Having cloth diapered four babies, you’d think by now I’d have a hands down, 100% guaranteed overnight cloth-diapering solution to offer you. Unfortunately, the one thing I CAN guarantee you is that the overnight solution that works for one baby is not guaranteed to work for another, which I suppose is no different than daytime diapers.
Overnight diapering is complicated by a few factors. One is that we need a diaper that can hold twelve hours or more worth of urine. Another is that we need a diaper that will work despite the bizarre sleeping positions our children may favour (and that may change multiple times a night). And yet another is that many babies and toddlers consume more liquid over the course of the night, requiring even more absorbency from their nighttime diapers.
I know some kids can use their usual daytime diaper with just an extra insert of booster and call it a night. This hasn’t been the case for my kiddos, so if it’s not the case for you either, hopefully one of the four options in this post will work!
Firstly, let’s talk price. You may notice that overnight diapering doesn’t come cheap. I have not personally found a reliable overnight diaper option for less than $40–$50. Factor in that you ideally want a rotation of four overnight diapers for a singleton (two would be the strict minimum if you are cloth diapering full time and washing every two days), and the cost may seem daunting. If your disposable diapers cost 20 cents each on average, and your child uses diapers for three years, you’ll still save money by choosing cloth. And of course, use them on your next child and you’re be rolling in the green.
Set Yourself Up for Overnight Success
There is a bit of trial and error involved in finding the overnight diaper solution that works best for your baby. Honestly, whether you’re using disposables or cloth, there are going to be a few random nights when baby springs a leak … kids are messy.
Prep the bed
I am a big fan of the Peapod mat to protect sheets from leaks without having to strip the bed or crib in the middle of the night. Honestly, this is a product you think you don’t need until you start using it, and then you wonder how you lived without it.
We own six. And while they’re perfect for catching overnight diaper leaks, you’ll never want to face stomach flu season or potty training without them.
If you aren’t a Peapod user and you want to avoid digging around for clean sheets in the middle of the night, I recommend placing a waterproof layer between two fitted crib sheets. If there’s a leak, strip off the first crib sheet and waterproof pad and you’ve got a fresh, dry sheet underneath. And if you don’t already have waterproof mattress protectors on all the mattresses in your house—whether or not you’re test-driving overnight diaper solutions—do it! (CHILDREN PRODUCE A LOT OF LIQUID MESS!)
Dress the part
Sometimes your overnight cloth diaper is perfect, but the pyjamas are not. I find that two-piece pyjamas can lead to leaks because one of two things happen: either the waistband of the pyjama bottoms rolls inside the diaper and soaks up urine, or the hem of the pyjama top gets tucked into the top of the diaper and the same thing happens. I favour one-piece jammies for this reason. Also, I don’t put onesies on overnight. The crotch fabric of the onesie can roll inside the leg of the diaper, causing moisture to wick.
Because of big fluffy bum syndrome, I do size up for our one-piece pyjamas. If you use one-piece fleece pjs, you get the bonus of a water-resistant layer in case there’s a bit of a leak near the end of the night.
Get a good fit
If you’re using a cover and fitted diaper, adjust the fit for maximum coverage. Check the waist: it’s easy to miss some turned up inner fabric or an exposed fitted diaper waistband at the back. Adjust the rise of the diaper cover to make sure the cover sits higher on the belly than the fitted diaper to help prevent wicking.
Pay special attention to the legs. If baby lifts their leg and there’s a big gap, you are at risk for leaks! The pee can just roll on out depending on how baby is positioned when they go. A diaper cover with double gussets is ideal for overnight because those gussets help prevent gaps. Also make sure no inner diaper material is exposed at the legs.
In the morning, I always rinse and wring out our overnight diapers before putting them in our wet bag. Why? Because the diaper is full of pee. I find this extra step helps prevent laundry issues down the road. It’s a lot to ask from even the strongest detergent and best washing machine to get that much urine out of one diaper in a load full of other soiled diapers. The smell of baby’s overnight diaper should never burn your eyes, but this is a complaint I often hear from cloth-diapering parents. Ammonia build-up can be prevented with the morning rinse and the right wash routine.
