ammonia in all of your diapers then it's time to look at your laundry routine. Your detergent might not be cleaning them well enough. Try stripping your diapers, and try a different brand of detergent (maybe one for hard water). We can bounce ideas around if you want to chat about detergents.

      If your baby is eating off-and-on for most of the night, then the diaper will be heavily soiled. If this is the problem (and your baby is over 6-months), you might consider cutting down on some of the mid-night feedings.