The four overnight cloth diapers we’ve been testing from The Baby Footprint are as follows:
- Mother ease Sandy’s Fitted+ Air Flow cover ($38; multiple sizes)
- AMP Hemp Fitted + one-size cover ($45.98; two sizes)
- Smart Bottoms Dream 2.0 diaper + overnight insert ($52, one-size)
- Ecoposh fitted pocket diaper + Rumparooz cover ($63.98, one-size)
We have been testing them for four months now. The twins are just over 20 lb each (9 kg) and a year and a half old. They nurse one to two times per night and are in their diapers for twelve to thirteen hours.
Mother ease Sandy’s Fitted + Air Flow cover
If I had to pick one of the four diapers we’ve been testing to use exclusively as our overnight solution, it would be the Sandy’s Fitted + Air Flow cover.
The Mother ease Sandy’s Fitted diaper is made with bamboo terry and features five layers of absorbency in its core. The diaper comes in three sizes: newborn (6–12 lb/2.7–5.4 kg), small (8–20 lb/3.6–9 kg) and large (20–35 lb/9–15.8 kg).
For the twins, we started using the size large when they were just a bit shy of 20 lb (9 kg). The Air Flow cover comes in six (yes, six) different sizes, and we are currently using the Medium/Large (20–27 lb/9–12.2 kg).
The Sandy’s Fitted snaps onto baby at the sides, as does the Air Flow cover. The side snaps on the cover are intended as a ventilation system to allow “maximum air circulation as baby moves, reducing the risk of bacteria by keeping the temperature inside the cloth diaper down” according to the product description. The Sandy’s Fitted is a wide diaper, fitting almost like bloomers, so it requires a cover with lots of surface area to ensure the entire diaper is enclosed. I wouldn’t recommend using a one-size cover from another brand; the Air Flow cover is really your best bet to make sure none of the diaper fabric is exposed.
Although the product description suggests adding a booster to amp up absorbency for the Sandy’s when using overnight, I find it impressively absorbent just on its own. There’s enough room inside the Sandy’s Fitted for another insert, potentially doubling the diaper’s capacity. If you have a super-heavy wetter, I think this diaper should work with an extra insert inside.
Like all Mother ease products, the Sandy’s Fitted and Air Flow cover are made in Canada, and the number of diaper brands manufacturing in the true north is dwindling, so I think it’s important to support them!
The main downside of choosing this system for overnight is that it comes in multiple sizes, so it’s not a case of buying one and done. At a minimum, you’d need the small and large Sandy’s and at least two different sizes of covers to get from birth to potty.
In the morning I do notice red lines on the twins’ thighs from the Air Flow cover, but they’re not irritated and fade over the course of the day.
For larger kiddos, there’s also the Toddle ease, which is the same style as the Sandy’s fitted but designed for 35–45 lb (15.8–20.4 kg).
Bottom line: Very effective, very easy to use and unapologetically Canadian; multiple sizes required.
AMP Hemp Fitted + one-size cover
I love hemp and I just can’t lie. You other mothers can’t deny. When a baby crawls in with an itty bitty waist and a fluffy butt in my face I get … annoyed because I don’t want a diaper in my face … but suffice to say that hemp is my favourite cloth-diapering fibre.
AMP is another Canadian brand with Canadian manufacturing, and the body of their hemp fitted diaper is two layers of hemp fleece with another three layers in its core. The included doubler is also three layers, so all told you’ve got six layers of the thirstiest cloth-diapering fibre in your arsenal.
The AMP Hemp Fitted comes in two sizes; small fits approximately 8–16 lb (3.6–7.2 kg) and large fits 15-35+ lb (6.8–15.8+ kg). We’re obviously using the large. I have been pairing it with a variety of covers, including a size 2 Thirsties Duo Wrap and one-size Blueberry Capri. Because this is a stretchy, trim and snug-fitting diaper, it’s easy to fit a one-size cover on top. The size 2 Thirsties, since it’s larger than a one-size cover, provides the most coverage, but keep in mind that it’s only going to start fitting around 20 lb.
A lot of cloth diaperers don’t jump onto the overnight diapering train until they’re out of the newborn stage and only need the large size. I would expect that a heavy wetter would need one more trim booster inside, especially as they approach the upper weight range because bigger babies make bigger pees! Because this diaper is trim and snug-fitting, it’s not as easy to boost as the Mother ease Sandy’s fitted, but if you don’t need massive absorbency and prefer not having to size up on pyjamas, the AMP would be the perfect skinny jeans choice!
Bottom line: An overnight solution that doesn’t make a big butt despite having six layers of thirsty thirsty hemp; fits well under most one-size covers; likely to need a boost for heavy wetters or older kids.
Smart Bottoms Dream 2.0 diaper + overnight insert
I reviewed the original Smart Bottoms Dream diaper and overnight insert when Miss Cub was a baby, and I had some complaints. Smart Bottoms took user feedback to heart and when they released the 2.0; all those imperfections were nothing more than a bad dream. (Read The Monarch Mommy’s 2.0 review.)
I very happily use the Dream 2.0 in our regular daytime diaper rotation, and with the daytime insert it’s one of the few one-size diapers in our stash that still has room to grow in the rise. With the overnight insert, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with its performance as I was initially skeptical that the narrow crotch would be sufficient for the overnight flood. In fact, on a particularly long night (not long as in length of sleep, but long in terms of hours spent in the same diaper being coaxed to sleep), I was absolutely certain I’d be changing wet sheets (but too tired to pre-emptively change the diaper), and lo and behold pyjamas were dry after fourteen hours!
The overnight insert is purchased separately and snaps into the 2.0 diaper shell in place of the regular daytime insert. The top layer of the insert is fleece for that glamorous, stay-dry feel, and underneath it are four 3-ply flaps of hemp and organic cotton. Yes, that makes sixteen layers of absorbency! (And if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll remember my fondness for hemp and my failed attempt at re-mixing Sir Mix-a-Lot.)
The brilliance of this flappy design is dry time. Many flaps sewn together at the top make for fast drying and also ensure that detergent can penetrate the fabric for a deep clean.
In terms of fit, the Dream 2.0 has a higher rise than your average one-size diaper, although I do let the rise out one level larger to accommodate the hefty overnight insert.
Bottom line: An overnight solution that’s perfect for the fitted-diaper-averse. If you are comfortable using all-in-one diapers during the day, then the Smart Bottoms Dream diaper with its overnight insert snapped in will have zero learning curve. The diaper is much narrower at the crotch than other overnight options and may also be a good choice for babies sensitive to wetness, thanks to the stay-dry fleece and the fact that, unlike a fitted diaper, the moisture is contained only in the centre.
Ecoposh OBV fitted pocket diaper + Rumparooz cover
Coming in at an admittedly whopping $64 for the fitted diaper and the cover, Kanga Care’s Ecoposh fitted pocket diaper and Rumparooz one-size cover are not exactly a bargain. (Just for clarity, since I realize we’re not all well versed on the brand affiliations of cloth diaper companies, Kanga Care is the maker of both Ecoposh and Rumparooz.) And while this is a combo that will not work for everyone’s budget, it is a combo that should work for heavy wetters.
The Ecoposh fitted pocket diaper is exactly what it sounds like: a fitted diaper with a pocket opening for Kanga Care’s bamboo 6r Soaker, which is the same insert set you get with the Rumparooz OBV pocket diaper. The 6r Soaker is hourglass shaped, and both the newborn insert and regular insert are three layers thick. You can fold them over in a variety of configurations to maximize absorbency. The fitted diaper itself is made of absorbent organic bamboo velour (OBV) on the inside and a cotton/polyester blend made from recycled water bottles on the outside.
According to the manufacturer, this diaper is designed to fit from 6 to 40 lb (2.7 to 18.1 kg). I have no trouble believing the lower end of the scale. In fact, I wish I’d had these diapers to use overnight on the twins from the very start. It’s the upper end of that weight range that has me a little bit skeptical, because this is the smallest one-size fitted diaper I’ve ever tried. The twins are very average sized 18-month-olds, and they need the rise fully unsnapped, and there’s not a ton of room at the waist.
Other diaper covers in our stash, like the Blueberry Capri and the Thirsties Duo Wrap, pair nicely with the Ecoposh fitted. However, I prefer the Rumparooz cover because of the elastic at the tummy that prevents any inner diaper material from peeking out the top as baby moves around at night. The Rumparooz cover has been my favourite for overnights since my first was wee (and he just turned 7).
Bottom line: This is a pricey overnight solution, but it’s one that will work for a heavy wetter. It’s also the only fitted on this list that I would recommend if you like to use wool covers. That said, if your baby is built big, this is likely not the solution for you.
Still need a boost?
Some babies just have crazy big bladders and flood their diapers every night. If your overnight diaper is close to successful but just needs a little helper to make it to morning, my favourite booster is the AMP 3-ply hemp booster. Some of the ones in my stash are seven years old and we are still using them! I recommend using the booster as the top layer, against baby’s skin.